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Bullying: Lifelong Pain Prelude to Violence. Debbie Johnston Teacher, Mother, Advocate. Definition of Bullying. Bullying occurs when one or more individuals inflict physical, verbal, emotional, psychological and/or sexual abuse on another or others.

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bullying lifelong pain prelude to violence

Bullying: Lifelong Pain Prelude to Violence

Debbie Johnston




definition of bullying
Definition of Bullying

Bullying occurs when one or more individuals inflict physical, verbal, emotional, psychological and/or sexual abuse on another or others.

Bullying occurs most frequently when teachers/adults are not present.

Students continue to confirm that most bullying is hidden, secretive, and devious and that adults are not fully aware of the breadth and depth of the suffering and psychological damage that is occurring.

5 types of bullying
5 Types of Bullying
  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Emotional
  • Sexual
  • Cyber
teasing versus bullying
Teasing Versus Bullying

What is the difference between teasing and bullying?

Teasing occurs when

  • There is a “give and take”.
  • No one gets hurt.
  • Everyone is an equal participant.
  • There are no personal attacks or ganging up on a single person.

Bullying occurs when

  • One person does all the giving and the other person does all the taking.
  • Someone gets hurt.
  • An imbalance of power exists due to numbers, popularity, or other component.
is it really a problem
Is it really a problem?

There have been 37 school shootings since 1974. In two-thirds of these, the shooters believed that they had been persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked and/or injured.

There has been an alarming increase in youth suicide in the last decade. Students are experiencing depression more frequently than ever before. Between 1980-1997, the rate of suicide increased 109% for 10-14 year old students.

74% of 8-11 year old students surveyed report that teasing and bullying occur in their schools. The rate increases to 86% among 15 -19 year olds.

A recent study indicates that in the United States, 5,736,417 students are involved in bullying - as a bully, a target or both.

journal of american medical association
Journal of American Medical Association

The study measured the prevalence of bullying behaviors among youth and attempted to determine an association of bullying and being bullied with indicators of social adjustment: problem behavior, school adjustment, social/emotional adjustment, and parenting.

The sample included 15,686 students grades 6-10 throughout the US. Students filled out a survey that measured their involvement in bullying- either as a bully or as a target.

They found that 29.9% reported being involved: 13.0% as a bully, 10.6% as a target and 6.3% as both.

They concluded that the prevalence of bullying among US youth is substantial, and that given the behavioral and emotional difficulties associated with bullying, as well as the long term negative outcomes for the youth involved, the issue of bullying merits serious attention - both for future research and preventative intervention.

additional research
Additional Research
  • In another research study conducted in Norway by Dan Olweus, 60% of children identified as bullies between grades six and ten were cited for criminal behavior as adults, and 40% had three or more convictions.
  • A study published in Learning 94 concluded that bullies whose behavior is allowed to continue are five times more likely to be involved with the juvenile justice system, to be convicted of criminal activities, and to have children with aggression problems.
when to call in reinforcements
When to Call in Reinforcements

Acts of bullying break the law when they become extortion, theft, assault, battery, murder, weapons possession, arson, hate crime, hazing, sexual abuse/harassment, rape or a violation of civil rights.

Any single act involving more than minor physical injury or a credible threat of injury to persons or property.

A pattern of abuse lasting for a period of more than two weeks, targets the same victim, or continues/escalates after sanctions have been imposed.

When you suspect abuse/neglect, substance abuse, or other serious underlying cause.

If either the bully or victim exhibits warning signs of depression or suicidal ideation.

  • Parents are increasingly turning to the courts for resolution, and are engaging lawyers to serve as legal advocates for their children when the schools are indifferent.
four major concerns
Four Major Concerns
  • Targets
  • Bullies
  • Witnesses
  • Teachers

Over 160,000 students stay home from school each day because of fear of what might happen to them at the bus stop, on the bus, the playground, the bathroom, the cafeteria, the hallways, the locker room, the classroom, or walking home from school.

Anxiety increases for students being bullied.

Anxiety decreasesconcentration which lowers students’ ability to retain and learn materials covered in the classroom.

Today’s target can become tomorrow’s bully. Most of the students involved in classmate shootings had suffered rejection at the hands of their peers.


One out of four students identified as bullies by their classmates in the third grade had a criminal record by the age of 28.

Students that bully are more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior, substance abuse, delinquency, vandalism, and gang-related violence.

Bullying behavior can be a red flag for a multitude of other serious problems; abuse/neglect, personality disorder, depression, suicide.

Male bullies were at greater risk to have become abusive husbands. Female bullies were more likely to have become abusive mothers.

Conclusion: Bullying has an enduring effect and has apparent intergenerational transmission.

witnesses the silent victims
Witnesses–The Silent Victims

The six types of witnesses have developed a range of responses.

1. Helper: They have the courage to challenge the bully and/or support the target.

2. Angry: They may become angry at the target for failing to eliminate the situation.

3. Inactive: They build a wall around their feelings to diminish the discomfort.

4. Fearful: They conceal the situation for fear of reprisal.

5. Voyeur: They encourage and support the bully to gain favor with the perpetrator.

6. Accomplice: They become an accomplice.


A National Education Association study found that:

  • 6,250 teachers are threatened with bodily harm every day.
  • 260 teachers are physically assaulted every day.
  • 5,000 secondary teachers are actually harmed in an average month.
  • Teachers are also witnesses, often experiencing the same responses.
the proactive bully
The Proactive Bully
  • Bullies for the pleasure of it
  • Has no apparent motive
  • Has antisocial traits
  • Does not form attachments
  • Can be cold and calculating
  • Reports high self-esteem
the reactive bully
The Reactive Bully
  • Bullies in response to a perceived threat
  • Is hyper-vigilant to signs of provocation
  • Does not believe that he/she initiates

bullying behavior

  • May be or have been a target
  • Reports low self esteem
the elitist bully
The Elitist Bully
  • Bullies because of perceived position
  • Has been corrupted by the power he/she

acquires because of attractiveness, wealth,

athletic ability, or parents’ status

  • Does not see themselves as a bully
  • May defend their actions by saying they were

simply being “honest” with the victim

  • Reports high self-esteem
can words really hurt
Can words really hurt?

Sticks and stones can break your bones,

but words . . .


sympathy versus empathy
Sympathy Versus Empathy
  • Sympathy- feeling sorry for someone
  • Empathy- caring about and trying to understand how someone else feels; walking a mile in their shoes
strategies for schools
Strategies for Schools
  • Become familiar with the district’s model policy on bullying prevention and intervention.
  • Define unacceptable behaviors and the consequences for those behaviors and consistently impose them.
  • Use consistent terminology to hold students accountable for various forms of bullying.
  • Saturate the school culture with anti-bullying messages and incentives for leadership and mentoring.
strategies for schools1
Strategies for Schools
  • Establish a culture where standing up for others is the expectation rather than the exception.
  • Set up systems for reporting and investigating incidents of bullying. Provide ongoing training and awareness sessions at all levels.
  • Determine high-risk locations for bullying and actively monitor these areas. There is no substitute for good supervision.
  • Involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process to make it a comprehensive team approach to changing the culture rather than addressing issues after the fact.
strategies for teachers
Strategies for Teachers
  • Create a “sanctuary of safety” within your classroom.
  • Insist that everyone be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Model appropriate behavior. The way you deal with your own anger, stress, frustration, and mistakes will influence the scouts that look to you for guidance. Actions speak louder than words!
  • Teach about ethics and ethical behavior. Encourage students to plan in advance how they will react in a bullying situation.
  • Emphasize a respect for differences and diversity of all kinds. Nobody has the RIGHT to decide who is entitled to respect or compassion. Hatred applied is humanity denied!
strategies for teachers1
Strategies for Teachers
  • Assure confidentiality when bullying is reported. This is crucial!
  • Never dismiss a report. Be responsive to these communications.
  • Investigate thoroughly before taking action. Conduct discussions in private and avoid addressing the entire group about an incident.
  • Speak to the victim and bully separately. Never leave a victim exposed and vulnerable.
strategies for teachers2
Strategies for Teachers
  • Address each incident on an individual basis. Communicate with parents separately. Be fair, but firm in establishing consequences. If the students cannot work together, make it clear that it is the bully that will have to move.
  • Make it clear that any retaliation by the bully or his supporters will not be tolerated. Never allow the bully a “second bite at the apple!”
  • Avoid “demonizing” the bully. The role of the teacher is to help students to learn and grow from the experience. You may be this child’s best and only chance. Seek first to understand, and then to change the negative behaviors.
interventions with bullies
Interventions with Bullies
  • Confront bullies in private. Avoid giving them public status and power
  • Determine source of bullying behavior- i.e. low self esteem, past target, difficulties at home, anger, pleasure, etc.
  • Give an opportunity to make amends
  • Offer incentives for appropriate behavior
interventions with bullies1
Interventions with Bullies
  • Proactive Bullies need to experience the consequences of their choices. Set the boundaries, establish the limits and enforce the penalties.
  • Reactive Bullies need to develop relationship skills. Refer for anger management, empathy training, mediation and social skills training and problem solving approaches.
  • Elitist Bullies need to become less self-centered. Assign them service learning experiences, community volunteer opportunities and opportunities for creative leadership.
interventions with targets
Interventions with Targets
  • Targets need to hear that no child deserves to be bullied and that you will do all you can to help them.
  • Teach and role play assertiveness. Give them language ideas, scripts and role-playing opportunities.
  • Discuss body language and facial expressions.
  • Help them recognize and break any annoying habits that irritate peers and attract bullies.
  • Support and emphasize the strengths of the target.
interventions with targets1
Interventions with Targets

Help scouts understand that bullies “shop around” for targets and look for students who will:




Fly off the Handle!

They can’t control the actions of the bully, but they do have a choice about how they respond.

Restate your position against bullying,

Refuse to engage in the behavior,

Resist the temptation to retaliate,

Report the problem to your leader!

interventions with witnesses
Interventions with Witnesses
  • Establish a culture within the class where everyone is treated with respect, and conflicts are promptly addressed and peacefully resolved.
  • Discuss a sense of fairness, justice, and a moral code that reflects the ethics and values of the community.
  • Set the expectation that everyone has a responsibility to report incidents of bullying to an adult. Review the difference between “tattling” and “reporting”
  • Make a commitment to keep reports confidential
interventions with witnesses1
Interventions with Witnesses
  • Invite students to create a list of witness strategies
  • Encourage witnesses to support the target in whatever

manner they feel comfortable.

  • Role play strategies to support targets
  • Promote programs that emphasize prevention, and

teach positive strategies for dealing with negative


  • Plan opportunities for students to perform community

service for people outside their own social/ethnic

groups. Look for projects that promote a “Tend and

Befriend” mentality.

s o s for teachers
S.O.S. for Teachers


Social skills are a set of learned behaviors that children adopt by observing how role models react in certain situations. These role models can be parents, siblings, grandparents, peers, teachers, coaches, mentors, or images conveyed through television and other media.

Some children are naturally more adept at making friends and being accepted into the group. Others may have difficulty fitting in, experience shyness, or develop a variety of attention-seeking behaviors that sabotage their efforts. It is the teacher’s role to provide guidance in helping every child find their niche within the group, and facilitate experiences that highlight the strengths and talents of each individual child.

s o s for teachers1
S.O.S. for Teachers


Take time to observe the way that the students interact with each other during different activities. Make a mental note of any child that seems isolated or unhappy. It might help to create a chart or graphic organizer to help you visualize the dynamics of your group.

Discernbullying behaviors. Become more attuned to the slights, derisive laughter and ostracizing that takes place under the radar.

Supervise thoughtfully. Think ahead when planning for games or activities that involve choosing teams or separating into smaller groups. Avoid using the “schoolyard pick” and similar methods that highlight the pecking order and invariably lead to hurt feelings.

s o s for teachers2
S.O.S. for Teachers


Establish clear rules and consequences regarding unacceptable behavior and enforce them consistently.

Deal with bullying behavior before it escalates into trouble.

Mobilize witnesses and empower them to take a stand.

Focus on leadership skills and teamwork. Competition can tear down more than it builds up.

Use your own status to enhance a child’s standing within the group. Find out what the child enjoys doing, and praise it within the hearing of the others. Sincere compliments can do wonders to raise a child’s standing within the group.

s o s for teachers3
S.O.S. for Teachers

Look for situations where bullying might take place, and take steps to prevent incidents before they happen. This can be as simple as adding a view more eyes and ears on an field trip or intermingling the adult chaperones throughout the bus rather than having all the grownups sit together.

Never label any child as a bully; even if they are guilty of using bullying behaviors. Name-calling is wrong no matter who is doing it!

Ditto on using techniques to humiliate, shame, or embarrass a child. This only serves to reinforce the belief that it is acceptable for someone that has power to hurt those who do not. This hypocrisy is not lost on young minds.

s o s for teachers4
S.O.S. for Teachers

Explore opportunities for students to apply what they have learned about bullying to real-world situations.

Collect stories and anecdotes about bullies that have changed their ways to share with colleagues.

Incorporate the use of technology to establish blogs, websites, wikis, and social networking sites to raise awareness, share ideas, and support other scouts that may be dealing with a bully.

Expand what students have learned about bullying to the virtual world through involvement with law enforcement or other agencies in the community to educate younger students about Internet Safety and misuse of Technology. Form partnerships with community stakeholders such as iLand5, Wired Safety, and Crimestoppers.

our human rights

Our Human Rights

I have a right to be happy and to be treated with compassion:

This means that no one will laugh at me or hurt my feelings.

I have a right to be myself:

This means that no one will treat me unfairly because of my

religion, gender, ethnic heritage, economic status, or any aspect

of my physical appearance.

I have a right to be safe:

This means that no one will threaten or harm me, my family, or

my personal possessions.

I have a right to hear and be heard:

This means that I will be free to express my feelings and my

opinions, without being interrupted, ridiculed, or punished.

I have a right to respect:

This means that no one will ignore me, exclude me, or act in a

way that diminishes my importance as a human being.

what is your plan
What Is Your Plan?









www.ama-assn.org/ Search using keyword “bully”




“Nansel, T.R., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R.S., Ruan, W.J., Simons-Morton, B., Scheidt, P., Bullying Behaviors Among US Youth Prevalence and Association With Psychosocial Adjustment, JAMA 2001, 285:2094-2100

Fried, SuEllen, Bullies & Victims- Helping Your Child Through The Schoolyard Battlefield, M. & Company, Inc., 1998.

Fried, SuEllen, Bullies, Targets and Witnesses- Helping Children Break the Pain Chain, Evans, M. & Company, Inc., 2003.

Olweus, Dan, Bullying at School: What we know and What We Can Do, Wiley, John & Sons, Inc., 1993.


For Jeffrey





Keeper of the Stars…