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Two Faces of Social Media Users

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

Two Faces of Social Media Users

It is not uncommon for teens to have more that one FaceBook, Twitter, My Space or other social media account. Often they have one strictly for family and extended family and one that shows a completely different side of their personality.

Recently in Dear Abby, an advice column that is syndicated in newspapers across America I came across the following letter:

“Dear Abby: I have just learned that a friend’s 16 year-old daughter has two different FaceBook profiles. One is a ‘nice’ profile to which she has invited me, her family and friends from her days at a Christian academy. The other, which is pretty raw, she uses with her new ‘wild’ friends from public high school.

The first profile portrays her as the perfect student and daughter. The other includes explicit details about her sexual exploits and

Social media sites may allow a teenager to have two for family and one for friends.

drinking parties. Should I keep my nose out of it or let her parents know about the dual identities?”

Signed Vigilant in Everett, Washington

What Would You Do?

Given the information above, how would you proceed? It has been said it takes a village to raise a child and as a parent, I have always welcomed concern and caring regarding my family from others. However what I would not like is someone talking behind my back or being judgmental about my child and their choices in life.

Here is what Abby had to say:

“Dear Vigilant:

Ask yourself whether you would want to be warned about your minor child’s drinking and sexual exploits or kept in the dark and you will have your answer.”

The letter got me thinking, so in reading the letter to Dear Abby, I viewed it from a number of angles: one as the parents, Vigilant who wrote to Dear Abby and the daughter in question.

Cyber-Space Has an Infinite Memory

Many young people lack the life experiences to understand how much exposing their youthful escapades can come back to hurt them in the future. Colleges and employers are now routinely screening applicants through social media sites as well as Goggling applicants.

What seemed to be funny, exciting and rebellious to a 16 year old, can easily become a detriment to the child’s future as well as an embarrassment to the family.

As caring adults, we need to impress on our young people to pause, and consider how what they are about to put out there in cyber space may be viewed, and by whom it may be viewed before pushing send. Think through the decision to post something now. That hasty post could do irreparable harm to your reputation and life for years to come. And as adult we also need to think about the decision to post items. Often posts sent in the heat of anger can be hurtful to others, and cannot be retracted.

Good Advice

While Dear Abby in this case offers good sound advice, so did my mother. She used to tell us “If you are going to regret something tomorrow, you probably shouldn’t be doing it tonight.” Her suggestion didn’t always stop her children and grandchildren from making mistakes, but it did help us to stop and think before proceeding. Isn’t that what we want young people to do?

Some Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Child?

Is this post reflective of who I really am? Is this what I want people to believe about me? Will what I post be hurtful to other people? Is this something I would want a prospective employer to read? Is this something I would want my future children to see? Can I walk away from the computer, phone or electronic device for a few minutes and come back to it, will I still feel the same way, and will I still consider sending it?

Think Before Posting to Social Media Sites!

You can do it, I have confidence in you.

Judy Helm Wright

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Texting on Cell Phones Main Line of Communication For Teens

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Texting and Instant Messaging Can Hurt Children

Schools deal with the issue of harassment through text messaging and online instant messaging every day.

Cell phones and texting is the primary form of communication with teens. Families need to learn about internet safety and cyberbullying online.

But, many adults do not realize just how often children are being bullied online or through texting.

Often too afraid to tell their parents, children try to deal the problem of cyberbullying themselves. They often only getting their parents involved when the situation gets out of control and the child is helpless to do anything about it alone.

Texting is Main Source of Communication

Teachers and parents agree that texting-whether the act of sending one or the anticipation of receiving one- distracts tweens and teens.  Most schools prohibit cell phones in the classrooms, but teens are very adept at getting around the system.

A 2008 Harris Interactive study found that nearly half of kids-42% could text even when blindfolded.

Tactics of the Cyberbully

Bullying, threats and intimidation, harassment and causing embarrassment of another are all tactics of today’s cyber bully.

This growing problem uses interactive technology such as cell phones, chat rooms and online instant messaging in an effort to harass, embarrass or otherwise victimize another person.

The motivation of the cyberbully is widely varied. Often schools are powerless to help as much of the bullying takes place off school grounds.

Why do Children Become Cyberbullies

The reasons children cyberbully each other are many. Sometimes children are holding a grudge against their victim, or want to emotionally hurt another. Sometimes they act out of boredom as a child seeks a new form of entertainment. Sometimes kids fight back against being bullied by becoming bullies themselves.

How to Combat Cyberbullying

At this juncture law enforcement around much of the world is ill equipped to deal with cases of cyber harassment. Right now most laws only apply to cyber threats such as hacking or death threats.

Often the only recourse for cyber harassment victims is to report the problem to their Internet Service Provider. In most cases cyberbullying is only considered a breach of the terms and conditions of the ISP and the only recourse is to suspend or cut off the bully’s internet access.

This usually only stops the bullying for a short time while the cyberbully sets up a new account, or finds access elsewhere.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What would I do if I found my child was being victimized by a cyber bully?
  • Do I know the signs that my child may be being harassed by a cyber bully?
  • Could I tell if my child might be bullying someone else online? How would I deal with it?

Bully Advocate

  • We empower the bully to gain empathy and learn new ways of communication
  • We empower the bystander to get involved and diffuse the confrontation
  • We empower the victim to be courageous and set boundaries
  • We empower the group, school, family or community to adopt a no-bully, respect for all policy

Follow us on FaceBook at Judy Helm Wright or on

You will be glad you did.

New Ways Of Responding To Bullies

Monday, May 2nd, 2011


We are glad you are choosing to spend your precious time
with We will bring you tips,advice and
encouragement. We want to be on your support team.

Empower Yourself and Your Children

Next time you are watching cartoons or a video with your kids
have them monitor the body language. You may need to turn
off the sound so you concentrate on non-verbal communication.

Help them to try different body language so they look more confident
and sure of themselves. Have them put their shoulders back, hands
at sides (not crossed as that indicates defiance) open smile and a
confident walk.

You will find more information on this subject in an article I wrote on
body language.

Victims Look Afraid

Teach your children to imagine themselves inside a protective bubble
that bounces off the bullies words. This will give them some control
in a situation where they may feel helpless.

When choosing a victim or target, bullies typically target children or teens
who have few or no friends. Make sure your children have chances to
make friends away from where the bullying takes place.

Claim your free e-course on social skills today at

When Should Adults Step In?

If bullying is persistent, or your child is injured, take action. If
bullying happens at school, take the matter up with a suitable
teacher and work upward until the matter is taken seriously
and addressed. Keep written records which may be used as

But remember, You are an adult, so don’t try to bully the
other child or the school. You want to follow the wishes of
your child before barging in to do battle.

You will be glad you did.

Judy H. Wright

Judy Helm Wright is a parent educator and child advocate

Family relationship author and speaker
2400 West Central, Missoula, MT 59801 USA

PS. Teach social skills that will help your child navigate the
playground politics. Claim your free e-course today

Learning Disabled Teens And Teasing-No Easy Answers

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Parents, teachers, extended family and neighbors recognize the special challenges of those who love and teach learning disabled children and adults. They are usually sensitive, kind and giving as small children. Because they are small in stature, people are more forgiving of what they can and cannot do.

Teenagers With Learning Disabilities

However, as these cute little kids grow into teens and adults, they have accelerated difficulties. He/she is still very dependent, while becoming harder to control, guide and teach.  The skills may be delayed, but the body and hormones are changing daily.

A LD teen may not understand or confuse many aspects of life when in social situations.  Sensitive to others anyway, this teen may react negatively to any correction or criticism. What may have started out as casual banter, may be interpreted as  hurtful teasing.

Learning disabilities can make the social scene very hard for teens.

Brain disorders are expressed in many strange ways, included a frenzy of hyperactivity.  This hyperactivity may irritate the very people the teen is hoping to attract as friends.

Teens With Learning  or Physical Disability  May Become Target of Teasing

As I have said in many of the previous posts and articles-bullying and teasing is about power. The bully looks for someone who can be manipulated or humiliated in order to make himself/herself feel more important.

The majority of learning disable adolescents do not have social skills and the ability to communicate in order to stop the teasing.  Self esteem and confidence is not easy to come by in any teenager, but may be especially lacking in those who have severe physical or learning abilities.

The amount of teasing, bullying, name calling and taunting that goes on in Special Ed classes and in the hallways of schools internationally, is overwhelming.  This is especially true in junior high and high school when independence is encouraged and tattling is discouraged.

What Should Teachers and Parents Do

Kindness and empathy for others hopefully is an on-going conversation in your home and classroom.  Help all children, but especially those that have learning and social difficulties, to determine if it is a big problem or a small problem.  If it is a small problem help them come up with techniques or ideas to solve it themselves.

If it is a big problem, which involves safety, help them to communicate either with the bully or with an adult. Tattling is to get someone in trouble.  Telling is to save someone from harm.

Self Awareness Quiz

  1. What do you think when you see a learning disabled teen?
  2. Do you feel that you have nothing in common?
  3. Would you step up and intervene or find help if you saw someone being teased?
  4. Do you agree with the difference between tattling and telling?
  5. Can you decide what is a big problem and what is a small problem in life?

You are a smart and strong person and I have confidence you will find good solutions to help support not only learning disabled teens, but others who are being teased and bullied.  Be sure to claim your free report about bullying at

Thank you for being part of a community of kind, thoughtful people who want respect for all.

Often the target or victim of teasing feels powerless and hopeless to change the situation.

Internet Safety- For Parents and Children

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Do you worry about how safe your child is while on the internet?  Are you freaked out by the stories in the news about cyberbullying and cyberstalking? Is it possible that sexual predators use the internet daily to troll for victims?

Parents Should Be Aware of Dangers Online

Using the Internet has become second nature to all of us.  According to Paul Bauer author of  101 Internet Safety Tips For Kids

The Internet is a great resource for homework, but can also be a dangerous place for children to be. Teach Internet Safety.

the Internet is also a minefield.  He sites the following statistics;

  • 93% of all children between 12 and 17 years old use the Internet
  • 16% of teens consider meeting someone they’ve only talked to online and never met before
  • 8% actually meet someone they have never met before but meet online
  • 32% of teens clear the browser history to hide what they do online from their parents
  • 16% of teens have created private e-mail addresses or social networking profiles to hie what they do online from parents
  • 63% say they know how to hide what they do online from parents
  • 20% of teens have engaged in cyberbullying behaviors
  • 42% of parents do not review the content of what their child reads and/or types in chat rooms or via Instant Messaging.
  • 30% of parents allow their teenagers to use the computer in private areas such as bedrooms

Internet is Great Resource- But Be Careful

Mostly the Internet is useful and fun and definitely here to stay.  But I recommend  keeping the Internet access on a family computer in a communal area, like a living room, rather than in children’s bedrooms.  Kids might protest, but you are the parents.  It is much better to go through a pout session with a teen, than trying to track down a pervert who is stalking your child.

Commercially available software is available (check the resource page at ) that will filter and block access to sites featuring adult material.

Find out what sites your child goes to on a regular basis by asking and then checking.  You are the parent and the computer and cell phones are privileges.   Because many parents were not exposed to the cell phones and small personal computers as teens, they are not aware of the many dangers and benefits that are available online.  Make it your business to find out.

Cyberbullying is More Common Than Many Thought

Remind your kids to be selective about giving out email addresses and  change that email address if they are bullied online. Reassure them that you will be available for support, should they feel harassed.   The most influential education goes on between you and your child in daily conversations.  Build a bond of trust even when they act uninterested in sharing details of their lives with you.

Self Awareness Quiz

  1. Do you know if your child has ever been uncomfortable with an online message?
  2. Do you know what to do if your child is harassed on social media like Facebook or Myspace?
  3. Are you talking about the dangers of the Internet the same way you talk about what to do if there were a fire in the house?
  4. Do you keep computers in central place and monitor what is going on?
  5. Are you sure your child would tell you if they were being bullied or cyberbullying someone else?

Football Players Suspended For Hazing in Montana

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

My husband and I read the local Missoula newspaper each morning at breakfast. It is called the  Missoulian and has some of the finest writers and photo journalists in the country.  Many come here to the University Of Montana for the school of journalism and then stay because of the beautiful country and caring community.  We are very fortunate to have them.

November 3, 2010 there were two articles that especially struck our interests and started a good conversation.  Jamie Kelly, who has done an excellent job of covering the bullying controversy in the community, wrote about a hazing incident that probably started out innocent and playful, but could have ended in a tragedy for one or more teens.  The four students, all football players and seniors, are serving three to 10 day suspensions for the role in the hazing, which happened after football practice at Big Sky High School.

This was a hard lesson to learn for the kids, the team, the school and the community.

Teen age boys sometimes make decisions that will have far reaching effects for the future.

At least 10 students, sophomores and juniors were shot in the back or buttocks with a pump action Airsoft pellet gun that was brought into school in an athletic gear bag.  None of the kids “ratted” to teachers or administration.  But one mom was concerned enough to call officials.  The prinicipal Laboski was quoted in the article as saying “A lot of kids said it didn’t bother them, that it was no big deal.”

But it could have been a very big deal.

On the same page as the article by Jamie Kelly was one by Nick Gevock, of the Montana Standard.  His report was about teens and guns too.  But these teens had gone hunting with their fathers and grandfather.  This is a time honored practice in Montana.  A little male bonding, a little sharing of family stories and learning values and standards from various generations.

However, these 5 five young men aged from 13 to 16 learned a lesson too.  When the teens woke up and discovered the adults who had slept in anothertent with a propane heater were unconscious, they acted with keen minds and problem solved a situation that was very frightening.  One of the teens drove back off the isolated road to get into cell coverage and made an emergency call.  The other four stayed in camp and pulled the men out into the fresh air and safety.

Even though the boys were not sure what to do precisely, they recognized that they needed to step up and do something positive in order to change the outcome of the situation.

The adults are recuperating and the boys are probably saying “Oh, it was no big deal.”

But it could have been a very big deal.

For more information on hazing, bullying, encouraging bystanders to step up, please see

Rules for Respect-Boundaries of Behavior

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Rules for Respect-Boundaries of Behavior

© Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family and relationship coach

Do your kids think you have too many rules?  Do they push the limits and boundaries of respect? Do they think it is funny to pick on someone who is different than they are? Perhaps you have had similar conversations that started like these in order to teach respect for others.

“What’s the matter with that word, they say it all the time on television?”

“We were only teasing her, we didn’t mean it.”

Though children and young adults will get mixed or conflicting messages from the television, magazine and friends, they need you to set and enforce clear, respectful rules and limits. They need to know that you expect them to do and be their best.

By providing this guidance you will help them learn how to be responsible, contributing members of society.

Consistent boundaries within the family are pretty predictable;

Consistency in discipline is the number one factor in successful families: It is important that love, respect, cooperation and expectations are unconditional and not dependant on circumstances or behavior.

Here are some common boundaries your family may have;

  • The car will not start until the seat belt clicks.
  • Parents must always know the 4 Ws before they are allowed to leave with friends. WHO are the friends, WHERE are they going, WHAT are they doing, and WHEN will they be home.
  • We do not speak in derogatory ways about anyone.
  • A child can count on dinner being at six o’clock or there about.
  • Bedtime is 8:30 on school nights and homework is done before playtime.

Consistent boundaries and standards give a child and the whole family a feeling of security and safety. It is within this safe environment that self-discipline and life skills begin to flourish and develop.

Be Partners with Schools and Community Organizations

As a community, as well as a family, we need to give consistent messages to our children concerning dangerous, unacceptable and unkind behavior. When they understand hateful teasing or name calling is not acceptable it will be easier for them to forgo temptation to participate.

It is our responsibility as adults to help them learn and live by the basic rule that actions have consequences. By teaching and enforcing family, school and community rules, you teach respect and tolerance for all.

Thank you for doing a good job

You are doing the most important job in the world, raising self-disciplined, thoughtful and contributing children.  Thank you for your time and effort.  We will all be blessed by having members of society who work within a framework of acceptable behavior.

This article was written just for you by Judy H. Wright, author and international speaker on parenting and family issues. Feel free to share with friends and associates, but please include this resource and contact box.

Judy Helm Wright, of Missoula, Montana has become “The Bully Advocate.” As an author, keynote speaker and family educator, she has seen the damage done when bullying occurs. Her blog is filled with information and a free report for parents and teachers. The goal of the blog is to: 1. Empower the bully to gain empathy and gain new ways of communication 2. Empower the victim or target to gain assertiveness skills and how to set boundaries. 3. Empower the bystander or witness to speak up or find help. 4. Empower the group, school, family or community to adopt a no-bully, respect for all policy.

For a full listing of books, articles, tele-classes and workshops go to  http:// You may also sign up there for FREE articles and Newsletters having to do with “finding the heart of the story in the journey of life” by clicking on You will be glad you did and so will we.

Hazing – Tradition or Tragedy

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Hazing – Tradition or Tragedy

In America kids have been back in school for a couple of months. Athletic teams have been selected. After school groups and clubs have formed. There has been a migration for those who want to find a group to either finding that community or feeling even more isolated and alone.

Recent blog posts and articles  have dealt with the one who was left out, the victim or the target. We have discussed the bully and what motivates the bullying actions, and we have written about  the bystander who does not speak up or even worse, encourages the bullying

We have even talked about what makes us do what we do. Why do we bully or give in to bullies or stand by while someone else is being bullied.

Most hazing by groups is a tradition, but it is very easy for the humiliation to escalate and become a tragedy.

As I have talked and shred many times, it is a fine line between being teased or taunted and being bullied.  It is the pattern of abuse and the intent which defines bullying.

Is hazing considered bullying?

Players Change But Hazing Continues

How about the kid who finally makes it on the team or into the fraternity and wants to retain that status.  It is no longer the hidden push in the locker room, but now an organized and sanctioned group “ritual” that has been going on for years.

In some schools, the incoming freshman are required to carry the books for the senior classmates.  It has always been done, they say.  It is a time honored tradition and just helps the freshman to know the school and meet kids who are in upper grades.

A  recent Family Circle Magazine (April 1, 1010) article stated “Most kids can recognize hazing when it happens to others, but a staggering 90% of victims are unable to admit that they have been hazed.”  Is it that they want to belong so much, that it is worth the price of a little embarrassment or humiliation?

Willing To Participate No Justification For Doing It

Most teens allow themselves to be hazed because they don’t know how to stop it.  The consequences can be just as severe for a child who is being hazed as if he/she were being bullied. One young man told me recently; “Well, at least with hazing, I can stand it because I know it will end when soccer season ends.”

But will it end there?  Will those who are in the position of power enjoy that rush of leadership, no matter how warped it is.  Will they search to find other targets or even continue picking on those who were willing to be hazed in a certain setting.

Bullying and Hazing Are About an Imbalance of Power

Whenever one has power over another it creates an atmosphere of dominance.  That is not character building, but soul destroying.

Questions To Think About

  1. Have you ever witnessed a hazing or teasing that went too far?
  2. What did you do and how did you feel?
  3. Has a gang , group or individual ever told you that “this will build character and it has always been done this way” while embarrassing or humiliating you?
  4. If you were being hazed would you feel powerless?
  5. Will you reflect on these feelings the next time you are in a situation to haze or tease someone else?

Please claim your free report on resources to help in bullying situations at

Influence of Environment – Becoming Densensitized to Violence

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Becoming desensitized to violence- bully bystanders

We become a part of our immediate environment.  Everyone adjusts to a new “normal” when we move to a new place or change those around us.  None of us are immune to the influences in our world. When our friends, family, neighbors, television shows, video games, music are present, as human beings we adjust to that level of life.

Actions are shaped by what we live with

Have you ever known someone who went overseas for a few years and has returned with an accent? Have you gone to a new school or workplace and gotten the silent shorthand of what is accepted and what is not accepted.  You learn the dress code by seeing what others are wearing. You soon learn what is expected of your position by watching and following the example of others.

If it is accepted  in your university for seniors to haze the new freshman, then you may laugh and think it is just the way it is. If your family and friends talk in a derogatory way about a certain nationality or religion, you may not find it that offensive when you see it in a movie.

Unaware of  ethics shifting

The fascinating thing about being human is that change happens so gradually that we often don’t see it unless we step away.  When you have been raised to be neat and orderly and then have messy roommates, you gradually become more sloppy.  At first you resent that others don’t have the same values as you do, then you start thinking you might as well join them. Pretty soon, messy is the new normal.

It is only when you step back or change your environment influence that you will realize that it is not in your best interest to continue.  If you live in Montana, as our family does, it is only when we go to a smog filled and traffic filled city that we recognize that we do not belong there.  It is not who we are.

Choose to be true to your beliefs and values

You stand in a position of choice always.  If your friends and family accept that it is okay to humiliate, embarrass or hurt others, you have the ability to choose and to change.  What that means is that you need to decide the kind of person you really are and act accordingly.  That may take making a decision to speak up when something that you previously accepted is no longer acceptable to you.

It may not be comfortable. You may even offend some of your old friends and associates.  But then on the other hand, you may be the leader of a new set of values.  You will help them to become more sensitive to the feelings and emotions of others.  You can do it. I have confidence in you.

Useful questions

  1. Do you find yourself swearing more when your friends and associates swear or use profanity?
  2. Have you noticed that when you are around critical people you become more critical?
  3. Have you hesitated when someone says a derogatory remark and you are afraid to speak up?
  4. Do you agree that  like attracts like?  Happy people like to hang around with happy people.
  5. Will you have the courage to speak up when you see something that goes against what is right and respectful?

If you are serious about changing your life and becoming more sensitive to the feelings of others, then start today to be kind and speak up against injustice.

The Language of Bullies – Power of Mean Words

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The Language of Bullies – Power of Mean Words

In recent years we have taken Political Correctness to new heights to show respect for different races and religions. It is no longer socially acceptable to use derogatory names to label a person based on faith or ethnicity. So why is it socially acceptable to use words like Fat or Stupid or Gay?

Gender Differences in Bullying

Boys who bully tend to be more physical with lots of hitting, pushing, and violence in general.  Their choice of hurtful words usually center on sexual orientation or accusing both boys and girls of being gay, bisexual or promiscuous.  Research has shown that males who are regularly exposed to media or video violence are apt to become desenitized to real-life violence.  They are less likely to be sensitive to the pain of others and thus become bully bystanders.

Girls or females, however, tend to hurt and bully by using emotional and psychological means to isolate and embarrass other girls.

Boys bully with attacks on sexual orientation, strength and ability to win games.

While a boy’s favorite taunt is “gay” or “fag” a girl almost always goes for the physical attributes.  So the dreaded taunt of the female is “fat” or “ugly.”

Nasty Name Calling

In many schools or work places, for example, if a person were to call an African-American by that now taboo “N” word they would be hauled into an office and disciplined. We regularly hear people called Fat, or Stupid, and not much is done about it.

Many, many studies have shown, and it is widely known that name calling can have a profound affect on a person psychologically. So why are these types of slights against another person socially acceptable to so many?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

The old nursery story that our parents advised us to say when someone teased us is not only eneffective, but a lie.  Words can and do hurt. Physical wounds do heal much faster than those in the heart and soul. Be sure to sign up to receive your free report on bullying by going to

Words can be used as weapons. The words people use to label us enter into our inner dialogue and can really affect how we feel about ourselves.

Words have Power

We need to teach our children to chose the words they use wisely. Children and adults alike need to think about how they would feel if someone was using that language to talk about them or someone they loved.  Too much television and video involvement may give a false sense of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in society. Some individuals have become desensitized to real life violence, pain and suffering.

We, as a global society, need to stop casually throwing around words that are hurtful. All caring adults will model and teach how empathy, kindness and responsible action makes for a better world and a happier day for all involved.  If you would like assistance on teaching these life skills, please go to

We All Stand In Choice

Children and teens should be taught that being positive is a lifestyle choice which will bring joy, and happiness to themselves and the people around them. You can do it. I have confidence in you.