The Bully Proof Classroom

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR TEACHERS

Technology To Fight Cyberbullying

Written By: James H Burns - Sep• 30•14

With more exposure to social media outlets than ever, people, particularly kids, have taken advantage of an evolved form of bullying – cyberbullying. Cyberbullying isn’t your parents’ brand of face-to-face bullying that they may have experienced in their youth. Cyberbullying is just as malicious and encompasses everything from students picking on each other via social media to strangers across the globe hiding behind a keyboard while typing words of harassment. Although technology may have helped to spawn the alarming trend of cyberbullying, technology also poses a possible remedy. A number of apps and other forms of technology are available to help teachers, students and parents prevent it.

Here are four apps and/ or software programs designed to help combat cyberbullying.

Trend Micro Online Guardian: Trend Micro Online Guardian was founded by a mom who witnessed her daughter being cyberbullied and took great strides to correct matters. Online Guardian contains extensive computer controls for tracking popular social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. This software also offers instant messaging management and malware protection.

YouDiligence:  Parents can’t always be there firsthand to stop cyberbullying, but that doesn’t mean they can’t track instances of cyberbullying to help prevent future occurrences. YouDiligence allows parents to monitor their child’s social networking pages while specifically tracking keywords related to bullying, racial slurs, alcohol, profanity and more. With a list of more than 500 “alert” words and phrases that parents can edit based on their specifications, YouDiligence can email alerts to parents when any questionable activity occurs. These updates can then be emailed to parents and viewed via the online dashboard for easy tracking. Avira Social Network Protection

Avira Social Network Protection is another software program that was created as a result of a parent witnessing their child experience cyberbullying. Avira Social Network Protection, previously known as SocialShield, differentiates itself from other anti-cyberbullying programs by monitoring social networking sites to not only protect against bullying, but preserve a child’s reputation. It uses cloud-based software, making it accessible virtually anywhere via a computer or phone. Safety is recorded on a scale ranging from 1-10, with 1 being regarded as the most dangerous and 10 being safe and secure. It determines which posts, videos, threads and friends are deemed appropriate or run the risk of harming a child’s reputation.

STOPit:  Currently, only one out of ten cyberbullying victims inform an adult about their situation. With the STOPit app, developers and parents are trying to offer children a greater degree of freedom and empowerment by giving them the tools to attempt to halt cyberbullying themselves. STOPit allows children to take screenshots of malicious online behavior and send it to a customized selection of adults, such as teachers and parents. In the instance of older online predators, children who report problems remain anonymous, and the app offers local law enforcement alerts and easy access to 24/7 help lines.

With social networking sites constantly changing, updating and evolving, the Internet can seem like a playground for cyberbullies. However, with apps and software such as those mentioned above, helpful and preventative measures to combat cyberbullying are being developed – if not already here.

This article was provided by Drexel University Online, which specializes in innovative, Internet-based education programs for working professionals, organizations and corporations in the United States and abroad. For teachers and education professionals looking to advance their careers, Drexel offers a wide variety of accredited master’s degree programs online.

http://www.drexel.com/online-degrees/education-degrees/index.aspx

Edu-Coaching

Written By: James H Burns - Jun• 16•14

With the new teacher evaluation system now firmly entrenched in New Jersey Schools and in other schools around the country teachers need help now more than ever in meeting their professional responsibility to follow the recommendations established by school administration. Ensuring that students’ progress academically it is extremely important and it is the primary reason why children attend school. Teachers are trained in their subject area and are always ready to deliver expert instruction to help ensure that their students will achieve a life time of success and of course do well on state mandated tests that provide the evidence of student achievement. Colleges have provided the necessary course work for core content, but have not provided enough rigor in helping teachers deal with the behavioral dysfunction that is faced in schools each and every day. Student behavioral problems interfere with the learning process with power struggles, disrespect, irresponsibility, non-compliance, bullying, and violence eating into the teacher’s time, and creating a non-productive learning environment. The old adage that teachers spend 90% of their time dealing with 10% of their students could never be truer. Behavior problems disrupt the consistency of instruction, creates emotional fear in the minds of other students, increases the absentee rate, can intimidate the teacher, and prevents students from retaining information in their long term memory. It effects the entire classroom and school climate.

The Bully Proof Classroom does not view bullying as the sole problem, but more the result of the problem. The problem is the lack that students have for the rights and privileges of other people, which we define as disrespect. Bullying is the behavior that epitomizes this disrespect. This disrespect permeates classrooms, schools, families, and communities and can make teaching one of the most challenging professions in which an individual enters into.

We at The Bully Proof Classroom are offering to schools and individual teachers a program called Edu-Coaching. This program provides a behavioral coaching program for teachers that will help them regain some of the surrendered ground that the students have claimed and give them the tools necessary to teach respect, encourage responsibility, and improve school and classroom climate. This is not consulting work, but rather an approach that uses on sight coaching as well as coaching with the use of emails and text messages. Schools or individuals who use this program will receive the following:

1.      A two hour in-service on the topic of anti-bullying. This in-service covers the strategies necessary to teach respect and improve school and classroom climate.

2.      On sight observation of individual teachers to help improve student behavior. This is not an evaluation it is designed to offer constructive suggestion and encourage positive student teacher relationships.

3.      Weekly teaching emails that provide strategies to meet the needs of individual teachers.

4.      Text messages that offer suggestions for more immediate problems.

5.      Phone consults on an as needed basis.

6.      Face to face consults on an individual basis.

7.      Face to face conversations with administration to help them help their teachers.

8.      Schools will receive an evaluation of the school climate with a report provided to the entire staff in a power point presentation.

 If anyone is interested please email me at proactive7@verizon.net or give me a call at 732-773-9855.

This would be a contracted service and would be available for 6 months or one school year. Face to face services would be available for teachers and schools in NJ, NY, MD, PA, and CT. Phone consults, emails, and text messaging are available nationwide.

 

Don’t Be An Easy Target

Written By: James H Burns - May• 21•14

At times victims of bullying can be like a magnet and attract bullies. They can become easy targets based upon how they walk, what they say, or because they are just awkward in social situations. This is not to say that victims are to blame for their treatment. Rather I am offering an approach to help the victim develop resiliency and confidence. This requires coaching. We can’t just say to a victim to take action on their own. They have to practice, pick and choose their battles, and know when to walk away. This all comes with the help of a teacher, a parent, or a coach who has their best interest at heart. Here are eleven easy strategies that you can teach your students to help them develop confidence and avoid becoming or remaining a target.

  1.  Only you know if you are being bullied. The warning signs are the knot in your stomach and the fear in your heart.
    Bullies don’t have to know about the knot or the fear.
  2. Learn to stay “Stop Knock It Off.” Realize that when you say it that the behavior may not stop. After you say it, walk away.
  3. If what you say doesn’t work it doesn’t mean that you are a failure. You failed that time. You just haven’t gotten there yet.
  4. If a bully confronts you simply state “You have mistaken me for someone who wants to fight.” And Walk Away.
  5. Walk with your head up and your shoulders back. Walk at a moderate pace between classes. Don’t give the impression that you are looking over your shoulder.
  6. Hold your books under your right arm with a firm grip. Don’t clench them like you are thinking that someone is going to knock them out of your hands.
  7. Pay attention to your surroundings. When you are walking almost take a panoramic view of where you are going.
  8. Listen to your classmates and only respond when you believe that it is absolutely necessary.
  9. Don’t disclose any information to anyone that you believe that they will use to bully you.
  10. Know who your friends are. Keep your friends close and your enemies (the bully closer). Don’t try to be friends with the bully or be his sidekick. It won’t stop him from bullying you. By keeping the bully closer you are merely trying to understand his motives and how to manage his words and actions.

The Haunted House

Written By: James H Burns - Jan• 11•14

Forgive and forget; that’s the line we are all taught as kids, and as adults we try to be sure not to hold grudges against those who have slighted us or who have exhibited behavior that lessened our own sense of self worth. Well, the forgiving part is easy because we forgive for ourselves and saying I forgive you is easy enough but, unless a person gets amnesia they will never forget the past hurts that have been inflicted upon them by their parents, peers, siblings, or maybe even employers. We all are only a compilation of what people have said to us or done to us, and those past hurts can wreak havoc on future relationships and can produce in families what I call The Haunted House.

This house is not the brick and mortar variety and the residents are not harassed by the likes of some specter in the movie Poltergeist. It is a place where the experiences of the past have created an environment where the members of this family accept the abnormal behavior almost as a new normal, and this is where many children are raised. The dysfunction that occurs within the walls of this house is a direct result of the past hurts of the parents of the children that have been inflicted upon them by their parents or other significant others. Remember, people never forget, and if anger and bitterness remain because of past hurts during a person’s upbringing the children will suffer at the hands of a parent who lacks the ability to love, discipline, and communicate and by all measures is a parental bully; a bully who lacks the requisite skills to form a lifelong relationship with his/her children. But, that’s not all; this parental bully will create schisms in the house that pit the family members against each other and an example will be set that I get what I want through fear and intimidation.

What are some of the problems that this haunted house produces? Well read on and you will discover some of the reasons why dysfunction exists in so many homes, schools, and society.

The Haunted House produces a poor perception of life. Things don’t happen to us they just happen. Our reaction or our response to what happens will determine the tone that gets produced in a home. Those that live in a haunted house are always blaming circumstance or upbringing as the reason why they act as they do. They believe that they are determined. In other words, it came down through the DNA molecules or the learned behavior is so ingrained that they just can’t change. They don’t believe in the power of change or that they can change their response to the negative influences that have plagued them over the years. They are irresponsible in their thoughts, words, actions, attitudes, and motives and these negative traits just leak out into the atmosphere of the home where they are absorbed almost by osmosis by the children.

The Haunted House produces disrespectful attitudes. Ah, yes respect; having a high regard for the rights and privileges of another person. Respect is hard to give if you are not receiving it yourself and in a haunted house respect is tough to find. Parents who have multiple children and who are disrespectful can almost unwittingly create such sibling rivalry that the children begin to bully one another. Mom and dad fight all the time so it must be okay for us to fight as well. The problems really start though when mom or dad starts to draw some unfavorable comparisons between the children. This by default produces a sense of favoritism with children becoming jealous and envious of each other with one of the children gaining an upper hand; the upper hand that was given to them by one of the parents. Once the attitude of superiority develops in one of the children they then begin to believe that they can say and do what they want to their sibling(s). This behavior can be so unforgiving that it can produce scars that last a lifetime and it all started in the dysfunctional haunted house.

The Haunted House produces a lack of cooperation and non-compliance. Why are kids rude and disrespectful to one another? Is it a condition or is it learned behavior? I am not going to get into whether or not ADHD or ODD is the cause of the problem. All I can say is that 40 years ago the problems with blatant disrespect were few and far between possibly because these conditions weren’t invented yet. Bullying is a learned behavior and it is learned intergenerationally. What parents do in moderation the children will do in excess. Adult children who have left home in rebellion and have strained relationship with their parents have lost their ability to cooperate with family, school, and employment systems. They no longer know how to cooperate even though they might not agree nor do they have the ability to disagree with the right attitude. Moreover, the kids suffer because this attitude is brought into schools across the country where the children of these parents bring that same learned behavior with them and will con mom/dad to fight to the end against a discipline policy that that they believe has treated them unfairly. Parents accept this challenge only because they believe that they can win the battle with the school but will ultimately loss the battle with their child at home. This lack of cooperation and non-compliance has imputed the idea in our children that they are more academically adept than they really are, and that behavior is relative to a situation. It communicates that everyone has reasons for their behavior, but rapidly these reasons are becoming excuses. Self esteem is important but because of the failure to see the forest for the trees today kids feel good about themselves for no apparent reason. This failure of a society to go to the mat with this type of behavior has produced entitlement in our children and has allowed the bullying epidemic to escalate across the country.

So What Can We Do? We can’t change the way a parent was raised, but we can work to change the attitudes of children today, so going forward the next generation will develop more kind and caring behavior towards each other. Permanent help comes when we address the root problem and it is eradicated almost like the vaccine eradicated polio. Temporary relief comes when we work along the way and treat the symptoms we see and hold individuals more accountable for their actions. Awareness is the key and parents must be aware of their own upbringing and how the past can truly remind them of what they are not now. So here are some ideas on how we can overcome the dysfunction of the haunted house.

Knowledge of where we came from can at first be frightening but then it can help us gain insight into our own behavior. I am not talking about genetics here but more how we can understand the lifestyle and behavior of our ancestors. Do a family tree or visit the homeland of your grandparents if possible. It can help to understand the origin of some of the dysfunction that plagues you today.

Build a value system in your home. Know what is important to you and understand why you are teaching it to your kids.

Set boundaries long before they are violated. Boundaries set in anger only make situations worse. Teach your children how to set boundaries as well especially if they are the victim of bullying. Teaching a child at a young age to say “Stop, Knock It Off” can go along way in building their confidence.

Know your own discipline style. Are you autocratic or permissive? Do you best to balance your rules with a sense of love and understanding.

Don’t hold grudges especially against your spouse or your children. Once consequences have been imposed by you or even someone else realize that the deed was done and the price was paid.

Ask for forgiveness when needed and keep the emotional bank account from becoming overdrawn. This helps build trust and allows for mistakes.

Talk to your parents. Get things straightened out if the relationship with your parents has been strained over the years. Understand that you don’t have to do what your parents say, but always work to respect their opinion.

Understand that change at times can be frightening and that it is a step of faith. Accept the incremental process of change and be aware that you will revisit old behaviors from time to time.

Accept confrontations as a part of life and be courageous. Fearing someone can be paralyzing especially if it is your own child that you fear. Realize for yourself and for your children that courage is like a muscle and we only have to be brave for 2 minutes at a time.

Realize that this process is a marathon not a sprint. Stay the course, don’t give up. If necessary seek the help of a mental health professional to gain greater understanding into your own behavior.

Four Educational Models That Have Been Over Used

Written By: James H Burns - Dec• 01•13

If you were to pick up a textbook on educational methodology and looked through it you would find models that educators have used for years. And I mean for years. A current textbook will have the same models in it that were considered current forty years ago. In the past these models were proven to help educators deal with student academic and behavioral performance and were part of the intervention process when students struggled with social, emotional, and conduct issues. Educators have used these models with some success but, as we have moved through the generations these models have suffered from what I call over use injury. The models haven’t changed but student behavior has, and the models have been used more now as a crutch than an intervention and do very little to help educators deal with the chronic behavioral issues in their schools. Behaviors such as disrespect, irresponsibility, bullying, violence, power struggles, lack of student motivation, clinical issues such as depression and ADHD and other issues were all problems that educators faced many years ago, but the intensity and frequency of these behaviors has become now the norm and not the exception. Let me make something very clear; an intervention is only an intervention if student behavior changes. Using an intervention that students are now immune to will only ceremoniously allow educators to say that something is being done; whether it works or not. So, what are these models? There are four of them, the biological/organic model, the behavioral model, the environmental model, and the psycho-educational model. All of them had their advantages many years ago, but now they suffer from what I call over use injury and may only work in a very controlled environment such as prison, or an inpatient psychiatric unit. Let me spell out for you how these models were used and are used now and help you understand how intergenerationally students have adapted to these interventions and why they no longer net the same results that they did in the past.

The Organic/Biological Model 

Our bodies can at times suffer from organic imperfections that can cause high blood pressure, cancer, stroke, or other diseases that can be treated with medications or other medical interventions that basically can keep a person alive. The wonders and the evolution of medicine have increased society’s life span by more than 15 years since the 1940’s, and is a necessary commodity if a person wants to maintain quality of life. Usually a blood or other test reveals the cause of certain symptoms that prompts the doctor to place his/her patient on medication to lower blood pressure or aid in the relief of those symptoms. Children who are behavioral problems have too often been treated with Ritalin or other psychotropic drugs as a means of controlling out of control behavior and all too often these drugs are used as the first resort and not the last. As an administrator I have called many parents about their child’s behavior only to be told that the child didn’t take his pill that morning or that the prescription has run out and they have to get to the doctor or the pharmacy for a refill. The debate is not whether or not to medicate a child, rather the debate is what the medication does to a child and is medication the only answer. Those in the mental health industry will tell you that therapy along with medication nets the best result when dealing with a client, it would seem rather apparent that medication along with fair, firm, and consistent discipline that is balanced with rules and compassion would net the best result in education as well. The truth is the so called quick fix may be what we are looking for. A person with high blood pressure has to take responsibility for his own health by walking, eating right, and watching his weight; this along with medication will help to lower his blood pressure. Students need to take responsibility for their behavior through the imposition of consequences, if not the only thing educators can expect is temporary relief, not permanent help.

Parents who discover that their son or daughter may have ADHD are at times relieved to find this out because they then can transfer the burden of responsibility to the school who they will claim doesn’t understand their child’s condition and can very easily convert the reasons for the child’s unruly behavior to an excuse. Once excuses are used behavioral problems escalate and by default we can unwittingly agree with the behavior as it hides behind the condition. In reality it may not be a condition at all rather, a learned behavior.

The organic/biological model can at times cause educators to lower their expectations for student behavior as well. As a teacher I would meet parents at conferences only to discover that the parent in their own way had the same personality characteristics as their child. This discovery would send me to the faculty room crying out “I know now why Joe is the way he is, I just met his father or mother and they’re as weird as he is.” I will admit that once this happened I saw no hope and began to lower my expectation for the student. Genetics only influence student behavior, they don’t determine it. A person can change their response to the influences of poor genetics and begin to unlearn some of the  behaviors that are interfering with his/her learning. Students need to be taught how to rise above any genetic imperfection and this can only happen when we increase our expectations. Lowering expectations will only give the student the idea that they are incapable of not behaving in a manner that is acceptable to a family, a school, or society in general.

The Behavioral Model

When students or even adults contemplate certain actions they do so based upon two very important outcomes. What am I going to gain, and what am I going to lose. If the lose is great enough the risk might be too high. If the risk is at a minimum they may jump in feet first. If the consequence from the loss is too great they may evaluate taking that risk again. Students are in a constant state of evaluation and ask themselves these questions when they are thinking about doing something that could result in some uncomfortable consequences. For students who lack good judgment and are always involved in some type of misconduct educators use a behavioral approach and place the student on a behavior modification program. In other words they receive a reward for acting and behaving in appropriate ways as opposed to exhibiting poor judgment. If I understand this correctly students are rewarded when they change their behavior; which makes sense. But, what about the students who exhibit positive behaviors all the time, where is their reward? To the students who are always on the right track it would be to their advantage to act up and then change their behavior once they receive their reward. Behavior modification does work, but it is so extrinsic that students can’t maintain their positive behavior once the rewards stop coming. Many years ago students were rewarded for going above and beyond the behavioral expectations of the teacher, now students are rewarded for what they should be doing anyway, such as staying in their seat or being on time for school. Because of the over use injury that this model has sustained kids look to be rewarded for anything and everything. The students feel good about themselves for no apparent reason, it is a temporary fix, and once the novelty of the reward wears off the behavior continues. In addition the stakes have been raised with children in homes being given high end items for doing something that in years past would have been viewed as daily household chores. The same is true with the use of praise. A student could exhibit positive behavior for a day or two and the teacher falls all over this child with an avalanche of positive comments that do nothing more than put pressure on the student to continue to live up to expectations that he/she is incapable of. Praise if given too frequently can become like white noise in the mind of the student with him or her almost not believing the comments themselves. Praise needs to be given on a 1-9 ratio, for every one correction there needs to be nine statements of praise doled out. With ten months in the school year that should be one solid comment of praise once a month. In between educators need to strengthen their relationship with their students by practicing the 2X10. Two minutes a day for 10 days straight a conversation needs to take place with a student that is the most unlikeable and unruly. This conversation will strengthen the student/teacher bond and by the eighth day the student will be looking for the conversation. This breeds respect which if not present no amount of praise will change student behavior.

The Environmental Model

As a special educator I used the environmental model much of  the time. My students needed to work at desks that had blinders on them, use head phones, and were given individual instruction. With behavior problems the students were spread out all over the room to avoid verbal confrontations. The environmental model worked. By today’s standard the environmental model has taken on a whole different meaning. Parents request that their child’s schedule be changed because they are not getting along with the teacher or other students in the class. Students are now given individual personal aids to monitor them because their behavior is so out of control. No Child Left Behind standards now have teachers preparing individual lessons for many students in their room with two or three teachers in the room to aid with instruction. The environment has been modified to a point where more emphasis is placed on the 20% of the students with difficulty rather than on the 80% who want and deserve a quality education. The environmental model suffers from severe over use injury and no longer is used in education for what it was intended for. In reality environments are not modified for adults in the work environment. Oh, if an individual has a disability and needs modifications to perform their job duties they are protected under law but no employer will modify an environment due to an individuals poor social skills or lack of motivation. A person with this type of profile will provide all the evidence that will support the employer’s belief and they most times will be terminated. The environmental model needs to be used as an intervention to improve student performance not offer a way out due to poor behavior or social inadequacies.

The Psycho-Educational Model

When a student’s behavior is out of control what factors in the student’s life do we have to consider?  Some educators may consider the following: The parent’s are going through a messy divorce, alcoholism in the family, the student broke up with his/her boyfriend or girlfriend, low IQ, or they didn’t make a spots team. Which of these factors need to be considered? The truth is none of them. That is of course if you are a teacher. A social worker, behaviorist, or school psychologist would consider them all, and there in lies the problem. Teachers and support staff like the ones mentioned never have and never will get along in a school environment: why: because teachers seek consequences for inappropriate behavior and social workers et.al. seek reasons. This model has been over used and has suffered injury due to the fact that accountability for poor behavior has taken a back seat behind the guise of reasons which have become excuses. This model used to work well when teachers balanced their rules and regulations with compassion and understanding. That’s when the teacher did it all and offered an understanding ear after the student was disciplined. The minute that two people enter the discipline process a bad marriage begins to form with two very different philosophies being used. Students know this and just like parenting when mom says no ask dad, when the teacher is viewed as unfair enter the mental health professional to soothe the soul that feels maltreated. Some students need therapy and should receive it but it needs to be balanced with an environment that offers real world consequence.

The psycho-educational model has been misused and widely misunderstood by educators. The core psycho-educational principle is education has a role in emotional and behavioral change. . The rationale behind a psycho-educational approach is that, with a clear understanding of the mental condition, and self-knowledge of own strengths, community resources, and coping skills, the individual is better equipped to deal with the problem and to contribute to his or her own emotional well-being. Consequently, improved awareness of causes and effects leads to improved self-efficacy (the person believing that he is able to manage the situation), and improved self-efficacy leads to better self-control. In other words, the person feels less helpless about the situation and more in control of himself or herself. This model if used correctly can make a difference in the lives of students and parents as long as in the process of disciplining students educators and other mental health professionals work together in understanding a student’s diagnosis and use that diagnosis to educate and improve student accountability and not excuse unruly behavior behind a condition.

 

 

An Engaging And Thought Provoking Talk Show

Written By: James H Burns - Nov• 18•13

Here is a wonderful testimonials that I received regarding The Bully Proof Classroom radio show that I do on blogtalkradio.  If you would like to be interviewed on my show please do not hesitate to contact me through this website. Just click on the tab contact at the top. The interviewee was Tiffany Haisten a dynamic teacher who has some great ideas on how to combat the problem of bullying that we face in our families, schools, and communities. Listen here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bullyproofclassroom/2013/11/14/the-bully-proof-classroom-interviews-tiffany-haisten

 

The Bully Proof Classroom is an engaging and thought provoking talk show. Jim Burns is informative and provides meaningful insight to the problems that teachers and parents face daily. The Bully Proof Classroom gives straightforward advice to the bullying epidemic that is swamping the nation. Listeners are guaranteed to hear honest and uncensored common sense discussions. Guests on the Bully Proof Classroom are allowed to bring real world situations to the table and share proactive tips on parenting in this “post-modern” world.  Jim Burns approaches topics that are often controversial with grace and tact; which provides the listener and guests the opportunity to hear opposing opinions without the worry of argumentative shenanigans.  Jim Burns and the Bully Proof Classroom are equipping parents and educators with the resolve they need to stand up for our most precious gift – our children. I am listening…are you?

Health Insurance Or Health Care?

Written By: James H Burns - Oct• 23•13

What does health insurance and health care have to do with bullying? Well maybe nothing or maybe it has a lot to do with it; maybe more than we would like or even imagine. I’m not sure but I feel compelled to speak about an event that occurred on October 18, 2013 that involved my daughter Grace and I. I think that it’s important to state here that I have health insurance, good health insurance. I am a retired high school administrator and receive an excellent health care package from the state of New Jersey. So, this is not going to be a complaint fest. It’s something that I am speaking about because my eyes were opened to a few things that are worth sharing as the topic of health care has become so divisive in our country. I’m not a politician, just an average Joe but things happen at times that just trouble me.

I received a call on Friday morning from the nurse of Grace’s school. She informed me that Grace was experiencing a great deal of pain on her right side and should be taken to a doctor or to the emergency room at our local hospital to rule out appendicitis. I drove over to the school picked up Grace and headed to the hospital’s emergency room. We walked in and filled out a form with all of the basic information needed by the hospital. We then sat and waited to be called for what they call triage. About ten minutes later a nurse called us in to an examining room and asked us for the same information that was on the form I just filled out and entered it into a computer. She asked Grace some basic questions about her condition took her vital signs and told us we would be called back in when a bed was available. In about 15 minutes we were called back in, directed to a room where Grace put on her hospital gown and waited. Waited for what I hoped would be a doctor. Well, the door opened and in came a woman with a portable computer and asked us for the same information that I just gave to the triage nurse. I hope you are counting. A nurse came in occasionally and tucked Grace in, took her temperature, asked her how she was feeling and left. We just wanted to see a doctor and get a diagnosis.

After about an hour a woman came in, gave us her name and identified herself as the nurse practitioner. She examined Grace and told her that her pain was in the area of her appendix and that she was going to order a CAT scan. My question was and still is; where was the doctor? I mean I have good health insurance right, so why was my daughter being examined by the doctor’s underling?  The next thing that happened was a tech came in to schedule the CAT scan and asked Grace the same questions that the other three people asked her previously. How many times do they need this information? Well Grace had her CAT scan, and we found out after a six hour stint in the ER that she was constipated. She was told to go home take a laxative and eat more fiber.

Well, now the rant. As stated earlier I have good health insurance as do many people but, that doesn’t matter, because health care, not health insurance has become a political football in this country. The government was shut down because of it, patients who are in the hospital pay $60 dollars for Tylenol because of it, the mind of everyone is focused on it, the media talks about it, and quite frankly I am sick of IT. What’s the difference between health insurance and health care? Health insurance is what you have or will have when you apply online and receive the health insurance that will be assigned to you by the government. To many people this is a life saver. Some people think that it is for FREE. It’s not, the co-pays are huge, the deductibles are between 2 and $10,000, and based upon your income you will have to pay a monthly premium. Health insurance is what you have or will have; health care is what you get. The quality of the care will be determined by how much the doctors, clinics, and hospitals can afford to offer based upon how much they receive from the insurance companies. My quality health insurance does not guarantee me quality health care. I can see any doctor I want but my care will be based upon the doctors revenue overall. If my doctor has huge overhead and he is treating patients with huge co-pays and deductibles the chances are pretty good that when he is done treating those patients he will be waiting around for his money for a good long while. The results for someone like me; I receive the same health care as does everyone else.

Let me get this straight right now, I am pleased that everyone will receive health insurance. But, I want them to be aware often what is believed to be a life saver can be a killer. Many people are broke in this country right now. What are they supposed to do when the doctor wants his co-pay, or when they can’t afford to pay the minimum insurance premium, or when something catastrophic happens and their insurance doesn’t cover it, or when money has to be paid to meet their deductible? The government will have to eat those numbers and that will drive up the national debt all the more.

I am just an average Joe which I said already, I worked for 30 years to receive the great health insurance that I now have. But, I can see already that if an emergency room doesn’t have a doctor but has a nurse practitioner working the floor someone will pay and I don’t mean monetarily. Did I feel bullied the other day? Of course I did. I was forced to accept the unacceptable because there was no other alternative. Are we being bullied as a country? Of course we are, the problem is though the country doesn’t even realize it.

They Walk Amongst Us

Written By: James H Burns - Sep• 20•13

Aaron Alexis

Tell me how we miss these people; enough already. Let’s start at the beginning: A general discharge from the Navy indicating eight to ten events of misconduct, a discharge that the system converted to an honorable discharge, arrested for shooting three bullets into a neighbors apartment, shot out three of his neighbors tires, admitted he had blackouts that were fueled by anger, identified by his father as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from involvement in 9-11 rescue attempts, a sweet and intelligent guy, but very aggressive, identified by a lay person at the Buddist Temple where he worshiped as someone who might kill himself one day. Well Aaron Alexis doesn’t have to kill himself, somebody did it for him. Security did it at The Washington Navy Yard. But, not before he went on a rampage and shot and killed 12 people and injured countless others both physically and emotionally.

They walk amongst us and we don’t even know it. But, we do know it! Take a look at the track record. Not only do we know it we ignore it. Aaron Alexis discharge from the Navy was commuted from a general discharge to an honorable discharge. He had up to ten counts of misconduct while in the Navy. Who makes these systemic changes? He was identified by friends and co-workers as aggressive, had swings in his personality, was potentially bi-polar, carried and used weapons, and had suicide ideation. Yet, it was reported that he was a civilian information technology contractor, he worked on the Navy and Marine Corps intranet and was given a security clearance classified as “secret.” He had a bogus common access card and gained entrance into the yard with a minimum security check. He was deviant and dysfunctional enough to smuggle weapons into the yard probably because his intranet security clearance gave him the full blown view of where to hide himself and his weapons. And, oh yes did I mention that he applied and was granted a license for fire arms  like he was applying for a dog license.

I don’t understand it. I do understand it, but I don’t. I can give you the reason, but I can never excuse it. You see reasons have become excuses. We evade the excuse and call it a reason and in doing so we allow those who are dangerously mentally ill to walk amongst us and have their way with us. We remain politically correct at the risk of allowing someone with Aaron Alexis’s profile to walk into a Navy Yard, open fire and kill twelve people; people that he didn’t even know but that represented the dark world that he lived in. Oh, he had anger issues for sure, but no one will know who he was angry at. Political correctness will be the undoing of this country. The truth is something that we all think but rarely say for our own fear of judgment by others. But, if we don’t learn to understand that someone with Alexis’s profile is dangerous we will fear the judgment of others who accuse us of racial, political, psychological profiling. I love this quote by George Orwell; “The further a society drifts from the truth the more it will hate those that speak it.” The truth is they walk amongst us and the question is who or what do we fear.

 

 

Great Article From NPR

Written By: James H Burns - Aug• 21•13

Please credit the author of this article and do visit www.npr.org for more great articles on this topic and many others. I merely did the posting.

Victims Of Bullying Are More Likely To Be Arrested As Adults

by Nancy Shute

August 01, 2013 3:40 PM

Children who are bullied over time are more apt to struggle as adults.

You’d expect bullies to grow up to get in trouble with the law.

But children who are consistently bullied also are more likely to run afoul of the law as adults, including being arrested and jailed.

Almost 14 percent of people who said they were bullied repeatedly in childhood and their teens had been in prison, compared to 6 percent of people who weren’t bullied, according to a study.

Women who were repeatedly bullied before age 18 were more likely to use alcohol or drugs than men, and also more likely to be arrested and incarcerated.

“Males and females are different,” says , an associate professor with the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who led the study. “Females tend to be a little more vulnerable.”

Most violence research doesn’t look at whether victims are more likely to become offenders, Turner says. He looked at data from 7,335 people who were between the ages of 12 and 16 in 1996. They were part of the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which followed them for 14 years.

Fifteen percent said they had been bullied repeatedly in childhood. Six percent said they were bullied after age 12. And 5 percent said they had been victimized both in childhood and in their teens. These chronic victims were the ones most apt to have substance abuse and criminal justice problems as young adults.

“The walkaway from this is being a victim regardless of the time is pretty strongly associated with subsequent legal problems,” Turner told Shots. “But it was the chronic victims who experienced the highest odds of subsequent involvement in the system.”

The survey didn’t ask the participants if they were bullies themselves or measure the type of bullying they received. It was presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Honolulu.

Other research has found that people who were bullied as children are more likely to have as adults.

Parents and pediatricians should look for signs that a child is bullied, Turner says, and make sure that children get prompt help in managing that adversity, rather than figuring things will get better with time.

“We have to catch them early,” Turner says. “Victimization tends to peak in fifth, sixth, seventh grade. We have to intervene early in the life course and over a sustained period. ”

 

 

Good Grades Are Nice – But Mastery Is Better

Written By: James H Burns - Jul• 30•13

When I was growing up, there was nothing better than bringing home a report card that had good grades on it. Oh, I wasn’t a straight A student, but I got my share of A’s and B’s. I also got my share of C’s and D’s. I guess I was what you call an average student. My parents always checked my report card and questioned any low grades and encouraged me to do better when they felt that I wasn’t working up to my abilities. Today good grades are still the benchmark we use to determine if a student is going to be promoted or retained. The higher achieving students who are in high school usually strive for good grades in rigorous courses, because they know that their class ranking among other things will determine the type of college that they will be admitted to. Good grades are something that everyone wants, and for some reason, they’re just about what everyone gets. The two questions that I have are these: does everyone who gets a good grade deserve it, and is that grade a good indicator of the person’s ability?

I remember when I was a freshman in high school, and I struggled with Algebra I. I couldn’t catch on no matter what. The teacher was great, she knew her stuff, and she did everything to try and get me through this subject. I ended up failing the class. I told my dad that I would take the class again in my sophomore year, because back then you only needed to take three years of math. He wouldn’t hear of it, and he made me go to summer school. In summer school I really got a grasp of the subject matter.  My grade was still only a C, but I really understood the material. I had mastered the content. When I took algebra two during my sophomore year I received a final grade of an A. That was one A that I felt I really earned. I felt good about the A, but I felt even better that I really knew the subject matter.

A student can earn an A in a class for a lot of reasons. He/she may be a very hard worker and really apply himself/herself. The teacher may be benevolent and award A’s to most or all of the students, the student might cheat on tests and quizzes, or the teacher may have cooperative groups set up in his/her classroom, which allows for group work to be turned in with everyone receives the same grade. In the last 20 years, the grading system has become progressively more liberal. Teachers almost never fail students anymore.   I think two of the biggest reasons why the grading system in schools has become so liberal is because of parental pressure, and because teachers have been told by administration that they can’t fail kids. Parents who have kids in high school know of the competition that’s out there to get into good colleges. If their son/daughter receives a B in a class, they know it could throw of their child’s class ranking and their child might not be able to get into the college of their choice. Teachers fear giving a low grade because district scrutiny says that if they fail too many students, those failing grades are reflection poor teaching.

Society views good grades as an indicator of student success. The current brain research tell us that in order to determine if a child has mastered school related material they have to show that they retained the information 24-48 hours after they have been given a test.

If a student takes a social studies test on WWII and receives a grade of an A, does that mean that he/she has mastered the content? The only way to be really sure is to test the student again in a day or two. This is very unrealistic and I could never imagine any school doing this.

I have a friend whose son is attending Dartmouth College. I know that he never worried about his grades and neither did his mother. He was more concerned about learning the content of the course. The good grades came as a result of his attitude about learning. I don’t believe that he measured himself based on grades, but rather on how much he learned and remembered. When he took a class he always tried to figure out what he was going to get out of the teacher, or out of a textbook if the teacher wasn’t too good. It didn’t matter to him how the material was taught, and it certainly didn’t matter to him if the teacher was good or if the teacher was bad. He applied himself as a student and he himself worked to master the content. Successful people don’t really worry about a grade; they are more concerned about what they are going to learn. Knowledge to them is sacred, and they work to get as much of it as they can. Grades create competition and that’s a good thing. Good colleges are filled with good students who have worked hard to get where they are and who want to stay where they are. Excellent students like receiving A’s, but they know that that the grades they have received are only an indication that they have truly mastered the material that was taught.