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      Cyberbullying: The Role Educators Can Play

      Jessica Carol, guest contributor

      School-yard bullying has taken on a whole new meaning in this day and age. Those fat kids who harassed you and took your lunch money have gone digital and the Internet is largely responsible for it. On the surface this may seem pretty harmless when compared to facing a menace face to face but as witnessed in the Amanda Todd case the problem that started off as just a simple way to have fun while hiding behind a computer screen has gotten worse, thanks to our own negligence.

      Justin Patchin Speaks OutThere might not be laws to prevent cyberbullies from harassing others but educators are certainly capable of advising students on how to avoid such scenarios.

      In a recent Interview, Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Justin W. Patchin stressed upon the threats cyberbullying poses to kids. While comparing regular bullying to the digital version Patchin remarked that “Using technology can be just as harmful if not worse for some teens.”

      With technology penetrating our lives more and more each day the risk of our kids getting exposed to these digital felons continues to grow bigger. Parents might be able to keep a strict eye on their child’s technology time at home but the advent of portable smart devices like iPhones and iPads means that our kids can go online from school at any time they want and indulge in activities which can have a long lasting effect on their life. This is where educators need to do their part and not just limit instruction to the boundaries of a classroom.

      Act Responsibly

      Since kids spend a good chunk of their time at school the effects of cyberbullying can be easily seen inside the classroom. Sudden odd behavior and short temper can be a symptom. An educator’s involvement at that point can help keep their students on track and prevent their grades from slipping. Teachers can organize after school classes to speak about the use of technology and how students can effectively tackle a situation where they are made victim of hate speech. There might not be laws to prevent cyberbullies from harassing others but educators are certainly capable of advising students on how to avoid such scenarios. Speaking about the role educators can play Dr. Patchin is of the view that “Educators need to be more educated about the problem so that they can respond to it more effectively.”


      Offline Activities

      A debate that has sparked up in recent years is that the internet and video games are preventing kids from developing hobbies and pursuing outdoor activities. Teachers can organize soccer or basketball games or encourage students to take up a hobby like drawing or skateboarding. This will not only provide the necessary mental and physical conditioning but will also keep them away from prying eyes.


      Encouraging students to speak about their personal experiences with cyberbullying or reporting an incident to an adult to resolve an issue instead of keeping it bottled up inside is another useful technique educators can employ.


      Jessica Carol has been working on internet security related issues such as Cyberbullying. Her articles have mostly landed on the Mobistealth blog, where she’s covered several aspects of parental control. She tweets @jcarol429

      4 Ways to Increase Your Child’s Confidence

      By Lauren Tessin, Guest contributor

      When it comes to children, they have a mind of their own.  Like anyone, they all have different personalities and have had different life experiences to help shape their personality.  Although there are many different traits we would like to see our children have, confidence is one of the most important.

      Without confidence, life can be tough and seem against you no matter what.  However, with a little confidence, we can get farther in life and be a happier individual overall.  So, how can you make sure your children has confidence?  Continue reading below to find out!

      Praise them

      When your child does something good, be sure to praise them.  From getting an “A” on his or her spelling test to getting an award for being the best classroom helper, praise your child.  When you praise your child, they feel good about what they have done, and it will encourage them to repeat that same behavior that got them to be praised.

      Encourage them

      If your child is feeling less than confident, be sure to encourage him or her.  For example, if your child is nervous about his or her exam or riding the bus for the first day of school, encourage them to have confidence.  By saying things like, “I know it may seem intimidating, but you will do just fine.  What is the worst that can happen?”  You are showing that you understand where they are coming from, but also reminding them that they will be fine in whatever they do.  Encourage bad thoughts to leave their head and replace those bad thoughts with positive and realistic ones.

      Don’t let them give up

      Do you find that your child wants to give up easily when it comes to certain things?  If so, don’t let them give up.  Once you do, you are showing them that it is okay to not try their hardest.  You may even give them the signal that they may not be able to do it after all, so they should just quit now.  Be persistent and keep pushing your child to his or her goals.  Once they see that they can do it on their own, they will remember that next time they struggle with something.

      Be a role model

      In order for your child to have confidence, you must show how confident you are.  For example, next time you’re afraid to do something or you want to knock yourself for not being talented in a certain area, be sure to avoid those thoughts and to display the opposite.  By saying things like, “I’m not the best at basketball, but I can try my best to help you practice for today’s game” you can show your child that you are willing to try anything.

      As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do in order to increase your child’s confidence.  From praising them for their achievements to being a good role model, shaping your child’s personality really does start with you.  As a parent, you can help set your child up for failure or success just by how you parent.  Parent wisely!


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      Getting Past the Stigma of ADHD

      I did not know I had ADHD when I was in high school. Sure I was one of the more easily distracted kids at my high school and I eschewed organization, but I never even considered that I had a neurobehavioral disorder. Once I got to college and faced increased responsibility however, I could no longer compensate for my once-manageable ADHD symptoms and decided to seek out help.

      In case you did not know, ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by inattentiveness, impulsivity and/or hyperactivity. It primarily affects children during their development, but at least 30% of individuals diagnosed as kids continue to have symptoms into adulthood. Some Adults, like me, are not diagnosed until after adolescence, only realizing their diagnosis after the fact.

      While I have significantly improved my ability to successfully manage life with ADHD, I look back on my time in high school as lost time. While I was able to compensate fine at the time, being aware of my condition would have allowed me to develop appropriate habits, be more self-aware of my issues, and achieve more success in college and beyond.

      Of course, some individuals would like to deny the reality of a disorder such as ADHD, citing the lack of a definitive test and the fact that “all kids” get distracted to call into question whether ADHD is in fact a real disorder, or whether it is an invention of drug companies to make money. Sadly, while these individuals may have the best intentions, they are a real threat to the successful treatment of those who struggle with the disorder.

      By arguing that ADHD does not exist, skeptics stigmatize the disease – this results many who could be helped through treatment to resist seeking out a diagnosis. Even worse, the stigmatization of ADHD leaves individuals who may have the disorder to blame themselves for their symptoms, leading to depression and low self-esteem.

      When I talked to my parents about seeking out a diagnosis in college, they were extremely supportive and respected the reality of the disorder; as a result, I was able to receive help make progress towards managing my symptoms. Although I was fortunate to receive the support I did, some with ADHD are not so lucky. To help these individuals, we need to get past the skepticism of a vocal minority and recognize our duty to respect and support those with mental disorders.

      This post was written by Evan Oelschlaeger, a recent graduate of Macalester College and member of the Vistelar Group.

      The Basics of Self Defense

      So, you’ve decided that your child is ready to learn something about self defense. Where should you start? What kind of skills and behaviors does your child need to know for adequate self defense and safety and where can they get them?
      As a parent you may already be personally skilled in the art of self defense and understand the principles of personal safety. If this is true for you then you have probably already shared your knowledge and skills with your child and may be participating in a formal martial arts or self defense program yourself.
      If not, here are a few tips for helping your child to learn and develop these skills for themselves:
      • Develop a plan with your child. Rehearse commonly unsafe conditions with them and help them to learn how to use appropriate responses like running away and telling a trusted adult, yelling loudly or fighting back.
      • Ensure that your child has several trusted contacts and safe places to call or run to in the event of an emergency situation or unsafe condition. Help them to memorize phone numbers and addresses.
      • Identify and teach your child several basic physical self defense moves to use if they are being attacked like kicking or punching.
      • Sign them up for a martial arts training program in your area. Most martial arts schools incorporate safety awareness, stranger awareness and simple physical tactics for dealing with an attack as a part of their program.
      The basics of self defense and personal safety really begin at home so, as a parent, you are your child’s first, best teacher and role model. You might consider enrolling your entire family in a good martial arts program to ensure a consistent and supportive environment in which you can all learn to practice good habits for safety and self defense.

      Bully This

      Safety is a topic high on every parent’s priority list. We all worry about the safety of our children in an uncertain world where danger lurks around every corner and we may feel inadequate to provide them with the necessary training for self defense.

      The question is how can I help my child to develop the skills and the judgment they need for adequate self defense and safety? How safe is safe?

      When we talk about safety and self defense an overwhelming list of hazards crowd the picture and we may not know where to start. Food safety, fire safety, gun safety, playground safety, stranger awareness, and the list goes on.

      We can’t protect our children from every scratch, fall or insult and we can’t prepare them to deal with every situation with which they might be faced.

      But when we get right down to it one safety topic heads the list in every parent’s mind. Stranger awareness. Does your child know what to do if approached by a stranger say, in the playground, at the mall, or in the park?

      Practice role playing with your child. Teach them what to say if a stranger tries to give them a ride home from school, for instance, or tries to buy them a treat. As them to tell you what they would do or say in a variety of situations and help them to memorize phone numbers and addresses to use in an emergency or unsafe situation.

      It may even be wise to test their behavior by asking someone the child doesn’t know to act out one of these scenarios with your child. You might be surprised at their response and it can help you to identify areas that need reinforcement.

      How safe is safe? The safety of your child in every potential situation relies on their ability to be aware of their surroundings and to make the right decision when they need to act in their own self defense. We can’t control our children’s safety 100 percent of the time but we can help them to acquire the skills necessary to help maintain their own safety.

      Praise First, Correct Next

      Here’s a common mistake that teachers and parents make in their desire to help children do their very best: they offer “constructive criticism” right from the very beginning.

      This can make children feel they’re being criticized before anything else.

      However, if children hear praise first, they are much more willing to keep improving. We train our instructors to seek the positives first, to be “good finders.”

      Once they praise our students for their efforts, only then does the instructor share ways to improve upon the student’s technique.

      So it sounds like this: “I like the way you kicked. Now if you turn your foot this would be better. Great! Now do it 10 more times just like that!”

      Instead of being guarded and defensive, the child is motivated by the praise to try again.

      I also see this with parents. They love their child and want them to do so well that they first correct their child instead of first praising them for their efforts. This minor tweak will really boost your child’s desire to be the best.

      Our instructors call this, “Praise, Correct, Praise and Challenge.”

      Why Self Discipline?

      Why is self discipline so critical to your child’s development? Because, without the ability to use self discipline or willpower to delay gratification, your child will not develop the skills necessary to excel and to compete in an increasingly complex and competitive world.

      Everything in life takes work. Teaching our children to work and achieve is an important step toward the development of these skills. Martial arts training is an excellent way to start them on the road to success.

      As parents we use discipline and the setting of limits to control our children’s behavior. But if we teach them to rely on our limits instead of their own they will be ill equipped to make responsible choices.

      Martial arts can help your child develop this critical self discipline and self control by teaching them to work to progress in rank until they reach the ultimate goal of achieving their black belt level.

      Self discipline is the key to the development of internal motivation, a healthy competitive drive, self esteem and self sufficiency. Martial arts training can help your child to develop all of these skills and more by setting a regular and consistent framework of expectation, goals and rewards.

      Martial arts schools use a team approach involving both teachers and parents to coordinate goals and support the development of behaviors that help to move your child toward self discipline and self sufficiency.