How NOT to deal with bullies

The most ridiculous advice ever! Jezebel.com obtained a flyer sent home to 5th grade students in Lincoln, Nebraska on how to deal with bullies. These “rules” include the worst pieces of advice on how to handle bullying that we’ve ever seen.

“Rule #2 Treat the person who is being mean as if they are trying to help you”  What?!

“Rule #7 Do not tell on bullies.”  Did a bully actually write these so-called “rules”?

We are hoping that the parents of the children at Zeman Elementary School have a nice long talk with their kids to undo the damage that this flyer could potentially have caused. 

 

reallybadbullyrules

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Want to know how to prevent your kid from being bullied? Read this.

Young Child Looking Sad

I get asked all the time, “What can I do to prevent my child from being bullied?” You need to build up your child to the point where bullies’ words and taunts fall on deaf ears. You need to make your child’s self-esteem indestructible. You need to NOT break your own child. Read more in this brilliant post by Dan Pearce about building a better kid.

New Story: Letter to Nine Year Old Me

Letter to Nine Year Old Me
By Catherine Ipcizade

Dear Cathy,

I know how much you’ve always loved being first. You were born eight minutes before your twin sister. Your name was always said first—Cathy then Beth, because let’s face it—coming out the birth canal in the lead was a huge feat, and you deserved the recognition.

But things are about to change for you. You’ll still be first, but you won’t want to be. This year, you’ll have to start wearing a bra. Not one of those flimsy, flowery things your friends beg their moms to buy them before they actually need them, but a real, bona fide, cup-sized bra. And you’ll wonder, as you fidget with the clasps, if your future is destined to be the same as the memory you have of your grandmother—the one where she lifts her breasts one at a time, spraying Right Guard deodorant under each before she heaves them into her Over-the-Shoulder-Boulder-Holder. You’ll try to cover your chest—with your arms, with sweaters—but everyone will know what you’re wearing. People you thought were friends will tease you from the confines of the tunnels on the playground, and you’ll be embarrassed and angry that they have a place to hide, while you don’t.

So you’ll start running—literally. You’ll become the fastest girl runner in your class, and you’ll love the attention; that is, until the sixth grade—the day of the big race. You’ll start out strong. You’ll feel the wind in your hair, and you’ll hear the cheers. But then you’ll see her—a long shadow of competition edging closer and closer. And those voices that propelled you forward will begin to holler…for her. And just as she starts to pass you, at the exact moment you could plunge forward or hang back and take defeat gracefully, you’ll fake a stomach cramp and quit the race. Because this was the one thing that took the attention off your changing body, and because somewhere between the tunnel and this race, you started to lose your confidence. It’s not gone forever, though; it’ll come back.

By the time you’re in high school, you’ll wear a bra big enough to fit on your head like a helmet. In an unsuccessful attempt to cover it up, you’ll put on some weight. You’ll get bullied for that, too. It’s not easy to be the chubby twin, and kids and teachers can sometimes be thoughtless in speech.

And boys—older boys—will approach you and think you’re older than you are. Don’t talk to them. Other boys will be afraid of you. They’ll break your heart. Try to ignore them; they’ll get over it, and you’ll get over them…eventually.

Next year, before your tenth birthday, you’ll start your period before anyone else. And in the sixth grade, you’ll have an accident that stains your white shorts ruby red. You’ll wonder why you ever wanted to be first.

It’s going to be a rough decade for you, Cathy. You’ll become insecure, and sometimes you’ll get mad. You’ll think no one understands, and most of the time, you’ll be right. And the bullying—it’ll settle like a bowling ball in the pit of your stomach. But you’re strong. You’ll ignore them when you can. And once, though you won’t be proud of it, you’ll fight back—in the seventh grade you’ll slap a boy who makes crude comments to you before school. It’ll hurt you more than it hurts him, but you’ll see the embarrassment on his face.  He won’t do it again. Neither will you.

So hang in there, kiddo, because things will get better. Eventually, your classmates will catch up with you—almost. And your intrigue will fade—the bullies will move on. Some of them will get bullied themselves, and you’ll feel sorry for them. You’ll have close friends—friends who are too worried about their own imperfections to notice yours—friends who see the inside of you before the outside. And you’ll find things you love—writing, theatre, books, and photography. You’ll have passions.

As you grow up, the bullies—they’ll grow up, too. They’ll face challenges of their own. Some of them will feel remorse. Some of them won’t remember your name. That’s okay—you won’t remember all of their names either, and you will have moved on. And in time—you’ve got to trust me on this—and with a whole lot of patience and a few too many double-stuffed cookies, you WILL learn to love yourself—Grandma’s breasts and all.

Catherine Ipcizade is the author of 24 books for kids and teens. She teaches creative writing for UCLA Extension and Composition and Literature for other universities online. In her spare time, Catherine loves cooking, photography, and spending time with her family. Catherine’s current work in progress is a novel in free verse for teens. Visit her online at www.catherineipcizade.com.

Michael & Marisa: “The Same”

When I was in the second grade, a bunch of classmates always picked on a boy in our class. I suggested to the other girls in circle of friends that we do something about it. I went to the head of the school with one of my friends and described everything I saw. The head of the school had a talk with the victim and the bullies and told the other teachers to keep an eye on the situation. But there were times when no one teacher was around and the boys would still get to him. My friends and I started to guard him whenever teachers weren’t around and when we saw the boys bothering him, we told them they’d better stop, and they did. This situation stayed in the back of my mind, and I always made sure to keep my eyes open watching for bullying.
-Marisa

In January of 2010, we saw on the news that Phoebe Prince, a fifteen-year-old student at a Massachusetts high school, hanged herself after being severely bullied. We were emotionally impacted by her story and how horrible her situation must have been for her to take her life. Whenever we write songs, our goal is to motivate the listener or impact them in a way that makes them think. We decided to write a song about the role of the bystander and how one bystander choosing to step up can not only save a life but can set an example for other bystanders, causing an even bigger impact.

Phoebe was the new girl at school. Her problems started when she dated a boy that a girl in the popular crowd had her eye on. This girl, along with her posse, made it their mission to make Phoebe’s life miserable. They bullied her badly every day until Phoebe could not see a way out of her situation.  Everyone around Phoebe at the school could see what was happening, but no one did anything. The bystanders could have helped her and even saved her life, but no one wanted to take the chance of becoming an outcast.  Our song “The Same” takes the listener through the mind of the bystander as she weighs her options.

We wanted to turn the visions behind the lyrics into a music video that’s being played in schools nationwide, and from these schools we hear that the video is hitting home with students and helping bystanders to take that difficult step. Schools not only play the video, but they are teaching the song in music classes and performing it at school concerts.  What still amazes us is that Phoebe Prince’s aunt saw the video and traveled two hours to attend the video release event at House of Blues because she felt so strongly!

But we know there is so much more to do. We are spokespeople for PACER Teens Against Bullying and make appearances at schools and other anti-bullying rallies whenever we can. We also participated in a movie documentary called “Bullied to Silence” which will be released later this year. The movie trailer is extremely moving and we know the movie is going to  make a very strong statement. Our new single, “Beautiful Comeback,”  addresses what we struggle through as teens and we hope gives its listeners an uplifting perspective. So, we continue to use our platform to help, heal, empower and inspire others  The goal for our music is to help heal, empower, and inspire others, and our plan is to put all of our energies in that direction.
-Michael & Marisa

Link to Michael & Marisa’s music video: “The Same”

 

New story: Bullying Isn’t Funny

Bullying Isn’t Funny
by Eileen Cook

I’ve always been funny. It’s my thing. Some people get beauty, others sports ability, a lucky few even get musical talent. Me? I can’t dance, sing, catch a ball, and no one has called to make me a top model, but I can make people laugh. It’s a handy skill and unlike sports ability, it rarely results in injury. You don’t see too many torn tendons from cracking a good joke.

Being funny is a bit like your own personal super power. It can be used for good or evil. Granted not always as handy as being able to fly, or having your fingertips shoot lightening, but you have to work with what you got. The question is what do you do with all that power? It isn’t that you plan to use your power to be cruel, no one sets out to be the villain, but sometimes it’s easy to make fun of someone who doesn’t fit in, who’s different, or just plain weird. No one means anything by it. It’s just a joke. Besides, if they are laughing at what you say, it means they aren’t laughing at you.

In high school I had a classmate named Dennis. Dennis was pretty dorky. He wore his pants too short and he seemed to always have hot lunch spilled on his shirt. He had terrible acne and wasn’t the best student. He was always trying to fit in, but he never did. I don’t know if anyone ever physically bullied him, but he certainly had more than his fair share of “funny” comments made at his expense.

Dennis died in an accident. They announced it the morning on the PA before classes. He was the first person in our class to die and everyone was shocked and a few of us started to cry.  I wasn’t crying because I was sad he was gone. You can’t cry for someone you didn’t know. I cried because I was ashamed. I knew I could have been nicer. I could have used my humor to turn the situation around on the person making fun of him, but I never did. I laughed at Dennis, not with him.

I realized then that it was up to me. Being funny comes with responsibility; I had to use it wisely. Bullies aren’t just the people who shove someone around or the one who makes the snotty comment. Bullies are also the people who stand on the side and laugh. I promised myself I would never feel that shame again. I would use my humor for good, to make people laugh with me, not at someone else. I wanted to be a hero, not a villain. I wanted to know I stood up when it mattered. Feel free to join me, the world can always use another superhero, and you don’t even have to look good in a Lycra suit.

Eileen Cook spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. She is the author of The Education of Hailey KendrickGetting Revenge on Lauren Wood, What Would Emma Do?, as well as the Fourth Grade Fairy series. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and dogs. You can visit her online at www.EileenCook.com.