Our teens. Our voice. Our world? by Olivia Demmler (center in pic) age 14

Some of you may be offended with what I’m about to say and prepare yourself because I cried when I heard about this. Written by a teen who heard about something unimaginable happen on February 14, 2018. How can this even be our world? What will be different about this school shooting? Is there a way to make a change? Who do we confide in? All of these questions I asked myself when I heard about what happened in Parkland, Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

636542839634075922-AP-School-Shooting-Florida.1I wasn’t at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School but I was still affected because most of those kids who sadly passed away were my age. A 19 year old should never have an AR-15 let alone one who’s mentally disturbed. I posted something on Instagram it said, “ We need change. We deserve change. We can’t let innocent people keep on dying we’ve had enough #enoughisenough. There are so many things wrong with the world we live in right now and what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is only the beginning of it.

dab95bd742064c529b292ea44b48cb43.jpgTo spread change I’m no longer asking I’m begging for you to march. March so we know we’re not alone. March so change will come. March because there’s so much more to life than just sitting down thinking about how you could have made a difference. March for every life lost during the school shootings. March because this is somehow our reality. I literally cried while writing this so please I’m begging all of those who don’t feel like they have a voice trust me you do.

Personally I want to have kids and I want them to go to school in an environment they can trust with people they can trust. Seeing how someone can walk into a school with an AR-15 and decide to kill 17 innocent people is unbelievable and to be honest I don’t trust schools that much. Hopefully our future generations never have to go through something like this. Finally, there have been 18 incidents where a gun has been brought on school property like wth. Honestly we need to put the politics aside and focus on public safety. This situation is not red and blue and we can’t point fingers if someone says something we don’t like.

180217-parkland-victims-16up-composite_f28d54947a0ad694bc02699c473e6dc2.nbcnews-fp-1200-800When I heard about this I cried those were kids my and most of our leaders age that ended up dying. I hate to say it but that could’ve been anyone of us. We can’t get through a normal day without hearing that someone’s been shot. We should send thoughts and prayers but we should also take action. I think all of these kids have heard enough of thoughts and prayers.

Capture-5Someone or some group needs to take action and do something. Schools will never be the same. Lives will never be the same. If you saw the CNN Town Hall for the victims. Well Ted Deutch (Representative) for Florida said something very important, “it is not — it is not too soon; it is too late for the 17 lives that are lost.” I completely agree with what he said. Why did it take so many? How many more do there have to be? Another thing is that they want to trust teachers with a gun. How is that okay?! Not to be rude but how many of your teachers don’t know how to use an activboard? Teachers are here to teach us. They shouldn’t have a gun. Protect children not guns.

Olivia Demmler

Valued Girl Talk Marlton Member

HALLOWEEN -A TWEEN GIRL PARENTS NIGHTMARE

This weekend as I was perusing the aisles at the local Halloween store, I overheard a parent and a young girl, who couldn’t have been more than 6 years of age, arguing over her costume choice. It was hard to ignore, as the girl was very vocal in her choice of a sexy police girl costume. WHAT?!SEXY” police girl costume for a 6-year-old?! NO! I identify with this mom’s concern and admire her for telling her daughter no.

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Of course, the child did not take no for an answer and kept throwing her tantrum in the crammed aisle. As I got closer, I noticed these sexy police girl costumes, in a size 4-6x, come with a mini skirt, black thigh highs and a low-cut top. FOR A CHILD?! The mom looked tired, frustrated and defeated by her daughter and the pressure from the selections of costumes the store had to offer. I leaned in to the girl and said, “I never saw a police woman wearing a skirt or any of those clothes, you won’t look like a real cop.” She looked up at me confused so I googled DIY police woman costumes and showed her how she could look like a real police woman at almost no cost. Mom smiled at me and the two of them started discussing how they were going to go home and make their own costume that looked like a real police woman. They both thanked me and were on their way.

Leopards-1024x804.jpgIt’s estimated that more than $1 billion dollars will be spent on Halloween costumes for kids this year. Halloween is meant to be fun, and dressing up should be creative but age-appropriate. Halloween costumes are a great way for kids to have fun expressing themselves and show their creativity, but sometimes it can cross the line — especially for the girls. The pressure to wear a sexualized Halloween costume is increasing both in the marketing industry and among peers. Sexy Halloween costumes, long popular with adults, are now turning up in the kiddie aisle. Revealing getups are now available for girls as young as 3 and 4. WHY?

We want our daughters to grow up feeling comfortable in her sexuality -whatever form that takes -and to have the freedom to express that however she so desires. But that doesn’t mean it’s ok with them being taught at such a young age that her sexuality and looks are more valued above all other traits — on Halloween or any other day of the year.

Pirates-1024x702.jpgIt’s normal for girls to use Halloween to want to look more grown up, but there’s a fine line between enforcing family rules and shaming girls for their clothing choices. So how do you negotiate kids’ outfits without killing their Halloween fun?

If you are a parent of a tween, (I will pray for you-lol) Halloween just got a hell of a lot more problematic for you with all the provocative costumes available. Before you decide to take your daughter shopping for a costume, have a conversation. You are going to have to help your daughter manage the image she’s putting forth with her costume. This is a parenting moment. Our children rely on us to set boundaries for them, so do it. Set clear expectations and share your values. Encourage her to express her creativity and have fun, but in a way, that is appropriate. Pre-teens/Tweens have no real comprehension of the negative message they’re sending when they put on a sexy Halloween costume. They are way too young to dress sexy, don’t give in to this.

If you are a parent of a teen (I will pray for you A LOT-lol), it’s normal for them to want to experiment with dressing provocatively, and Halloween is a prime opportunity for them to try to get away with it. As a parent, I don’t like it, but we need to understand it. As the girls are now into their teen years there are big changes in their bodies that we want them to love and accept. Adolescent girls should be able to expose a little bit of skin – whether it’s Halloween or not -without feeling ashamed or vulnerable. This is another great parenting moment. Although we want our young ladies to love their developing bodies, it is also a great opportunity to revisit and share your values with your daughter. Help your daughter to explore her creativity and choose a tasteful costume that also satisfies her desire to fit in, explaining that it doesn’t need to be focused on sexuality.

There’s something sad about the world that the trend in young girls’ clothing is so sexual. They grow up quick enough. Let them have a childhood that is free from worrying about who society expects them to be.  Our girls deserve to be free to discover who they are on their own. All these provocative costumes do is bring negative and unwanted sexual attention to our little girls. They are too young to comprehend the ramifications and it is our job, as parents, to protect them. There is never a reason a kindergartener should be dressing as a “sexy police girl” costume for Halloween.

Have a Happy& Safe Halloween

Mary Beth

Let’s End All Racism Now

 

I believe we are all born equal and die the same way, equal in rights, equal in opportunities, equal in dreams and goals. We all begin life with a winning trust in others and an expectation that people are all good. So how is it that so much racism and hate are in the world?

a40b43290aa742579d2781809981863dRacism, researchers find, is a learned behavior exhibiting in children as young as three years of age. They state, the two most powerful purveyors of racism in children’s lives today are the media and the adults they know. Racism is an attitude of a person who with their acts, behavior, and their words differentiates another person for faith, skin color, and social and cultural backgrounds. It is sad to live in a world where racism, hatred, prejudice, and ignorance still exist.

ae1abad2fdc1fef12b419d5ca66c29b2--racism-today-stop-racism.jpgMany people are hesitant and uncomfortable discussing racism and racial differences, especially with their children. But whether you talk about it or not, kids will notice when someone is being treated different or looks differently than they do. From an early age, children should be taught to appreciate diversity and practice empathy. Despite all our best intentions to avoid and mute any mention of racism, children learn about it from their environments. Children need to be prepared for a future society that is becoming increasingly diverse and we need to encourage them to see this diversity as a positive. Parents, caregivers, teachers and, in fact, all humans have a responsibility to ensure all children learn to navigate the complexities of our diverse world with empathy and respect.  It’s time to start talking to our children about race.

53dcb51fc25df8dceb8384b386a01874--anti-racism-skin-colors.jpgThis is not a new problem. We all know that racism abounds in our society. Yet, the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. are shocking to us. The most frightening thing about what happened in Charlottesville is that these hate groups exist all over America. And they will continue to build and grow until we put an end to it. With the recent events being broadcast all over the news and social media, there is a good chance your children have been exposed to these images. Children need to be reassured that they are safe, please have a discussion with them. Reaffirm your beliefs and explain the values you wish to instill in your child.

80480ef40b8400f66535dfa84e67b296--stairway-to-heaven-stairways.jpgWill racism ever disappear completely? I am hopeful. I wish to live in a nation where no one will be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This may not happen in my lifetime, or yours, but let’s do our part by continuing the fight against the hatred in the world.

First, we must confront it in ourselves. Anti-racism begins with a basic respect for all people. All people of all races are equal, don’t judge the book by its cover. Reach out and get to know people who are different from you, learn about them and their cultures.

Build a community that helps to prevent hate and racism issues by creating a better future through instilling values to our youth by providing support and education in diversity and ethnic awareness. Let them know that hate and racism are unacceptable. Advocate for students in your community by making a concerted effort to stop racism, hate and bullying at your school. Learn to speak up and step in when you see racism occurring, and disrupt it in a safe way.

images.pngThe ultimate goal to anti-racism is to make institutional and structural changes in our society to achieve racial equity – equal opportunity and access for all. No one person can do it all or do it alone, but we can all do things to help, and in doing so, work collectively to end racism.

~Mary Beth

Girl Talk Marlton

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TAKE A STAND AGAINST BULLYING

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Take a stand against bullying!

http://thewishwall.org/desideri/take-a-stand-against-bullying/

In support of National Bullying Prevention Month this October, I thought I would write my wish to stomp out bullying. All of us go through those awkward preteen and teenage years, and chances are that you have either been bullied, witnessed someone being bullied or have been the bully yourself. It has become critical to talk about the issues of bullying and cyber-bullying because of the harmful effects it causes. Founder Ross Ellis recognized this and created the Stomp Out Bullying campaign in 2005. Its goal is to encourage communities to work together to stop bullying (and cyber-bullying) by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on all children of all ages.

 

Now in its 11th year, the kindness movement continues. This month, I will do my best to raise bullying prevention awareness by educating how to effectively deal with bullying situations peacefully. In my mentoring program chapter that I facilitate, Girl Talk Marlton, we have girls ranging in age from 10-18 years old, and we discuss this topic quite often. It is a sad statistic but 1 out of 4 students in middle school and high school have been bullied. There are three different types of bullying: physical, verbal and social. Experts say that girls tend to excel at social bullying. Some bullying is obvious, like psychical attacks. While verbal and social bullying can be more subtle behaviors like exclusion, mocking, teasing, spreading rumors, starting gossip, online attacks, and scare tactics.

 

Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of, right? Well, a lot of girls seem so innocent and nice to us adults but bullying and nasty cliques start as early as elementary school! A good portion of preteen and teen girls deal with friendship struggles and various degrees of social cruelty and feel as they are alone, but they are not. They allow their so-called “friends” to treat them in ways they don’t deserve. WHY and how can we help empower them to not be treated this way?

 

Let’s start by teaching our girls values to look for in real friendships such as kindness, loyalty, positive attitudes, and honesty. Focus on showing them the differences between healthy and toxic friendships. “Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” —Lyman Abbott. I agree with this quote because teaching them to use assertive communication skills and accepting the anger helps to be able to walk away from those fake friendships with confidence. We should teach our children to stand up for themselves and others and not to be bystanders who witness the assaults, harassment and threats and remain silent.

 

If your child shares with you that they are being bullied, don’t intervene too soon. However, no child should have to find her way through this painful conflict alone, help guide them through some effective resolutions they can try first. Creating a plan that works with your child’s strengths and abilities can help build self-confidence and resilience. Be sure to listen and support them through this inevitable pain of bullies disguised as friends. If the bullying continues, contact the school to develop a plan to stomp out these bullies.

 

Stay connected with your preteen/teen to know what is going on in their everyday life, even though they make it so difficult. They need you (even though they don’t think so) and it is your job as their parent or caregiver to guide them through these tough years. This isn’t the time for you to be their friend, there will be plenty of time for that later in life. Have discussions with them about what is acceptable behavior on social networking, websites and text messaging. Make sure they aren’t being cyber-bullied or perhaps being the bully. Know what apps and online activities they are involved in, get their passwords (YES, passwords-you pay the bill don’t you?). Let your child know that using these technological tools is a privilege and don’t hesitate to take them away if they are not used properly. Remember YOU are in charge and that you are investing the time and care into your child because you love them. Don’t let your child bully you!

 

Stopping bullying is everyone’s responsibility. You can help do your part by raising awareness through community events and sharing information with others. Pass it on.

 

My wish……END THE HATE … CHOOSE KINDNESS … STOMP OUT BULLYING. MODEL POSITIVE BEHAVIOR THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY BY TREATING OTHERS WITH KINDNESS AND INTERVENING WHEN YOU SEE BULLYING BEHAVIOR.

http://www.stompoutbullying.org/

Mary Beth
Girl Talk Marlton/for The Wishwall
http://www.girltalkmarlton.org