Middle school is tough. Suddenly, your little kid is almost as tall as you. They greet all family activities with an eye roll and a heavy sigh. Every time you look at them they are texting their friends. There always seems to be some sort of drama happening at the middle school. Someone said something or someone was upset because they were not invited somewhere.
Today, cliques and drama are not limited to the school halls. It goes on 24/7 with the pictures of the party they were not invited to on Instagram or the list of the 5 prettiest girls/cutest boys on Facebook. And sometimes, middle school drama can escalate to the point where a kid feels powerless and bullied. According to the School District’s 2012 Healthy Youth Survey, 27% of 6th graders and 24% of 8th graders at IMS reported being bullied in the last 30 days.
On May 16th, the IMS PTA is hosting a parent education night to discuss bullying and cyberbullying. We will be using the book Sticks & Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon to guide our discussion. We will talk about the stories in the book, and we will explore how we teach our kids empathy, foster resilience and create an accepting community. The challenge is how to do this in the age of the internet, where peer relationships and social jockeying occurs 24/7.
We are using excerpts from the book to kick off our discussion, but you are not expected to have read it. Some of the ideas, we will be discussing are: