In Honor And Respect To Ember Weissenberger From Enterprise Who Took Her Own LifeRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Sep 10 2018 12:28 PM
School bullying is a type of bullying that occurs in any educational setting. For an act to be considered bullying it must meet certain criteria. This includes hostile intent, imbalance of power, repetition, distress, and provocation. Wikipedia
ENTERPRISE: This past week a 16 year old young lady took her life in Enterprise. Based on posts from her families social media along with text messages and emails, it appears the family believes the cause behind the suicide was bullying at school.
There is no way that I know if this is true or false. However if it is true, bullying is not a act that is isolated to one certain school or environment. It happens in a lot of places and in life everywhere.
Ember Weissenberger took her life at age 16. Apparently the root cause was bullying. This article is written with dignity, respect and a tribute to Ember so that no one else ever follows in her footsteps in the taking of their life. I did not have the pleasure of meeting her or knowing her family. This is written directly from what I have read from her family and friends.
But it is written based on what I have learned from the social media posts. But it is a message that we all need to stop and think about in life, most especially those in leadership positions.
Let me say at the beginning, please – please read this carefully: NEVER is suicide the answer. There are ways the problems can be solved and there are no problems worth taking your life over. Seek someone of respect out and talk with them. But the taking of your life is never the answer to a problem.
We all are way to involved in life to stop and listen, to stop and say and demonstrate that we love you. But rest assured you are loved. And no doubt in reading the comments, this young lady was loved. It is just that we get caught up in life until it is to late to demonstrate that love.
To the Enterprise Schools. I am not in your schools and can not say there is a problem. From experience those in authority often times want to ignore there are problems.
But I can assure you it goes on not only in Enterprise but in all schools and in life in general. It always occurs in the legal field and in the court system.
Please do not let this young lady taking her life lightly or find excuses. Whether true or false the problem exists, take it as a time in honor and respect for her to do a complete evaluation of your own attitude as an individual, a leader, a follower, and be proactive.
In particular Enterprise and Coffee County has a lot of military. People in and out. Kids here for a while and then gone. Make sure southern hospitality is a focus in the system to help these kids fit in with the hometown people and feel the love and acceptance that we are known for in the south. Just moving from your old friends to the unknown is traumatic in itself.
When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time.
Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.
Warning Signs for Bullying
There are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullying—either being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help.
It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied or bullying others. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem.
Signs a Child Is Being Bullied
Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.
Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
If you know someone in serious distress or danger, don’t ignore the problem. Get help right away.
Signs a Child is Bullying Others
Kids may be bullying others if they:
- Get into physical or verbal fights
- Have friends who bully others
- Are increasingly aggressive
- Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
- Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
- Blame others for their problems
- Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
- Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity
Why don't kids ask for help?
Statistics from the 2012 Indicators of School Crime and Safety - PDF show that an adult was notified in less than half (40%) of bullying incidents. Kids don’t tell adults for many reasons:
- Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
- Kids may fear backlash from the kid who bullied them.
- Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.
- Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could understand.
- Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.
Types of Bullying
There are three types of bullying:
- Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
- Inappropriate sexual comments
- Threatening to cause harm
- Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
- Leaving someone out on purpose
- Telling other children not to be friends with someone
- Spreading rumors about someone
- Embarrassing someone in public
- Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
- Taking or breaking someone’s things
- Making mean or rude hand gestures
Where and When Bullying Happens
Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.
Frequency of Bullying
There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:
- The 2015 School Crime Supplement - PDF (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, about 21% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying.
- The 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 19% of students in grades 9–12 report being bullied on school property in the 12 months preceding the survey.
Effects of Bullying
Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.
Kids Who are Bullied
Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:
- Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
- Health complaints
- Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.
Kids Who Bully Others
Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:
- Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
- Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
- Engage in early sexual activity
- Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults
- Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults
Kids who witness bullying are more likely to:
- Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
- Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
- Miss or skip school
The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide
Media reports often link bullying with suicide. However, most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors.
Although kids who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history. Additionally, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This risk can be increased further when these kids are not supported by parents, peers, and schools. Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.
How to Prevent Bullying
Parents, school staff, and other caring adults have a role to play in preventing bullying. They can:
- Help kids understand bullying. Talk about what bullying is and how to stand up to it safely. Tell kids bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with kids often. Listen to them. Know their friends, ask about school, and understand their concerns.
- Encourage kids to do what they love. Special activities, interests, and hobbies can boost confidence, help kids make friends, and protect them from bullying behavior.
- Model how to treat others with kindness and respect.
Help Kids Understand Bullying
Kids who know what bullying is can better identify it. They can talk about bullying if it happens to them or others. Kids need to know ways to safely stand up to bullying and how to get help.
- Encourage kids to speak to a trusted adult if they are bullied or see others being bullied. The adult can give comfort, support, and advice, even if they can’t solve the problem directly. Encourage the child to report bullying if it happens.
- Talk about how to stand up to kids who bully. Give tips, like using humor and saying “stop” directly and confidently. Talk about what to do if those actions don’t work, like walking away
- Talk about strategies for staying safe, such as staying near adults or groups of other kids.
- Urge them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.
- Watch the short webisodes and discuss them - PDF with kids.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Research tells us that children really do look to parents and caregivers for advice and help on tough decisions. Sometimes spending 15 minutes a day talking can reassure kids that they can talk to their parents if they have a problem. Start conversations about daily life and feelings with questions like these:
- What was one good thing that happened today? Any bad things?
- What is lunch time like at your school? Who do you sit with? What do you talk about?
- What is it like to ride the school bus?
- What are you good at? What would do you like best about yourself?
Talking about bullying directly is an important step in understanding how the issue might be affecting kids. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important to encourage kids to answer them honestly. Assure kids that they are not alone in addressing any problems that arise. Start conversations about bullying with questions like these:
- What does “bullying” mean to you?
- Describe what kids who bully are like. Why do you think people bully?
- Who are the adults you trust most when it comes to things like bullying?
- Have you ever felt scared to go to school because you were afraid of bullying? What ways have you tried to change it?
- What do you think parents can do to help stop bullying?
- Have you or your friends left other kids out on purpose? Do you think that was bullying? Why or why not?
- What do you usually do when you see bullying going on?
- Do you ever see kids at your school being bullied by other kids? How does it make you feel?
- Have you ever tried to help someone who is being bullied? What happened? What would you do if it happens again?
There are simple ways that parents and caregivers can keep up-to-date with kids’ lives.
- Read class newsletters and school flyers. Talk about them at home.
- Check the school website
- Go to school events
- Greet the bus driver
- Meet teachers and counselors at “Back to School” night or reach out by email
- Share phone numbers with other kids’ parents
Teachers and school staff also have a role to play.
Encourage Kids to Do What They Love
Help kids take part in activities, interests, and hobbies they like. Kids can volunteer, play sports, sing in a chorus, or join a youth group or school club. These activities give kids a chance to have fun and meet others with the same interests. They can build confidence and friendships that help protect kids from bullying.
Model How to Treat Others with Kindness and Respect
Kids learn from adults’ actions. By treating others with kindness and respect, adults show the kids in their lives that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, kids are watching how adults manage stress and conflict, as well as how they treat their friends, colleagues, and families.
Prevention at School
Bullying can threaten students’ physical and emotional safety at school and can negatively impact their ability to learn. The best way to address bullying is to stop it before it starts. There are a number of things school staff can do to make schools safer and prevent bullying.
Training school staff and students to prevent and address bullying can help sustain bullying prevention efforts over time. There are no federal mandates for bullying curricula or staff training. The following are some examples of options schools can consider.
Activities to Teach Students About Bullying
Schools don’t always need formal programs to help students learn about bullying prevention. Schools can incorporate the topic of bullying prevention in lessons and activities. Examples of activities to teach about bullying include:
- Internet or library research, such as looking up types of bullying, how to prevent it, and how kids should respond
- Presentations, such as a speech or role-play on stopping bullying
- Discussions about topics like reporting bullying
- Creative writing, such as a poem speaking out against bullying or a story or skit teaching bystanders how to help
- Artistic works, such as a collage about respect or the effects of bullying
- Classroom meetings to talk about peer relations
Evidence-Based Programs and Curricula
Schools may choose to implement formal evidence-based programs or curricula. Many evaluated programs that address bullying are designed for use in elementary and middle schools. Fewer programs exist for high schools and non-school settings. There are many considerations in selecting a program, including the school’s demographics, capacity, and resources. Also, be sure to avoid Misdirections in Bullying Prevention and Response - PDF.
Staff Training on Bullying Prevention
To ensure that bullying prevention efforts are successful, all school staff need to be trained on what bullying is, what the school’s policies and rules are, and how to enforce the rules. Training may take many forms: staff meetings, one-day training sessions, and teaching through modeling preferred behavior. Schools may choose any combination of these training options based on available funding, staff resources, and time.
Training can be successful when staff are engaged in developing messages and content, and when they feel that their voices are heard. Learning should be relevant to their roles and responsibilities to help build buy-in.
Build a Safe Environment
A safe and supportive school climate can help prevent bullying. Safety starts in the classroom. Students should also feel and be safe everywhere on campus—in the cafeteria, in the library, in the rest rooms, on the bus, and on the playground. Everyone at school can work together to create a climate where bullying is not acceptable.
Create a Safe and Supportive Environment
In general, schools can:
- Establish a culture of inclusion and respect that welcomes all students. Reward students when they show thoughtfulness and respect for peers, adults, and the school. The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Technical Assistance Center can help.
- Make sure students interact safely. Monitor bullying “hot spots” in and around the building. Students may be at higher risk of bullying in settings where there is little or no adult monitoring or supervision, such as bathrooms, playgrounds, and the cafeteria.
- Enlist the help of all school staff. All staff can keep an eye out for bullying. They also help set the tone at school. Teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, office staff, librarians, school nurses, and others see and influence students every day. Messages reach kids best when they come from many different adults who talk about and show respect and inclusion. Train school staff to prevent bullying.
- Set a tone of respect in the classroom. This means managing student behavior in the classroom well. Well-managed classrooms are the least likely to have bullying.
Manage Classrooms to Prevent Bullying
Teachers can consider these ways to promote the respect, positive relations, and order that helps prevent bullying in the classroom:
- Create ground rules.
- Develop rules with students so they set their own climate of respect and responsibility.
- Use positive terms, like what to do, rather than what not to do.
- Support school-wide rules.
- Reinforce the rules.
- Be a role model and follow the rules yourself. Show students respect and encourage them to be successful.
- Make expectations clear. Keep your requests simple, direct, and specific.
- Reward good behavior. Try to affirm good behavior four to five times for every one criticism of bad behavior.
- Use one-on-one feedback, and do not publicly reprimand.
- Help students correct their behaviors. Help them understand violating the rules results in consequences: “I know you can stop [negative action] and go back to [positive action]. If you choose to continue, then [consequence].”
Classroom meetings provide a forum for students to talk about school-related issues beyond academics. These meetings can help teachers stay informed about what is going on at school and help students feel safe and supported.
These meetings work best in classrooms where a culture of respect is already established. Classroom meetings are typically short and held on a regular schedule. They can be held in a student’s main classroom, home room, or advisory period.
- Establish ground rules. Kids should feel free to discuss issues without fear. Classroom meetings are not a time to discuss individual conflicts or gossip about others. Reinforce existing classroom rules.
- Start the conversation. Focus on specific topics, such as bullying or respectful behaviors. Meetings can identify and address problems affecting the group as a whole. Stories should be broad and lead to solutions that build trust and respect between students. Use open-ended questions or prompts such as:
- Share an example of a student who helped someone at school this week.
- Without names, share an example of someone who made another student feel bad.
- What did students nearby do? What did you do? Did you want to do something different—why or why not?
- If you could describe the perfect response to the situation what would it be? How hard or easy would it be to do? Why?
- How can adults help?
- End the meeting with a reminder that it is everyone’s job to make school a positive place to learn. Encourage kids to talk to teachers or other trusted adults if they see bullying or are worried about how someone is being treated.
- Follow-up when necessary. Monitor student body language and reactions. If a topic seems to be affecting a student, follow-up with him or her. Know what resources are available to support students affected by bullying.