Friday, December 30, 2011

Tis’ the Season for the Family Bully

Ahhh, the holiday season.  Family and friends all gather for the feast and good cheer!  Almost every family has one, the family bully.  The relative young or old that is a bully but because they are family we just accept who they are and “ignore it”.  We look the other way when little Johnny takes your child’s toy for the 20th time that day, we walk away when we hear Suzy tell her cousin she is ugly, we laugh when the adult aunt tells you that you are fat. 

In our book we discuss how ignoring the bully does not work; it only makes the situation worse because the bully will continue to bully.  We also discuss how it is important to address the situation quickly so that the bullying stops.  The same is true for the family bully; if we do not stand up to the bully it will continue and even get worse as the party continues.  So what is a family to do?  

One solution might be to have a casual conversation with your children before the party, discuss what could happen and what to do if it happens.  We do not want to make the child dread the party so a light and casual conversation should do the trick.  It would also be helpful not to use the word bully or call the relative a bully.  We teach our children while at school to say no to the bully, we teach the children not to watch someone else be bullied but to help them out, the same holds true with the family bully.  Say no, we are not going to stand for this anymore, disarm them and take away the power.

With the adult bully we might want to politely and firmly address the situation the first time it happens.  Waiting until the fourteenth time Aunt June puts someone down may just make you want to explode.   It is very important to stay calm and professional because in some cases the bully is looking for a reason to fragment the family and a confrontation would be the perfect reason to end the annual family holiday party or even stop seeing the relatives all together.  

The adult bully is a practiced bully.  He/she has been doing this for years and is the master manipulator.  By reacting quickly and calmly instead of yelling and screaming or ignoring will help disarm the power of the bully.  Just as you would with your children, prepare yourself for what might happen, plan how you will calmly stand up to the bully or for another relative that is being bullied and say no, I am not going to take this from you anymore.  Addressing it quickly may just help make the rest of the party more enjoyable and hopefully the other relatives young and old will learn from your positive behavior and do the same. 

Have a wonderful holiday season.  If it is to be it is up to me. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

U.S. Dept of Ed Report on Bullying Laws: Extremely low accountability and enforcement

Today the Department of Education released a report entitled "Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies" reviewing state and school district policies related to anti-bullying and harassment.
The report clearly identifies that while 46 states have anti-bullying laws, they fall short on several measures. Most importantly, under these laws, the vast majority of  states have little or no ability to enforce the laws or hold schools accountable. Similarly, very few laws identify clear consequences for bullying perpetrators. 

Anti-bullying advocates and authors, Jacqui DiMarco and Marie Newman discuss the social issues and legal implications of bullying in  their book, When Your Child is Being Bullied:  Real Solutions for Parents, Educators, and Other Professionals.  The authors provide recommendations to school districts, communities and parents on how to implement systems that stop bullying using "Real Solutions"  and  "Teachable Consequences" vs. antiquated measures most schools currently use.  They are available for comment or interview about the Department of Education report and why the laws are not designed for success .  See for a media kit.

Contact Information:

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Phone - 630-673-9178
Or contact us through our  website  :

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Can't Media Folks Cover The Bullying Problem AND Solutions?

I frequently scratch my head at this. The good news: Media folks have done a tremendous job identifying that the U.S. has a various serious bullying problem and the depth of the problem.

The bad news: solutions for bullying are never covered.  There are solutions that work well! Hundreds of them! There is an army of experts, advocates, professionals and volunteers out there everyday working hard and actually making progress against the bullying epidemic.

Please do not misunderstand, revealing and demonstrating the problem is critical and should continue without question.  My only concern is that solutions are not focused on as well.

As examples, our team can speak to 20 different school districts and school systems that have successfully decreased bullying dramatically in the last 3 years. Similarly, I can share several handfuls of key stories where severe bullying issues were resolved with happy endings.

Again the exposure to the problem is crucial, but providing working solutions would provide hope and clearly, motivation. We can do this. There are strategies and tactics that work!

Let's all start taking a problem-solution approach and start motivating people!

For more on this topic and clearly effective solutions for both individual cases of bullying as well as compelling and proven solutions for schools, see our book, "When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions For Parents, Educators and Professionals"  at and

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Where are the parents?

Where are the parents?

While spending a wonderful Saturday at the park with my sons I was abruptly awaken out of my afternoon bliss by a stick to the head.  Two 10ish year old boys were throwing sticks at an injured squirrel in a tree above me.  I politely asked them to stop several times as the sticks kept hitting my family and the already injured squirrel.  After requesting the kids stop no less than five times one of my sons said “where are there parents?”  Good question.  When I asked them they said “I do not know” and continued to torture the poor squirrel. 

Bullying usually occurs when the parents or adults are out of site.  Bathrooms, the bus, the playground and after school walking home are perfect places for children to be bullied since there are few, if any adults around.  What makes it even more complicated is that sometimes the bully acts like a prefect angel in front of adults and his/her parents.

So what is a parent to do?  Talk to your children and make them aware of when and where bullying most likely happens.  This information may help them make better choices on where to position themselves– perhaps to sit at a lunch table close to the lunchroom staff or a seat in the bus close to the bus driver.  Also, find out from your school who is in charge of the lunchroom, the playground, before and after school grounds monitoring.  Make sure your child knows who is in charge during the times.  If they are bullied or observe someone being bullied, have them inform the adult in charge and you.   

As a side note, according to a study done by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Northeastern University, animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against another.  Yes, I know it is “only” a squirrel but as another observant and caring parent at the park said to me “today it is a squirrel, tomorrow it is a cat, and ten years from now it is a human”. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stopping Bullies From Tormenting Your Child: Key Steps For Parents

When parents or members of the media ask us: "What are the most important steps to take if one finds out their child is being bullied?" It is really simple, but takes some tenacity and determination from a parent to stop their child's torment comprehensively and quickly:

The key steps:

  • Get the full story and all of the facts quickly
  • Stay as calm as you can, but be assertive
  • Document the incidents in writing with dates, participants and descriptions
  • Call the principal and teacher team for a meeting quickly
  • Bring your documentation and your most respectful, yet determined, self to the meeting
  • At the meeting:
    • Require the parents of the bully be informed of his/her behavior
    • Require the bully and his parents sign a document (see our family contract in our book, "When Your Child Is Being Bullied:Real Solutions" ) that guarantees all bullying, speaking about the bullied child/bullying incidents and malice will cease immediately
    • Require that both the bully and the bullied child move on from the incident and agree to be civil to one another moving forward (they don't have to be friends, but must be respectful)
  • Never have the bully and the bullied child hash it out in a "peer to peer conflict resolution" meeting - this only re-victimizes the victim and makes the bully angrier
If the above does not work immediately, see our additional recommendations in the book. Frequently the above is enough, but often times it is not and we have many more recommendations that will work well.

 In our book, When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions (, outlines a full plan (yes, unfortunately you will need it - these things tend to be messy and complicated) designed to be customizable to your child's specific needs and their specific challenge.

When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions is available on and

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Stopping Bullying In Schools: Consequences are Effective!

While bullying prevention programs are critical, schools are really lost when it comes to treating the immediate, acute and ongoing problem: active bullies.

There are literally hundreds of fantastic bullying prevention programs and groups making great progress out there in preventing children from bullying. BRAVO and please continue that hard work! Unfortunately, the other key part of the equation is all but ignored in schools: CONSEQUENCES FOR THE BULLY.

I think most folks are quite clear that once a bully has begun to bully, if he/she is not stopped early, introspects and understands why bullying is damaging to both the victim and himself, he/she will continue bullying.

Herein lies the problem. Children who have experimented with bullying can still be re-directed by prevention programs. Unfortunately, there are literally hundreds of thousands seasoned bullies age 9-18 out there who are completely unaffected by prevention programs.

The only way to reform a seasoned bully is with clear consequences that force he/she to understand life will be less fulfilling, interesting and enjoyable or downright scary if he/she continues to bully. In fact, most bullies won't change until they stop feeling "invincible" and break the bullying habit.

As with any child, most bullies fall into a routine/habit and can't stop. Like any other bad habit, they can't stop until they want to stop.

Which is why parents/communities/schools need to add "teachable consequences" into their anti-bullying programs.

Bullies tend to be narcissistic and won't understand anything unless it is presented in such a way that clearly demonstrates how harmful bullying will be to them.The answer to this dilemma for schools and parents? Provide consequences that illustrate the scary path a bully will go down if they continue to bully.

Bullies need to know about 60% of seasoned bullies will be incarcerated or charged by the time they are 24 yrs old. This is true across all socioeconomic status.

What To Do? Based on number and gravity of offenses, use the following types of consequences:

  • Require bullies to research the topic and understand the impact of bullying
  • Mandate that they write an essay how why bullying is horribly damaging for victims as well as bullies
  • Make volunteer service in homeless shelters where former victims and bullies reside to better understand how bullying affects adults
  • Initiate visits to reformed gang members where the bully can learn how bullying translates to crime and tragedy
  • Create an in-school service model where bullies are forced to clean/perform work around the school that are reserved for only bullying offenses and where other children see them
  • Require commitment letters to be written by the bully that promise to stop the bullying and provide clear action steps outlining how the bully will change their behavior and attitudes
  • Probation programs with a school probation officer have worked well too
  • Meetings with a police officer who outlines the law, the effects of bullying on victims and bullies articulating the fact that bullying is a crime and charges can be pressed are very effective
There are many other highly effective ideas that work well too.

If you do nothing else today, share the above with your school and help them get started. You will see a difference quickly in the level and frequency of bullying in your schools. See our book for much more on this topic.

"When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions For Parents and Educators" is available on and

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stopping Bullying: Most Important Tips

When Your Child Is Bullied: Real Solutions for Families
By: J.E. DiMarco and M.K. Newman
"Most Important Tip List:

       ·        Do not tell your child to ignore the bullying
·       Reassure your child that he/she will be protected and you will not stop until there is a complete    
           solution in place
·       Document all facts of each instance of bullying
·       Develop a plan to stop the bullying with the school. Work respectfully and collaboratively, but   
           aggressively with the school to develop a plan. Make certain you, as the parent, lead the 
          solution and play a very active role.
·       Use all of your community resources:
     a.     School social workers/guidance counselors
     b.     Teachers
     c.     Superintendent
    d.     School Board
    e.     School nurse
    f.      Therapists/psychologists
    g.     Coaches
    h.     Members of law enforcement
    i.      Attorneys
·       Act quickly, comprehensively and early.  The longer the bullying goes on, the more difficult the      
           situation becomes for your child and your family.
·       There are real solutions that work, be persistent
·       Never: allow your child to participate in “peer to peer resolution”, this only re-victimizes the 
           victim and angers the bully

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stopping Bullying Everywhere: Real Solutions To Bullying Available Today

Vivisphere Logo
New York
September 7, 2011
For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Baron
Communication Works


A Blueprint for STOPPING the Bully in Our Classrooms,
Communities, and Online   

NEW YORK, Sept. 7, 2011- Vivisphere Publishing announces the release of a new book: "When Your Child is Being Bullied: Real Solutions for Parents, Educators and Other Professionals."  This timely title, co-authored by J.E. DiMarco and M.K. Newman, is a step-by-step guide offering real solutions and tools to stop the torment of bullying for individual children in acute cases as well as full school-wide programs designed to prevent, identify and remediate bullying.  
The current statistics on bullying are startling and unsettling:
  • Every 7 minutes a child is bullied
  • 85 percent of the time, there is no intervention of any kind
  • Bullying is the #1 reason for suicide between the ages of 11 and 16
  • 60 percent of seasoned middle school bullies are indicted or charged with a crime by the time they reach 24 years old

This book  provides specific details on how to define, identify, and stop bullying, as well as caring for your bullied child and your family. Authors DiMarco and Newman dispel commonly held myths about bullying that include ignoring the bully; conflict resolution (bringing the bullied and the bully together to hash things out); and handing out school suspensions/ detentions.  They offer proven strategies  for moving in swiftly and comprehensively to rehabilitate the bully with a plan of "teaching consequences" designed to compel bullies to be introspective, understanding, and to cease their bullying.  Similarly, their recommendations truly protect victims. 

According to John Halligan, internationally respected anti-bullying speaker/advocate and parent, "Currently, there are not any manuals on how to stop your child's torment at the hands of a bully and get back to happiness.  This book will walk you through how to solve your child's issue in an easy to understand and practical way."   

"When Your Child is Being Bullied: Real Solutions for Parents, Educators and Other Professionals" is a no-nonsense resource that summarizes each chapter with workable solutions. The final chapter provides a detailed plan on how to navigate community politics and implement anti-bullying policies and protocols as well as collaborating and partnering within school districts.

For every parent, educator, administrator, guidance counselor or concerned adult looking for answers, this book is an invaluable reference tool conceived to combat the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that define the life of the bullied.   There is hope, and there is help. Bullying can be stopped.

The book is available for $17.99 through major distributors, Vivisphere Publishing, and bookhitch. The title can also be purchased

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Before Bully Season

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda is among one of my favorite phrases.  Unfortunately, I am using it again as it pertains to bullying.

Last school year in April and May and again in July I contacted my son’s school counselor to make sure that the bully was not in any of his classes.  I did not receive a call back so I ASSUMED this was taken care of and there would be no issue.  A week ago I called and e-mailed again but copied the principal, vice principal, superintend and the counselor.  Again, no reply.  How odd, I thought to myself.  After all we did to help our school why would I not get a call back?  After a few more calls and e-mails late last night I did get a call back.  A somewhat nervous member of the staff informed me that the bully was indeed in a class and his locker was very close to my son.  How could this happen?  After I called and e-mailed so many times!

So what would I do differently?  It is pretty simple.

I shouda, I coulda, I woulda at the end of last year made an appointment with the principal and team to make sure the bully was not in any of his classes and his locker is on a different floor.  If I did not get a reply back I would show up at the school and politely requested to speak to the team. 

I feel pretty confident that this issue is going to be rectified right away.  I insisted that it was not my son that was going to be moved but the bully.  The bully needs consequences, not the victim.  That would just be punished the wrong child.

My advice, plan ahead and if you do not get anywhere show up and ask for an appointment.  Be professional at all times but be firm.  This way you will not have a  shoulda, woulda, coulda on your hands. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Teachable Consequences for Bullies

We have never met an administrator, teacher, guidance counselor or any educator who truly believes detentions and suspensions are effective in reforming bullies.

Knowing that, one would think that most schools would devise alternative consequences for bullies. Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of schools have devised programs that work.

The problem with detentions and suspensions is that, at best, "kicks the hornet's nest."  After a bully is told they will have a detention or suspension they are elated to have a day off school, don't care or are irritated and become motivated to create a retaliation plan directed at their original victim.

The vast majority of educators agree with the above statement.

So why haven't better reformation programs for bullies been developed?

The answer is one you hear frequently in school districts: "building programs take time, staff, energy and money."  This is correct. In fact, legitimate and authentic. 

Which is why we recommend parents get involved, seek expert counsel and develop a consequence protocol for bullies that is effective in stopping the behavior and actually works.  It will be an investment in time you will never regret.

Effective bully consequence programs that work have a few key components:

  • Create reflection and acknowledgement that bullying is wrong by the bully
  • Drive introspection by the bully to really understand why bullying is both hurtful for the victim and quite damaging to the bully himself
  • Include a learning exercise where the bully is allowed to realize how bullying is damaging to our society
  • Promotes alternatives to bullying to address their own issues
All of the above are critical.  You may ask, "so, what type of program would include all of those components?"
Glad you asked.

Teachable Consequence Protocol -  Examples For Bullies:

  • Required to research the topic via Internet and library to better understand the ill-effects of bullying on victims and then write a significant report on their findings and learnings
  • Required to watch an educational film that illustrates the issue, it depravity, ill-effects and dramatic or extreme results (e.g, suicides). Post-viewing, a trained counselor would discuss the bully's learnings and new understanding (our book, "When A Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions" has a concept outline for this type of film that can be adapted)
  • Mandated to perform community service
  • Required meeting with a formerly incarcerated gang member who has reformed
  • Mandated to prepare a reform speech with specific action items he will take to reform prior to meeting with a "bully consequence panel" where he will confess, share why he is wrong and how he will change moving forward
The above are just a few examples, we have many more recommendations on teachable consequences in "When Your Child Is Being Bullied:Real Solutions" (available on amazon and

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Bullying Season

Unfortunately, it is almost here: Bullying Season.  

Back-To-School: First 2-3 Weeks of School

After a week of new things to get used, children turn their attention to jockeying for a position in the social architecture at school. Some children just want a place to reside on the social ladder. Others want to move up.

Whatever their disposition, and regardless of age, most children want a place to fit in. As a result, kids typically start "performing" in front of their peers. Some show off their athletic or academic prowess, others demonstrate how funny they are. Others reinforce their level of "coolness."

Within these performances, children will make bad judgements and harass, put down or humiliate others to get attention. If those children receive a positive reaction and often times they do, they continue.

And, if unchecked, those performing children turn into bullies.

Some "experimenting bullies" will realize that they have hurt others and discontinue, some will not.

The bullies now have found their space in the social architecture at school.


After about 6-8 weeks in school, the groups have formed and in general, kids know where they fit in and where they do not. Sadly, bullied children may not have found a group or are in a group that gets bullied.

Bullies, in order to maintain their place, will regularly bully certain children to remind all children who they are and their power/social status.

At this point, some bullies will have been reprimanded and need to back off for awhile. During this time,
many bullies will reduce activity but recruit other bullies to do their bidding.

In fact, the experienced bullies actively train these vulnerable children while they lay low.  Usually, the trainees are kids who desperately want to be popular and will do anything to get there.

Holiday Periods

There is typically a resurgence of bullying with the lead bullies at this time, because they feel as though they need to make a point and be seen/heard before winter break.  The strongest retaliation can begin to take place here. Worse, bystanders get weary and start to ignore bullying even more.

Late February 

Bullying cycles frequently run in 6 week cycles and the lead bullies will be back for more and may also retaliate if they have been reprimanded. At this point, bystanders become very fearful of their status and refuse to help bullied children to avoid becoming the next target.

End of April/Early May

This can be a very precarious time for bullied children in that, children, teachers and administrators are stressed out and burned out. There is virtually no protection and many times bullying is ignored.

Bullies will act out their hostility in very negative ways during this period. By this time, strategic bullies will have figured out how to fly under the radar and avoid being caught by adults. This empowers leading bullies to be more vicious and more frequent during this period.


While most bullied children get a reprieve from torment during the Summer months away from school, they also get excluded. And, if they join summer camps, sometime their bullies are there and feel as though they have carte-blanche to start up again.

Stopping The Bullying Season?

We have a wide variety of solutions available to all parents in our book, "When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions" (available on amazon and Here are few key things to remember:

  • Stop it early and comprehensively
  • Use our steps to create your own solution that works
  • Never ignore bullying, it will not go away, but will get worse
  • Never be ashamed if your child is being bullied. The bully is exhibiting anti-social, abnormal behavior and if anyone should be ashamed, it should be the bully and his family.
  • Be your child's strongest advocate and don't stop until you have a solution that works
"When Your Child Is Being Bullied:Real Solutions", a step-by-step guide to stopping your child's torment and getting back to happiness as well as a plan to follow for those developing full-school wide programs designed to 
prevent, remediate and reform bullying behavior . Available on Amazon and