“It takes a community”


It Takes a Community

By: Safe Start Center

Over the past month, we’ve highlighted what bullying means, heard the stories of countless people, covered what others are saying about it, and provided ways practitioners, teachers, and parents can help. In this, our last post, we would like to talk about the common wisdom, “it takes a community.” As can be seen by the variety of topics we covered this month, the effort to end bullying must a combined effort, everyone working TOGETHER.

In order for you to take action, look into what your state and local laws are about bullying. Many states, such as Connecticut and New Jersey, are not only creating new laws to increase enforcement but are also instituting their own Bully Awareness campaigns and curriculums to equip their schools to deal with the growing problem. Likewise, school administrators and teachers must first take part by enforcing these policies through role modeling and encouragement, and ask the same of their students. Second, they must become aware of the signs and symptoms of bullying and seek to eliminate them on the spot. This could include knowing the “hot spots” around the school and posting teachers in them during break times.

However, bullying doesn’t just happen in school – it happens in parks, in malls, and now on the Internet – any and everywhere there are children and youth. This means that parents must also be vigilant in helping their children cope and deal with bullying under a variety of circumstances. Parents also need to be aware of and take responsibility for their children’s actions when they are the “bullies.” Awareness is the first step, and like teachers, parents need to be both role models and to teach their kids to respect themselves and others.

Most importantly, putting an end to bullying is about equipping children to deal with problems when they arise by creating safe and encouraging environments for them at home, in school, and their communities. It is also about empowering them to confront or respond to it in their own individual ways. We’ve seen this happen because of the kids that have started support groups, awareness events, held town halls, and supported their classmates who have been bullied. When students feel safe in being who they are and learn to deal with others in a respectful way, that’s when bullying will really begin to stop. And this is what we must do – work for and with children to become the best they can be.

The Safe Start Center, along with many other partners in the field, will continue to call attention to the problem of bullying. For decades, there have been ebbs and flows in bullying awareness, but today there is a new and more dangerous tool for bullies – the Internet. But as we have seen this month, the Internet can also be used for good to help address bullying, raise awareness, and showcase the different gifts and skills of those who seek to lend their voice to the movement. Each of us – policymakers, teachers, parents, students – need to take a stand at every level and across sectors; to empowering students to start legislative campaigns, PSAs, stories, documentaries, dances; to be innovative and work together to address bullying and help those involved.

Writer Charlzetta Drive said it well. “Let’s teach our children that different is not a bad word, this will help them understand first they don’t have to change for anyone and second no one has to change for them. Being comfortable in his or her own skin, children are less likely to submit to major transgressions due to peer pressure. Different does not mean alone, bringing our differences together makes for a huge palate of enriching colors.”

Thanks so much for all of you who have followed us throughout this month as well as all those who have conducted their own campaigns, hosted events, made videos, wrote articles and many other things to raise awareness and stop bullying!



Bullies and the Bullied: Stopping the Cycle

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Why Some Kids Bully: Personal Reflection from a Recovering Bully

Bullying and Jenni. How does my story reflect or fit into the theme this week. Honestly, it’s been a question I have been grappling with all month. Numbers show and personal stories reflect the high levels of prevalence and effects of bullying on children and youth. But what about those who “cause” the damage? What about the bullies? Why do they bully? What’s their side of the story? Is there something to do for them?

When reflecting on my childhood, I think all too often I was the bully. I am a tall girl who grew much faster (and more) than other girls and boys my age and felt out of place. I also often didn’t know how to express the hurt and emotions in me so I internalized them and then would explode. One incident I vividly recall was when I put my hands around another girl’s neck because she had been mean to me and others and was still well liked. I felt it was not fair that I wasn’t liked as much even though I tried to be nice and talked to everyone. So in my fourth grade mind, I just wanted it to stop. I wanted her to stop taking my friends. I wanted to stop her making fun of me. And so I lashed out physically because I did not know how to handle the hurt. I made her stop.

Fast-forward seven years to when I am a junior in high school. I loved my friends but often their good natured teasing cut deeper than they knew. Over the years, I had learned to stuff down my hurt and just laugh along. Then a teacher asked my mom if I was all right at a parent-teacher meeting. He went on to say that he realized that other kids didn’t realize how sensitive I was and wanted to make sure I was okay from the teasing in class. When my mom told me this, I lost it. I had never before had someone other than my family recognize or validate my hurt. For a long time, I have been deeply ashamed of moments like the one in fourth grade. I’ll always wonder just what was going through my head that I would physically lash out at someone like that. My pain does not excuse my behavior, but I still sometimes reflect and wonder who I would have been had I not had a loving family at home to help both support and correct me. How could I have turned out if my bullying behaviors where not addressed in a “tough love” way?

You see, even bullies have scars from what they have done and sometimes what has been done to them.  We need to remember that bullies are children too and that in their actions are messages and meanings we as adults need to pay attention to. Could that bully be aggressive because he has issues with his self-image? Does she feel like this is the role she’s been given, that a bully is all she can be? Is this how he experiences relationships in his home? What is the intention behind his actions? Part of the solution to bullying must include bullies and helping them change behavior as much as it is about stopping the behavior.

Below you’ll find some interesting interviews, resources, and stories about other bullies. Though circumstances are different and there are exceptions, the main storyline is they bullied because they felt attacked. This does not excuse the wrong and hurtful actions done by bullies. However, we need to remember this in our dialogue on how to help the bullied and stop bullying.

Here are some more background articles about bullies and some video clips from bullies. Please comment and/or share you story with us!!

Bully Boys and Bully Girls


Cruel, senseless bullying needs strong opposition


How to help kids deal with bullying, whether they are targets or inflicting pain


The Reason Children become Bullies


Bully Richard Gale Interview (Bully of Casey Heynes)


Tara Bank’s Bully Interview


Why I bullied


Tales of bullies and the bullied

This week, as National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month draws to a close, we’d like to shift our focus to a bit of a different perspective. We’ve shared several stories this month about the origins of bullying, what people think it means and what some of the consequences are when bullying happens. So, to open this week, I’d like to share my own story about bullying.

When you look back on the past sometimes you don’t really realize just how adversely something has affected your life. In my own life, I have come to understand that at different points in my childhood I had been both a victim and a doer of bullying.  I remember being 9-years-old and attending a small private school in my hometown. That year I wanted to be part of the small popular girl crowd, so I joined in their ridicule of the new girl in our class. Flash forward two years and you will find me in the brand new environment of a public school where I’m the odd one out. I became the new girl in this part of the story and, for no real reason that I can remember, was the object of mockery that year. I remember being scared to ride the bus to school, dreading gym class because I was always picked last and wishing that vacation would never end so that I didn’t have to go back to class.

In retrospect, I wonder if that other little girl who was the object of my scorn years before, ever felt the way that I did my first year in public school. I know now that the year of bullying that I endured really harmed me in ways that lasted for years. It hurt my self-esteem and self-confidence, made me scared to talk to new people and for a long time less likely to try out new things for fear of how people would react to me. Yet, I wonder again if that other poor girl suffered in the same way and where she is now.

I just want to share my own short story about bullying to get the conversation going. How many of you have been bullied in your lives? Or were you the bully yourself? How has your experience impacted your life?

We’d love to hear your stories! Keep checking the blog this week for more stories and tales about the bullies and the bullied.


Anti-bullying Efforts Target Parents, Educators






Check out the newest Safe Start Center posting in support of National Bullying Prevention Month!


Providers Against Bullying

We know that providers are working tirelessly to protect kids from bullying and make schools and communities safer for them. To help that work we’d just like to share a few more resources that providers can tap into to help keep their efforts moving forward!

Workshops and Trainings to Address Name-calling and Bullying


This is a great resource for schools, providers, and educators to use for creating strategic plans that can make schools safer for kids against bullying.

Preventing and tackling bullying


This resource page, from the Department of Education in the UK, offers detailed advice and prevention techniques for teachers, staff, administrators, and for use in community settings.

Bullying Prevention and Intervention


Another fantastic article, originally featured in Principal Leadership Magazine, Vol 4, Number 1, September 2003, from the National Association of School Psychologists, helps administrators tackle and recognize bullying in the their schools and to stop it before it starts.

We’d really like to thank providers for their ongoing hard work to eradicate bullying at its source and to reduce violence against children!

School Innovations to Fight Bullying: Resources and Stories

“Bullying is nothing new, but attitudes about it have changed. Some of those things that were accepted as part of the norm aren’t as accepted as part of the norm any longer…Now, our hope is to teach children not only the academic skills in school but also those social skills: How do we get along together? How do we build a more successful community? How do we work together? These are skills kids can use throughout their lifetime.” – Cindy Skala, the school social worker

“How to UnMake a Bully”

 There are many approaches schools can take to combat bullying within their walls, but the better ones are the innovative ones. For example, Glendaal Elementary School in Scotia’s new video project. With the help of Skala and Mike Feurstein, a filmmaker who serves as a teacher’s aide, students at Glendaal created a 30-minute video about how three students stood up to their school bully Russell. The video portrays many of the strategies schools everywhere try to teach their students. One of the most successful strategies is letting the students participate in teaching. “It’s important to do this in kids’ voices and to listen to what kids have to say. Simply telling kids these behaviors are bad and here’s what you should do about them is not a real effective strategy for getting things to change. Adults can’t really know the reality the kids are dealing with,” says Stan Davis, a school counselor and author of “Schools Where Everyone Belongs: Practical Strategies for Reducing Bullying.” Glendall and Feurstein have already begun a sequel about bullying and bystanders and hope to continue producing videos about other issues students face.

To watch this movie go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_430612&v=N0f6qQrvD8k&src_vid=8c2AR62HRlc&feature=iv

For further information about the project and the sequel, go to http://www.timesunion.com/living/article/Unmaking-a-bully-2195325.php#page-1.

Other schools are getting creative as well. For instance, the New York Association for Pupil Transportation is using the 2011 National School Bus Safety Week to highlight issues of bullying both at school and on the bus. (http://readme.readmedia.com/Bullying-Not-on-Our-School-Buses/3064207). Also, New Jersey school districts have declared the first week of Bully Prevention Month as “Week of Respect” and “pull out all stops with daily doses of anti-bullying reinforcement.” (http://www.app.com/article/BZ/20111005/NEWS01/310050025/Schools-turn-peer-mediation-battle-bullying)

Here are some resources for schools, teachers, and parents to work together to create innovative programs of their own:

General overview of the problem, action steps, and links for schools.


Connect for Respect – The national PTA provides resources and trainings for parents, caregivers, and teachers on how to work together to reduce bullying and its effects on students.


The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program provides resources, training, webinars, and other information about what bullying is and how to deal with it. It also provides specific resources for administrators, teachers, school staff, and parents.


Free Casey and Bella books, DVD, and curriculum created by Jan Lavascio to help children learn about bullying and how to deal with it.


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