Monday, September 19, 2011

What Do You Think?: Protecting Your Reputation

After a fun summer, Martin entered the new school year with a positive attitude. He felt good about his classes, and the new friends he’s made. After the first few weeks of school, Martin has noticed the new girl, Gaby. He develops a crush and talks to her whenever he has a chance. One of his classmates, Steve, tells Martin that Gaby likes him and wants to be his girlfriend. Excited, Martin goes to hug Gaby, and asks if she would like to be his girlfriend in front of everyone, including Steve. She stares at him, and says no. Everyone is laughing and Martin soon realizes this was just a rumor started by Steve. Martin yells some bad words to Steve, clenches his fists and throws the first punch.

Questions for Discussion:

1. How do you think Martin felt when he realized Steve had made up a rumor about him? How would you feel?
2. Why do you think Steve started the rumor?
3. Why do you think that Martin fought Steve?
4. Instead of fighting, what might have been a better way for Martin to handle this situation? How do you stand up for yourself?
5. What do you think will be the consequences for fighting at school?


**Fighting isn't just for boys. 46% of males and 26% of females reported they had been in physical fights. For males, both physical and verbal bullying is common, while for females, verbal bullying and rumors were more common.

**Those in the lower grades reported being in twice as many fights as those in the higher grades. However, there is a lower rate of serious violent crimes in the elementary level than the middle or high schools

**For both males and females, the percentage of students who reported being in a fight anywhere was lower in 2009 than in 2007 (39 percent compared to 44 percent for males, and 23 percent compared to 27 percent for females).

**Students recognize that being a victim of abuse at home or witnessing others being abused at home may cause violence in school.

**Two High School students were jailed in 2008 on assault charges after police said they were in a fight in the school during which another student was cut.

What Can Mentors Do to Help Prevent This?

**Teach kids to seek out trusted adults for help if they have trouble resolving conflicts on their own. Adults can be helpful in sorting out differences.

**Don’t Judge, Don’t Solve, DO Listen. Talk with your child, and find out what’s going on. Are her or his friends also fighting? Is your child struggling with an issue or perhaps a disability? Do not try to solve their problems right away. Start by listening to what your mentee has to say.

**Sometimes we unknowingly misdirect our kids’ coping skill development by teaching them how to make excuses and blame others. When you ask to a child, “Why did you hit that kid?” not only are they asking him to make an excuse, but if he doesn’t, they’ll readily provide one: “Maybe you were angry.” The question “why” always indicates that we’re looking for an excuse or reason, when really what we want to learn is what he was trying to accomplish. So a better question is “What were you trying to accomplish when you hit that kid?” because it gets to the facts of the action.

**Teach empathy, respect, and compassion. Try to understand your mentee’s feelings and talk about what the victim might be experiencing. Is your child aware of the impact of the behavior?

**Teach by example. Model nonviolent behavior (use your past experiences), practice constructive resolution of difficult situations, and give positive feedback when you notice healthy choices.

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