Sunday, November 28, 2010

How To Say No To Peer Pressure Without Feeling Guilty

Hope is a 15-year-old high school student from Stratford, NJ. She loves reading, writing, socializing with friends and her favorite subject is English because she wants to be a writer/editor.

Do you sometimes find yourself being taken advantage of? Do you think of yourself as a pushover? There is only one way to stop people from taking advantage of you. Learn how and when to say no. This sounds like it’s easier said than done, right? Well, it is. I will admit, I used to be a huge pushover and that slowly led me in the wrong direction. I would always say yes to everyone because I wanted to be nice but I was always the person who got in trouble. What helped me off of this path was realizing that my poor choices were making my grades suffer and jeopardizing the trust I had with my parents and teachers. I helped a friend cheat on a test but the teacher saw us, took my test and gave me an F, and gave my “friend” a bad grade, too. That was a huge wake up call because my grade dropped so much. My teacher was so surprised because she knew that I wasn’t the type of person that would cheat. She was right. Below are reasons to say no and how to say it.

1. Never help anyone cheat. Cheating is a big deal no matter what. Why would you risk getting in big trouble for someone else? Here’s a good example. You’re in class, taking a test. Your friends’ desks are near yours and none of them studied because they knew that you would give them the answers like you always do. And, one by one, they ask you for answers to the test. Why should you do? Politely say no. If they say that you’re not being a friend by not giving them the answers, they are obviously using you and are not your friends. Then you won’t feel as bad about saying no. Would you want to get in trouble for people who don’t even like you? But if they are your friends, tell them that you are uncomfortable with helping them cheat and they should understand. Real friends wouldn’t want you to feel uncomfortable or get in trouble.

2. Don’t jeopardize the trust you have between your parents and you. Why would your parents let you go to that party or go to see that awesome new movie with your BFFs if they can’t trust you? So think twice before stealing that small item from the store for your friend or accepting alcoholic drinks or drugs because your friends tell you it’s cool. Just tell them that you are not comfortable with
it. If they are really your friends, they will understand. Better yet, don’t befriend people who believe that having a good time involves doing bad or illegal things. There is absolutely no need to lose your parents’ trust over things that shouldn’t be a part of your life in the first place.

3. Be true to yourself. Remember that, when it comes to stealing, drinking, cheating, doing drugs, etc., what you believe is right is the most important thing. Peer pressure can make people do terrible things, but you just have to fight it. Put your morals and beliefs before everything else and you’ll find the courage to say no. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bullying awareness week

Welcome to Bullying Awareness Week !

Bullying Awareness Week 2009 Media Release

The idea for a Bullying Awareness Week began with Canadian father and educator Bill Belsey. Not not long after he launched the educational Web site on February 16, 2000, he was often asked to make presentations about bullying to media and in schools and communities across Canada and around the world. Through the Web site and his travels, he quickly realized that bullying was an issue that touches all people, directly or indirectly, regardless of their age, gender, culture, religion or nationality. He also dreamed of a world where bullying was no longer seen as a "Normal part of growing up", and that prevention through education and awareness was the key. He realized most people do want to "See something done" about bullying.

Bullying Awareness Week is now spreading to other countries around the world. is the "mother ship" for this movement and will endeavour to share these international initiatives as they develop with resources in other languages as they are produced. Check for updates.

Bullying Awareness Week is an opportunity for people at the grassroots level in communities around the world to get involved in this issue, not by waiting for "Someone else" to do something, but rather for us to work together on preventing bullying in our communities through education and awareness.

Take the theme and make it your own in your community.

Some people think that we shouldn't use the words "bully" or "bullying" out of fear that it will encourage some to engage in this behaviour. Cleary, discussions about bullying need to be put in the broader context of looking at what can be done to promote, develop and support healthy relationships, but you can't have a "Fire Prevention Week" (A very important initiative too) without talking about fire.

Research has shown us that approximately 15% of a given population in a school or workplace are directly involved with bullying, that leaves 85% as potential bystanders or silent majority. This group is the primary focus and target audience for Bullying Awareness Week. The week also has youth as a primary focus, as they are the ones who can "Be the change", and grow up thinking differently about bullying unlike many in previous generations who have attitudes about bullying as a "Rite of passage" or even that "Being bullied is good for you, it toughens you up."

The vision behind Bullying Awareness Week:

* Bullying Awareness Week is about working at preventing bullying through education and awareness

* Bullying Awareness Week is NOT about what others could or should be doing, but rather what WE can do!

* Bullying is a community issue. Schools are a critically important part of the solution, but bullying should not be defined solely as a "school problem".

* Addressing bullying is best done with a wholistic, community approach because bullying is a community health and wellness issue.

* Everyone can play a role in addressing bullying in their community.

* Bullying also needs to be understood as a health issue. The impact of bullying on personal health and wellness can last a lifetime. This also financial implications for our society with lessened productivity, lost manhours due to illness or personal days off work.

* Bullying is a serious issue, at it's worst, bullying can kill.

Regardless of the activities you choose to participate in at the local level, these are the key messages that every Bullying Awareness Week wll focus on:

* Bullying is wrong and harmful

* Bullying is a relationship problem (Bullying cannot be addressed with "simple" solutions. Bullying requires relationship strategies that encourage respect and empathy for others)

* Bullying is a community issue, we all need to play a part in addressing it (Get your community involved with Bullying Awareness Week plans and activities)

* Youth involvement and leadership is very important

* Challenging and supporting potential bystanders or "silent majority" to not accept bullying behaviours as a behavioural norm

* Everyone has the right to be respected and the responsibility to respect others, in person and online!

We may never completely eliminate bullying from society, but it is a fight worth fighting. In recent years we have seen major positive changes in societal attitudes and actions with respect to things like smoking, drinking and driving and recycling, these are all behaviours and they are beginning to change for the better. Bullying is also a behaviour, and as an issue it is today where these other issues were years ago before the public embraced the notion of change. Bullying Awareness Week is all about an invitation for you and your community to "Be the change!"

Please remember these quotes to help guide the efforts in your community:

"Be the change you want to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, determined citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead.

If you share this vision, thank you! Together we can begin to move the mountain! -BB

Note: Bullying Awareness Week is a joint declaration of and Family Channel, a national children, youth and family television network. Since its inception in November 2003, Bullying Awareness Week has grown in support and is increasingly recognized by schools, individuals, organizations and communities as a time to celebrate and promote solutions to the problems of bullying.

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Nude photos and cruel messages, teen digital dating abuse grows

(CNN) -- There were no scars, no bruises to indicate the abuse Allyson Pereira, a 16-year-old high school sophomore in New Jersey, had suffered.

Her emotional pain was caused by her high school boyfriend, who blitzed her with cruel comments via instant messages, e-mails and MySpace, calling her ugly and accusing her of cheating.

Then, he dumped her. A month later, he changed his mind.

She said he gave her an offer: Text him a naked picture of herself, and he would get back together with her.

Pereira, now 21, regrets sending her boyfriend the topless picture that was subsequently forwarded to other students in her high school. She never expected the image would be spread like wildfire.

"I was so ashamed, embarrassed and mad," she said. "Someone actually came to me and said 'You're Ally. Is that you?' "

The boyfriend never got back with her. She was left feeling betrayed and abused.

Pereira, who was featured in the MTV anti-digital dating abuse campaign, "A Thin Line," in December, has been speaking out against the growing problem of digital dating abuse among teens. In the MTV documentary, Pereira's parents and friends also warned about the consequences of sexting photos like the one that caused Pereira such pain.

A new study released this week finds more youths are using their tech gadgets and social media to abuse each other in romantic relationships. One in 10 teens reported they received a threatening cell phone message from their romantic partner, according to new results from the Cyberbullying Research Center, a research group dedicated to tracking bullying behaviors online among youth.

Abusive teens may also exert their control by preventing their partners from using technology, experts say. About 10 percent of teens interviewed say a romantic partner stopped them from using a computer or cell phone.

The study examined 4,400 responses from 11- to 18-year-old students in one school district in the southern U.S. The study's authors say this is one of the first attempts to quantify how often digital dating abuse is occurring among teens.

"It may be checking her text and pictures to make sure she's not texting with any other boys," explains Sameer Hinduja, co-founder of the Cyberbullying Research Center and associate professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University. "He wants to make sure the pictures are appropriate. It's the coercion and control that borders on real-world violence."

And sometimes, the abuse involves the exchange of racy photos, a practice called sexting. In fact, this study showed that boys are more likely to be victims: about 5 percent of boys and 3 percent of girls had a romantic partner upload or share a humiliating photograph online.

Kevin Jennings, assistant deputy secretary of education for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, says digital dating abuse is becoming a more frequent problem among teens. The 24/7 technology enables the abusive partner to stalk the other person after school and on weekends, he said.

Jennings said social networking, which can connect hundreds and thousands of students, gives the abusive partner more leverage. With access to so many friends online, the abuser can post a damaging message online about their significant other or make threats to do so.

"It's the phenomenon of no place to run and no place to hide," Jennings says. "Now, you can be stalked electronically. You can't even see your predator coming."

Jill Murray, a psychotherapist in California who has worked with victims of teen dating abuse, says almost all her new cases in the past three years involve technology. In some instances, the victims, usually teenage girls, receive as many as 40 texts a day with negative messages from their partner.

"She is required to keep her cell phone on all day, all night and be receptive," Murray explains.

The abuse online and through cell phones can sometimes turn into physical violence, she warned.

Since digital abuse does not leave physical marks on their children, parents may be clueless about the abuse. Kids are also afraid to report the abuse to their parents because they may believe the abuse is not that big a deal, or they fear losing cell phone and laptop privileges, experts say.

The humiliation can be lasting for a teenager, said Parry Aftab, founder of the internet bullying advocacy group, Wired Safety. She has heard of cases where the abusive partner may take the partner's password to check up on him or her routinely.

Other times, the abuser may violate their partner's privacy by breaking into their e-mail or checking their phone. The abusive teens may also monitor their partners' behaviors on social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

To combat digital dating abuse, several organizations have launched campaigns to educate teenage girls and boys about the damaging consequences of digital dating abuse. The Family Violence Prevention Fund is working with the Department of Justice to release a series of public service announcements in their "That's Not Cool" campaign, which encourages teens to be more watchful of their digital relationship behavior.

Liz Claiborne Inc., a major women's clothing company, is addressing digital dating abuse. Teens can call in for help at the hot line and web site "Love is Respect.."

Allyson Pereira also continues raising awareness about digital dating abuse. She recently graduated from community college with a degree in elementary education. Therapy and time has helped her move past the digital abuse she endured.

One afternoon, she offered some advice on what teens should do if they are victims of digital dating violence.

"Tell somebody they trust and try to get help because you can't go through it yourself," she said. "It's too much of a burden to carry."

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