By Michael Harker
Mary McDaniel speaks to teens and parents about how to prevent bullying – from a Catholic perspective.
A program coordinator at the San Pedro Retreat Center in Winter Park, McDaniel said it is important to teach children and their parents conflict resolution and peacemaking skills which can help them through difficult situations. McDaniel’s strategy is centered on how Jesus might have reacted to avoid the escalation of conflict.
“Kids today have the tendency to either strike out or say things in the face of bullies that can trigger further bullying or put themselves at further risk and danger,” McDaniel said. “We try to present to them a way of looking at how Jesus acted and modeling some of that behavior with “I” statements and looking at perspective and even compassionate listening. That way they are learning that they do have a voice.”
McDaniel says cyber bullying is increasing due to the increased use of social media and chat rooms. McDaniel said it is important for parents to monitor their child’s actions on the computer, to keep them from becoming a bully or a victim.
“They have the responsibility of opening the lines of communication and raising responsible children,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel also said she teaches the differences between bullying and when adolescents say and do mean things from time to time.
“Bullying is systemically and chronically inflicting physical or psychological hurt, and that’s different that somebody being mean to you every once in a while,” McDaniel said.
Overall, she hopes these presentations help protect children and give them the resources they need to deal with situations in a peaceful manner.
“I think the biggest part of it is teaching our children to become responsible, to take responsibility for themselves in an appropriate way,” she said.
McDaniel covers these topics during summer camp sessions at San Pedro Center, parenting classes and youth groups by request.
To schedule Mary McDaniel for a presentation, call 407-671-6322.