Back to School Series: How to inspire an emPOWERed school year

Educators and parents, mentors and coaches all care about the wellbeing and livelihood of young people in our communities.  We are well aware that twenty-first century tweens and teens face unprecedented challenges that many of us may have never imagined, from cyberbullying, drama, trauma and immense societal pressure. 

 But to combat these challenges, I was inspired to do something.

Nearly 15 years ago, I was a mentor and youth advocate who wanted to do something to make a difference for middle and high school students – who like me – were teased, bullied and ostracized by classmates and even relatives.

In 2010, I launched Empowered Flower Girl. Since we started, we’ve been on a mission to transform the way young people relate to one another. Through workshops and programs that address and combat cyberbullying, relational aggression and other social/communications challenges facing youth, we work to empower the next generation of leaders.

So as students prepare for a new school year, we want to remind the adults in their lives of the importance of collaboration aka the Village approach.

It takes parents, educators, community members and youth themselves to truly make a difference.

Let’s work together to ensure that every young person has a successful and safe school year!

Bullying Prevention #Tips4Teens: Stand up for yourself (and others)

From teasing and bullying to hazing and stalking, many teens across the country have experienced some form of harassment.

While nearly 30% of U.S. 6th-12th graders report being bullied at school, others are suffering in silence.

Empowered Flower Girl LLC, a social enterprise with a mission to transform the way young people relate to one another, encourages students to stand up for themselves and others as the school year kicks into high gear.

Chief Empowering Officer Rasheda Kamaria offers the following tips to help students handle conflict:

Speak up: Even if you lack confidence or feel afraid, speak up and out against harassment and bullying. Let the person know that you do not approve of his or her actions. No, means no.

Get help: If the teasing, bullying or harassment persist, tell a trusted adult at the school (in addition to a parent or caregiver). School counselors are a great resource and can help you get through the conflict peacefully.

Keep records: Be sure to keep track of any and all incidences and attempts to get help. This will come in handy during any mediation meetings.

Be the change: Hurt people hurt people. Often, bullies have been victims of bullying themselves at some point in their lives. If you’re feeling down and out, find a way to express your feelings (minus the mean). Giving compliments, volunteering or doing something nice for others can brighten your day.

Have more tips to help young people overcome teasing, bullying and other conflict? Share your thoughts with us using #tips4teens. Twitter: @efgempowered

 

Beyond Bullying Prevention: The end of bullying begins with empathy and compassion

End of BullyingBy Rasheda Kamaria

Empowered Flower Girl aims to inspire, entertain and empower youth, communities and families with our programs and online content. This month, National Bullying Prevention Month, I want to go a little further. I want to challenge everyone who reads this post to reach out to a young person and have an authentic conversation about . . . whatever. But what I challenge you to do more than anything, is listen.

Perhaps you’ve read recent headlines about the 14-year-old Florida boy, who after being “bullied his whole life,” committed suicide. Media outlets across the nation reported that the Greenwood Lakes Middle School student’s lifeless body was found in the school’s bathroom. He and his family had reportedly moved from New York to Florida because of bullying.

My heart aches and breaks. Not only for this young man but also for the countless others that we may know or have read about this year who have taken their lives to escape the agony of being harassed and taunted daily. Perhaps us as community leaders, educators, parents and everyday citizens can listen more to our children (and by our children I mean all children).

I believe it’s time we shift from bullying prevention to encouraging and instilling empathy, compassion and acceptance in schools, communities and families.

Rasheda Kamaria is the chief empowering officer and founder of Empowered Flower Girl LLC, a social enterprise that works with schools, communities and families seeking solutions to cyberbullying, drama, relational aggression and other social/communication challenges facing youth. A survivor of bullying, Kamaria was featured in the article “Being Bullied Changed My Life” in the May 2011 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and has spoken and written numerous articles on the subject.