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Thursday October 10, 2013 MYT 5:30:00 PM
Thursday October 10, 2013 MYT 5:58:26 PM
by norlin wan musa
Goldman journey of discovery (that her daughter was taunted at school) started when Katie refused to take her Star Wars water bottle to school. Katie wanted to ditch the same bottle which had brought her so much excitement and joy just a few months earlier, in favour of a pink one.
The blogger later blogged about her daughter’s experience. A blog post which she described, “...a post that launched a thousand Geeks.”
The post generated an outpouring of support from online communities from all over the world. Katie’s story went viral on twitter and facebook and the rest is history.
On the subject, Goldman pointed out that there is a lot of misunderstandings about what comprise normal fighting and what comprises actual bullying. She emphasised that one time disagreements is different from repeated actions against a target.
According to Goldman, when it comes to being bullied any child can be a victim. However, certain groups are at a higher risk for peer victimisation. She identifies non-conformists as kids who are at high risk for bullying. Her examples includes heterosexual kids who challenge gender norms; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children; children who receives special education, children who practice a minor religion and children who have different physical appearances.
Goldman dedicated five chapters of the book to the experiences kids in the high risk groups had as well as her research on their experiences.
In Chapter Five where Goldman discusses Princess Boys and non-conforming boys, she highlighted the society’s double standard practise towards gender non-conforming children. She said the current society is more accepting towards a gender non-conforming girl than they are towards a gender non-conforming boy.
She attributed this to a deep seated fear of homosexuality in the world , “and there is enormous social pressure not to be gay, particularly for boys.”
This chapter highlighted the difficulty of being a feminine boy in the society, a truth Goldman discovered after speaking with parents who have effeminate sons. One of the stories written in the chapter is of a six-year-old boy Dyson Kilodavis, from Seattle.
Dyson’s mom, Cheryl Kilodavis is an author of a children’s book My Princess Boy, a book Kilodavise describes as a non-fiction book about acceptance. Though thousands of people supports the Kilodavis’ decision to allow their boy to be himself, they’ve also received disrespectful comments from others. Some even called Cheryl an abusive mothers.
Interestingly when Dyson wore a Princess costume for Halloween, some people raised their eyebrows. But when a girl named Annie Rose dressed as Abraham Lincoln for the same celebration, complete with a beard and a stovepipe hat, everyone smiled at her.
This informative book does more than discuss the experiences suffered by bullied victims. In fact it also addresses prevention, intervention and reconciliation. It provides guidance for parents to recognize the warning signs of emotional distress. Goldman also offers techniques for dealing with bullies who she believes also need help.
Goldman concluded the book by advocating acceptance. She emphasised on the importance of creating a culture of acceptance from as young as possible.
“By teaching kids respect and empathy. If children learn to view one another with empathy, their differences no longer become fodder for taunting and bullying.” wrote Goldman. However she said to do this in cyberspace, is a challenging task. Empathy she said seemed to disappear in cyberspace. When a bully is not face-to face with her victim, she said the viciousness of the attacks intensifies.
Goldman believes that parents can teach empathy to children by teaching them to become educated media and video games consumers. She stressed that parents should stay connected with their children as they absorb cultural messages.
She also recommends parents use what they perceive as negative moments as opportunities to teach their children valuable lessons. “For example, if your child is watching a violent video, talk about it. Use it as an opportunity to explain so that he understands violent behaviour is not nor normative or acceptable.”
Goldman believes that “a deeply caring moment at home goes beyond monitoring television shows and watching them with your child to find teachable moments.” She said what it means is to also equip our children with the knowledge and wisdom to be able to independently deconstruct for themselves music or videos where people treat each other badly.
The author sees no point in dismissing what children see in the media as “bad examples”. In fact, we should promote the culture of acceptance. She said as adults our job is to show flexibility and forgiveness.
She also encouraged parents and teachers to go a step further by enlisting the help of cultural icons in putting a stop to ubermasculinisation of young boys and hypersexualisation of girls.
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