Thursday, January 19, 2012

We Must Stop Bullying: Parents Are Taking Their Lives As Well

A harsh and extremely unsettling headline, right?  Unfortunately it is true :

This type of double tragedy simply should not be.  In this deeply saddening case, this terrific young man, only 14 years old, took his own life after being bullied for a long time. Then adding to that horrible tragedy, his noble and inspirational father, who was diligently working in the anti-bullying movement on a number of fronts, took his own life because he simply could not make sense of a world that continues allow bullying to happen.

While my co-author and I are constantly struck by the fact that literally everyone we meet or speak to casually or formally is very supportive of the anti-bullying movement, but unfortunately, they do not feel empowered. Well, guess what, there is good news: you are officially empowered today!

The better news is: every American has the power to do something in their own community.  If your school does not have an anti-bullying policy that includes prevention, victim support, bully rehabilitation and teachable consequences, help them build it. You can start on our site ( or start anywhere, just do it.

If you see bullying, report it, or if it is safe, intervene and stop it.

If your community, child's sports team/association or park district condones bullying, speak up and ask for change.

If you see parents ignoring these issues, convince them as to why we must stop this cycle.

Most important: the solution starts with you. There are many real solutions out there (not just ours). Use your search engine and find some.  Then, commit to addressing bullying and realize you are saving lives.

Now, go out there, find the right solutions for your school or community and save lives. Thank you!

When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions For Parents, Educators and Other Professionals, is
a book filled with plans, tools, resources and checklists for anyone who wants to stop bullying in their communities. Available  on, or

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why would you bully a child; let alone this child? Kathleen Edward, Trenton, MI

Why would you bully a child:  let alone this child?  Kathleen Edward, Trenton, MI

We send our deepest condolences to the family of Kathleen Edward.  The sweet, beautiful, kind  child from Trenton, MI lost her battle with Huntington’s disease recently.  I have seen what this terrible illness can do to a child as we lost a young girl to the same disease at our church a few years ago. 

I am just baffled as to why anyone, let alone, an adult would choose to bully a child, but why this child?     Kathleen Edward’s neighbor Jennifer Petkov felt that it was ok to bully a terminally ill child because of a family dispute.  It is truly perplexing. Bullying is an anti-social behavior at any age.  Often people look at the victim as having a “problem”.  There is nothing wrong with the victim, bullying is the problem. And, the problem is with the bully, not the victim. In this case it could not be any clearer – the bully has a very serious problem with herself. 

There is never a "reason" for bullying. Bullies choose to bully and typically have unhealthy motivations in their own life for doing so.    Jennifer Petkov felt she had a good reason to bully Kathleen because her children were not invited to play in a bounce house at the Edward’s home.  Jennifer Petkov was quoted on TV as saying she felt “personal satisfaction” in bullying Kathleen.    

It is so important that we nip bullying in the bud at a very young age so that we have fewer adult bullies and criminals in our world.  We need to stand up to people who bully, regardless of their age.  Bystanders play a key role in the bully/bystander/bullied triad. If bystanders call out the bully as wrong or inappropriate, it is less likely they will continue. However, most parents do not teach their children to defend their friends. Further, children are taught to stay out of it.  While bystander children should not put themselves in harms way, they can report bullies or tell their parents.  I am glad that the people of Trenton, MI and the world stood by Kathleen Edward and her family.  I am just so sorry it had to happen in the first place.

Kathleen, I hope you are having the most wonderful day in heaven with your mother today and always.  May you rest in peace. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Laws on Bullying

Illinois is just one of several states with beefed up bullying laws going into place in 2012.  House Bill 3281, sponsored by state Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) goes into effect today and allows schools to suspend or expel a student who threatens another student or a school employee via the Internet.  The only issue is that suspensions do not always work.  As we discuss in our book, suspensions are sometimes just a week to stay home, play video games and do nothing.  Perhaps requiring the bully and parents to do some research on bullying, its effects and the reasons why a bully would bully might just lead to some introspective thinking on behalf of the bully and their family.  Expulsion is definitely a harsher punishment to bullying that will get some attention by the bully and parents of the bully.

"Bullying no longer takes place only at school," Kay told the Belleville News-Democrat of the new law. "Bullies use the Internet to follow their victim home and harass them through social networking. This bill gives school boards and administrators a way to deal with online threats from students towards other students, faculty or anyone else."  Hopefully schools across the world will take a strong stance against cyber bullying in 2012.  If it happens online, it is happening at school.  Schools should also take a look at punishments for text bullying as well since the two are often done simultaneously.