Unethical behavior, disrespect, and possible plagiarizing in competition dance. Surprise!

This week in Minnesota, several teams at the state dance competition accused one of the top winning teams of plagiarism. The winning team had copied costumes, music and a bit of choreography. They claim they were "inspired" by the other team. Many people believe they plagiarized with a few changes around the margins. Instead of filing a complaint, other competition teams stood on the sidelines and held hands in objection. Those teams were disqualified. Seems to me neither behavior was appropriate.

I entered my daughters into dance programs when they were in preschool. I remember going to my first competition dance as an at home dad and seeing little girls with almost nothing on running around wearing huge hats filled with fruit. Carmen Miranda wore way more clothing than these first graders. After hours of watching thousands of dancers and hundreds of moms push and pull and cajole and scream, I called my wife in disbelief. Who would do this to children?

Why would anybody pay thousands of dollars to a studio with a damaged floor where kids got injured year after year in over training on a bad surface just to win a trophy? Why would a parent spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to an out of town dance organization to come in for a few "rock star" hours and try to teach thousands of kids on a dirty, carpeted ballroom floor? Why is hazing with ropes, kitty litter, and assorted other shaming techniques allowed in any environment - especially a so called education one?

These things arise, because the system is pervaded by back stabbing and gossip and cheating and lying and child abuse and theft. The world of crazy dance moms and unethical dance instructors does not just exist on television. It is real. Leaders in the industry need to name it, take decisive action, and stop it. Which is exactly what the state high school league needs to do in this instance.

We eventually found a couple of good schools with quality, ethical environments. My advice if you chose to participate is the following: keep your head tall, smile and wave at others no matter the drama, be respectful, walk away from the bad behavior, and role model healthy attitudes for your kids. I did the best I could at protecting my children. I hope you can do the same.

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Photo Russell Peterson | The Great Minnesota Get Together | Pay attention. Re respectful. Live your true life.
After 16 years of being an at home dad and the primary caregiver, I've come to the conclusion that there are three basic lessons every child needs to learn:

1. Pay attention to the world around you.
My children will tell you that they have heard enough of this phrase. I'm glad. Because I see this as the biggest problem in our world today. We walk around talking on our phones while hands are attached to a 2,000 pound vehicle's steering column not even knowing that the semi truck next to us is merging. We walk down the street eating our lunch or listening on the headphones without acknowledgement of the kindness and beauty around us. We fail to maintain our built environment, so that it decays and must be discarded. People starve in the streets, die from preventable diseases, and suffer needlessly because the end game at times seems to be take as many green backs with you to the grave as you can.

I say, there is another way. Be conscious of where other people are and what they are doing. Look at mother nature and revel in the smallest detail. Celebrate the creations that we have made together. See others in a new light as they walk down the street. Be the one who basks in the sunlight and stops to not only see the roses, but appreciate the gardener behind them. Close the door and turn off the lights because a house is not a barn and conserving energy keeps the planet for our children's children. 

The smallest detail that we notice is the celebration of what makes us unique and powerful.

See the world. Really see the world.


2. Respect the (potential) inherent worth and dignity of every person, but be smart.
The first part of this lesson is a modification of the first belief and principal of the Unitarian Universalist association of churches. Regarding this principal they say, ‚ÄúReverence and respect for human nature is at the core...We celebrate the gifts of being human: our intelligence and capacity for observation and reason, our senses and ability to appreciate beauty, our creativity, our feelings and emotions...We can use our gifts to offer love, to work for justice, to heal injury, to create pleasure for ourselves and others."

To me, the first part of this statement means be nice by being careful with your words and actions. But it is so much more than just a surface existence. Dig deeper. Help others. Think about another's situation before responding or complaining. Be proactive and help those in need and those who are suffering. This is about compassion, love and generosity on the most basic level.

The (potential) part is my modification. I do believe that loving each other, at some basic unconditional level is a very good thing. But we know that not all people act on this potential. In fact, many do just the opposite out of selfishness, greed, hatred, mental illness or a host of other maladies. Thus, the slightly skeptical side of me says: Put yourself out there. Love those around you. Respect their capacity to be good. But pay attention to the signs around you. If this person is taking advantage or demonstrates behavior that is not worthy or dignified. Be smart. Walk away. In cases where people are being abused or taken advantage of by someone who has lost their worth and dignity, advocate for those people. 

This is the only way the world gets better.


3. Live your true self.
Being true to your own being is the best way a parent can demonstrate that their children must be true to themselves. We must give our progeny wide latitude in exploration while establishing boundaries with consequences and at the same time be patient with developmental stages. We must throw aside stereotypes and traditions that discriminate. It will not always be easy for our kids and we cannot protect them from every harm. But if we nurture, support and instill the belief that our kids should be true to their own heart and true to the passion for living their unique life, they have the potential to live an exceptional life.

Live an exceptional life.


Coda
These lessons start before our children are born. It is a way of thinking and living that we and our spouse practice on a regular basis. It begins with the loving way we treat each other. It continues by speaking to our children with respect and not talking down to them. It extends in the love, compassion, and boundaries we establish for our children as they grow. It reveals itself as they encounter the world and mature to adults through our loving and supportive guidance. We have the power to create a fantastic next generation.

Pay attention, respect their worth, and be true to oneself.

By Russell Peterson | Copyright DayParentDad.com All Rights Reserved | 11 February 2015 

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Dear NFL, 

There is no rational argument to hit a child. There is no rational argument to keep a player who admits to hitting a child so hard that he breaks the skin in multiple places.

The recent NFL domestic violence incidents and past history reveal a terrible culture within your organization. You need help and I hope you find it quickly. 

Sincerely, 
A Fading Fan
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Now is the time to strike back with arguments because I'm tired of those who believe it is okay to strike a child. Or those who believe there is a difference between a smack on the butt to a whipping with a belt. Or a difference between a whack with a wooden spoon or a lashing with a tree branch. Or the difference between a slap on the face and a punch to the mouth. There is no difference. Hitting another human being is wrong, especially one who is smaller than you, weaker than you, and has a less developed brain. You, the adult, are smarter than that.
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This week it was revealed that Adrian Peterson, NFL football player with the Minnesota Vikings, struck his four year old child so hard with a tree branch that he left bleeding lashes on his legs and hands. The online pictures are gruesome. He was indicted in Texas at the end of last week and as I understand has confessed. He was suspended for a game by the Vikings, and then reinstated two days later to practice and play with the team. He released a statement.

In the statement he talks about how he was raised, clearly thinking this was normal behavior. I just don't understand why anyone in the 21st century can believe that physical violence against a child is acceptable, no matter the degree or personal history. We should all understand there are discipline alternatives proven by science. Maybe he has good intentions, but I think this statement is in big part a cover to make the mea culpa look good. It reads as though it was very carefully crafted by a talented public relations team that is working hard to help save the Vikings season and Mr. Peterson's career. I find it almost more repugnant that there are people more interested in helping others save their financial investment than they are helping to educate the public about eliminating corporal child abuse as a discipline methodology.

If Mr. Peterson were a teacher, he would be suspended until the outcome of his trial and/or punishment. At which point, I'm sure his contract as a teacher would be terminated due to a morality clause. Unfortunately, Mr. Peterson is a teacher. Every week he is on that television demonstrating how a quality football player should work and behave in front of millions of children. The NFL is an education organization. Ethics, morality, and citizenship should be a part of their program.

If I were running the NFL here's what I would do:
  1. Fire those who continue to perpetrate and tolerate domestic violence.
  2. Hire a team of foremost experts to begin training programs within the organization.
  3. Start a media wide outreach educational program to combat domestic violence.
  4. Make large contributions to organizations that actively work to reduce domestic violence and child abuse.

As for Mr. Peterson, he needs to do more than issue a statement and run a good game. Let's hope he understands the consequences fully and chooses wisely.


Dear NFL, 

I don't think it is that hard. Your move.

Sincerely, 
A Carefully Watching Fan


P.S. Next you should tackle player head injury reduction, steroid use, and equity pay for your cheerleaders and other support staff.

¬© By Russell Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 15 September 14
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Child Abuse Resources

NATIONAL NONPROFIT
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
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Once in high school a girl shoved me in the hallway near the gym. I think I was in her way. It was a small hallway and I was used to getting pushed around and called names. I just let it go. A guy next to me said, "Man, why didn't you smack her one?" To which I answered, "My parents taught me that violence was not the answer and a man NEVER hits a woman." The guy said I was crazy and my parents were stupid. I walked away.

This week we learned that Ray Rice punched his then fiance now wife so hard that he knocked her out in an elevator. Many people seem to care what he does for a living. I do not. There is no rational argument that says it is ever okay for a man to hit a woman in an elevator because they are having an argument. If an employee of mine did that. I would fire them. If I were a prosecutor, I'd put him on trial for abuse and send him to jail.

Let me be very clear to my daughters and all the other young women and men out there. There is no argument ever that says it is okay for another person to physically abuse you in any way. If it happens, you go straight to the police and file charges. Period.

By Russell Peterson | DayParentDad.com | 8 September 14
Contacts For Help
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-7233
1-800-799-SAFE

Child Help
1-800-422-4453
1-800-4-A-CHILD
Additional Help
Abuser Tricks Guide
Abusers can be quite manipulative. Click on the link above to find a quick guide to test your situation.

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Protect your children by teaching them well.
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National Domestic Violence Hotline | TheHotline.org


 
 
Seems we are obsessed with pop stars of late and they are obsessed with us. Our society is eager to cut someone down who has made it and personalities with their entourages are trying to spin a media frenzy in order to avoid being forgotten. Either way, there are more important lessons to teach our children from this foolishness.

Recently, pop star Justin Bieber has been in the news for an arrest, a warrant, drugs, alcohol, resisting arrest, assault, rehab considerations, and drag racing. When I spoke to my kids about this, one of them said, "Imagine growing up in that environment with girls clawing at you and the media hounding you non stop. The push by adults to grow up fast, make loads of money, be popular, but still remain a kid. That could screw you up." They are right. There is something to be said about the unnerving world of "child personalities." Compassion is a value I'm glad they have learned.

On the flip side, I pointed out that every child on this planet is important. Each day 17,000 children die in the world due to hunger. It costs less than a dollar a day to feed those kids. Let's say $17,000 a day.  Every major and minor media outlet covered Mr. Bieber's DUI arrest multiple times these past weeks and not one mentioned child poverty. The pop star is worth $130 million which in total could eliminate child death due to hunger in the world for 21 years.

Although I do believe that Mr. Bieber probably has a legitimate rationale for his environmental pressures, it seems to me that no matter your situation, you must rise above. Justice is as important as compassion. 

Think about it. Seize your destiny, don't waste it. I'm sure Mr. Bieber would agree.
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Children are hungry all over the world.
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Please join us in making a continuing donation to Action Against Hunger. Top rated charity by CharityWatch and Charity Navigator.
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Just Bieber arrest photo.
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Just Bieber tour photo.
 
 
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Last night I watched the Miss America pageant with my wife and daughters. We were of course cheering for Miss Minnesota as she is from our home state. But we knew right from the start that Miss California and Miss New York were going to be hard to beat. They all displayed poise, grace, intelligence, and talent. These are all the things of Miss America and should be of all of us. Unfortunately, within minutes of announcing Miss New York had won, there were racists rants a plenty on twitter. Then this morning we woke to a shooting spree at a naval yard in D.C. This afternoon a friend posted this letter on facebook about a woman enduring discriminatory disdain from another while using an EBT (food stamps) card in the grocery store in our community.

These events reminded me about the time 20 years ago when I got in line behind a couple with a young child at a grocery store in St. Paul. As they were checking out it became apparent they did not have enough money for all of their groceries. So they started working with the cashier to take out certain groceries to get down to the amount they could afford. They were well dressed Hmong immigrants who spoke very little English (none of which should matter). They were buying great whole foods (no junk) and obviously distressed at the situation, but very polite. I could have gotten impatient, angry, violent or even discriminatory as we've witnessed by the events of the last 24 hours. But, after about six or seven items were removed I turned to the cashier and said put the items back, I will pay for them. She was stunned. The couple in disbelief started shaking their heads in thanks. As they left and kept thanking me, the cashier just said over and over that I was an angel sent from heaven and she had never seen the likes of that and it was a miracle. I told her thank you and as I drove away I thought to myself I am no angel and this was not a miracle. It was just a little kindness.

I'm so tired of the shooters, and the racists, and the discriminators, and the hate mongers defining who we are. It is time to pick up our collective selves, stand against hatred and oppression, challenge intolerance, and start acting like the human beings we have the potential to be. Angels and miracles? I'll settle for poise, grace, intelligence, and talent...oh, and a little kindness.