Find the Hero in You: October is Bullying Prevention Month

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I have been speaking to different organizations for many years.  While the majority of my presentations are for corporations and professional organizations, one of my favorite presentations is my “Find the Hero in You” which is about the difficulty yet importance of dealing with bullies. During the presentation I share some of my experiences being teased and bullied. There is a takeaway in the presentation for everyone: the recipient, the bully, the bystander, and the adults. Everyone has much to learn about bullying and leadership.

I would love to share the “Find the Hero in You” with your school or organization, but there are only a few dates each year that I am available, so I am making some of the important information available to you in this post. (Minus all the jokes, artwork, and animation.) Share it with everyone you know; it really can make a difference.

You can download the actual PDF here: http://cl.ly/Rn9Y

 

Below you will find the contents of a revised, free PDF I send out each year about What Everyone Needs to Know About Bullying. Some of the information is from my presentation and some is from an earlier post titled What Everyone Needs to Know about Bullying.

Thank you for sharing.

Here’s what I want you to know about bullying:

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1) It’s wrong and it isn’t just a part of growing up. While I have encountered bullying at each place in my life that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.  Bullying is wrong.  Don’t accept it as a part of life.  It needs to be dealt with immediately.

2) Confront a bully. I researched this and didn’t like what I read.  Nearly every article said ignore the bully, change your lifestyle to avoid attention from the bully.  Well, I’m no psychologist, so you might want a second opinion here, but confronting the bully always worked for me.  Involve your family, teachers, friends, coaches, and everyone you can, but confront the bully right away.  Always stand up for what is right.

3) Don’t encourage a bully. If you are laughing along with a bully making fun of someone else, you’re a bully too.  If you see bullying going on, and you do nothing to stop it, you’re part of the problem.  You have a responsibility as a bystander. The bully wants your attention and thinks you approve if you do nothing.  Repeat these words, “What you’re doing is wrong! Stop it!  Don’t do it again or I will report it to someone who will do something about it.”  Your behavior will be repeated by others. (Both the good, bad, and the indifferent.) We have all, at times, been guilty of taking a joke too far, and perhaps bullied someone. If so, we need to correct that mistake and make it right.

4) Invite everyone in on it. Don’t keep the bullying to yourself.  Tell everyone you know what  is going on.  Kids! I’m talking to you now.  You must let your parents know. Don’t keep it to yourself! It’s nothing to be ashamed about.  The bully should be ashamed. If you tell someone and they do nothing about it, keep talking until someone does.  Heck, email me, I’ll get involved.

5) Use the buddy system. Navy SEALS are the toughest warriors on the planet, but they don’t go into the water or anywhere without a buddy.  Why?  Because it’s dangerous.  If you are being bullied take a friend.  What if you don’t have a buddy?  Make one. I knew a teacher that was being bullied by a parent.  She went some places by herself and wanted the verbal abuse to stop.  She carried a digital recorder with her.  Once she played it back the bullying stopped. Surround yourself with positive people.

6) Bullying ends when confidence begins. If you really want bullying to end you must work on confidence.  I don’t mean work on it a little bit; I mean work on it a lot!  You can’t be bullied if you have confidence.  Confidence doesn’t allow you to second guess yourself. Confidence will encourage you to inform others about the problem. Confidence will give you the courage as a bystander to get involved. Confidence will help you in so many ways.

The Opposite of Bullying is Leadership.  Become a leader. 

It’s wasn’t easy for me growing up with what many considered a girl’s name.  A boy named ‘Kelly” was often a regular target for bullies.  I wouldn’t change my name for the world though. It’s not only my identity, it has helped me become the person I am today.  My name forced me to stand up to the mean-spirited and helped forge a much-needed self-confidence at an early age.

While I’m what many consider a ‘big guy’ today, that wasn’t always the case. I was one of the smallest boys in my class until my eighth grade year.  I was shy too.  My first interests weren’t sports but rather art and writing. The combination of all of these qualities that made me, well ‘me’ often made me different, out of place, and teased.  I was not, however, a victim. I guess somewhere deep within my genetic code, my Irish DNA stepped up and helped me confront what I knew was wrong. When I found out that my name ‘Kelly’ was Irish for ‘warrior’ that sealed the deal. When others were being teased I would get involved.

I drank my milk, worked out with the football team, and graduated a ‘big guy’ with big plans. I was always on the lookout for people unable to speak up to bullies themselves. I understand where they’re coming from, because it isn’t easy.  As a teacher there is nothing that I enjoy more than correcting a bully, and helping the recipient of the abuse feel more confident and loved.  Even out in public, far from home, I walk into situations where someone is being victimized.  It’s just my nature. I’m still the Eagle Scout trying to be helpful, trying to make a difference.

Oddly, the bullying never ended.  It didn’t matter how old I was, where I was, how big I became, or what accomplishments I had achieved.  There has been a bully at each stage in my life.  Perhaps others don’t call them that, but I do.  Anyone that finds enjoyment at the suffering of another is a bully. (Here is a great webpage that highlights warning signs and characteristics of the typical bully.) It may be a coworker, a neighbor, or even that mean clerk in the checkout line. Regardless, there is no shortage to negative thinking, mean-spirited bullies.  I have even read about cyber-bullying that uses texting, blogs, and social networks to harass and victimize. (Many states are considering more laws about bullying and greater punishments.)

To conclude, I want to emphasize that there are clearly more good people in this world than bad, despite how the media portrays it. Ninety-nine percent of our interactions are good and wholesome, and our focus should be there.  If you have been bullied then you also know how powerful that one percent can be, and how it can alter a life.  Don’t let it.  Be heard. Find a buddy. Confront it. The greatest gift we can give in life is a second chance; in time please try to extend that gift to the person you once considered a bully.

•••

Can Bullying be Stopped?

That is a great question and one that has no simple answer. Bullying stops when the bully matures and learns to have empathy for others or when the recipient learns to build up enough confidence in himself or herself that the actions of others are less hurtful. Neither of these are easily learned and implemented, however, some relief can occur immediately through the interaction of trained professionals. 

As parents, we must understand that the recipient of bullying is injured.  Like all injuries it will take time to heal. Just as a person goes through physical therapy for an injured shoulder, the recipient of bullying may need some parental counseling to improve or counseling from trained professionals at the school or elsewhere. It is nothing to be ashamed or worried. If we could afford it, we would all have physical trainer, a nutritionist.  Why not a coach to help you sort out your problems, concerns, and improve your attitude? Think of counseling, whether in the house or outside the home as a life skills class teaching us lessons on how live life to the fullest. 

 

Notify the School. There really is a lot the school can do to help, and schools really want to help. Even if they can’t help in your situation now, they will be aware of the situation and make adjustments for the future. They can keep their eye out for future situations. Don’t expect an immediate solution. It just doesn’t work that way.  

Most parents become most upset because they find out about bullying after it has been going on for awhile.  Typically parents don’t find out about bullying, unfortunately, until it has really taken an emotional toll on their child. 

Parents often want to lash out at the school or someone because of the emotional toll it has on a family, but the focus needs to be on the child, and letting the child know that everything is going to get better.  More attention needs to be placed on the victim then the bully. When parents focus entirely on the actions of the bully the victim continues to feel inferior, insignificant, and worthless. 

Talk with Your child often about bullying whether you think they are a victim of bullying or not. 

Do you know anyone that is a victim of bullying?

What would you do if you did know?

Do you know anyone bullying someone?

What would you do if you did know?

Do you know anyone that is a bystander in a bullying situation?

What would you do if you did know?

Do you know anyone who has been a hero, and helped the victim of a bully in some way?

What would you do if you did know?

Victims of Bully Need the Follow:

1) They need to know things are going to get better and they are going to be safe.

2) They need to know that they are helping others by talking about it. 

3) They need to know that what they tell you will not hurt them.

4) They need to know they are loved and that they matter.

5) They need to know that you cannot respond to bullying with bullying.

6) They need confidence and a boost in self esteem.

  1. They need to be mentored in leadership.
  2. Most importantly, they need to know that life gets better.

How to you build self esteem:

1) Praise, especially in public.

  1. Regular conversations and involvement in activities.
  2. Surrounding them with positive role models and peers. Build these sessions.
  3. Giving them some options and tools on what to do when bullying occurs. 

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying happens when children or teenagers bully each other using technology. It could be texts, status updates on FaceBook, tweets on Twitter, a photo on Instagram, or any method that bullies someone using technology. 

We must teach young people to be good digital citizens. Schools are a great place to teach digital citizenship, but they have a lot on their plate already. As parents, we too must teach our children about the proper ways to use technology and most importantly we must model good behavior. 

A growing trend among recent reports of cyberbullying is that these technology-driven assaults on a person’s character or emotions is quite often modeled by the bully’s parents or an older sibling.  That’s right, they witnessed an adult, or older role model use technology to embarrass, poke fun at, insult, or demean another individual. Much like other forms of bullying, cyberbullying is most often an imitated act.

One of the biggest dangers of cyberbullying is that the images and words posted can be potentially around forever. Once a photo or words are posted they are difficult to have removed from the web. They are even more difficult to remove from someone’s memory and emotions. 

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