Mental Health

Cyberbullying and Student Safety

Cyberbullying

The advancements in technology have been tremendously beneficial.  These wonderful improvements in technology present new challenges for school administrators, however.  Twitter, Facebook, blogs and etc. are constantly frequented and used by numerous K-12 students.  School administrators must handle problems that occur on Facebook and Twitter, which largely occur while students aren’t at school.  Many students across the nation are engaging in cyberbullying, primarily through Facebook and Twitter.  Administrators already have a difficult job of preventing and responding to disciplinary problems that transpire on their campuses; now, they have to think critically about how to address cyberbullying that takes place off-campus.

Social media employed wisely and purposely proves to be valuable.  Unfortunately, too many students use Facebook and Twitter as vehicles for intimidation, hate and aggression.

Cyberbullying is a phenomenon that cannot be simply addressed by administrators—it requires a collective effort.  Parents must do a better job of monitoring their children’s online activities.  It’s not a matter of functioning as “Big Brother” toward your children; it’s a matter of committed parenting.  If you deeply love your children, you will be concerned about how they behave in all spaces, including online.  When parents discover their children are involved in cyberbullying, they need to contact administrators immediately, and they need to take all necessary steps to end cyberbullying.

Students who are interested in maintaining safe schools need to report cyberbullying when they witness it.  Let administrators know when you see activities on Facebook and Twitter that constitute bullying.  If you’re being bullied online, let your parents and school administrators know.  Don’t wait until the bullying gets out of control to inform your parents and school administrators.  You should let them know that you’re being bullied when it first begins.

Your life could depend on you mustering the courage to disclose with your parents and school administrators that you’re being bullied.

If you’re not being bullied online, don’t encourage others to bully people.  Laughing at others who are being bullied is a form of participating and encouraging bullying.  Bullies like attention and when you laugh at what they do, they feed off of your laughter and increase in their intensity.

While it’s important for school administrators to be proactive about cyberbullying, they must understand that they cannot react (or overreact) to everything that’s reported.  It’s not wise to address every ephemeral argument between students on Facebook and Twitter.

More research should be devoted to helping school administrators to fight cyberbullying.  A national think tank composed of administrators, teachers, students, legislators, law enforcement officials, counselors, psychologists, and etc. should be convened to discuss cyberbullying and to establish best practices for combating it.  Scholars need to engage in more research that helps school administrators better respond to cyberbullying.  In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shootings, we must learn valuable lessons about how we have to do a better job of preventing tragedies from happening at our schools.  We will never end all tragedies from occurring, but this does not mean that we shouldn’t do all we can to prevent the ones we’re able to thwart.  If we see the potential of bullying taking place online that could lead to something drastic, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to stop it.

Although the current national discourse about school safety is predominantly focusing on guns, let’s be sure to place a high priority on cyberbullying, especially cyberbullying on Facebook and Twitter.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Check Your Emotions

Check Your Emotions

Everything is not always going to go your way.  When things fail to go your way, don’t try to force the environment in which you’re situated to be dominated by your negative mood.  People are not always going to do what you want them to do.  You have to learn to control your emotions.

You will not always get your way.

While many adults make a serious effort to teach children that they will not always get their way, many adults need to be taught the same thing.

Don’t “fly off the handle” simply because people don’t respond in a tone that is exactly the kind of tone you desire.

When you have unacceptable mood swings, swing your attitude immediately in the direction of your lips and bust yourself in the mouth with it (your attitude).  If you want to hurt someone with your attitude, hurt yourself.  It’s unfair to take your emotions out on those who don’t deserve to feel the stinging effects of your reckless emotions.  If your emotions change with the wind, you will find that people are not going to want to be around you, and they will remember how terrible you treated them when you feel like being in a good mood.

The world does not revolve around you.  People are not placed on this planet to please and serve you.  Before you get an attitude with someone about much ado about nothing, try to consider the things that person may be going through and how they don’t need you imposing your nasty attitude on them.

Even people who claim to be considerate of others and claim to live an honorable life, they still need to do a daily self-assessment to make sure their not making everything about themselves.

You need to be sure that you’re not taking everything so personally.

Check your attitude.  Check your words.  Check your actions.  Check yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sometimes You Need to Cry

Black Man Crying

I’m not shame to cry in front of you!

Many people see crying as a weakness.  You’re going to face times in your life when you will need to cry.  It’s healthy for you to cry occasionally.  When you allow yourself to let the tears roll down your face, this can be a moment of emotional and psychic cleansing.  This moment can also provide you with the clarity you need in your life.  Do not, however, allow crying to become your answer to all of your problems—let it be a part of the process of how you deal with many of your problems.

Even for those of you who say you don’t need to cry sometimes, it’s time to stop fooling yourself—you need to cry also!  Don’t let your “tough guy” persona or “strong woman” persona cause you to end up at the nearest insane asylum.  Life presents us with many heartbreaking and vexing experiences.  We have to be wise in our response to those experiences.  Shedding tears during the process of handling heartbreaking and vexing experiences can be cathartic.  Your tears have the potential to help you to see that things are going to be okay and a brighter day will come.

Your tears can cause you to engage in the critical thinking you’ve not given yourself time to do.

In no way am I advocating for us to turn into a nation of crybabies.  When you overly rely on crying, you end up losing the power of engaging in an appropriate amount of crying.  You can make yourself seriously ill by crying too much.  You will find that crying about everything will result in you feeling quite depressed often.  Crying is not a solution to your most challenging problems.  It is, however, a part of the process of successfully addressing many of your most challenging problems and it’s crucial to the healing process.

Have you every cried yourself to sleep?  Did you wake up feeling better the next morning?  I’m sure you felt at least somewhat better, considering your tears allowed you to release some of the emotion invested in what led you to cry in the first place.

If you experience a moment in public where you have to cry, don’t feel horrible about it.  Your emotions are your emotions.  You can always quickly excuse yourself to a restroom or private area (if one is available).

Recognizing that you don’t have to be afraid to cry in front of people is recognizing it’s great to be yourself.  If you’re too embarrassed to cry in front of people, you’re too embarrassed to simply be yourself.  What a shame!

People are going to do things to you that will make you cry.  Your enemies are going to do things to you that are going to make you cry.  Don’t think you’re weak when you feel compelled to cry.  Your crying is going to assist you in defeating the negative things that made you cry.

When you feel the need to cry, go ahead and do it!  Crying can be a vehicle for liberating yourself!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Own Your Frustrations

Don’t take your frustrations out on others.  If there are specific people causing you to be frustrated, then direct your anger toward those individuals—not everyone else.  You have to learn how to take control of your emotions.  Your emotions are your emotions.  Don’t force everyone around you to have to deal with your problems.  When you’re having an unpleasant day, you shouldn’t try to make everybody else have an unpleasant day.  We can learn a significant amount about ourselves when we begin to think critically about how we handle being frustrated.  Just because you’re frustrated doesn’t give you valid justification to make drastic decisions.  When many people get frustrated, they start to acting like it’s the end of the world.

You have to understand that things are not going to go well for you every day.  If you’re an adult and claim to be mature, then you shouldn’t have to be told that everything is not always going to go well for you.

It’s okay to be frustrated from time to time—being frustrated is a normal part of the human experience.  You shouldn’t be frustrated all of the time, however.  If you’re frustrated all of the time, then you need to seek professional mental health treatment.  People should not shy away from getting mental health treatment.  One of the fundamental purposes of mental health treatment is to empower you with the ability to be in more control of yourself.

Don’t allow a frustrating day to become a serious crisis.  You have to understand that some things will happen and you will need to move on from those things.  Sitting around having a pity party is not going to change anything about your frustrations—it will only make things worse.  It’s very unattractive for you to resort to the most extreme measures when you’re going through frustrating moments.  People will begin to think that it’s best for them to not be around you.  You don’t want people to isolate themselves from you simply because you fly off the handle every time you’re frustrated.

Learn how to handle your problems responsibly.  If you need assistance with conflict resolution, please seek professional assistance.  You may even find it useful to speak with mature and successful people around you who can give you counseling about how to better deal with conflicts in your life.  If you’re always overreacting to problems you have in your life, then there’s something truly wrong with you mentally.  It’s okay to admit that you have mental problems.  By admitting that you have mental problems, you can get the help you need to address those problems.

Again, we all have been frustrated before.  Of course, we all would love to never experience frustration.  However, we know that we can never eliminate experiencing frustration.  How we respond to frustration is much more important than being frustrated.  Acting responsibly and maturely when you’re frustrated can help you to develop into a better person and allow you to discover things about yourself you didn’t even know.

Make every effort to stay in control of your emotions. Stop overacting.  Live responsibly.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Look Inward Before You Look Outward

We cannot be a help to others until we are a help to ourselves first. Far too often, broken people who need healing themselves are the main ones who like to criticize others and like to appear like they exude strength—when it’s really their weakness that radiates brightest. You cannot lead until you lead within yourself first. You cannot criticize until you have engaged in a comprehensive self-critique first. Never try to seem like you have made it to the mountaintop on your own, especially when you know that your ride to the mountaintop has been made possible by those who have assisted you.

Your critiques of others need to come from a spirit of compassion, while still maintaining a commitment to truth. Always make sure that what you have to say is guided by a desire to promote uplift. I am not contending that uplift has to always come from the most polite words and actions—uplift does not always come from polite words and actions—but your words and actions should have the purpose of moving people upward.

Don’t overlook your weaknesses and flaws when you are critiquing others. Your weaknesses and flaws can be the very sources of the problem with how you are critiquing others.

Guard the way that you perceive others with great care. The way you perceive others can simply be a product of how you view yourself. People are different so you have to understand that you cannot impose your values, paradigms, and expectations for yourself on others. This is what makes the world such a beauty place to live. We all do things and view things differently—We are simply different! Although we are all different in many ways, we are all united by the reality that we are human. We must never underestimate the power of what being human can do for us and the limitations of what being human means.

I’m all for people judging others—have at it! I just want people to make sure that they have engaged in close examinations of themselves first. When you have an honest evaluation of yourself first, you will offer yourself an opportunity to see why you say the things you say to others, why you view people the way you do, why you question them the way you, and why you think what they are doing is wrong or right.

Spend some time with yourself. Learn yourself more. Learn how you might have to move beyond the limitations of yourself to understand others and to understand why they don’t do and say the things you do. Take a moment to rise above what you would have them to do and say and embrace the value of what it is they do and say.

The only way that you are going to get some of those inner problems and demons that you battle is to allow yourself to undergo a serious comprehensive self-critique. Always ground your serious self-critiques in truth. Be willing to acknowledge and embrace the lessons that you learn from self-critiques that are truly grounded in truth.

Love yourself for who you are. If other people don’t love you for simply who you are, then get away from them because they don’t matter.

Even though you don’t have to share everything with everybody to be a real person and an open book, I recommend that you be more transparent with people about why you are revealing what you do disclose to them. The reason why I recommend this is it helps clear thinking people to comprehend that there could be a vital personal reason involving your safety that is responsible for why you don’t divulge everything down to the most microscopic detail to them.

When we look inward first and not outward first, then we will begin to gain a better understanding about why things may appear the way they do. Inward evaluations bring us to an understanding of physical, social, and emotional realities that we never might have considered and discovered without true and comprehensive self-examinations.

By looking within before you look outward, you might just find what you have been missing all of your life. You might just find the answers to what you have been searching for all this time. You might even begin to muster the courage to simply be yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Gucci Mane Gone Wild

What in the world is going on with Gucci Mane with this ice cream cone tattoo on his face? Lawd, Gucci has gone crazy! No, Lawd, not Gucci! Seriously, though, we need to surround this young man with love because he’s obviously experiencing some serious mental health problems. Although many rappers and other Hip-Hop artists cause themselves to face great troubles, this does not mean that they do not deserve to get our love, support, and best wishes. I hope that Gucci Mane will defeat the demons that he is fighting. What Black man do you know has a tattoo of an ice cream cone on his face? To me, the tattoo looks more like a penis. Now, of course, rappers and others (if they already have not) are going to start joking on Gucci Mane about this tattoo, especially making homosexual remarks about him. Honestly, though, what Black homosexual is going to get this type of tattoo on his face? Well, none that I know. I want to use the popular discourse about Gucci Mane’s tattoo on his face as a window of opportunity to talk about how we have to be more serious about mental health in the Black community.

America has not made serious investments in mental health. When Black people across the nation have experienced such horrific tragedies and impossible conditions, it’s crucial for our community to have access to the economic, psychological, and health resources needed to address critical mental health problems.

Instead of so many Black churches simply negatively criticizing and preaching about Hip-Hop music being the Devil’s music, they need to get out on the streets and welcome these Black rappers and Hip-Hop artists into their churches. These artists need to know that someone loves them and are willing to help them through whatever they are going through. Black churches can play such a greater role in aiding these Black Hip-Hop artists to overcome the psychic demons they battle. This, of course, will require many Black church leaders to lose their elitism and do the real mission of Christ: go out and save a people who are lost and/or simply need love and support.

Black men have historically had problems with using mental health services and getting mental health treatment. In the postmodern period, I think that the core reason why Black men are so reluctant to use mental health services has to do with maintaining the notion of being a “strong Black man.” Well, there’s nothing strong about staying crazy when you can overcome your poor mental health by reaching out for mental health support. There’s nothing masculine about denying the reality that you need help. You can still be masculine and receive mental health treatment. You need to know that it’s okay to go and get some counseling. We all need someone to talk to about our problems. We are all struggling with something, so it should not be a big deal for you to go and talk out your problems with someone. Even if you don’t go and get counseling from a licensed professional, make sure you muster enough courage to talk with someone who you know and trust to hammer out your problems with. This person just might give you the inspiration and advice you need to defeat your struggles.

So, yes, it’s funny at first to see this tattoo on Gucci Mane’s face but we’ve got to look beyond the surface and see that he and so many others are fighting great psychic demons, and we need to be there to help these people. Fortunately, Gucci Mane has the money to get the help he needs but so many others don’t. We need to pull together as a community and be willing to listen and talk to people. You will be amazed at what listening and talking to a person can do to change their lives. Be there for someone and someone will be there for you on the day you need him or her most!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don’t Be All Style and Show and Have No Substance

Black Male Fashion

For all who know me well and those who have followed Revolutionary Paideia, you know I really don’t care too much for vain people. Too many people are all about being flashy in appearance and style, but lack true substance emotionally, intellectually, physically, professionally, and socially. It’s all about image for these people.  They are too consumed with the spectacle (see Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle to gain an even better understanding of what I’m saying).  While the spectacle may be entertaining and give you some instant gratification, the entertainment and gratification is ephemeral. Some of you try to act like you are so confident, act like you have it all together, act like you are a trendsetter, act like you are rich, and pretend like you are so attractive. When you are alone, however, you get an opportunity to reflect on just how unhappy you are and the reality of your low self-esteem or self-esteem problems rise to the surface. I constantly advocate for people to be themselves and not fusions of multiple people and identities.

In no way am I saying that having swag is not useful—it’s useful! You just have to know how to have more than just swag. Make sure that your swag is real too and not just a false image you are presenting. If you know that you don’t have the type of clothing in your closet you are claiming you have, then don’t lie about it. If you know you don’t have the money to wear the type of clothes, drive the type of car, live in the type of house, attend the type of school, and eat at the type of restaurants you do or claim, then just be comfortable in your spirit with what is within your means until you are able to afford those things. Don’t commodify and reify yourself. Some people have metaphorically turned themselves into things instead of the human beings they are. Resist embracing the image and favor substance.

When you have substance, you will find that you don’t need all of that attention you are seeking. You will find that attention will just naturally come to you. You will find that you will not have to let people know things about you and what you have—they will just know.

Some people want to be all that but they are not willing to do the work to be all that. If you are not willing to do the work necessary to be all that, then realize that being all that is not for you. Place your values in substance. Substance will fulfill, sustain, empower, comfort, and reward you.

At the end of the day, you simply have to love yourself. Love just being yourself. There’s absolutely no one like you, so you should be happy and fulfilled by this reality. When you realize that being yourself is already swag, style, and show, then you will be able to convert your swag, style, and show into substance. Don’t rob yourself of substance and don’t allow others and society to rob you of substance.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison