No Place For Bullying in School Sports!

Character Picture Sports

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – Coach John Wooden

What are your thoughts on how your school district is handling intimidation, harassment and bullying in regards to school sports and sporting events?

There has been highly negative public reaction to several recent news stories. From Ray Rice to Adrian Peterson to Greg Hardy to Jonathan Dwyer we hear about a culture where aggressive behavior isn’t just contained on the field. It also takes place at home in the form of domestic violence and child abuse, and at school with taunting and hazing.

Now it has occurred here in New Jersey at Sayreville War Memorial High School.  Sayreville has cancelled the remainder of its football season because of allegations of abuse, intimidation and bullying.  All of us want our children to have positive school experiences, and we encourage them to get involved in clubs and sports. We recognize that these involvements can provide our children with a well-rounded education. Sports are supposed to be a way to build character and a sense of teamwork. Harassment and bullying should not be accepted or tolerated at any level.  It’s important that coaches send this clear message, and a message of acceptability and tolerance of each other, to the players before the season begins, as well as during and after the season.

To read more about this topic follow the New York Times and NJ.com articles on Sayreville for acting swiftly to curb bullying.

What do you think of Sayreville’s response?

What can be done about the backlash towards the freshman students that were assaulted?

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Internet Safety Matters

social media

Children are leading digital lives! As early as elementary school, through high school and college children and teenagers are using social networking, creating and uploading blogs, videos, photographs and music and searching different subjects, chatting on IM, snap chat, and more. There is no “off” switch when it comes to cyberspace.

In our world, the Internet is often no longer a solitary or passive experience. For many children, the Internet is social. Children are using the Internet to express themselves and to experiment anonymously with different identities. While the desire to strike out on their own is age-appropriate, all kids still need parental guidance on how to conduct them safely online.

Learn the Basics of Internet Safety

  • Mark your profiles as private – anyone who accesses your profile on a social networking site can copy or screen-capture information and photos that you may not want the world to see. Never share names, schools, ages, phone numbers, or addresses. Remind your kids that when they post something online, they lose control of it. It can be cut and pasted and sent around the Web. If you teach them to self-reflect before they reveal, their online experiences are more likely to be safe.
  • Keep passwords private (except to parents) – safeguard your passwords and change them frequently. If someone logs on to a site and pretends to be you, they can trash your identity.
  • Don’t post inappropriate or sexually provocative pictures – things that seem funny or cool to you right now might not seem so cool years from now. If teachers, admissions officers, or potential employers see inappropriate behavior on your social media pages it could be damaging for any future opportunities. A good rule of thumb is: if you don’t feel comfortable if your parents saw it, it’s probably not a good idea to post.
  • Talk – tell a trusted adult if something mean or scary happens on the Internet. We want to make sure that kids feel safe reporting bad and dangerous behavior.
  • Stop and breathe – remember nothing is short lived online. If you get the urge to react instantly to an angry IM or comment on a message board or blog, it’s a good idea to wait a few minutes, calm down, and remember that the comments may stay up (with your screen name attached to your angry words) long after you’ve regained your composure and maybe changed your mind about posting.

Keep your children safe on the Internet by finding out what they’re doing online. You want to make sure they’re making respectful and responsible choices . Take an active role in your children’s Internet activities. This will help to ensure that they’ll benefit from the wealth of information the web offers without being exposed to its dangers. It is crucial for parents to learn about the types of new media and social networking their children are participating in. This will give them more knowledge to facilitate conversations with their kids about the activities they engage in online. The goal is to teach our children how to be responsible digital citizens. This is what will ultimately keep them safe online.

~TURNING STONEchoice

When Will It Stop?

Ferguson

We’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge go viral over the last two weeks on social media; people happily dumping buckets of ice water over their heads to raise money for a worthy cause. During this same period of time, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri and protests have continued in that city and around the country. In the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, may we engage thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and stand together on the side of justice and equality?

We need to make empowering choices to actively plan how to take actions that will dismantle injustice when it happens in America. So here’s a #FergusonChallenge:

Share a story about how the events in Ferguson have resonated with you, and then donate to an organization that promotes underserved youth, racial justice, and/or police accountability.

Here a story that resonates with TURNING STONEchoice. It is one of the Letters to the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch titled When Ferguson Hits Home August 21, 2014

I never thought I would be living so close to conflict. If I jumped on the highway and zoomed down a few exits, I’d be visiting Ferguson. We are that close, yet we are so far away. Our entire city and country has become focused on what is, and even more alarming, what is not happening in a town within our town. Yet we attempt to put distance between our neighborhoods, just like we attempt to say what’s happening in the Middle East is happening “over there.” Well, folks, “over there” just came to our backyards, and it is madly screaming for our attention.

None of us know the whole story of the incident that led to this massive turmoil my neighbors are embracing without choice. I grieve with every single person involved in this story. There is not one person who is unaffected by this tragedy, including those of us who attempt to drown out the sirens because it’s happening “over there.” It’s “here,” people. The world is watching us, and most importantly our children are silently observing every step we take.

I wonder what would happen if we embraced all those who were hurting tonight, and realized that grieving is actually taking place on both sides of the police line. What if we all held ourselves accountable and allowed each other to take a deep breath when confusion, fear or anger sets in to release a potential breath of hope? I wonder if we’d find peace.

Jen McCurdy  •  St. Louis County

The choice is yours to empower your children and help guide them through purposeful and empowering choice making to help end intolerance and create a peaceful world.

As TURNING STONEchoice always teaches children and adults in our communities, and as the writer of this letter suggests, the first thing we must do is to take that “breath of hope”.

Michael Brown

ACLU of Missouri Foundation: http://www.aclu-mo.org/get-involved/
Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/donate-to-amnesty
Ferguson Youth Initiative: http://fyifergyouth.org/
Ferguson Bail Fund: http://antistatestl.noblogs.org/…/bail-and-legal-fund…/
Or buy an “I Am Human” tee-shirt to support protestors on the ground: http://teespring.com/IAMHUMANDONTSHOOT

Gone Too Soon!

i_love_me

Ending a life is incredibly, incredibly tragic. It represents a lost battle with mental illness. Where it is different is that suicide is a choice. Suicide is a terrible decision made by someone whose pain is so great that they can no longer hold it, and feel they have no other option in life but to end it. They forget all the wonderful things in their lives because they are so consumed by the depression and by the feelings of not being worthy. It’s a decision you can’t take back, and a decision that will affect your friends and family forever. It is not taken lightly.

Losing a person to suicide may feel like a waste. For someone looking in, it does seem like a waste—especially in the case of Williams, who was a brilliantly funny man and a talented actor. People who are severely depressed can’t see past their failures, even if they’ve been successful. Life, however, is never wasted. Williams did things in his life that touched people to their core.

About 90% of people who commit suicide have some kind of mental illness that goes untreated or undertreated.

The national suicide prevention lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Depression and Suicide Resources

American Foundation for Suicide

About Teen Depression

Depression Fact Sheet

Youth Depression

Talking with Kids About the News

~ TURNING STONEchoice

Memorial Day

American Flag
If you happen to have the day off from work or school today please do not dismiss the reason why. Read up on some interesting facts (see link below) on our national holiday and don’t forget to pause at 3:00 today for a moment of silence for those soldiers who gave all.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/25/memorial-day-2013-history_n_3328298.htmlhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/25/memorial-day-2013-history_n_3328298.html

Oklahoma Swept Away

OklahomaA class 5 tornado ripped through Oklahoma leaving behind hundreds dead and injured. Although, the area is known for twisters this time of year, the deadly force and size of yesterday’s storm has left communities in complete distress with neighborhoods leveled to piles of rubble.
Regular folks like you and me, going to work and school will not be returning to their families. It is yet another reminder of how precious life and loved ones are, and at any given moment it may be our last. May we be respectful of those who have lost family and friends, by treating ours with grace and appreciation. Today, choose to acknowledge the beauty of a fellow human being and engage with the intention to connect with one another. With respect, we extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/us/tornado-oklahoma.html?pagewanted=2

What Mother Really Wants

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Mother’s Day is just a few days away, and before you scramble to the local chocolatiers and florist, listen to what 50 random moms had to share when asked, "What do you want for Mother's Day." The responses were humourous to tear-filled. That's a mom for you! Out of those unique answers rose a more thoughtful inquiry, 'What do you need as a mom?" I believe every single woman repeated that question with a tone of surprise and serious contemplation. I enjoyed hearing their stories because a woman rarely gives one word answers. I was humbled and honored at the transparency some chose to reveal, detailing long-held traditions, deep hurts, expectations and their general feelings surrounding that day. Here are just a few of their thoughts.

What I want is a steak and what I need is respect.
What I want is a gift and what I need is some support.
What I want is nothing and what I need is to not be a side-bar to my husband's mother.
I don't know what I want but I need some help.
I want for nothing, I need to forgive my own mother.
I want and need to enjoy the day with my kids.
I want a day to not do what I do every single day. I guess, I need a break.
I need to keep my expectations tapered.
I don't know. I need to know that I am accomplishing something in my childrens' lives at the end of the day.
I want some sleep. Seriously, I need sleep!
I don't know what I want but I need to ditch the mommy guilt.
I want nothing and need nothing. I have 2 healthy kids and a wonderful husband. I am blessed!
I want some peace. I need cooperation.
I just want to see my grand-baby.
What I don't want is breakfast in bed. I need time.
I want some quiet space. I need energy.
I want my mother to come down from heaven and spend one day with my daughter to catch up and I just want to ask her if I'm doing this right.

The most common responses were, “I don’t know” and “I need help, assistance, a second set of hands.” I wish I could wrap this Mother's Day blog up neatly with some profound advice or some convincing statistics that draw a common theme, but that is not happening! Aside from having children we are as different and unique as snowflakes. Our wants and needs are specific to the seasons we weather as mothers. But, I guarantee you this, if you take a moment to reflect upon the distinction between needs and wants, and focus on giving mom what she needs — you will indeed give her what she wants!

Pass this along to the wonderful women in your life to let them know you are thinking about them on this special occasion and have a Happy Mother’s Day!

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice