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Home or prison?

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BRITTNEY FLAVELL from Alfriston College, Auckland, New Zealand, lifts the lid on a serious challenge facing our communities.

Domestic abuse is an issue; do you know how many people are afraid of being in their home?

Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of depression in New Zealand. Approximately 750 people are affected every week, 3000 people every month and 36,000 every year.

But these statistics are only from people who called the police themselves. There are a lot of people who are being abused who are not calling in and are not being noticed.

Victims of domestic abuse often don’t know who to turn to. Sometimes they have been threatened and are afraid, or they simply don’t know where to go to get help. There are several organisations to help and listen to people being abused, including Abuse Helpline, Are You Ok? Information-line, the Women’s Refuge and The Hotline. These help lines are 24/7 and encourage you to stay safe and get out. Whenever you need to talk, or whenever you need help they will be there.

Domestic violence doesn’t just happen to a few people; it happens to a lot of people at all age groups.

Children are massively affected by this, even if they aren’t the ones being abused. If a child hears his mother or father yelling, the natural reaction is to be scared; their parents are meant to love each other and be their role models.

When a mother or father is hit, children often believe it is right. They don’t know what’s wrong and what’s right because their parents are usually the ones who tell them what they should do and what they shouldn’t do.

Children often split and go to one of two sides. They often either become an offender themselves or are skittish and quiet.

Women and men who are affected by domestic violence also do this. They become skittish, quiet and slowly begin to push others away or are very defensive and become annoyed and angry easily.

By noticing these small things, you may be able to help someone in need. 

If you are unsure of what to do to help others, you could always try these things;

  • Don’t be afraid to let them know you are concerned for their safety.
  • Acknowledge they are in a difficult and scary situation.

  • Encourage them to participate in activities with friends and family outside the relationship.

  • Help them to develop a safety plan.

  • Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance.

  • Be non-judgmental and respect their choices.

  • Just be there and support them throughout this tough time.

Facts
The longer it goes on, the more violent it gets.

About 10 children are killed every year in family violence.

One woman is killed by her partner or ex-partner every five weeks.

Women’s Refuge assisted about 20,000 women and children last year.

Psychological abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse.

Children who hear or see family violence can suffer psychological harm.

Who can I talk to?
Abuse Helpline: 0508 744 633
Are You Ok Information Line: 0800 456 450
Women’s Refuge: 0800 REFUGE
The Hotline: 1 800 799 SAFE

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When the media is anti-social

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MATHEW DITCHBURN of Massey High School says the popular, and burgeoning, social media is often less than social in its effect on young people.

 Children are energetic and playful.

We see them running around and socialising while they’re young. A child’s main part of the day is made up of learning, lunchtimes, after school activities – like sports – and sleep.

What if one of these key parts was lacking due to the ever-growing technology in our society? I was always a sporty child, so I would spend much of my time doing extra-curricular activities. But how do these technological advances hinder the less sporty children in our society?

Since I was a kid, technology has advanced dramatically. Kids these days have X-Boxes or iPads or even full blown computers to play on, not to mention cellphones. Is this just unnecessary access to social media?

Social media is one of the largest things in our society today. We have gone through the generations of people that talked face to face, then via home phones, and now we are into the many different options via the internet.

Children are being provided with access to the internet through all of the latest devices. We all know the dangers of the internet – as teenagers we were once warned of the perils of social media. The problem is, none of us take the warnings seriously.

We are part of a generation that I will label “careless”. Everyone knows we shouldn’t swear or post pictures of us partying, or message anything inappropriate to others. “One day it will come back to haunt you”, is how we are warned of this.

The internet is not something that will benefit children. They are too susceptible to the poison that seeps through the social media sites they no doubt will be on. I wasted enough time not being a kid when I was younger; this generation of kids is growing up too fast.

Kids should be innocent and they should be kept away from the terrors of social media. These terrors include (but aren’t limited to) ‘R’ rated content, violent content, and strangers.

Who says that your child couldn’t just search up something they think is funny like “tits” on Google? I know whenever someone said something inappropriate when I was eight it was hilarious.

This experience, however, will definitely not benefit your child. I know many popular YouTube videos now have bad language in them, which could potentially influence your innocent child.

The sad thing is, I searched up ‘little kids swearing’ on YouTube and got 97,700 results. On the recommended list if you type in ‘little kids’, you get the autocomplete recommending you a list of horror. Little kid fight, little kid dougie, little kid smoking, little kid swearing. These are the most searched terms in YouTube under little kid.

Do you want your child to be anywhere near this trash? Setting examples for your child can be hard for your child, but the internet turns a mission into a nightmare. Not even bringing up violence or strangers I have covered a full list of how the internet is dangerous for your children.

Loss of innocence is a common theme in many novels, because it makes for a great enemy. In The Hunger Games, Katniss loses her innocence very early – at 12 when her father dies – which makes the Capitol a great enemy. This is directly applicable to the internet.

Of course you may wonder, well what would I do as a teenager if I didn’t have the internet? Some replies were sport, homework, socialising, reading and drumming. These results don’t lie; the internet makes people LESS productive.

Young kids don’t need to become less productive; they should be energetic and sporty and happy. Just writing this article alone, I have procrastinated two days just playing games and I have spent about an hour on various forms of social media in “breaks”. That’s horrific, and I am not the worst of the procrastinators.

Comments from people I have interviewed:

“The internet has driven me away from sport, and has taken a lot of time out of my schedule” - Ryan

“I’m at home from 4pm and awake till 1am. Most of this time is spent on the internet” - Lauren

These two examples show the severity of the internet’s flaws. The internet can of course benefit kids, but the censorship it requires is phenomenal.

We all know the internet is not good for us, but we are so careless that we aren’t prepared to change. It’s actually an addiction.

The internet can cause loss of innocence, inactiveness and anti-social behaviour. Parents should be restricting the time that kids can spend on the internet each day, and should be constantly monitoring the sites their kids visit.

Kids may not like this in the near future, but in the long run it will benefit kids’ lives greatly. We can’t allow young, innocent children to be subjected to the internet in the way that our generation of teenagers have been.

What we don’t want

A recent study for The Children’s Commissioner for England has found a direct link between exposure to extreme images at a young age and a marked increase in risky and anti-social behaviour, and even health.

The study was conducted by the universities of Middlesex, Bedfordshire, Kent, and Canterbury Christ Church. The findings of this and other studies quoted in the research found direct links with explicit material and “higher acceptance and engagement in sexually permissive behaviours” and attitudes to sex that are “casual and hedonistic rather than affectionate”.

The study also found a link to under-age sex, smoking, alcohol consumption and taking drugs.

A Swedish study showed a 25 per cent of young people exposed to pornography regularly had at least one sexually transmitted disease. A Dutch study showed exposure to sexually explicit online material was “significantly related to the belief that women are sex objects”, partly caused by the fact boys were much more likely to be exposed to pornography than girls.

Children’s Commissioner Dr Maggie Atkinson warned that “violent and sadistic imagery” was easily available to “very young children” because of easy access to the internet on mobile phones and home and tablet computers.

Many children from the age of 10 accidentally accessed “violent and sadistic imagery” while doing legitimate study research.

Links

Children’s Commissioner press release www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/content/press_release/content_505

This software will monitor or to block certain sites

www.qustodio.com/

Blocking unsavoury advert pop-ups, and in fact all adverts that appear while you are browsing on the internet

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/

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Language and identity

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ANNA NEUMANN is at Flanshaw Road School, Auckland, New Zealand, and says students love the challenge of new languages, and the opportunity to use their own.

Auckland is a really multicultural city, but did you know only 33 per cent speak a second language? Wouldn’t it be fun for students to teach other students their language?

I am a bi-lingual speaker and sometimes that makes things a lot easier. I think that other students who can’t speak a second language should able to, so I came up with the idea of bi-lingual clubs where students teach each other their languages. 

With bi-lingual clubs students can then help students who don’t speak English so well and when they’re older work in interesting jobs.

Speaking a second language also helps in other subjects and with general learning. I think teaching another language might help you with confidence and leadership skills.

I surveyed 92 year 5 and 6 students in my school about what languages they know and this is what I found out:

  • Our senior school speaks 22 languages and 54 per cent of students (that’s 50) can speak a second language.

  • Maori is the most common language spoken, next is Tuvaluan and then Cantonese and Korean.

  • 34 per cent of students (that’s 32) want to teach their language.

  • 83 per cent of students (that’s 77) want to learn another language.

Altogether, I found lots of students are interested and lots have a second language.

Wouldn’t it be cool if every Auckland school had bi-lingual clubs?

In part 2 of this article (LA 3 2013) I will tell you how the clubs could work.

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Learning Auckland, the cover.

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You are NOT alone

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By Belinda Ryan, Alfriston College, Auckland New Zealand

Around one in five New Zealand teenagers will experience some form of mental health problem during their adolescent years. Depression is a condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty maintaining concentration and interest in life.

There are seven main changes most people go through when experiencing depression, they are:

  • Agitation - a mental state of extreme emotional disturbance, unsettlement and/or not calm.

  • Procrastination- putting off or delaying or deferring an action to a later time, actions (movement and speech) slows as if they’re carrying a weight on their shoulders and dragging a weight with their ankles.

  • Hibernation - finding they refuse invitations and make up excuses to avoid social activities.

  • Diet - losing appetite or having a bigger appetite than usual.

  • Sleeping schedule - rarely sleeping, having trouble sleeping or sleeping more than average. 

How does depression affect a student’s school life academically and socially?

Shivani Nand, student at Alfriston College says hat socially she is angry and agitated with everyone and it’s usually for no real reason. Shivani sometimes finds herself not wanting to be around people at all and can’t tolerate very many people.

Shivani says academically she finds it very hard to stay focused and blanks out a lot and gets frustrated with the task at hand because she doesn’t understand it.

How do students cope with these effects?

Shivani personally says she doesn’t cope at all. She says she breaks down and finds herself screaming at people, again, usually for no real reason.

How do learning leaders recognise depression in their students?

Jane Schroeder, learning leader at Alfriston College, says in her experience of students with depression she sees a lack of emotional engagement with their tasks and sees that the student usually doesn’t care about their class learning.

How do learning leaders deal with a student with depression?

Jane says once she has recognised the condition she would have a private conversation with the student, ask them if they want to talk about what’s going on.

Jane says she would let the other learning leaders know about the depression so they know what’s going on and would make a special effort to be more aware of their feelings. Jane said she would ask the student if they want to be referred to a councillor and refer them if they do.

My experience with depression

My experience is a tad different to Shivani’s. I found myself bottling things up a lot for a long time and hiding how I really felt from my friends, loved ones and people in my school. For me this caused extra stress. I found out myself through being unable to sleep and having night terrors when I did.

Concentrating was very hard and understanding was also a challenge; like Shivani, I found myself blanking out. I would take a lot of time off school because I didn’t want to see people or I was scared that I would get judged twice as much. I also bottled things up and hid how I truly felt, which can to lead self-harm which eventually leads to people finding out and asking a lot of questions. This made it harder and more stressful for me. I worried about what they would think about me and whether they’d even still be associated with me.

How did I cope with all this?

At first I didn’t. I would go home and hide in my room and breakdown and self-harm. Then I found that Brittney, a close friend of mine, was the one person I felt safe about talking to and who was always there. Talking to Brittney was the main thing that helped me cope. I used things I like doing to distract myself from my thoughts - drawing, reading, writing etc.

What is the Government doing?

Around one in five New Zealand teenagers will experience some form of mental health problem during their adolescent years.

In April last year the Government announced the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, which aims to improve mental health and wellbeing for young people with, or at risk of developing, mild to moderate mental health issues.

The project focuses on helping young people to successfully manage their mental health and wellbeing. The Youth Mental Health Project includes a package of initiatives that are delivered in four different settings such as schools, online, in families and communities, and in the health system.

Some of the initiatives build on already existing programmes, and new ones have also been introduced.

Moves have been made to better equip schools to help identify students with mental health issues sooner. Over the next three years, extra nurses will be embedded in all decile 3 secondary schools, expanding the nurse-led School Based Health Service (SBHS) to a further 18,000 students. Prior to this, SBHS was funded only for decile 1 and 2 secondary schools.

Youth workers trained in mental health issues will be put into selected low decile schools to work alongside nurses. The youth workers are expected to cover an estimated 20,000 students in 27 schools. This initiative builds on the Multi-Agency Support Services in Secondary Schools (MASSiSS) service currently provided in 17 schools in South Auckland, Porirua, and Flaxmere.

How to help a friend with depression

DO

Spend time with them

  • Listen rather than talk – let them tell you how it is for them
  • Learn about depression - how it is treated and what you can do to help recovery
  • See yourself as part of their support team
  • Understand how depression is affecting their daily life
  • Help the person to recognise and understand ways of dealing with things that are worrying them
  • Help and encourage them to lead a healthy life, to exercise and to do things they enjoy
  • Support and encourage them to keep getting whatever support or treatment is offered
  • Take any thoughts of suicide seriously – it’s okay to talk about it.
  • Don’t leave someone alone if they feel unsafe. Contact a health care provider or a crisis phone line.

 DON’T

Tell them to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘harden up’. People cannot  'will' themselves better from moderate or severe depression

  • Encourage excess alcohol and drug use as a coping strategy - it can make things worse
  • Avoid them – they already feel isolated and this can make their depression worse
  • Assume the problem will just go away
  • Judge or criticise them for what they’re going through
  • Lose hope - they need you to believe they will get through this
  • Give unhelpful advice – for example, ‘just think of people who are worse off’

Quick message

If you are someone going through depression, you are truly not alone. I, the author of this article, am still fighting depression and I know many others going through it too. No matter how alone you feel there is always some you can talk to and people do care and people do want you get better. BE SAFE!

Links

Hear how young people got through:

www.thelowdown.co.nz

Seeking help:

www.depression.org.nz/waythrough/help+services

Helpline: 0800 111 757

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Kick start your own engine

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By Santiphap Soumphonphakdy, Otahuhu College, Auckland New Zealand

Educators and communities can only do so much.

Santiphap Soumphonphakdy of Otahuhu College says learning starts with the learner, more than the system they are learning in.

Many ideas and actions are being thought up and being put out there for helping to make children and young people’s education better and beneficial. But there is a great barrier which we, as a city and a country, need to realize and face; the lack of motivation young people may have in wanting to learn, and to gain a ‘good’ education. Children go to school every day, go to class every period and listen to a teacher’s every word. But what’s the point if they go to school because they have to go school and spend all their precious time to eating lunch and seeing their friends? Auckland Mayor Len Brown says the first priority for his council is to ‘put children and young people first’. Fine. The first step in putting young people and children’s education first is to let them put their education first themselves. Motivation is the key which drives a will, and some young people’s will to learn seem to be low. What motivates and influences children to learn? These factors include family, friends, teachers and even money.

Family
Children and young adults generally look up to their own parents, and so they are highly influential role models for their kids. The motivation and influences young people get from their parents will differ, and can depend on the background of the family and the parents. Some parents didn’t get an education, or came from another country as refugees to find a better life, and these factors all effect their children’s motivation in some way. Some people want to learn because their parents sacrifice a lot to help give them a chance for a good future, so they take that opportunity and learn as much as they can. On the other hand, some people look to their parents in a way where they seem to be doing fine in life without an education and they think because their parents survived and found a life without an education, they can too.

Friends
Friends will always affect us, and generally having a friend who is concerned with not only their own learning but yours as well will have a great effect. The people we hang around with can affect us a lot when it comes to wanting to learn. If we have friends who don’t care about learning then it seems as if we don’t care about learning either; similarly, if someone takes learning seriously, that person can influence you and help you to put learning first.

Teachers
Teachers can be either an angel or a demon in students’ eyes. The way teachers teach and generally act towards young people can either greatly motivate or bring down young peoples will to learn. Friendly teachers seem to have more of an effect, and praising students can put them up in confidence and motivation, and the way a teacher treats their students can change how they see learning. A less friendly or ‘mean’ teacher, for example, may put down a child more often and bring them to a level where they react negatively to that teacher and all other teachers. There is no doubt teachers affect students’ motivation.

Income
Money, money and more money. Motivation is greatly affected by money. Why do we need to learn? To get an education. Why do we need an education? To have a good future. How do we get a good future? Get a good job. Why do we need a good job? So we can have lots of money. But money can work against motivation. Many teenagers get jobs and earn good money, and the motivation to learn can reduce as the income increases. People can be blinded by money in their hands: “I have all this money, and I can keep getting it, so why do I need to learn anymore?” But later on in life they’ll have to work harder and longer to maintain a steady life, paying bills, mortgages, fees etc, as well as money for their fun time. But no matter what the obstacles to motivation may be, putting children’s and young people’s learning first means getting them to understand and want it themselves. With motivation they understand, generated from their own will and desire to learn, comes a clear path to succeeding with an education.

A TEXT POST

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does this blog tweet on my twitter - is it now a twit?