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Bullies and the Heart of the Issue

Bullying is defined as systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students. It comes in direct or indirect forms.

  • verbal bullying can be taunting, teasing, name calling which represent direct forms. Rumors and gossip represent indirect forms.
  • physical bullying can be hitting, kicking, theft or destruction or personal property represent direct abuse. Enlisting a friend to assault someone represents indirect forms.
  • nonverbal/nonphysical bullying can be threatening or obscene gestures representing direct abuse. Exclusion,manipulation or friendships, or threatening emails represent indirect forms.
  • I am adding a section to my web page on the subject of bullying and will give some statistics and ideas related to this ongoing and escalating problem. Years ago it primarily involved physical abuse, but usually did not lead to the harmful violence that is so common today. Many factors have lead to this epidemic that is impacting every child, school, home and community.

    No program will be effective unless the human heart is at the center of our thinking. It is the heart of our kids that is under attack, and it is the heart of the attacker and bystander that must be impacted if change is going to occur. This is truly a "HEART" problem. I truly believe that you can only change the person and bully if you change the "heart." How can we expect a child or any person to live in an environment of abuse, hate, ridicule, rejection and fear? Try to tell that child/victim that a test score is important, and if he or she does well on the test, then everything will get better.

    We have inundated our schools with a variety of books, videos, speakers, curriculum guides, and written material for the last several years, yet the problem not only gets worse, it gets so much more harmful and involved. After having worked directly with tens of thousands of students in pre-school through college, several thousand teachers and parents, I am more than ever convinced that the empowerment of our young people through peer leadership/mentoring programs, where "kids help kids," is the only real way to create a program that works on a daily basis. Bringing a speaker in to "motivate" the children or showing an occasional video, will last for a week or two for most of the children,
    Unfortunately, too few people are familiar with the extent and severity of bullying in schools. Even less is known what to do about the bullying. Please read these pages about bullying in schools and what we can do about it.

    Bullying is more than black eyes

    Reaching and Helping the Victims
    but will be basically forgotten unless it has an ongoing maintenance piece that reminds the students of the message. This is especially true for the "victims," who have set in large group settings with their heads down afraid to speak, because that have learned that this will just lead to more abuse. The bully sets there, not paying attention because he or she knows nothing ever changes and he/she will just not be so aggressive for a couple weeks and then they can again "attack" when the "dust settles".

    In my opinion, we need to have the students, school staff (including all the staff—cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers/contractors....) and community people meet and decide where the danger zones are in the school district. I think a real key is for adults to really listen to "kids" and let them help us plan for their safety. So many times we fail to realize that children have so little control over their life. They cannot choose their parents, schools, teachers or even their names.

    If they have a threatening situation, many times they feel they have no way out. They so desperately need adult intervention. Most victims of school abuse will tell you that they were waiting for a teacher to help, but it didn't happen in their life. We have a tendency to just come up with programs that other adults "sell" us,
    Bullying is now considered a marker for serious or violent behavior, where tens of thousands of children are still afraid to go to school because of teasing.
  • two-thirds of 41 perpetrators in school shooting incidents described feeling persecuted, bullied, or threatened by their peers
  • six out of ten American teenagers witness bullying in school once a day.
  • giving the students no input into the planning. I think it is good to remember the times we were told to change things, but were not part of the process. It is their school and they know the danger zones and the "subculture" better than we do as adults. Unless they let us in to their world, we will never have an effective program. When kids are permitted to empower kids, you will then create programs that have lasting value and a chance to finally reach our "wounded spirits."

    There are sections of the web page that deal with program ideas where some basic peer leadership activities are suggested. The "starfish program" and all my suggested strategies have been "kid" proven and center around the main bullying issue—recognizing and eliminating putdowns. This is done by raising the level of awareness in the hearts of students and teachers alike.

    What can be done about bullying and the damage it does to children in schools across the nation? The Starfish Program helps both the students and the teachers to stop bullying and to fight the root causes of bullying.

    Read here to find out more.

    "Every day he is confronted by his own awful inferiority. He can neither explain nor apologize. He can't hide. Cruel voices follow him wherever he goes, whispering their evil messages in his childish ears.

    As time passes, the voices get louder and louder, until their scream obliterates all other sounds in an adolescent's mind: `There's no hope; you are doomed!"

    "The most vulnerable victims of this foolish measure of human worth (beauty) are the little children who are too young to understand, too immature to compensate, and too crushed to fight back."

          — Dr. James Dobson