Friday, December 30, 2011

Bullying: Words Can Kill: A "48 Hours" special on bullying in the digital age.

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Cyberbullying 101

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Advice on Cyberbullying and Teens

How do you define cyberbullying?

States have different legal definitions, but cyberbullying essentially means harassment or intimidation through an electronic communication, which 1) physically harms a student or damages their property; or, 2) substantially interferes with a student’s educational opportunities, or 3) is so severe or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; or 4) substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.

In many ways it is the school equivalent of workplace harassment. Adults do not tolerate it at work, and teens should not accept it at school either.

What is the most common form of cyberbullying?

Texting and the posting of offensive material online often play a significant role in the targeting of an individual. This can take the form of a video of students talking about a classmate or harassing text messages.

How prevalent is sexting?

According to a variety of studies, 20% to 30% of young people have engaged in some kind of sexting, either sending, receiving or forwarding sexually suggestive emails or text messages with a nude or nearly-nude photo. Everyone needs to remember that once you hit the send button, you have no control over where the photo ultimately ends up. Emailing explicit photos is illegal in most states.

Is there a profile of a teen who cyberbullies?

Bullies and their targets come from all backgrounds. Research shows that girls are more likely to cyberbully and that affluence seems to increase the risk.  Also, those who cyberbully tend to spend more time online and own/use more technology than their peers.

Is there a different profile for a teen who bullies versus a teen who cyberbullies?

Teens who cyberbully don’t necessarily have the physical or social power that people who bully do. They may take on personas that they would not assume in person, and the anonymity/invisibility of the Web may reduce inhibitions and embolden them to act in ways they wouldn’t offline. Parents need to ensure that their children understand the effects of technology and use it responsibly

How can parents teach their teens to avoid being bullied on the Internet?

Parents need to understand the technology that their teens use and talk to them about online safety. It is no different than teaching a child to look both ways before crossing the street. Teens need to tell a trusted adult when they experience any form of online bullying.

I recommend that teens should share passwords with their parents and establish an agreement about access. Teens need their privacy, and parents need to know that they are safe. Creating that balance requires trust and communication.

What should schools do to prevent cyberbullying?

Involve parents and students and everyone in the school community. Schools should teach about cyberbullying and its impact. Schools often explain the rules and consequences, but they frequently fail to teach about what led up to the rule.

Schools should have clear policies on cyberbullying, which include training for all staff and procedures for violations. Schools must create safe learning environments for everyone, free from all forms of harassment.
Parents are the best advocates for their kids, so they must work with school administrators to ensure that the school is safe and aware of concerns when they arise. If your school isn’t proactive about cyberbullying, it’s time to ask them why not.

What should parents do to prevent cyberbullying?

Parents must speak to teens in language that they understand; it’s not about the law or telling them that they can’t text, IM or upload to YouTube. Rather, as parents, we must help them understand what cyberbullying is and how it affects them and their friends. Electronic communication is a huge part of their social life so the lesson is about communicating responsibly and treating people with respect.

For more information and tips on how to prevent cyberbullying, go to

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Consequences of Bullying

Many people think that bullying is a normal part of childhood or that "kids will be kids." However, research shows that in fact, bullying can cause negative academic, physical, social, emotional, and psychological consequences on victims, bullies, and witnesses. These consequences can be short-term or long-term. Bullying can also greatly affect the overall climate of a school.

First of all, as a result of being bullied, victims may experience many immediate mental or physical health-related consequences. Studies show that victims have more anxiety, sadness, sleep difficulties, low self-esteem, headaches, stomach pain, and general tension than their peers who are not being bullied. Researchers from Finland discovered that victims are more likely than bullies to suffer from anxiety disorders, such as depression, separation anxiety, panic disorder, etc. Also, this psychological stress can cause victims' bodies to be less resistant to disease and infection, and therefore they may get sick more often.
In the social area, victims have few friends or none at all. Due to their high anxiety level and low self-worth, it is very hard for them to make friends. This leads to feelings of isolation and believing that they are not even worthy of having friends. Also, other kids often do not want to become friends with the victims, because they are afraid that they will be bullied as well. Another reason that other kids do not hang around with victims is because they worry that peers will not like them if they associate with the victims.
Feelings of loneliness and sadness on the part of victims can also lead to consequences related to their learning and school success. Being a victim can result in poor school attendance, because many victims become afraid of going to school. They are also scared of riding the school bus or using the bathroom at school. One study found that 8% of 8th graders in the U.S. miss at least one day of school per month for fear of bullies. Victims often receive lower grades due to attendance problems, and also due to their stress and worry. They become obsessed with the bullying and how to try to avoid it. This leaves little or no time, energy, or concern for schoolwork and learning. A vicious cycle can occur because the victim's poor school performance can lead to embarrassment and anxiety, which can in turn cause them to be picked on even more.
Another possible result of being bullied is that victims may become violent, either at the time of the bullying or in their futures. This violent behavior may be directed toward themselves, toward their school in general, or may even be directed as retaliation toward the bullies themselves. Sometimes the violent behavior can lead to even more bullying towards the victim, as the bullies want revenge on the victim for bullying them.
Some experts believe that school shootings are related to bullying. Students who committed school shootings were over two times as likely to have reported that they were victims of bullying.
As mentioned earlier, victims are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders and depression, and these disorders can continue into adulthood. Sometimes the disorders can also cause difficulties with the victims' family, friends, and co-workers in their futures.
In some cases, the bullying may be so severe and may go on for so long that the victim has thoughts of suicide, (which is also called suicidal ideation), or he or she may actually commit suicide. Victims are also more likely to have attempted suicide than their non-bullied peers. The term "bullycide" is used to describe a victim's suicide that occurs due to extreme bullying behavior by a bully toward that victim.
The following poem (from the 4 Troubled Teens website) shows the sadness and desperation on the part of a 13 year old boy in Manchester, England who hung himself as a result of serious bullying:
I shall remember forever and will never forget
Monday: My money taken
Tuesday: Names called
Wednesday: My uniform torn
Thursday: My body pouring with blood
Friday: It's ended
Saturday: Freedom
Children who bully others also experience many short term and long term consequences of their bullying behavior. They are more likely to get involved in other harmful activities, both as a child and as an adult. While they are still young, they may steal or vandalize property, start or join in on physical fights, become injured in a fight, skip school, carry a weapon in order to scare others, or use alcohol and other drugs. They are also five times more likely to be taken to criminal court and to be found guilty of a crime than are their peers who do not participate in bullying behavior. 

Most bullies do not just "outgrow" their bullying behaviors when they get older. Instead, the aggressive behavior continues into adulthood. A study conducted by psychologist Dan Olweus of Norway found that 60% of students in Scandinavian countries who were classified as bullies in 6th through 9th grade had one or more incidents of being convicted of a crime by the time they were 24 years old. Also, these bullies were four or more times as likely as nonbullies to be involved in numerous convictions of crimes. Another study showed that by the time they were 30 years old, one out of 4 bullies had a criminal record.
The bullies' need for power tends to carry on into their grownup years. As adults, these bullies misuse this power by becoming involved in sexual and racial harassment, child abuse, domestic violence, etc. Their need for power can also show up in how they parent their own children. In turn, their children may even bully other children in the future.

Remember how a researcher from Finland found that victims were more likely to develop anxiety disorders than bullies were? That same researcher discovered that bullies were more likely to have an antisocial personality disorder as opposed to anxiety disorders. An antisocial personality disorder involves a long-term disregard for others, delinquent behavior, violence, aggression, and violation of the rights of others. In other words, since bullies do not learn appropriate social skills when they are young, they grow up to be antisocial adults. They will have poor relationships with others, including family members, friends, co-workers, etc.
Finally victims aren't the only ones who may become depressed, think about suicide, or carry out suicide; in some cases, the same can be true for bullies.

There are also consequences for children who are bystanders or witnesses to bullying. They suffer from frustration, fear, low self-esteem, and a loss of control. They may also feel a huge sense of guilt about the bullying they witness, especially if they do not "S.A.V.E." the victim and the bullying continues. Sometimes their guilt is too much for them to accept. In these cases, the witnesses may go from empathizing with the victim to later thinking that the bullying is acceptable. This is their way of preventing themselves from feeling more guilt in the future; they will simply not even recognize that someone is being hurt.

Witnesses also develop a lot of anxiety and stress. They worry that they will also become a victim and therefore their feelings of safety and security at school decrease. This leads to negative feelings toward school, which can also contribute to problems with learning and achievement.

After reading about the effects of bullying on bullies, victims, and bystanders, do you think it makes sense to say, "Kids will be kids?" We don't! We think that the research about the consequences of bullying really shows that we must all do everything we can to prevent childhood bullying. Be a H.E.R.O. in your school, neighborhood and community: Help Everyone Respect Others!

By The Bully Blog with 1 comment

Monday, December 19, 2011

Conference on Bullying Prevention Opening Session

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Primetime from ABC News: Harmless Joke or Cyber-Bullying?

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Tips for dealing with bullying and cyber-bullying

Tips for dealing with bullying and cyber-bullying

There is no single solution to bullying and cyber-bullying. It may take some experimenting with a variety of different responses to find the strategy that works best for your situation. To defeat a bully, you need to retain your self-control and preserve your sense of self.

Tip #1: Respond as bullying is happening

  • Walk away. Bullies want to know they have control over your emotions so don’t react with anger or retaliate with physical force. If you walk away, ignore them, or calmly and assertively tell them you’re not interested in what they have to say, you’re demonstrating that they don’t have control over you.
  • Protect yourself. If you can’t walk away and are being physically hurt, protect yourself so you can get away. Your safety is the first priority.
  • Report the bullying to a trusted adult. If you don’t report threats and assaults, a bully will often become more and more aggressive. In many cases adults can find ways to help with the problem without letting the bully know it was you who reported them.
  • Repeat as necessary. Like the bully, you may have to be relentless. Report each and every bullying incident until it stops. There is no reason for you to ever put up with bullying.

Tip #2: Handle a cyber-bully

  • Do not respond to cyber-bullying messages. The bully wants to feel in control of your emotions, so the best response is no response.
  • Document cyber-bullying. Save and print out emails, text messages, or screenshots.
  • Block the cyber-bully on your phone, IM list, websites, or social media pages. Report inappropriate messages to an Internet service provider or website moderator; report threats to the police.

Tip #3: Reframe the problem of bullying or cyber-bullying

By changing your attitude towards bullying you can help regain a sense of control.
  • Try to view bullying from a different perspective. The bully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
  • Look at the big picture. Bullying can be extremely painful, but try asking yourself how important it will seem to you in the long run. Will it matter in a year? Is it worth getting so upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
  • Focus on the positive. Reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. Make a list and refer to it whenever you feel down.
  • Find the humor. If you’re relaxed enough to recognize the absurdity of a bullying situation, and to comment on it with humor, you’ll likely no longer be an interesting target for a bully.
  • Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control—including the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to bullies.

Tip #4: Avoid isolation

Having trusted people you can turn to for encouragement and support will boost your resilience when being bullied. Reach out to connect with family and real friends (those who don’t participate in bullying) or explore ways of making new friends. There are plenty of people who will love and appreciate you for who you are.
  • Find others who share your same values and interests. You may be able to make friends at a youth group, book club, or religious organization. Learn a new sport, join a team, or take up a new hobby such as chess, art, or music.
  • Share your feelings. Talk to a parent, counselor, coach, religious leader, or trusted friend. Expressing what you’re going through can make a huge difference to the way you feel, even if it doesn’t change the situation.
  • Boost your confidence. Exercise is a great way to help you feel good about yourself, as well as reduce stress. Punch a mattress or take a kick boxing class to work off your anger.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t make a bullying incident worse by dwelling on it or replaying it over and over in your head. Instead, focus on positive experiences you’ve had.

By The Bully Blog with No comments

Friday, December 9, 2011

If you see someone being bullied…

 Although you may not be directly involved in the bullying, there may be times when you see others being bullied. And even though it may be easier to stand by and watch or ignore the bullying, try to keep in mind, we all need a little help from time to time. Think about how you might feel if the bullying was happening to you. Here’s how you can make a difference:
  • Stand up for the victim. It takes a lot of courage, but try defending the person being bullied. This can shock and embarrass the bully so much that they leave their victim alone.
  • Don’t join in on bullying. If you see someone being bullied, don’t join in. If the bully tries to get you to help, refuse and walk away.
  • Stop the rumors. Don’t help spread rumors about another person. You wouldn’t want rumors spread about you, so don’t do it to someone else! If someone gossips to you, let it end with you – don’t pass it on to others. You can even tell that person you’re not interested.
  • Tell an adult. Don’t just stand there and watch, especially if someone is being hurt physically. Tell an adult about the bully and what’s going on. If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe telling an adult, ask the adult to keep your comments private.
  • Offer help. When the bully is gone, try and help the person who was bullied and make sure he or she is okay. Encourage her to talk to an adult and stick up for herself.
When you help someone who’s being bullied, you are not just helping someone else, you’re also helping yourself. It’s important to stand up for what you believe in and help others when you can.

By The Bully Blog with No comments

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear Bystander,

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How Do We Stop Bullying in Schools?

The best and most obvious way to stop bullying in schools is for parents to change the way they parent their children at home. Of course, this is much easier said than done and everyone parents their children differently. Bullies, however, come from homes where physical punishment is used and children have been taught that physical violence is the way to handle problems and “get their way.”
Bullies usually also come from homes where the parents fight a lot, so violence has been modeled for them. Parental involvement often is lacking in bullies’ lives and there seems to be little warmth.
Early intervention and effective discipline and boundaries truly is the best way to stop bullying, but parents of the victims or therapists cannot change the bully’s home environment. Some things can be done at the school level, however.
  1. Most school programs that address bullying use a multi-faceted approach to the problem. This usually involves counseling of some sort, either by peers, a school counselor, teachers, or the principal.
  2. Hand out questionnaires to all students and teachers and discuss if bullying is occurring. Define exactly what constitutes bullying at school. The questionnaire is a wonderful tool that allows the school to see how widespread bullying is and what forms it is taking. It is a good way to start to address the problem.
  3. Get the children’s parents involved in a bullying program. If parents of the bullies and the victims are not aware of what is going on at school, then the whole bullying program will not be effective. Stopping bullying in school takes teamwork and concentrated effort on everyone’s part. Bullying also should be discussed during parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings. Parental awareness is key.
  4. In the classroom setting, all teachers should work with the students on bullying. Oftentimes even the teacher is being bullied in the classroom and a program should be set up that implements teaching about bullying. Children understand modeling behaviors and role-play and acting out bullying situations is a very effective tool. Have students role-play a bullying situation. Rules that involve bullying behaviors should be clearly posted. Schools also could ask local mental health professionals to speak to students about bullying behaviors and how it directly affects the victims.
  5. Schools need to make sure there is enough adult supervision at school to lessen and prevent bullying.
A child who has to endure bullying usually suffers from low self-esteem and their ability to learn and be successful at school is dramatically lessened. Schools and parents must educate children about bullying behaviors; it will help all children feel safe and secure at school. Children who bully need to be taught empathy for others’ feelings in order to change their behaviors and the school must adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding bullying.

By The Bully Blog with 3 comments

Monday, December 5, 2011


This is a public service announcement that showcases the worst-possible consequence of cyber-bullying--inspired by the increasing number of suicides from bullied victims in 2010.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bullying: True Stories

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