Archives for April, 2012


The White House Takes on Bullying!

I was catching up on my google news feed from the weekend and saw several blog posts about Obama's endorsement for two anti-bullying legislative acts. A few Internet searches later I found a White House post about their efforts to end bullying.

Regardless of your political persuasion, I gather we all want our kids to feel safe in their schools. Passing legislation to stop bullying is a huge step towards cultural change in America.
Continue Reading


Being on Offense: The Importance of Preventive Education

This blog by Michael Jascz delineates why social and emotional learning is an invaluable component to a school's health curriculum. I couldn't have said it better myself - and wish I had!

This component of my work at Freedom Institute does just this - we work to prevent our children from resorting to unhealthy means (such as bullying or illicit drug abuse) to attain their emotional needs.

Continue Reading


A Bully for Bullies!

If you are an administrator and have thought of everything to do to stop kids from bullying each other - mediation, lectures, school assemblies with speakers like myself, bringing in parents, punishing the bullies - what is left?

Meet the Scary Guy!

I receive a google news feed in my email daily and saw this article. I was immediately intrigued! I've learned that the Scary Guy is covered in tattoos from head to toe with studs in his eye sockets (yup he's a scary guy!). He conducts large scale assemblies at schools. For a short interview and clip of his presentation see this article on CNN.

As a drama therapist, I enjoy seeing him use projection (looking scary and acting like a bully, thus allowing students to connect and understand the topic) and performance. Theater has always been a means for us to examine our world. Still, I wonder...does it work?
Continue Reading


Bullying Basics

With all the talk about bullying in the media (most recently spawned by the film 'Bully') do we really know what it is?

Violence Prevention Works defines bullying as aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power. Most often repeated over time. Bullying can manifest in physical violence (the most obvious acts of bullying), verbal attacks, and non-verbal behavior (i.e. exclusion from activities, being the last student chosen for a sports team at recess) which I consider acts of relational aggression.

All types of bullying are detrimental to a developing child's sense of self-worth. We know that children who are victims of bullying are:

More likely to do poorly in school.
More likely to have or develop mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
More likely to develop substance abuse issues.
More likely to bully themselves.

A subcategory of bullying that I often discuss with students, faculty and parents is the aforementioned relational aggression. Relational aggression is conceptualized as behaviors that harm others by damaging, threatening to damage, manipulating one's relationships with his/her peers, or by injuring one's feelings of social acceptance. For purposes of this blog post, when I refer to bullying, I am discussing both bullying and relational aggression.
Continue Reading


Bring Your Child to See ‘Bully’ Despite the R Rating

Like many who have seen the film, I agree that the initial R rating of the film, 'Bully' was counterproductive. Tara Parker-Pope writes why the film is a family film here.

I encourage parents to bring children as young as 13. The language can be extremely upsetting but children are witness to this every day. Parents be at the ready! Seeing this film should lead to a discussion about how your child connects to the film and coming up with a "game plan,' if they are witness to bullying or are victims of it. Often times children who are bullied or bystanders are resistant on disclosing the behavior for two reasons:

That the bully will target them more or target them instead (if they are a bystander).
The adults won't take their concerns seriously.

Watching the film is a teachable moment for you and your child. As parents, you can help your child develop a sense of integrity that no one should be treated poorly and feel unsafe. Additionally, you are letting your child know that you do take this matter seriously and they should not be afraid to tell you should this happen. The shame felt by victims and bystanders all too often helps perpetuate the bullying cycle.

Continue Reading


‘Bully’ Shows the Unfortunate Cruelty of Adolescence

When I heard on NPR that the film, 'Bully' was going to be released in New York and Los Angles without a rating this weekend due to the language in it (which I will address in another post) I got to the theater as soon as I could. 'Bully' directed by Lee Hirsch, produced by Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen follows several teenagers and their families who have suffered due to bullying.

I initially wanted to write yet another review of the film but my emotional response that was shared by everyone in the audience seems more salient. Why?

Continue Reading