Are you a school counselor, psychologist or social worker? Has your job become miserable ever since your school’s anti-bullying program made you responsible for getting rid of bullying? Are you feeling more like a detective or security officer than a mental health professional? And are you discovering that instead of making the bullying disappear, you are simply spending more and more time trying to make bullying disappear?
Do you wish that you actually knew how to decrease bullying in your school? When kids come crying to you because they are being bullied, do you wish that you had a method to actually teach them to solve their problem?
Do you have children of your own? If so, there is a good chance they fight every day. Do you wonder how you are supposed to guarantee that 500 or 1,000 students never pick on each other when you can’t even get your own few kids at home to be nice to each other?
Have you ever been married? There is a 50% chance you have also gotten divorced, or will do so. And if you haven’t, there is a good chance that you and your spouse are not always nice to each other. Surveys have shown that most couples that go to marriage counseling end up getting divorced. And the divorce rate among mental health professionals is probably no lower than among the general population. If adults, even experts in human relations, can’t get along with their own soul-mates, how can you get 500 or 1,000 kids to always be nice to each other?
I have conducted a survey of thousands of mental health professionals and educators. It reveals that our own kids are four times more likely to be hit daily by a sibling at home than by another student in school. They are twice as likely to be called names daily by a sibling than by a student. If one or two parents– experts in child behavior– can’t get their own few kids at home to stop bullying each other, how can a school with hundreds or even thousands of students be held legally responsible for getting rid of bullying?
What’s wrong with the anti-bullying programs?
Psychology’s “dirty little secret” is that anti-bullying programs are usually worthless– or worse! Research conducted by psychologist David Smith and published in the Dec. 2004 issue of the School Psychology Review found that the great majority of anti-bullying programs either produced no benefit or made the problem worse! So if anti-bullying programs can’t get rid of bullying, how can you be expected to make bullying in your school disappear?!
There’s a simple reason why typical anti-bullying programs are so ineffective. Let’s say you and I are kids in school. You bully me, and then I tell the teacher and you get sent to the principal and/or counselor. Is that going to make you like and respect me? Of course not! It will make you hate me. You’re going to want to beat me up after school, or try to get me in trouble with the school by telling them that I am bullying you.
Are you finding that the bullying psychology seems to contradict what you learned in psychology? Did you learn that counseling and therapy is about getting clients to take personal responsibility for their problems, while the bullying psychology is about teaching people to blame others– bullies– for their problems?
You probably learned about “locus of control,” the theory that posits that happy, successful people tend to have an internal locus of control and people who are depressed and unsuccessful tend to have an external locus of control. How is the bullying psychology supposed to increase happiness and success when it promotes an external locus of control, teaching people that if they are being bullied, it has nothing to do with themselves?
Have you learned that when you pay attention to behavior, you get an increase in that behavior? Have you bothered to wonder how, with all the attention we are required to give to bullying in school, bullying is supposed to decrease?
Have you learned that it is a mistake for mental health professionals to take sides between people? If so, have you wondered why the bullying psychology is instructing us to take the victim’s side against the bully?
Have you learned that people need to experience difficulty in order to develop resilience? Do you wonder how we can promote children’s resilience while simultaneously trying to create a completely safe school environment?
Have you learned that self-confidence comes from being able to handle problems by yourself? And have you wondered how kids are going to develop self-confidence when we inform them that they can’t handle bullying on their own, but need the help of teachers, student bystanders and parents?
Do you wonder how we can teach children not to be upset by insults while simultaneously teaching them, “Words kill”?
Have you learned that insulting people is considered bullying? Have you stopped to wonder why it is okay to label kids with the insult, “bully”?
How to really reduce bullying
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do to reduce bullying is to teach teachers to stop making the bullying escalate. The strange truth is that most bullying between kids is actually caused by adults… by the attempts of the adults to make children stop bullying each other! The very things we do to try to make kids get along with each other actually make them fight even more. Parents make this mistake at home with their own kids. Then the kids go to school where the staff makes the same mistakes. There is a free manual on the website, A Revolutionary Guide to Reducing Aggression between Children. It explains how adult intervention causes most of the bullying between kids, and how to dramatically reduce it by using two “magic” responses. There are teachers who are driven insane trying to stop their students from bullying each other. They will be eternally grateful to you for teaching them these two “magic” responses. Their lives will become easier and they will be able to go back to being educators rather than conflict mediators. When teachers use these responses, the students become more independent, resilient and emotionally mature. This manual is of equal value for use by parents at home with their own kids. We also sell a printed and bound updated version of this manual for $10.
Ultimately, the only one who can get a child to stop being bullied is the child him/herself. Bullying happens throughout life, and it happens most severely right at home. So the sooner kids learn how to deal with bullying, the better their chances for living happy, harmonious lives.
To directly help kids who are victimized, there is a free manual on this website called How to Stop Being Teased and Bullied without Really Trying. Many mental health professionals have used it to help kids, and we welcome you to use it, too. There are also Spanish and Dutch translations. For bullying over the Internet, there is an article on Cyber-bullying. There is another important article on How to Be a Good Sport.
How to Stop Being Teased and Bullied without Really Trying is also available on audio CD so kids can listen rather than read. In addition to the lessons beautifully narrated by my daughter, Lola, it contains a recording of me doing an exercise with a kid, showing why kids become victims of bullying and how to make the bullying stop. If you work with groups, you can play the CD for the group, discuss the lessons, and have them all learn how to handle bullying simultaneously. We also have a book, longer and more detailed than the website manual, called Bullies to Buddies: How to turn your enemies into friends. If you can find a better instruction book for kids on how to deal with bullying, we will return your money.
Reading a book or listening to a CD is not always enough. Some kids need to be helped by an expert they can actually talk to. Bullies to Buddies™ offers a counseling program with a money-back guarantee. You can read about the program here. If you know children you think really need this service, you may want to refer their parents to it.
If you want to help the entire school, possibly the most cost-effective way is to purchase our comprehensive bullying reduction program, Victim-Proof Your School. It contains a DVD for students, one for school staff, and a printed Trainer’s Manual. It also gives you free access to Online survey forms so that you can measure the results for your school. Other companies charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for such a service.
Furthermore, by using the Victim-Proof Your School DVDs you can become an expert yourself and learn how to help kids directly. If you work in a school and become competent with the exercises, you will literally multiply your value to the school. Don’t be surprised if you become known as a “miracle worker.” If you work in private practice, you will find yourself helping kids faster and more effectively than you probably thought possible.
Feel free to read my eye-opening, unconventional articles on bullying and related subjects in my newsletters. And why not sign up to be on our mailing list so you can receive my newsletters as soon they are sent?