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Chicagoland Girl Scouts Stand Up to Bullying

"Bullied" author Carrie Goldman joins local Girl Scout Leaders in a discussion on bullying prevention.

Over the past few years, the issue of bullying has become entered the national dialogue in a major way, such as through anti-bullying efforts like the “It Gets Better Project”.

The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana held a small group discussion about bullying on Wednesday afternoon in Lake Forest between “Bullied” author Carrie Goldman, and Maria Wynne, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana CEO.

The Girl Scout Research Institute recently found that young girls are increasingly being influenced by different forms of media, such as reality television, which can glorify cattiness and bullying.

Their research showed 78-percent of girls who regularly watch reality television agreed that “gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls," and 37-percent agreed with the statement that “being mean earns you more respect than being nice.”

“For us at the Girl Scouts, [bullying] is a key element of discussion,” Wynne said. “We know how bullying can shape the destiny of a child, their self-esteem and their overall childhood, which should be nothing but joyful.”

Goldman was inspired to write “Bullied” after her daughter Katie’s story went viral. Katie was a first grader with a passion for Star Wars. She proudly carried her Star Wars lunchbox and water bottle to school every day until, one day, she told her mom that she didn’t want to anymore. After some gentle questioning, Goldman learned that Katie was being teased at school, and was being told that Star Wars was only for boys.

Goldman wrote about the incident on her blog, “Portrait of an Adoption."

She sent the link out to her daughter’s school principal, who then forwarded it out to the teachers. The president of the school PTA asked to post it on the school list serve for all to see and things rapidly grew from there. Suddenly, Katie’s story was being featured on CNN, MSNBC and even international news stations. George Lucas Studios, NASA and proud “nerd girls” like Felicia Day reached out to Katie and showed support.

But it wasn’t the celebrities and media that really touched Goldman – it was the thousands of people commenting on the blog and sharing their own stories of being bullied.

“Something bigger was going on,” Goldman said. “Bullying was a phenomenon in the culture that I wanted to explore.”

In the small group discussions, Goldman noted that one of the major differences between bullying and having a bad day is repetition. Bullying is classified as being a repeated, unwanted attack.

While everyone is subject to a bad day – and the occasional negative response from peers, bullying is a regular, recurring incident.

If your child or teenager is being bullied, Goldman recommends keeping a written record of the incidents – no feelings, no emotions, just hard facts – the date, the time, who was involved and what happened. This keeps everyone more rational and clear thinking if the matter has to be addressed on a higher level.

Goldman also noted that bullying is often learned from a child’s parents.

“Mean girls often have mean moms,” she said. By this, she meant that sometimes a parent will cut down another adult with their friends, not realizing that their child may be listening, and believe that it is acceptable behavior to be mean to others.

In an effort to promote bullying prevention in middle school-aged girls, the Girl Scouts of the USA have created the “Be a Friend First” (BFF) program, which aims to help girls learn to become peacemakers and impact change.

Jose October 12, 2012 at 03:31 PM
The best way to deal with bullies is to have hallway monitors keeping eyes on them. I also notices that bullies is white kids bullying other white kids, why ? You don't see it much in Hispanic's --Blacks bullying each other. Is mostly white kids bullying each other. The lack of discipline at home is where i put the blame, but i don't blame parents, The government took over raising the kids. Government telling parents what they can do and what they can't do is who i blame for kids going wild today. You put your hands on your kids , all they have to do is call 9-11 and have their parents arrested for abuse.... what burned me up ?? When kids get in a lot of trouble, the first thing cops say is , what kind of parents do these kids have , I blame the government for sticking their noses in parents business.. Parents should be allow to use a belt--a wood paddle on their kids when they ask for it. Those kids who bullied the school bus monitor are a perfect example of the lack of discipline today. In the old days spanking with your hand---a belt---wood paddle was normal , parents were allow to discipline their kids with no government interference. When people ask , how come we didn't have a discipline kids problem in the old days ? that is why. Bring back the 1950's --the 1960's----the 1970's.
JR October 12, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Bullying happens in all races. Look it up.
Brian L. October 12, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Jose, you bring this up every time there is a story where you can relate it to kids not hitting their children. While I do understand if that's how you want to raise your children, as a parent, you can get results without resorting to hitting. My sister, me, my wife, her sister, and many of my friends were not hit as children. We were not and are not bullies, druggies, drunks..whatever. We grew up fine. You like to make the point as if it is the only option for discipline. It's not. I'm also guessing that there were bullies in those other decades. It wasn't talked about as much because people didn't see it as an issue. Kids were told to just deal with little jimmy at school. It does boil down to parents across the board. You, not teachers, friends, or the govt, need to teach them what is right and wrong. How to be a good person. How to act civil in society. You hit some kids and they see that as the answer to someone acting out with them. Sometimes it might be, but should always be the last resort.

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