Rosalind Wiseman empowered students in McPherson schools on Monday to approach problems with dignity, respect and social courage. The speaker reminds students of all ages across the country that no matter how small a problem is, it's still a problem.
"If you heard or thought this (presentation) was going to be about bullying, you're wrong," Wiseman said.
Wiseman spoke to students on conflict resolution by using a number of modern examples that energized students.
Wiseman’s New York Times best-selling book “Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence,” released in 2002 and was the basis of the 2004 film “Mean Girls.” She presented at McPherson Middle School and McPherson High School on Monday.
Wiseman started Defending Ourselves, a non-profit organization, when she was 22 years old that began as a self-defense organization for girls.
"I had some training in that when I started the non-profit. I wanted to address the root causes of why people would make risky decisions or make dangerous decisions and how they could get out of them. The focus was first on girls, but I have been working with boys just as equally as I have with girls," she explained. "I started doing that work and I've never stopped."
Wiseman based the content of the presentation on topics brought up in a discussion with a panel of students from the district on Sunday night.
A few of those topics included privacy, feeling anxious about meeting high expectations and feeling frustrated when students are good at something, but they don’t want to continue because of too much pressure.
Wiseman’s presentation Monday covered several topics and hit home for many of the students. Wiseman believes that the world says they will support young people, but they do it in a way that doesn't make sense.
"There is a lot of hypocrisy that adults sometimes will behave in a way that says, “Respect me no matter how I treat you so I can be respectful to other people," Wiseman explained.
She encouraged students to choose an adult, not necessarily a family member, who will be willing to listen to them when facing any problems.
She has much respect to her elders but feels with social media, the elders can be bigger bullies than the younger generation.
"They can make the most nasty comments online that any 12-year-old would be punished for a really long time, just because they're older and can get away with commenting nasty things," she said.
Teasing is happening across the country in all shapes, forms and ages, Wiseman explained the differences between three types of teasing.
First, there is fun teasing where she explained friends joke with each other but are OK with it.
Second, annoying teasing, she explained as the other person doesn't exactly know when to stop or what the victim likes or doesn't like.
Third, malicious teasing she explained as repeatedly teasing someone in public.
"It doesn't matter how small it is, if it bothers you it bothers you, you have the right to not like it. Just because it's common doesn't make it right," she said.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.