Kid Reporters

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Bullies Beware!

TFK caught up with Rosalind Wiseman, an expert on bullying and other important issues

December 15, 2010

"If it hurts or degrades someone, it's wrong," says Rosalind Wiseman. She is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabees, the book on which the movie Mean Girls is based. Wiseman educates mothers and daughters on issues that impact kids, including bullying and gossiping. TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy caught up with the author on her Girl World Tour.

TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy talks to author Rosalind Wiseman.
COURTESY HEALY FAMILY
TFK Kid Reporter Gabrielle Healy talks to author Rosalind Wiseman.

TFK:

If you could only give one piece of advice about bullying to young people, what would it be?

ROSALIND WISEMAN:

Just because it's happening and you see it all the time, that doesn't make it right. If it hurts your feelings, then it's wrong. If it degrades somebody, humiliates somebody, makes him or her feel small, it's wrong. Kids should say, "Well, why is this common? Why is this so accepted? What am I going to do about it?"

TFK:

How can young people maintain a positive self-image around their friends?

WISEMAN:

Conflict is inevitable. People are going to get into arguments. You're going to have to be able to talk through that conflict in a way where others don't blow you off or make you feel stupid or ridicule you. And you have to make sure that you don't do that to others. That's a struggle, though. It's not like, "Oh, here you go. Have a positive self-image."

TFK:

What do you think about young people using social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter?

WISEMAN:

How old are you?

TFK:

I'm 11.

WISEMAN:

Kid Reporter
Gabrielle Healy

Ok, so you know Facebook says, "Are you 13?" And the 9-year-old person goes, "Yes, I am." And welcome to Facebook. As soon as kids are social networking, even on Club Penguins or Webkinz, parents need to sit them down and say, "The way you conduct yourself online is exactly the way we expect you to conduct yourself in real life. If you don't do this, then we are going to take this away until you can prove to us you're mature enough to handle it." It should be similar to the way people teach children how to drive. When you're sixteen, you get a permit to drive. You're not allowed to drive past a certain hour. You give people graduated freedom. We don't do that with technology. We just say, "Here you go. Happy Facebook. Go for it." So you're going to go crazy! It's like giving a 16-year-old the keys to a race car. It's like saying, "You don't know how to drive, but we think you're going to be good at it." I'm asking kids to take ownership. Slow down long enough to figure it out and have some control over it.

TFK:

What do you think is the appropriate age for kids to own a cell phone?

WISEMAN:

I think that when you go to a concert, or any place where there are a lot of people and you may get lost, then I think it's totally appropriate to bring a cell phone with you. That does not necessarily mean that it is your cell phone. It's your family's cell phone. I don't think children your age should own a cell phone. It's helpful, like, 2% of the time, and 98% of the time it makes your life miserable. Of course, you feel like you have to have one because everybody else has one and you're going to miss out on information. But that's information that's going to make you more miserable.

TFK:

What advice would you give to young people to prepare themselves in case they are bullied?

WISEMAN:

Kids feel like adults just don't get it. They think all adults are useless. My answer to you is, even though you think 98% of adults can't help you, you've got to be able to identify one adult you think is realistic enough for you to talk to. You don't need 100 people. You just need one.

TFK:

You say that kids and parents are too influenced by marketing. What can parents and their children do to avoid this?

WISEMAN:

I think parents have to be media literate. Look at what messages are being sent to you, and to your children. The most important thing is to have a discussion with kids about what they see. I sometimes even mute television advertisements and have my sons guess what is being sold to them.

TFK:

In today's mean girl world, how do young people make the right friendship choices?

WISEMAN:

The top three things you have to have in a friendship are trust, loyalty and the ability to be yourself. These are your friendship rights.


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