Auntie Says…The term “bully” is over-used and doesn’t mean anything anymore.

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Auntie Says…Bully? How about tormenter or bulldozer?—it’s a better fit.

There was recently an article in the news about a school bullying incident that escalated to the point of involving the police. Apparently the Principal and staff could see the situation getting out of hand and chose to use every resource at their fingertips. Bravo. 

The Administrator and staff aren’t miracle workers and realized their own limitations in dealing with a simmering situation. Having outside support is huge in taking a stand against the unrelenting bullying that some students inflict and others suffer.

It was the comments following the article that I found to be most insightful. Many said they were teaching their children to fight back—‘knock the other child down’ they said ‘and then kick them’. While the comments didn’t shock me, they made me sad in that there is a misunderstanding as to what is actually happening in the schools and it makes me think that we need to re-think the word “bully”. 

The word is used to conjure up the image of an overly aggressive kid who pushes a smaller one down and steals the ball. That kind of hands on school-yard posturing hasn’t changed over the centuries and is only part of the picture. Parents telling their kids to fight back are not wrong because they’re giving their kid permission to have a voice. It’s a matter of “how” they fight. Hands on doesn’t work and chances are the kid retaliating will be the one who gets in trouble. We’ve all heard it—he started it—but it doesn’t make a difference. Having someone treat you badly is not ok and screaming bloody murder until an adult arrives (or the aggressor leaves) is an option.

 

Bullying has evolved over the years. It doesn’t necessarily mean hands-on, violent confrontation—it’s become sneakier, slimier, and more silent. Imagine someone walking by your work station every day, several times, whispering, ‘you stink’ or ‘I’m gonna get you’… always out of earshot of any authority figure. What if you were being deliberately ‘nudged’ in the hallway—just enough to throw you off balance—constantly. It’s sometimes done with a smile by someone who’s considered a “good kid” and not necessarily your likely suspects. It can be like a game or power play to them. Imagine going to work everyday and having your co-worker treat you like that. What if, every single day—over and over—you’re told you should ‘go kill yourself’…‘go off and die’…‘no one loves you’? That’s a slow erosion of an individuals self worth and confidence. You might want to punch them in the face in the lunchroom, but then what?

I remember reading about a woman who was the target of an online hate attack. She said that though she knew all the words were false, it ate her up inside. Every time she turned on her computer it was there…mocking her. While computers and phones can be turned off, the hateful whispers, innuendos, the seemingly innocent jabs in the hallway, or the open mocking by individuals, doesn’t go away. The question I ask, is whether or not this nonviolent/hands off bullying is being viewed as being as serious as a bully knocking down a kid and stealing the ball. I’m not sure it is and I think it’s worse—much worse—and frightening.

Maybe we need to change the word ‘bully’ to ‘thug’ or ‘goon’…how about ‘bulldozer’? 

The real question is, what satisfaction do these bulldozer kids get out of making someone else feel like crap? I know one person had commented on the recent bully story saying that the home life of the tormentor needs to be the focus. I totally agree. The focus needs to be off the act and on to the wrong-doer. They’re inflicting life long pain for what we all see as ‘no reason’, but there has to be some pay off. I’d like to know what it is.

If you have a story to share…let’s chat.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Contact her at  faye.arcand@icloud.com or fayeearcand.com

U.S.A. Student Activism–March On!

Auntie Says…My thoughts are with the American students. March on!

Columbine. That word pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

It was April 1999 and I’ll never forget seeing the images of terrified high school students running for their lives. I, like everyone else, was horrified and sickened, but It got worse—much worse. School shootings in the U.S. became, I hate to say it … commonplace.

While for the most part I don’t talk politics or religion, my heart and voice are with every student in the U.S. marching and protesting for a safer tomorrow. I’m optimistic as I witnessed the planned walk out one month to the day after the Florida school shooting. It was an illustration of choosing a course of action in solidarity and it makes me proud.

The young people of today are the voters of tomorrow. Getting angry about the abhorrent gun laws, political rhetoric, and the seemingly lackadaisical attitudes surrounding school shootings is not only necessary, but required, for change. It takes a lot of courage and tenancity to take those first steps against the status quo and I applaud these young people for what they’re doing.

Like many, I’ve wept as the body count rises in the name of U.S. democratic freedoms. Even from a  distance where I don’t feel the same physical (gun violence) threats, I can still understand the grief faced by so many —too many. I seriously don’t know how they all cope and carry on after such harrowing circumstances.

In Canada, we don’t face the same fears about school shootings, but we still feel our neighbor’s pain and the aftershocks of grief and anger. For every individual that dies, there are survivors—the other students, the family, the teachers, staff, and first responders—forever changed in a way that we can only imagine, but there’s also the public. Let’s not forget the average person watching the tragedy unfold on TV and how it affects them. It’s a mood of uncertainty and helplessness suffered by millions of people in both the US and Canada. It’s a sad truth of the day.

Even if you don’t think your kid is aware of the news and current events, believe me—they know. The kids talk about it to each other and in class. They watch YouTube .It’s not a secret and yet as far as I know, the schools here don’t do anything like security drills or heightened vigilance. Who knows how much all the school gun violence south of the border is adding to the anxiety and depression for teens everywhere?  After a televised incident, I’d bet that all the teachers and administrators walk back into the school with a heavy heart. How could you not? It doesn’t matter where the incident occurs, it affects us all.

When I see the anger and determination on the faces of those young people marching, it gives me hope. Hope that there will be change. Hope that someone amongst those students, is a strong and forever leader—a compelling voice—that will bring about positive transformation. I also hope that the protest continues until it’s voice is so strong that it can no longer be pushed aside or ignored.

We joke about having ‘first-world problems’—school shootings should not be one of them. Let’s pray that the students voices raised in protest will be heard and acted upon. #NationalWalkoutDay #StudentsForChange #EndGunViolence #AuntieSays

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com 

Dating Abuse and Manipulation

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Auntie Says… A different kind of bullying. You’re not alone. Be Aware.

If you ask any kid what the biggest problem in school is, they’re likely to say bullying. It’s one of those insidious things that sneaks in and shows up in the hallways every single day. Campaigns, like Pink Shirt Day, bring much needed attention and awareness to the problem as students, teachers, and communities work together to make the situation better. 

One facet of bullying that’s rarely mentioned though, is the reality of dating domestic abuse/manipulation among young people. Like school yard bullying, it can no longer be swept under the carpet and ignored, otherwise it’ll grow and fester in secrecy and those entrenched in the ugliness will feel alone and forgotten. A strong message needs to be embraced—namely, love should never hurt, be about jealousy or control, and domestic violence can (and does) occur among young dating couples—believe me, you don’t need to be old and married to be caught in an abusive relationship. 

Usually the relationship begins like any other but can end up feeling suffocating, controlling, or even dangerous. It doesn’t necessarily happen quickly and the subtle nature of it can leave you in doubt. Just keep in mind that a loving relationship is a partnership of two, not a dictatorship of one. You always have a right to discuss your concerns and have them heard. Sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Life happens, but when the negative behaviour is escalating into nonstop bullying you may need to put your pink shirt on and find some help.

Here are some things I want you to be aware of, for yourself and your friends—and guys listen up—we so often think of domestic/dating abuse as being against women but it happens to guys too. It’s not okay to have a girl dig her nails into you, pull your hair, kick you or blame you for being late etc—nope not ok. You should be able to say ‘I don’t like that…’ or ‘please don’t do that…’ and be heard and respected. 

Signs of an abusive relationship:

Excessive isolation and manipulation. If your partner takes up all your time and attention, always wants to be with you (not your friends and family—just you), is very possessive, doesn’t want you to hang with other people, and makes you feel bad for having any type of life independent of them— that’s not normal. If your partner threatens self harm if you don’t comply with what they want, this is a huge red flag (and a scary one) and an indication that you need to seek advice or help.

Does your partner always have to have their way? Are they really bossy and demanding? Moody? to a point where you feel threatened if you defy them. If your partner forces or pressures you to do things and you comply just to keep the peace—that’s not love.

Is you partner hyper critical and always putting you down? If they tell you you’re fat or stupid—dump them—now. If a partner tells you how to think or tells you that you’re opinions/beliefs are wrong…that’s not love. 

Is your partner controlling? This could be anything from being told what to wear, who you can talk to, or what you can eat. Is your partner deceptive and sneaky—do they cause you to be late for work? miss an exam? show up just as you’re about to leave with your friends because he/she needs you? This in not ok.

Is your partner jealous or insecure? Do they get angry when you talk to other people? Do they want to know who you’re with, or who you’re talking to…all the time. Do they check your phone without permission and accuse you of things you didn’t do? This is not love. It’s controlling and will escalate over time.  

Does your partner have an explosive temper? Is everything always your fault? Do they give you the silent treatment or punch walls? Are you afraid of them? 

Is your partner physically hurting you? Call 911 or if necessary attend your local hospital emergency. 

For confidential victim service information for yourself or a friend, call VictimLinkBC, 24/7 in British Columbia and Yukon 1-800-563-0808 

If you think you, or a friend, may need this number in the future, put it in your phone under Auntie…no one but you needs to know what the number is for. There are also many local resources available. Your school/college counsellor, and local police being two very public and accessible ones.

The message of Pink Shirt Day is that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. No one should ever live in fear. Embrace the message. Be safe. 

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com #SignsOfAbuse #RespectNotFear #AuntiesSays 

Faye Arcand

faye.arcand@icloud.com

Auntie Says… Not all guys are pigs.

I recently spoke with some young men about the MeToo/Time’s Up movements. They all said that being a guy in todays world meant that they’re basically “scum” (their word-not mine) and no matter what they do they’re left to feel less than appreciated, simply because they’re male.

While it appears that women of all ages are finding the strength and support to come forward to report long time abuses, harassment, and general mistreatment, some guys are left feeling confused.  It’s important to remember that the attention given the MeToo and TimesUp movements is long overdue but, I want to point out that not all guys are pigs.

The comments of the young men made me very sad. MeToo is about the discontinuation of a misogynist culture that allows sexual misconduct to go unchecked—it’s about speaking your truth, ending the silence and stigma of shame. It wasn’t meant to be a man-hate thing, but it’s clear some are feeling exactly that.

This is a perfect time to sit down with our sons, nephews, and other young men in our lives to educate them about what’s going on, as we all experience this powerful paradigm shift. They need to be taught how to respect not only women, but also themselves. The whole idea of ‘boys will be boys’ is not acceptable—it hasn’t been for a long time, but now, even more so (that’s a whole other topic).

The movement has brought about a universal awareness and solidarity that went viral so fast, heads are still spinning. The voices roared loud and the pendulum swung quickly to the side of the accuser . The intensity of the MeToo movement can be overwhelming for anyone. It’s like a fast moving train, driven by a force of long standing pain from those silenced by years of abuse and humiliation. The momentum of the movement illustrates the overwhelming systemic problem that’s been festering but, we must not—I repeat—must not—paint all guys with the same brush.

It seems like every time I turn on the TV, another man is resigning or has been fired from a position because of sexual misconduct, harassment, or rape. For the young men that I spoke with, this was one of the concerns they expressed. The lack of due process and the media frenzy acting as judge and jury. While it appears that many of those accused have stepped down to avoid the frenzy, I’m hoping too that we see criminal charges brought and due process given.

Some of the confusion for the guys comes from not knowing what’s acceptable anymore. No one wants to come off sounding sexist, insensitive, or ignorant. Nor do they want to do something that could be construed as abusive or inappropriate.
Guys ask yourself this—if you’re acting/speaking in a certain way towards a woman, ask yourself if you’d be upset, or offended, if another guy were acting/speaking that exact same way toward your mother/sister/aunt/wife/girlfriend. If you wouldn’t want someone talking like that to your mother…then stop, because it’s obviously an issue. Does that make sense?

Don’t go around thinking that women can’t take a joke or are overly sensitive. You’re not stupid—so don’t act like it. Stop and think. Be respectful. Treat a woman as you’d want to be treated. Simple as that. If there’s any doubt in your mind then it’s probably something you shouldn’t say.

The world has changed and everyone needs to catch up quickly. Even actor Matt Damon got himself into hot water for making comments comparing the severity of different allegations…a pat on the bottom vs sexual assault, for example. The fact of the matter is that they all degrade, they invade personal space, and they cause shame, secrecy, and humiliation. It’s about the bigger picture. Go back to the test…do you want your wife’s boss patting her on the butt…I don’t think so.

Use your common sense. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to compliment some one for looking nice and it’s not sexist to hold the door open for a woman—it’s just kind. You can hold the door open for me anytime and believe me when I say, I’ll hold it open for you too.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Contact her via email or twitter at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com  #notallguysarepigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auntie Says…Be aware of Me Too.

Learning how to ask questions of your employer is important. Now that you have your money in order, there’s a darker, more sinister, side of employment that we need to discuss.

As you begin in the workforce you have to know there are sometimes situations that can happen that are totally unacceptable. There’s been a lot of attention in the media lately about persons in a position of power (this could be an employer, manager, fellow employees, etc.), being sexually aggressive, suggestive, touchy-feely, or complacent when it comes to young employees (or potential employees).
When you interview for a job, it should be on a level playing field. In other words, the successful candidate is the most qualified or best suited for the position. You didn’t get the job because you wanted to be treated in a derogatory way or to allow some creep to rub up against you or touch you.

It’s important for you to be aware of your rights.
It’s never okay for your boss (or coworker/manager/etc.) to touch you in any suggestive way. A boss doesn’t ask you to come into the back office at the end of the day and ask you to rub his shoulders. Nor does an employer make comments about your body, comment on your underwear, or whistle at the way you move. It’s not okay for dirty/profane/sexist jokes be told in the workplace.
Sex or sexual touching is never a requirement to stay employed and an adult saying that they’re attracted to you (you’re 16 and he’s 40)…is not flattering, or sexy, or special. It’s predatory and is not okay. (And, that’s not only for girls. Young men can also be the target of sexual assault or unwanted touching. So all of the above also goes for penis jokes, etc. Not okay…I repeat..not okay.
If a boss or manager says you’ll be fired (or demoted) if you tell what happens…that’s illegal. A manager/boss/employer doesn’t ask an employee to keep secrets and they don’t ask them to meet outside of the place of business alone to discuss matters. Even if your twenty one and your boss says he/she wants to take you for a drink to discuss a private matter…nope. Sorry. You don’t/shouldn’t have “private” matters to discuss with your boss. Its about the work, not a social (or romantic) adventure into adulthood. You have the right to say no.
The Hollywood scandals and the “Me Too” social media campaign illustrate the scope of the problem and that no one is immune. Famous actors/actresses, and seemingly the entire industry, ‘knew’ of the behaviour for years and yet stayed silent. This complacency meant that the next victim didn’t stand a chance. If you feel safe but perhaps fear for a co-worker, then it’s up to you to speak up. It’s just like when your parents, or you auntie, told you to stay away from strangers at the park and that predators looked for the quiet ones…the ones who wouldn’t kick and scream.
If you’re unsure of what you saw or what to do (and you don’t want to get anyone in trouble needlessly), then talk to Auntie. It can be better to discuss a situation rather than rush to accuse someone of something that was perhaps a misunderstanding.
Male/Female…doesn’t matter. It’s imperative that if at any time you feel uncomfortable, compromised, or threatened that you know you don’t need to stay in that situation. Tell Auntie. Tell a parent. Tell a teacher. Tell someone.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Email faye.arcand@icloud.com or visit her website at http://www.fayeearcand.com

*published by Black Press

Auntie Says…It’s ok to ask questions.

Young people make up a huge chunk of the work force. Often you’re doing jobs in the service industry and fill positions in the sector of unskilled workers. It’s all about building life experience, but it’s important to ensure that you’re paid properly and not taken advantage of. I want to talk to you about some of the details that can get lost in your nervousness of not wanting to ask.
Believe me, employers know you’re not working out of the goodness of your heart. It’s all about the money. They want to have happy employees because that makes their job a lot easier. There are five questions you should ask your employer when you get hired (and for heaven’s sake—write the answers down so you don’t forget). If you’re too shy or nervous to ask then take a copy of this—they’ll understand.
1. What is my hourly wage? or salary? Seems like a simple question but when I ask a young person this, the answer is invariably a shrug with an assumption that they’re being paid minimum wage. Employers will tell you. They aren’t there to trick you.
2. When am I paid? It may be monthly, weekly, or every two weeks. Just ask.
3. How will I be paid? If it’s direct deposit, you’ll have to go to your bank and have them supply the deposit details for your account.
4. Can I get a print out of my deposit? This is also known as a pay stub and will show the hours you worked, the amount paid and all deductions taken off. If no paper record is available, ask your boss to email or text it. Keep a record of all your hours on a calendar and compare them to the pay stub.
5. Who should I talk to if there’s a discrepancy or question? Employers want to know if you’re having problems. Sometimes mistakes happen.
If you weren’t keeping track of your wouldn’t have a clue.
And my question for you would be, why wouldn’t you keep track? It’s like counting your own money. Are you just going to trust that job to someone else and be willingly clueless?
There’s an old saying that a fool and his money are soon parted; don’t let that happen to you. Direct deposit means that your money isn’t a tangible-in-your-hands thing and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. It can be difficult to care about things that are out of sight.
I would challenge you to begin to manage your money as apposed to just working, spending, and then waiting for payday again.
You need to know where all your money is going. If you’re using things like tap payments and online shopping, you’re doing it mindlessly. The next time you buy something, stop and consider how many hours you’ll have to work to replace those funds. If you buy a pair of shoes for $100 and you make $10/hour, you’re going to have to work about ten hours just to pay for them. Be aware because it’s the beginning to being financially smart.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Email faye.arcand@icloud.com or visit her website at http://www.fayeearcand.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auntie Says…Anorexia. Parents listen up…

Shows discussing anorexia and bulimia have been around for years. I remember watching them when I was young. And now, it’s the trending Netflix movie, To The Bone, that’s caught the attention of the kids.
The movie is about a young girl, Ellen, who struggles with her eating disorder, personal relationships, and attempts to move towards recovery. When it came out in July 2017, there was a lot of hype saying that it glorifies and promotes anorexia.
To The Bone, is aimed at a young audience that perhaps doesn’t have the sophistication to see how shallow and insipid the portrayal of Ellen is and how none of the difficult questions were asked. It is shock entertainment and totally glosses over the reality of secrecy, isolation and causation. I found it disturbing and unrealistic that the girl talks openly about her eating disorder, treats it like a game and finds a boyfriend while in treatment.
Ellen goes to a rehab house with other young people and the idea is that they’ll work together with their handsome Dr. (Keanu Reeves), to fix all their problems. It’s very Utopian and I can see how it would be captivating to young viewers. It’s presented like an adventure and could be construed as romantic, magical or as an educational starting block for some to make dangerous choices.
We see the characters compulsive drive for physical activity or calorie burns. It could be sit ups, running stairs, jogging…anything and everything that’ll keep the numbers on the scales moving down. Throughout, Ellen is also constantly ensuring herself that she can ring her fingers around her upper arm. A measurement of success.
To The Bone introduces the skewed relationship between the individual and food. The first is the chewing and spitting. This is when food is chewed and then spit into a bag because swallowing would introduce calories into the body. This is a way of purging without full consumption. Other things that are looked at are the compelling need to know the nutritional information of every food, how many calories burned with an activity, to have discretion over food by cutting it into tiny pieces, refusing to eat, or munching exclusively on low calorie foods like lettuce.
Though the movie isn’t going to win any awards, it brought the matter back to the forefront. Control (or lack there of), anxiety and a drive for perfection may push some young viewers over the brink. A skewed self image and larger emotional problems can kill a healthy future.
The character refers to an anorexic as “a Rexy”. Here are a few other terms to listen for.
A person referring to themselves as a Rex or Rexy or being part of a Rex Club, should set off the bells and whistles. Listen for the use of names like Ana (anorexia), Mia (bulimia) and Ed (eating disorder), in an endearing and familiar way especially if accompanied by unexplained or sudden weight loss. If someone says they’re going to hang out with Mia, Ed, and Ana, then some questions may need to be asked. Pro-Ana (promote anorexia) groups are rampant on the net. The kids know them, you should too.
If you have a young person (remember, eating disorders are not exclusive to girls), who’s experiencing stress involving food, diet, self image, self esteem, etc. and may be on the edge, then To The Bone could absolutely have a negative influence.
Parents/Aunties/Adults watch the kids. Kids watch your friends. This isn’t something to fool around with.
Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Comments? suggestions? please message to fayeearcand.com or faye.arcand@icloud.com

*Published by Black Press