Tag Archives: bullying

Could My Child Be a School Bully? Tips for Concerned Parents

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No parent ever wants to consider the possibility that their son or daughter could be one of the mean popular kids at school, those who shun and dismiss anyone who’s different.  I call them Elite Tormentors, and the caring, compassionate popular students who stand up for the underdog, Elite Leaders

What are some of the warning signs your son or daughter may be in danger of turning into an Elite Tormentor? Pay attention to your child’s demeanor on the phone. Does it sound like he/she is making a joke at someone else’s expense or gossiping about another student? When he and his friends text one another, are they putting down other classmates? Has your child recently started excluding any of their old friends from social activities and when you ask why, they don’t have a plausible answer?

If your child is posting regularly on Instagram, have they posted any photos that humiliate another child? Be curious. While you may not wish to invade your child’s privacy, if he/she is taking advantage of that privacy to hurt themselves or someone else, as a parent you need to pull rank, lovingly demand access to their social networking and texting activity, and retain that access until you’re comfortable they are not the cause or on the receiving end of anything harmful emotionally.    

Another effective technique for outing an Elite Tormentor is to casually have a conversation with your child about who’s popular at school and who’s not, coaxing her into revealing the names of those students who struggle to fit in or who strike her as lonely.

A week later, ask her if she’d like to host a party, suggesting it might be nice if, along with her friends, she invited a couple of the forgotten ones, too. If she agrees despite what her friends may think, she’s not an Elite Tormentor. In fact, she’s probably an Elite Leader. If she won’t because she’s fearful her friends would freak but feels badly about it, she’s most likely a bystander. But if she recoils at the thought or acts indignant, perhaps even laughs, chances are you’re living with an Elite Tormentor. 

If your suspicions are confirmed, here are a couple suggestions: Continue reading

Best of Intent 2013: The Hangouts from The Science of Survival to Coping with Bullying

The creation of The Chopra Well – the Chopra YouTube channel – has allowed us to do many awesome things, but one of them that means the most to us is having been able to host several Google+ hangouts with inspiring people around the world. We did one for the launch of The Chopra Well last year, but in 2013 we tried to step it up a notch. In April the Chopras hosted a hangout series called “Aspire to Inspire” which covered an array of topics each day of the week. Mallika also stepped in to host a hangout on Mindfulness as part of another series. What we found was that these hangouts enabled us to have in-depth serious conversations with experts and people with first hand experiences to enlighten ourselves and our audience about the world around us and the capacity for the human race to do great things.

As we wind down on 2013 and reflect on the year we’ve had, some of these conversations really stuck out. If you missed them the first time around or simply want to revisit them we’ve reposted a few of them below.

1. The Science of Survival – Deepak & Sanjiv Chopra

Deepak and Sanjiv discuss the physical, mental and emotional process of surviving a trauma or deep loss. Paralympic snowboarder and activist Amy Purdy and pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton who had her arm bitten off by a shark at age 13 join in to share their stories of loss and overcoming these significant challenges.

2. How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life – Mallika Chopra

Mallika and a knowledgeable panel of experts look at the role of intention and other mindfulness practices in living a more meaningful and healthy life. The discussion will help answer questions about how to turn goals and aspirations into reality; understanding the difference between an intention and a goal; and the relationship between intention and other practices that lead to mindfulness such as meditation, prayer, service, and yoga.

3. Coping and Surviving Bullying – Gotham Chopra

Gotham Chopra is joined by poet Shane Koyczan, whose video for “To This Day” went viral due to it’s honest, heartbreaking prose about the lifetime effects of bullying. Other guests include: Martin Shervington who will offer insight from his experience in psychology and life coaching, Margot Leitman – a comedian who just released her first book “Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase,” and Kevin Epling, the National Co-Director and Michigan representative for Bully Police USA.

4. Supporting our Veterans Overseas and When They Come Home – Mallika Chopra

Mallika Chopra is joined by Levi Newman, Rob Schware, and Rick Collins to discuss veterans and PTSD. Newman is a veteran with over 10 years of service and a writer for Veterans United and the Huffington Post. Schware is founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, which helps soldiers returning from duty transition back to civilian life and provides resources to deal with PTSD and other mental disorders that occur after time in the field. Collins is the founder of Vet360, a charity that gives Veterans upon their return home a 30 day program to help educate, counsel and prepare them for civilian life.

5. Coping with Loss – Mallika Chopra

Mallika Chopra hosts a discussion on “Coping with Loss.” She is joined by Todd Hartley, CEO of WireBuzz who lost both of his grandparents at the same time; Chelsea Roff, who has been featured on CNN and the Hallmark channel with her story of coping with a mother who has alcohol induced dementia; and Laurel Lewis who practices as a hospice nurse and also runs Death & Dying Dinner events in Southern California. (You may remember Laurel from 30 Days of Intent!)

Which of the hangouts were your favorites? Tell us in the comments below!

VOD: Sexism on YouTube Deters Women from Hosting Tech and Science Vlogs

Having worked on The Chopra Well for over a year before joining the Intent Team I know first hand some of the ridiculous comments vloggers can get. They range anywhere from spam and complete nonsense to hate language and death threats. The anonymity of the internet allows people to spread their inner demons with reckless abandon, and while no vlogger is safe from these types of comments – women by far get the worst of it.

In this video, Brain Scoop host and noted YouTuber Emily Graslie addresses the sexist and harassing comments she has to dig through in her inboxes in every week. It’s more than insulting (because it’s the internet and we should just accept that’s the way it is, right? No.) It’s deterring other potential female vloggers from creating their own science, tech or math based channels. Emily explains that there are currently 13 male hosted STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) channels and seven of them have over 1 million subscribers. There are 4 women with STEM channels and none of them have over 200 thousand subscribers. Is that simply because guys are better at explaining and hosting STEM content? If you honestly believe that then we can tell you right now that this is not the blog for you.

The reason STEM channels and fields remain so heavily male dominated is because women are more easily deterred by the ludicrous comments they receive from viewers. There’s more pressure on women to not only deliver great content, but to look hot while doing so. And what does that say about us? That if a woman isn’t found physically attractive then the words coming out of her mouth aren’t important. God forbid she should make any small mistake in figures or say something that could be misconstrued as inaccurate because you can bet there will be a handful of trolls ready at their keyboards to demand she go back to the kitchen where she belongs. It’s 2013, everyone. Why are we still in this place?

The best point that Emily makes is that the commenters themselves aren’t the only problem. It is those that idly stand by and allow it to happen. It is both men and women that throw their hands up and say “That’s just the way it is,” that perpetuate this cycle of sexist, misogynistic nonsense. We have to do better. It’s not enough that you yourself don’t belittle women, STEM vloggers or otherwise, but we have to take a stand against those that do. We may not be able to cure the ignorance that catalyzes this behavior but if we all unite in the movement to say that it’s unacceptable we may be able to shame them back into the dark, secluded internet caves they came out of.

Thank you Emily for fighting the good fight and we wish you the best of luck in continuing your mission to provide stimulating and interesting science content for the masses via the interwebs. We stand with you. If you stand with Emily too let us know in the comments below. If your first instinct is to make a comment about how she needs cuter glasses then I request that you please step to the left – ain’t nobody got time for that.

Arizona Teen Believes Positive Peer Pressure Could End Bullying

Drum roll please… What started out as a crazy idea has manifested. Our goal of spotlighting 50 heroes in 50 states has resulted in numerous blessings, miracles and new friendships. We’re so excited to unveil our first hero to you!

The Be O.N.E. Project

Who: Matthew Kaplan, 16-years-old

What: Peer-to-Peer Anti-Bullying Program Targeting Middle Schools

Where: Phoenix

Why: It’s cool to be kind!

The Catalyst: Bullying is a topic of concern in schools across America. With convenient access to digital devices and social media, hurtful messages are multiplied and spread like chicken pox. Adding to the angst, kids can post harmful messages with anonymity, ease and without a real-time reaction from the victim.

Two years ago, when Matthew Kaplan’s kid brother Josh was bullied in middle school, he decided he had to do something. “One day, he came home from school and his self-confidence was shaken,” Matthew said. “He started to withdraw and wasn’t himself anymore.”

Josh said he received dozens of hurtful text messages, like “you suck”. What made things worse — he discovered that his friends, disguised behind blocked phone numbers, were sending the messages. It may sound benign, but at that age, friends are your world, so when you get several messages, you start to think there really is something wrong with you. “It felt horrible,” Josh said. “I probably cried every day in the 4th and 5th grade.”

Big brother Matthew took advocacy to a heroic level by creating the anti-bullying peer experiential program, The Be O.N.E. (Open to New Experiences) Project.

The Act: Through this journey, Matthew discovered his passion: Building community and fostering a positive school culture.

But how? He researched anti-bullying programs targeting middle schoolers, but could only find high school programs and believes that “the damage” is done by that age. “It’s been ingrained, become habit. You have to get them in middle school — that’s when they’re figuring out their sense of self,” Matthew said.

Without an example, Matthew decided to create a middle school anti-bullying program using peer pressure in a positive way. “What if it were cool to be kind?” he preaches enthusiastically. “What if peer pressure could be used as inclusiveness instead of exclusiveness? When they have this tool, they could either be supportive or disruptive. I want them to recognize that they have the power.”

The Be O.N.E. Project is a “positive peer pressure” program. It starts with fun exercises, like holding hands in a big circle and passing a hula hoop around without letting go of hands. There’s joy and lots of laughing. Kids get to know each other and make connections.

The day progresses with focused, serious exercises when kids are asked to sit in a circle and have 90 seconds each to finish the following sentence: “When others see me, they think _____. But if they really knew who I am _____.”

“The Be O.N.E.” challenge is the last activity. When Matthew, who delivers self-defining statements with the passion of an older brother and conviction of a minister, describes a situation, kids are instructed to stand in a line and “Be One” to cross an imaginary line, if the description resonates with them.

At the end of the program, there is a noticeable change of enlightenment and compassion in the kids. Many have tears.

Grab a tissue and watch how every single kid has “crossed a line.” Be inspired to take action — you will discover that you have the power to BE ONE person that is the change-maker in your community:

The Ripples: Matthew has inspired more than 150 Arizona teachers and high school students to be team leaders during the day-long middle school program.

We spoke to students who participated and asked them how it changed their lives. Their answers were mature, candid and give me hope.

“If I was going to send a text that would hurt their feelings, I would think about it
and delete it and say something nice.”
-Sam, 14, 8th grader

“A group of 6th graders that didn’t go through the program, they’re like the popular
kids, now they’re bullying a bunch of the 5th graders. But all the kids that did (go through the program) are trying to stop it. Really helps to go through the program. It changes your ways.”
-Kayla, 11, 6th grader

“I look for people who are eating alone (at lunch) and I talk to them. I made many new
friends this way.”
-Anonymous

Matthew’s goal is to get “The Be O.N.E” program in every Arizona middle school. We believe he will reach this goal. Join in on the fun and be the one who inspires kindness in your community. After all, it is cool to be kind.

What can YOU do?!

Take Action:

1. Support The Be O.N.E. Project

2. Be the O.N.E. to change your school culture. Invite Matthew Kaplan to come present at your school: thebeoneproject@gmail.com

3. Learn more about what YOU can do!

For more information on our 50/50 campaign, check out our blog: 50 Heroes, 50 States, 1 Inspiring Journey!

Hit share if you care, please share, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or comment.

Join us & Go Inspire Go…

Bringing Music Back to the Kids Through High School Nation

89d94678302311e39d8022000a1fa9ec_7Imagine you’re back in high school trying to make it through 3rd period history without falling asleep. How awesome would it be if a giant truck rolled into the parking lot and unloaded all the makings of a music festival onto the front lawn? That’s what High School Nation, a non-profit organization that works to promote and fund music and art programs in schools, is doing for high school and middle school students around the country. By bringing live music to campus and giving kids a free concert with the help of generous sponsors, High School Nation hopes to inspire students to pick an instrument and express themselves in creative ways.

Intent recently chatted with lead singer of the band STAMPS – who are currently on their third HSN tour – Ren Patrick about the organization, how they got involved and what it means to her to make sure music programs and the arts stay alive in public schools.

Intent: What is High School Nation and how did STAMPS get involved? 

Ren: High School Nation is an organization that is promoting arts and music in schools all across the country. It’s really cool and important to us because I was so involved in choir growing up, since middle school. Basically, it’s a charity tour with a ton of sponsors – like Ernie Ball, Guitar Center, and Monster – all of those donate their products and money. All of that is given to each school.

We got involved with that through the person that created High School Nation. His name is Jimmy Cantillon. We went on tour with his brother who is in a  band called Tommy and the High Pilots. They heard our music and said “Wow, you guys would be great for this demographic because it’s all – it’s touring high schools all across the country.” It’s just really cool organization.

 Intent: What is a typical day on an HSN tour like when you get to the school? 

Ren: It’s basically a festival type thing. you go in and there’s a tent all set up. There’s an Ernie Ball stage – which is what they use at Warped Tour. All the sponsors have their own thing they are representing. All the kids come out and we play a show. It’s basically a crazy, madness sea of children and it’s amazing.

Intent: What do you guys think is your favorite part of performing for HSN? 

Ren: Sometimes at the show you can really connect to a kid. They’ll come up to you afterwards [or] they’ll be hanging around the merch table. They get really real with you, and say something that’s really hard for them to say. Sometimes they will come up to us and confess their depression or that the cut themselves or they’ve been having a terrible week, but [then] they say, “You guys just made my week,” or “Now I have a new favorite band and something to look forward to.” It breaks my heart but it makes me really happy that we can make them happy. To be able to make their day in any way is really special to us.

Intent: What difference do you think it makes when kids are exposed to the arts early on? 

Ren: I think it makes a huge difference. There are so many talented kids that have no idea they are talented yet. For a lot of people it takes something like band or choir or orchestra to realize what they are good at. You won’t know you’re good at guitar unless you start playing guitar. They have so much potential and it’s sad to see a talent like that go to waste. It would be sad to see programs like that disappear.

Photo credit: High School Nation snapwidget

***

High School Nation continues it’s fall Tour at the following cities

Oct. 9 – Newark, NJ
Oct. 10 – Trention, NJ
Oct. 11 – Atlantic City, NJ
Oct. 14 – Baltimore, MD
Oct. 15 – Washington, DC
Oct. 16 – Virginia Beach, VA
Oct. 17 – Raleigh, NC
Oct. 18 – Charlotte, NC

STAMPS was recently recognized as a BMI indie spotlight artist. They have a self-titled EP which you can listen to on their website. They are currently in the process of recording a follow-up and will continue producing a new record at the end of the High School Nation tour so stay tuned for that!

VOD: Twin Brother Asks Santa to Save His Sister From Bullying

Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 11.15.25 PMAre you already thinking about what you want for Christmas? When 8-year old Ryan’s mom asked him and his twin sister to write their letters to Santa early (so she could get a head start on saving up for it) the only thing Ryan asked Santa for was to stop the kids at school bullying Amber. “She doesn’t do anything to them,” he says before adding “I’ve been praying for it to stop but God is busy so he needs your help.”

His sister is overweight and suffers from a few mental health issues, their mother admits to “Good Morning America.” So the kids at school taunt her to get her to do different things. “They call me fat, and stupid, and hideous,” the little girl confesses to cameras in one heart breaking part of the video. To make things worse she’s admitted to her mom she sometimes wishes she could die to make it stop.

Luckily for Amber, she has a family that loves her unconditionally and reaches out for her benefit. Her mom had a meeting with the school principal to see about stopping the bullying, and “Good Morning America” surprised Amber with one early Christmas miracle thanks to her brother Ryan’s good will.

Warning: This video will absolutely cause tears, but is definitely worth it.

Share this video if you know of any special child being bullied. What do you think of Ryan’s selfless request for his sister? Tell us in the comments below! 

3 Things to Restore Your Faith in Humanity After the “Breaking Bad” Finale

You Deserve All Good Things... it's true!Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock you know that last night was the series finale of AMC’s mega-Emmy-winning meth lab hit “Breaking Bad.” Most likely you fit into one of two groups – the millions who have waited with baited breath in hopes that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) would redeem himself or the fewer of us who had to scroll past all the moaning in our Facebook and Twitter feeds that he never did.

Either way, the finale has been rough on all of us. But just because Walter never saw the light doesn’t mean that we should give up hope. Check out these awesome do-gooders and humanitarians that will help you remember there’s still people out there fighting the good fight, and why we should join them.

  • Though he plays a “hapless meth addict” on Breaking Bad, actor Aaron Paul (Jesse) used his notoriety and the show’s popularity to raise $1.8 million for his wife’s anti-bullying charity The Kind Campaign. Paul helped raise awareness for the charity by flying out two lucky winners to Los Angeles for last night’s finale, where they hung out with the entire cast and had a “cooking” session with Aaron himself. You can read more about it here and take it as proof that good can come out on top.
  • After years of trying different trades, a farmer’s son travels to Cambodia to see their rice farms and realizes his destiny in life. He finds peace in himself working his family’s farm, and that acceptance moves him to tears. Watch this touching video as he explains the transformation and how working the land is contributing to the larger circle of existence.


  • What would the world be like if we were all just a little bit kinder? That’s the question posed at the beginning of this video montage of random acts of kindness in 2012. It’s a few minutes long, but everything is there – from strangers buying other people’s groceries to people lending a hand during natural disasters. It’s sure to warm your heart over from all those devastated Walter feelings.

Even if you aren’t a fan of “Breaking Bad” we hope these videos help lift your mood today! If you have any videos or stories of people being good to each other share them in the comments below! 

Should Schools Arm Staff with Guns to Protect Kids?

012schoolsecurity1358542932Although gun violence has apparently decreased on the whole in the United States the last two decades, many schools are reporting increased violence and bullying in recent years. School and mass shootings in particular have grown more frequent and more deadly, causing many to question the accessibility of deadly weapons.

Soon after the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last year, President Obama released a plan to reduce gun violence, which included closing background check loopholes, banning military-type assault weapons, and increasing access to mental health services. Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association released a different kind of plan, one that involved increasing gun ownership and instituting armed guards in every school in America. It seems there was a bit of a disconnect.

But apparently several schools have opted to run with the NRA’s suggestion. One such school, the Arkansas Christian Academy, has decided to train and arm their staff, with at least 1-7 armed staff members present on any given day.

Pastor Perry Black, an administrator at the school, told KARK:

I just felt like with what’s going on in many of the public sectors where there seems to be a lot of shootings we need to take the same stance that we do in church on Sunday for our kids Monday through Friday.

Here is the sign the school recently posted on their campus:

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One argument for this kind of action might be that the guns themselves are just a precautionary measure, but the sign should hopefully do enough to discourage any would-be shooters. Do you think this is realistic? And are guns ever acceptable in a school setting?

Bonus – Watch Deepak Chopra address gun violence in this episode of “Ask Deepak” on the Chopra Well:

Photo credit: Jahi Chikwendiu / The Washington Post

8 Tools to Free Yourself from Bullies and Attract People Who Respect You

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.19.20 PMHave you ever been bullied? Were you able to respond to the bully in a way that valued YOU?

I grew up with a mother who was a bully. My response was to shut down into a kind of frozen numbness. When I was 12 I started smoking cigarettes and at 16 I started drinking – all to continue the numbing process so as not to feel the pain.

Now, many years of therapy and meditation later, I’ve un-numbed myself, let go of cigarettes and alcohol, and found my true self. Life is filled with love, joy, and inner peace. Along the way, I had to learn how to stand up for myself and speak my truth. It took courage and perseverance, but  I arrived at a place where I can respond to people in-the-moment if they are disrespectful.

I continued to attract bullies until I learned to step into my power, be vulnerable, and state my truth.

Here are my 8 Keys to addressing a bully and giving them an opportunity to apologize. They might apologize, or they might not – I’ve experienced both. Either way, the success is yours, because you have spoken your truth. Your self-confidence builds and eventually, if a bully starts up, you can dismiss them quickly, and easily, without getting upset.

1. Be Emotionally Honest With Yourself.
Are you emotionally honest? Ask yourself: How do I feel when a person is abusive to me? Angry? Hurt? Paralyzed with fear? Numb? The important thing here is to be HONEST WITH YOURSELF about how you feel. This is the primary key to freeing yourself from the prison of victimization.

2. Accept – Don’t Judge Yourself
Keep the focus on yourself, not on the bully. Accept your present moment, whatever it contains. Beware the ego coming in and dismissing your feelings, saying things like: ”It’s no big deal”, “I’m fine” etc. The Ego doesn’t like us being put down so it might try and distract you by focusing on the bully or rationalize you out of your feelings. Stay with your present-moment reality, no matter how uncomfortable (uncomfortable is good because it means you are moving away from  an old habit that doesn’t serve you) – simply allowing things to be as they are, without judging yourself. And have compassion for yourself – you’re doing the best you can with the best conscious awareness you have in the moment.

3. Listen To Your Body
If you don’t know how you feel, your body will tell you. Are you contracted in fear or rage? Is your heart heavy with pain? Or do you just feel numb all over? Whatever is happening, allow it to be so. Your body is your friend. It acts like a shock absorber in stressful situations to help you deal with things. Pay attention because the body gives us warning signals when we are not in harmony and at ease with a person/situation. The more in tune you are with your body, the easier it is to address things early on, before they escalate into something worse.

4. Get Support
Find a friend or a family member you are close to, someone who loves you very much. Tell them what happened. This will bring you some instant relief and the powerful loving support you need to speak up to the bully. Allow yourself to RECEIVE the love of your friend to fill yourself up and build your confidence.

5. Be Willing To Let Go of the Person/Situation
Before you address the bully, spend some time in self-reflection and realize that you might have to walk away from this person, or from this situation. Friends can be helpful here to help you see things clearly. You might not have to let go, but you might. A lot depends on the response of the bully. Do they apologize? Do they “get it”? If not, they are highly likely to bully you again.

6. Speak Your Truth
Speaking your truth means respecting yourself enough to let people know that you deserve respect. Bullies will transform, or leave. Either way, you win!

Best case scenario is to speak to the bully in person, in a calm, courteous, respectful manner, simply stating how you feel about what happened. Bring a friend as a witness and for support. If that is not possible, talk on the phone, your friend standing by. Third best option – send an email or letter. Know this truth: bullies, underneath their aggressiveness, are cowards. In many instances, they are embarrassed you’ve called them out and apologize, which allows the possibility of taking the relationship to a whole new level. If they don’t apologize, see #5!

7. Be Courageous and Allow Yourself To Be Vulnerable
Courage means going into the unknown in spite of all the fears. Courage does not mean fearlessness. Fearlessness happens over time when you go on being more and more courageous. In the beginning, the only difference between a coward and a courageous person is that the coward listens to their fears and follows them; the courageous person puts them aside and goes ahead. The courageous person can say, for example: “What you said hurt me”, in spite of  inner trembling and a constricted throat.

Be willing to be vulnerable, befriend your fears, and remember that this situation is happening for you, not to you. It’s helping you step out of victim into mastery of yourself. It’s helping you expand even more into who you are.

8. Practice Expressive Meditation
Expressive Meditation techniques can help you become more aware of your feelings and be honest with yourself. The Gibberish expressive meditation is great for releasing the charge of  anger, rage, frustration and resentment, and helps you come back to a calm, neutral place of clarity.

You can learn to express your emotions without being emotional.

Expressive techniques for healing grief, sadness, and emotional pain, help with the emotional wounding that can keep you in a victim state. You will experience pain transforming into peace and love.

From personal experience these 8 keys work! By speaking your truth you attract people who treat you with courtesy and respect…. because you are treating YOURSELF with courtesy and respect!

I look forward to your comments.

Watch the Live Hangout on Bullying with Gotham Chopra, Shane Koyczan, and Other Special Guests!

Our third Google+ hangout in the “Aspire to Inspire” series focuses on the crippling effects of bullying. Gotham Chopra is joined by poet Shane Koyczan, whose video for “To This Day” went viral due to it’s honest, heartbreaking prose about the lifetime effects of bullying. Other guests include: Martin Shervington who will offer insight from his experience in psychology and life coaching, Margot Leitman – a comedian who just released her first book “Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase,” and Kevin Epling, the National Co-Director and Michigan representative for Bully Police USA.

If you haven’t seen the Shane’s poignant viral video, check it out (and have your tissues at the ready):

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss our final “Aspire to Inspire” hangout on cancer survival, this Monday!

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