Cues-ED Program Teaches Children About Mental Health

A classroom full of children. A young boy towards the front is raising his hand.

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“No-one can see our thoughts, and that’s why we need to talk about them.” Out of the mouths of babes. This is how an eight-year-old student at the Oliver Goldsmith Primary School in London articulated the need for communication techniques, in a new class called Cues-Ed. Cues-Ed, taught by clinical psychologist Dr. Anna Redfern and her partner Dr. Debbie Plant, is about teaching young children how to be aware of their own mental processes and health.

Childhood mental health is a growing concern in schools. According to a survey of schools by the Association of School and College Leaders, two-thirds of teachers said that they wanted mental health services for students. What’s more is that over seventy-five-percent of teachers reported they had seen evidence of self-harm or suicidal thoughts in their classrooms.

Dr. Redfern and Dr. Plant are specifically focusing on children ages eight and nine. Using positive language and fun workbooks, their students learn about telling the difference between helpful and unhelpful thoughts, and about managing their moods as well as seeking help when they can’t.

One exercise, for example, involves catching little fluttering “thoughts” blown around the room (strips of paper with short phrases). This is the part where thoughts cross your mind, and the class acknowledges that what thoughts come is under very little control. But then the students sort them, identifying which ones are useful to them and which are harmful, and symbolically throw the useless ones away.

The class is not about any sort of mental health diagnoses. But it does teach the students to be mindful of their own thought patterns and emotional weather, which better prepares them to understand both their own internal workings and those of the people around them.

Currently, Dr. Redfern’s Cues-Ed program is only available in South London. A round of her courses costs nearly 4000 pounds, and has to be funded by the schools themselves, but she would love to see the program extended nationally.

High School Students Illustrate the Power of Social Media

Four young people on laptops and/or cellphones sit above an image that reads, "social media."

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It was a fairly typical assignment for seniors in high school todaymock-up an event related to a civil cause, create a social media presence, and imitate media response. This might sound alien to older readers, but to those growing up in the era of Facebook, it’s actually very good skill-building for any desk job.

But like anything on the Internet, it can get out of hand, and for four seniors at Enloe High School in Raleigh, N.C., it did.

Vishnu Inuganti, Julie Cybrynski, Daniel Zhu, and Maks Bezruchko were assigned to work as a group in their AP Government and Civics class. Together, the four created an anti-voter suppression group that they called “The Coalition for Voter Freedom.”

They built a small Facebook and Twitter presence for the group, as the assignment dictated. But complications arose when they moved to the next step of the assignment, the mock-event. They made a flier for a rally to take place at Red Hat Amphitheater, featuring Michelle Obama as the keynote speaker.

That got attention, and few people looked closely enough to see that the event was pure fiction. In less than a day, even though the students only directed one person (their teacher) to the event’s page, over 1,000 people signed up to attend.

Before they could take the site down, that reached 5,000. The manager of the amphitheater contacted the group in a panic. That’s when they decided to take it down. And while Inuganti asked his father what constituted fraud, the four faced no consequences from their accidentally viral project. To the contrary, they regard it as a huge success.

“We gained the interest of a lot of people for a project we were supposed to gain interest for,” said Julie Cybrynski. “It’s really cool how it escalated so quickly and became a real thing, even though it was a project.”

No word yet from their teacher on their final grade, however.

New York Post Writer Thinks Ivy League Schools Are “PC Prisons”

A student walking in Harvard Yard.

A student walks along Harvard Yard.
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Kyle Smith, a writer for the New York Post, published a column about how Ivy League schools are becoming “politically-correct prisons.” In his piece, he defends sexism, rape culture, and even racism. Allow me to highlight some of the “gems” of his article.

He begins by claiming that Ivy League schools are dishing out disproportionate punishments, and that these punishments in turn create “more wusses and tattletales passive-aggressively seizing power by parading their phony wounds.”

One example he gives is that of Harvard’s sexist scouting report.

If you’ll recall, the Harvard men’s soccer team was caught using lewd terms to rate the physical attractiveness of female soccer players. Smith’s take on this is that the administration “vaporized the men’s soccer season because the guys privately commented on the sexual appeal of their female peers, in jokey and disparaging language.” In other words, sexism is total fine so long as it’s done in private. Heh. Male privilege at its finest.

But Smith also thinks that racism is fine so long as it’s done in private. Back in November, members of the Columbia men’s wrestling team were caught in a similar scandal. Private messages were leaked in which the members were caught using the N-word numerous times. They also referred to fellow female students as c*nts.

While Smith says he won’t defend the “crass and juvenile messages” he then goes on to defend them by saying that it doesn’t count as “harassment.” Oh, and he called the people who exposed the messages a bunch of “sour fruitcakes.” Pfft. White privilege at its finest.

Here’s what I would like to say to Smith: It’s not that Ivy League schools are becoming more “PC,” it’s that they’re taking a more firm stance against racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination. If you think that’s an issue, then you sir, are part of the problem.

Thoughts On The Teen Who Killed Herself In Front of Her Family

A bathroom wall with the words "stop bullying" painted on it. There is a bloody hand print beneath those words.

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On November 29, 2016, 18-year-old Brandy Vela killed herself in front of her own family. Her family claims that her suicide was the result of relentless bullying, most of which was about her weight.

“They would make dating websites of her, and they would put her number and they would put her picture (on the sites), and lie about her age and say she is giving herself up for sex for free, to call her,” said Jacqueline Vela, Brandy’s older sister.

Brandy reached out to several people for help, including school officials and law enforcement. However, there wasn’t much authorities could do since the bullying took place online and the source was untraceable.

“We have lots of incident reports, and they always say the same thing: they can’t do anything about it,” said Jacqueline Vela.

And so Brandy saw no other way out. On Tuesday, November 29, she sent an email to her family members informing them that she was going to kill herself. Her family members raced home and found her alive.

“We tried to persuade her to put the gun down, but she was determined,” said Raul Vela, Brandy’s father. “She said she’d come too far to turn back. It was very unfortunate that I had to see that. It’s hard when your daughter tells you to turn around. You feel helpless.”

Brandy shot herself in the chest and died instantly. Her story is absolutely heartbreaking, and it’s touched many people from around the country. But although it’s sad, in many ways it’s also infuriating to know that this could have been prevented.

I mean, seriously, how many people have to commit suicide before we finally enact some anti-bullying laws? How come it’s illegal to impersonate a police officer, but not illegal to impersonate a regular person? If laws are meant to protect people, then why aren’t we protecting our children least of all?

This has to stop, but in order for it to stop, we all need to do our part and write about our concerns to our state representatives. I know I will be, will you join me in this fight?