How to Stop a Bully

By Shannon Boatwright

Author/Speaker Brooks Gibbs explains bullying in the most simplistic terms: Dominance behavior.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oKjW1OIjuw)

October is national bullying prevention month. Because I teach middle school drama, I feel it is imperative that I allow time for serious discussion about the issue of bullying.  My students know that I feel very strongly about the topic of bullying –  I have zero tolerance for it.  ZERO.

I make it very clear to my students that I am here for them and that they can come to me at any time if they ever see, hear of or experience anything having to do with bullying. They know they can count on me to have their backs.

Stop BullyingIt’s amazing to me that our society as a whole has all these different missions to “stomp out bullying” and as a whole, we as a society overall are of course against bullying…  YET IT STILL HAPPENS. And it happens all the time! On the website StopBullying.com you can click on the link below to see all the latest statistics on the percentage of bullying that takes place.

https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html

It’s a lot. It’s sickening. It enrages me. To think that humans can be so cruel to one another just blows my mind. And it’s not just with kids, bullying happens among all ages. Jerks are EVERYWHERE. And yes, their cruelty comes from somewhere – whether from a place of jealousy, insecurity, personal hurt, or plain ole ignorance. Either way, though it can be forgiven, it is inexcusable.

I do not take a lot of time showing dramatic videos of stories about bullies and victims, because I feel my time is better spent teaching my students how to stop a bully, how to build their confidence and belief in themselves. Like Brooks Gibbs says, the key word is SELF – building self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. One of the many benefits of drama involves building those three priceless attributes, as well as empathy. Teaching these kids the ultra-importance of building their strength in self and engaging in empathy is truly a lifelong skill that will make them a better person, not to mention benefit them for the rest of their life.

Happiness Is An Inside JobThe tools that Brooks Gibbs shares are incredible, because indeed when it comes to bullying it’s about power, it’s about dominance and how one reacts to a bully can make or break a situation. Do not give a bully the power. Keep all the power for yourself! Your power will be grounded in your own self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem. As a teacher, my goal is to build a strong self in these kids. I want them to have the power of believing in themselves, knowing that their happiness is not rooted in what anyone else thinks of them and knowing that the ability to put themselves into someone else’s shoes can be a wonderful tool that creates in them a stronger, well-rounded human.

It is an unfortunate reality that bullies will always exist. Heck, in this day and age especially, with our current state of leadership, the ridiculousness of social media, the sad state of our schools, there are all too many bullies trying to dominate others. So those of us who actually have the sense to recognize this negative behavior and not engage and participate in it, especially need the skills to stop a bully. Whether you have children in your family or not and no matter what your age, I guarantee you will benefit from watching the video link shared above. Brooks Gibbs really hits the nail on the head with this topic and I am ever appreciative that I have the resource of his video to share with my students, my own children, my family, my friends and my blog readers.

Fighting Back Against Bullies!

By: Roshanda Pratt

October is anti-bullying month. When I discovered the following video on a friend’s Facebook page, I knew I had to write about bullying.  Please take a moment and watch the video before reading the rest of my post.

I am a former television news producer.  I can tell you story after story of hurtful phone calls and emails from viewers.  I never understood why people would take the time out of their schedule to call a news station to complain about someone’s hair, makeup, wardrobe or personality. I once took a call from a viewer who wanted to express to me her rather hateful and racist views, in hopes that I would agree.  Needless to say, that conversation ended abruptly.  You see, I do not, and I mean, DO NOT like bullies – especially those of the adult kind.

I have been on both ends of bullying. When I was in elementary and middle school, I was an ugly duckling.  I had really bad acne, bad hair, low self esteem, and I developed faster than all my other friends. I was picked on constantly, even by those who said they were my friend. I am so grateful for a girl named Erica who still, to this day, is a dear friend. Even when she was with the “cool” crowd, she still was kind to me and never talked about me behind my back.  I am not sure if she will ever understand how much her friendship meant to me during such a transformational time in my life.

Eventually, I learned I had to stand up to my bullies.  That’s a good thing, right? Yes, but I also learned how to take the focus off me and in turn, point the bullies to someone else.  So I then became a bully.  I realize now that when you hurt, all you know how to do is hurt others.  I relentlessly taunted another girl until one day, when I saw her crying. In that moment, I thought about how she must feel, and I stopped.  I never wanted anyone to feel as dejected as I had for so long.  Years later, I saw her. We were much older and much more mature, and I apologized to her.  I knew it was the right thing to do. I made no excuses. I was honest and I apologized for my lack of kindness.

We hear a ton of stories about children bullying other children. I do not advocate that, and I constantly talk to my children about how to handle a bully.  However, I think the adult bullying is even worse. Why? Because at some point, you should mature. You should understand that you don’t need to point out what people already know. For example, in the above video, the news anchor pointed out she is well aware of her weight and the health challenges it causes.  There was NO need for this viewer (who by the way, does not watch the show on a frequent basis) to belittle her and point out the obvious. In my former profession I had to deal with my share of “bullies”.  People who feel they are better than you and make it their mission to tell you so through their words and actions.  I, however, do not subscribe to that thought. I have discovered that if you have to put others down to feel better about yourself, you really must have low self worth.

Sometimes it seems like our society has little to no regard for human life.  We have more respect for animals (I’m not an animal basher) than we do for our neighbor.  Our moms always told us, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”  Did we forget that? What happened to having a filter? I am wondering if that viewer who sent Jennifer Livingston that email, thought for just one second about his words before hitting the send button?  Words are powerful.  The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” is a lie. Words do hurt and many people are carrying around wounds from words that cut like a knife.

I applaud Mrs. Livingston for fighting back against her bully by calling him out on the air. I love the power of the media when it is used well.  The best way to deal with a bully is to stand up and speak out. One of the greatest commandments given is to “Love our neighbor as we love ourselves” (Mark 12:31). Maybe if we spend a little more time loving ourselves in a healthy way, we will not have to spend time tearing someone else down.

Have you ever experienced bullying? How did you handle it? I would love to hear your story.

Ro