The Kansas City area is blessed to have an organization called Synergy Services that provides multiple programs that help those in need. They created a Mentor Moms program to help connect teen moms with experienced moms in order to get support and advice. They have created ‘safe houses’ where women and their children can escape from domestic -violence situations. Synergy Services offers so many more programs, but the program that affects teens the most is their STOP Violence campaign. It addresses the destructive nature of Teen Bullying, the social, academic and psychological effects bullying can have on teens, and it recognizes the parallel between teen bullies and their potential of becoming abusive when they are adults.
According to Synergy Service’s 2013 Statistics Involving Bullying:
•More than 500,000 “attacks, shakedowns and robberies” occur every month in secondary schools (National School Safety Center)
•An estimated 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students (National Education Association)
•81% of boys and 72% of girls will be seriously impacted by bullying during their school career (National Journal of School Counseling)
•Almost 16,000 young people attended Synergy’s violence prevention programs last year.
Synergy Services offers three different programs that address the realities of teen bullying:
- Power Through Choices: An interactive life-skills program for students from pre-school through high school. Sensitive educators provide school-based, age-appropriate presentations on topics of sexual abuse, relationship violence, child abuse, self-esteem, domestic violence and effective decision making.
- Get Connected: A comprehensive bully prevention program with components for students and parents as well as school personnel and community groups. The program promotes proactively eliminating peer abuse through kindness and positive peer relationships.
- STEP Up: An eight-week “lunch and learn” program for middle school girls that addresses female bullying. ( www.synergyservices.org)
While some of these programs are originally set up for formal classroom settings, the programs can surely be adapted to home-schooling situations, after-school groups or other groups outside the educational community.
The program that intrigues me the most is the STEP Up program that involves anti-bullying among middle-school aged girls. Having been a middle school girl at one time, and having worked closely with middle-school aged girls for almost 20 years in a variety of capacities, I guarantee that this program is NEEDED. Some of the meanest, most hateful actions I have seen have gone on between teenage girls while they are in the midst of a dispute, and now that they have access to such a variety of technology with which to bully one another, the opportunities to harass a victim are exponentially greater.
Common sense also tells us that many adults use technology to ‘babysit’ or monitor their teens’ behavior, exclusively, without actually connecting with their kids. Adults must forge relationships with their kids at every age, even when they start to become self-sufficient in some areas. Just because your children can start to make their own dinner or can complete complex geometry problems does not mean that they are emotionally mature enough to handle situations that involve bullying—regardless of whether or not they are the victim or the bully
If you work with teens, you should access the Synergy Services website, and if they are not already involved with your teens in some way, grab ahold of this resource with both hands and do not let go! They are a treasure to the Kansas City area.
www.synergyservices.org Aug. 18, 2013.