Bullying Month: 5 Ways to Help a Bully

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Uncategorized | No Comments




Bullying awareness month is this month. You are more than likely reading this for a personal reading and, to be honest, I am writing it for a personal purpose; to raise awareness. Back when I used to get punched to a bloody pulp on the school bus in the early 1970′s it was more about teachers and administrators encouraging me to stand up to them.I recall, as though it were yesterday, Mrs. Ruby telling me I needed to “just sock that Dennis right back in the face”. Looking up at her with my nose stuffed with gauze and my eyes puffy from crying, all I could do in my stunned state was nod; knowing full well if I did so, Dennis would lie in wait to REALLY finish me off and I would be a dead kid. But, her point was that I was going to have to fight when I got to manhood. Ah, Oregon in the good old days. Alas! today my passion is helping those kids who have been silenced by the painful fat lip or pent up spirit. But studies today show we have all new kinds of bullying. My nephew, was bullied when he was little and now that he is pushing six feet tall, is rarely bullied and blossoming into a young man. So, the bullies have adapted and become more clever in that they have cyber-bullying. We’ve gone from the blind sided punch in the face on the bus to the more subtle, and perhaps more dangerous, bullying online. The old adage, “stick and stones my break my bones but words will never hurt me” is, I hate to say it, a misguided lie. My grandmother used to tell me to say that to my perpetrators and even though I would say it, I still felt battered and beat. So, just what is our solution and just how do we address this malignant issue? We read about the outcomes of suicides, litigation, gunning down of school yards, but really, where do we begin to address this insidious issue? Sure, we must address it in our tier II interventions that we require when a student is caught, but what about addressing it before it ever gets to that point. By the time a student, whether victim or perpetrator, comes onto our radar for the infraction, there is already a wounded student. While traveling around Arizona to Alaska, I am exposed to just about every scenario one could possibly formulate. While working in Alaska, for example, I was informed that a 6th grade girl was performing as a Madame to her peers and hiring them out. Our sweet innocent children are exposed to just about every perplexing situation in life. We, as adults, can do two things: pretend it isn’t happening, or, preferably, swing into action. Here are five things we can do or encourage our students to do:
1. Step into their shoes. Lack of empathy often causes our students to act out against others for a number of reasons. When you have a bell activity to do, encourage your students or kids to visualize something that they would say to someone they truly love or care about. Quite often, especially our foster students, are not hearing these messages. Model for them the kind of words or actions that would match these words.
2. Have them visualize consequences. One of the universally debilitating qualities of our students today is hopelessness. They live in, and for, the moment. They don’t take the time to process through the long term outcomes. While bullies may have admirers for a moment, they quite often do not attract long term friends. A saying my grandmother DID teach me that for me is true was, to have a friend I must first learn to BE a friend.
3. Encourage your students to “Google” their name to ascertain if something has been said about them. Chances are, it has been blown out of context or exaggerated. If it has not and you take umbrage…
4. Be assertive. Teach the students how to say “STOP bothering me without getting angry. Anger can serve as provocation for the bully to retaliate. Body language and tone is just as important as the words. Teaching students about assertive body language can prove beneficial in helping them develop self-efficacy as well as empower them for their successes in the future.
5. Talk to an adult you trust. Now here is where the challenge comes in. How we receive the message and our reaction is what will make or break their future. Encouraging them to “hit back”… well, is not only unhealthy but could prove deadly in this day and age. Listen to and hear the student, THEN take the appropriate action. Whether it is talking to the ISP or, if life threatening, report it to the police immediately.
Most importantly, raise awareness. Research is starting to show that posters on walls don’t quite cut it. What does cut it are communication, research based programs and compassion; not only for the victims, but also for the perpetrators. There is a reason bullies become bullies. But that is a whole other blog… Contact me if you need research-based, sustainable and proven programs.

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