When Violence is part of Dinner Conversation

Yesterday’s ChildGrower blog was about the Ohio school shooting and the sad and permanent choices made by immature teens.

The post was not about bullying but most readers did not hesitate to make the connection.

Though it is still unknown whether bullying played a role in the shooting deaths of (now) three students,  comments on the EmpoweringParents facebook page , which featured my post, thank you EP,   were largely focused on bullying behavior and prevention.

Bullying prevention, gun control, school safety and mental health issues and more, led as topics explored by journalists and professionals dissecting yet another violent situation we’d all like to prevent

There may never be any clear answers or causes behind this shooting – or similar shootings- but talking about it with your children, maybe over dinner, will be more effective prevention tactic than all the media coverage and school anti-bullying programs  in existence.

Social skills are grey areas.

Teens, craving both anonymity and popularity, navigate the narrow path between fitting in and flaunting their authentic self.  Someone’s difficulty connecting with classmates is another’s inability to overcome shyness.  Enormous emotional, physical and educational growth takes place for adolescents  while grouped together in one building  sometimes for as long as eight hours a day.   Effective communication skills allow everyone, and especially teens,  to navigate a world of imperfect people.

A teen, ignored or deliberately avoided, might need social skills more than bully awareness.  He or she may need extensive time with trusted adults,  like teachers, coaches or the school guidance counselor to learn and practice social skills, assertiveness and confidence.

One parent commented she is grateful her own angry teen has not taken the same path.   We worry.  But worry doesn’t accomplish much. Sometimes we have to say it out loud. We are afraid of what our angry teen might do and we are desperate to get them to talk with us and let us help them learn the skills to deal with situations that cause them pain.

Throwing in a few hugs on a daily basis will go a long way toward establishing a supportive environment but don’t wait until Junior is a teenager, start racking up the hug count early and increase as each pair of pants is outgrown.

Prevention of violence in schools

Are students part of the best solution? There’s a lot of discussion out there about classmates actively preventing bullying and even helping schools avoid situations like the one in Ohio’s campus cafeteria. Some of the current prevention strategies suggest students can recognize and report suspicious behaviors including bullying activity, violent threats, suicide hints and other mental health meltdowns.  Administrators and parents are not objecting to this new critical role for students and many are actively promoting it.

Heaping another duty on immature, irrational students,  this one a very critical responsibility, is a duty best left to professionals.

The American School Counselors Association (ASCA) recommends 250:1.  Does anyone else think one guidance counselor to 250 students is absurd?  Then be aware that in some state ratios are 450:1.  But wait, most schools, including Ohio do not have guidance counselor  mandates at all- including Ohio.

Education funding is being slashed across the nation with operating budgets decreasing for the past 10 years in my home state.  How many schools can afford to prioritize the funds needed to support the emotional needs of  hundreds of students walking, talking, maturing in real-time response to every negative and positive interactions that occurs in cafeteria’s and on playgrounds across America?

With shootings like Ohio continue to occur, how many schools can afford not to?

What can a parent do?
  • Do you know if bullying is part of the cycle of your child’s life?
  • Can you admit and address the problem if your child is the bully?
  • If your child is  a victim,  can you rely on the programs almost every school is trotting out including awareness campaigns and declaring prevention is in place while hoping results will be positive?
  • If your child is a witness to bullying does he or she have the words and the courage to do something, anything?

Despite the teenage surly appearance at times, or the constant eye-rolling and shrugging of shoulders, teens  and preteens do hear and learn from parents. You don’t have to be a guidance counselor or mental health expert to start an awareness campaign of your own.   The Family Dinner is a great place to start a tradition of exploring the national news and sharing the most important news of your teen’s day.

Many moms and dads just like you talked about it over last night’s dinner table.   Care to share what you learned?

by ChildGrower-A. Woz


Link and Think

Some of the best coverage of the these related topics are linked below.

Sharing the words of Marlo Thomas on the sad and desperate loneliness of bullied children (linked above) published by the Huffington Post on 2/29/2012.


Dr. Frank Ochberg is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Michigan State University and former Associate Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Published on CNN on 2/29/2012



The Gunman is a Juvenile

 CNN report  on the Ohio school shooting on 2/27/2012.

Update 2/28/2012 1:00pm- a third student has died as a result of injuries from the shooting at the school. 

Title of the article?  Students describe alleged Ohio gunman as sweet, sad 

Sweet? Sad? Gunman? which of these words doesn’t belong here?

It’s gunman.

We’d like to think that the person with the gun at the recent school shooting in Ohio was a gunman.  A full-grown adult.  Someone mature.  Someone who has no future.  Someone who is capable of taking full responsibility for his/her actions.

Then the shooting  would be horrible and sad, but never sweet and certainly not “juvenile”- which is actually what the alleged ‘gunman’  is.

I watched the press pictures during the coverage.  Moms hugged daughters and sons as they picked them up safe and unharmed, okay physically unharmed.

Worse- the list of injured students, at the time of this post one student died.

Lives are changed.

This situation is not one of those documented behavior “incidents” for a student’s file. This is not one of those cases where parents convene with teachers to create a fix it plan. There is no going back for the young gunman.

And if the shooter were your young juvenile,  he or she would soon be viewed as so much older than an immature high school student.   And the consequences are so much greater than an immature high school student pays- sweet, sad or otherwise.

The shooter is a gunman and the gunman will not be disciplined by mom or dad  but will be punished by the court of law.  And that is the difference that one young and angry teenage brain did not take time to think through. Parents discipline;  the court system punishes.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and to the juvenile shooter in this horrible situation.  And to the parents of all.

-A. Woz.

Originally posted in 2009.

ChildGrower Blog by Annita Woz

seenoevilRight in the middle of watching the best Disney channel repeat ever, a shocking thing happened. The house went completely still. Power outage.

Some powerline crisscrossing the star filled night sky of this rural town, had been forced down, by the weight of the ice and the winds that chilled and convinced even the heartiest of the winter loving natives to abandon activities and bundle up with family while gathered around a fireplace stocked with logs split by someone who still considered necessary workout equipment to be an axe instead of a lanyard with an access card to the local gym. 

No hummm of the DVD player, no squeaking of the fan on the computer, no bubbling sound from the fish tank, just complete silence.

In a way it was a beautiful refocusing. A rare opportunity to rethink life as we know it and a wake up call to never take…

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It’s WIAA State Wrestling Weekend! Good Luck wrestlers and coaches.

ChildGrower Blog by Annita Woz

wrestlingfrontfeet1   Seconds of time on a wrestling mat combine with time spent at the Woz Hotel during the state tournament and become a part of our family wrestling story.

The yearly trek to the state tourneys is a cherished pursuit of athletic honor and a trip that team mates and family look forward to all season.  It is a bittersweet opportunity where mothers of wrestlers get sleepless nights while wrestlers dream deeply of walking in the Parade of Champions, lights out, single file, ready to work for one last win.   We would wish this on everyone if we could.

After the history books record the final match points, the fastest pins, the major decisions, what matters most is that the competitors got the chance to  face the best in their class and the spectators, the fans, the families, are all in the bleachers where they are able to embellish and retell the tournament with the detail that comes from having been there.

What is left…

View original post 1,508 more words

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