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

Thursday, August 18, 2011

BULLYING: When Friends Bully Friends

It is an odd twist of fate we see and hear about all too often. Children anywhere from 8-18 who have been friends for long periods of time turn on each other.

In the case of Julie, it happened literally overnight and she was horrified. From the time Julie, (now 14) was nine, she and Sarah had been very good friends. Then the summer after eighth grade, Sarah decided she needed a new "brand" for high school. In a nanosecond, Sarah, one day in early June decided to "treat" three very popular girls, with whom she was not really friendly, to manicures and lunch in their suburban town. She strategically excluded Julie. Desperate to be popular, she spent the whole day with the three girls filling them with stories of "cool" things she had done (many not true) and all of the cool possessions she had.

Her next set of steps was even more unfortunate. She started sharing embarrassing stories about her friend Julie - frequently.  The stories made their way to Facebook and from there they simply went viral. At this point Julie was completely unaware because she had been away at camp.  In July, she returned home and opened up Facebook  to find out that her reputation had been ruined. Following that, she was in a store in her town and a group of girls said hello condescendingly, asked her about the stories, laughed and walked away. It got much worse and humiliating from that point on.

Immediately following all of this, she began to get rude texts. Her other close friends did not participate, but did not defend. They were worried going into high school about being branded as the friend of the girl everybody hates.

Finally Julie told her mother. Her parents shut down her social media accounts and contacted the bullying girls' parents. While the overt bullying stopped, the damage was done. Sarah half-heartedly apologized and stayed loyal to her new and very popular crowd.  Julie had a rough freshman year, then found new friends and became happier in her sophomore year.

The lesson here is obvious: teach our children that popularity is not important and to stand up for a friend when they need you. Be a leader, not a follower. Do the right thing. Not everybody has to be friends forever, but help our children understand that you don't need to be mean, exclude or put down to be happy. In fact, just the opposite is true.

A friend is a precious privilege, lets teach our children how to respect it. See our book for solutions that work: "When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions" (available on amazon and

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lasting Effects of Bullying; Dad takes Action

Lasting Effects of Bullying; Dad takes Action

The last bullying episode we had with our child was just about a year ago and things have been going along smoothly.  And then it happened.  Wham – we were hit in the head with some residual pain and long term unresolved issues. 

We were at a local restaurant when the bully’s family walked in.  Within a few minutes our child spotted them and got up, excused himself and went into the car.  I immediately recognized what had happened and discussed it with my husband.  In the book I discuss how my husband was not really onboard with what should have been done about the bullying itself but as time has gone on, he has recognized that the “kids will be kids stuff” really was much more than even he realized.   He now sees the lasting effects it has had on our child.

Dad (yes Dad) took action!

As we drove home my husband asked what had happened and gave our child some great guidance.  My husband said to our child not to run from situation, instead have the attitude that “you own the place”, hold your head high and be confident.  He even did a little role play with our child pretending it was the first day of school and the bully is there.  They discussed what to do and the positive, self-confident attitude he needs to exhibit.   

Observe your child; is he or she avoiding other children or adults?  Is your child different than before the bullying ever took place?  If so, it needs to be addressed with your child.

Just like the bullying incidences, do not ignore the residual effects of bullying.  Discuss it with your child, discuss action steps on what should happen (you own the place) and if necessary seek professional help from a medical doctor, social worker….  Do not let a bully take control of your child’s life even after the bullying has stopped.   They bully does not deserve to have any power over your child even after the bullying has stopped. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back-to-School: Make It Bully-free

This is about the time of year that parents of bullied children begin to get knots in their stomachs. We remember all too well.

Today, we will share a quick roundup of key things to remember prior to beginning the school year (we have a much longer and detailed list in our book that is tailored to a wide variety of bullying situations, "When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions", available on amazon and

Stopping Bullying: Key Mantras......

1. Never ignore bullying: It essentially gives the bully a permission slip to continue bullying if you don't stop this behavior.

2. Stop the bullying early and comprehensively: Make certain all bullies are spoken to, understand the gravity of their actions and the school provides a consequence alongside a commitment in writing that it will cease (signed by both families). If it is not stopped early on, bullying can become viral very easily.

3. Do not be timid about going up the chain of command: If you are not getting help at the teacher/principal level, go to the superintendent and school board. From there, use community civil servants such as police officers to speak respectfully to the bullies about changing their behavior before it becomes a crime. If bullying becomes criminal in nature, seek advice from law enforcement.

Preventive Tactics Prior to School Starting......

1. Remind your child to talk about bullying with you. Ask them to share what happens and how it feels. Keep the dialogue open so they feel free to tell you everything and remain protected.

2. Role-play possible ways to stop the bullying in-situation. Sometimes you and your child or your child and a trusted friend can brainstorm possible comebacks or ways to stop the bullying in a specific set of situations. This allows the bullied child to be prepared when bullying occurs

3. Find a "go-to" person for your child to be with/sit near during high-bullying times like recess, the bus, gym class, to and from school

4. Firmly Request That Your  Child's Bullies NOT  be in your child's classes: As always be respectful, but be clear that the you are partnering with the school to solve the issue.

5. Ask to be a lunch/hall monitor, recess supervisor or other parental volunteering positions: This will allow you to keep a watchful eye and send a message to the school that you are willing to help.

Please see for to learn more.