Comments on
A Bully for Bullies!

By Katherine Prudente, LCAT, RDT

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?

25 Comments to
A Bully for Bullies!

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  1. Dear Katherine,

    The Scary Guy here. So you have read the CNN Presents report about me.

    Read this:

    The following are words of wisdom from my Attorney and friend, Ed Marquette concerning the negative slant CNN Presents has produced in the feature story about The Scary Guy and his life.

    “Scary, You are famous, your tactics, though effective, are controversial and subject to being taken out of context. Isolate any one of a number of your acts or statements from the context, and one could paint a very negative picture.”

    “Add to the above the difficulty of proving damage, and you have a real challenge.
    Of course, I’m not you, but reading the article did not strike me as all that negative. The comment about no credentials is inconsistent with the rest of the article in which your own personal experienced-based credentials are apparent.”

    “Perhaps what is meant is “academic credentials.” If that is the case, then the comment, to me, is almost an endorsement. The academicians have utterly failed when it comes to bullying. If the academicians had the answers then why is the domain of the academician, the school setting, the worst breeding ground of all for bullying?” – Ed Marquette 2012

    Katherine, here is my personal e mail if you so choose to contact me and my team directly.

    scaryguy@thescaryguy.com

    Sincerely,
    The Scary Guy

    • Thanks Scary Guy! I do appreciate your comment. Again, I caveat my post by stating I’ve never seen you. From what I saw on CNN, I actually didn’t think it was negative but I was left wondering what happens after you go? I’ve seen schools hire excellent speakers on a variety of topics but the problems – bullying, underage drug use, sexual harassment, etc. continue. I think with the right school supporting your work after you leave, you’re impression on the students and on a community could be indelible. As the case is, some schools would like to say they did something to address bullying by having you there but then don’t continue the important work once the week after the assembly is over. Thanks for taking the time out to comment.

      • We provide extensive curriculum delivered in in 4 phases, for Teachers, Students and Parents to continue the processes of understand how these behaviors are dealt with in a constructive and positive manner.

        I will have my Director of curriculum development share some of the last affects and how the [ast 14 years have been for us as we travel the world.

        Most schools that bring us in at that level, see a marked difference in over all behavior. However, if the Teaching staff and the rest of the community are not behind what it is we give them / provide the tools, the Kids will always do what it is they see.

  2. I saw a very different and much longer tv documentation in the german tv. Scary´s work is a big success in many countrys all over the world. Even english police is booking him for training. Also he works in prisons with the criminals…..
    maybe he comes only one time (but he also have longtime Frindships) but he can wake up Kids from their “everyday life behavior” and give a start up for a new way of thinking…
    This about 2hour report change my way of thinking to more than a year ago…..

    At this cnn report they take only the 3 strangest minutes and show nothing about his real work….

    Have a nice day

    • Thanks for the comment! I agree the wake up call he can provide is vital for change. It’s up to the adults left after he goes to keep the change going!

      • Thanks fot the reply,
        I agree that it is the duty of the parents and all adults. But as we all know not everybody act this way till now. My 9 year old son( nice intelligent kid) has been bullyd in his class. and the teacher told him and us he got to ger harder because this is a Ellenbogengesellschaft(typical german word)
        means
        Elbowsociety….
        is this the right way?

  3. Hi Katherine,

    It worked for us so far. Our foster-son met Scary in a 1:1 session end of February and it was quite impressive (Scary´s way to communicate with children and the way he explains emotions). I had the pleasure to attend this session and I think this helped to keep the message alive for us. I wish every kid AND parent would have the chance to meet Scary. The world would be a better place. Kind Regards, Dagmar

  4. Hi there, my name is Juergen. I am from cologne (germany), excuse my not trained english. I met Scary Guy in 2006 and 2010, we still have frequent mail contact, and I told him some things about my life. And, that is the important fact, he answers in a short time. He is real, he reacts, he is in my life…like one of the best friends I ever had. His deep impact works, every day, with every smile for my oponents (I work in a prison). And it works much better and effectiv for every smile for my friends. My life changed, I changed it, with the help of him, by believing in his words about negativ energy.

  5. You asked for comments from people who have seen Scary’s presentation. Well I have. I would recommend that you watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyQndbjIUR4. As you will see, it is a Teachers TV film. The girl in the photograph is my daughter, Laura. The presentation is definitely thought provoking, and the audience really relate to Scary.I think you should ask Scary about what follow up material is available. He,or his manager, Gary Lee can answer all your queries. If you need help to contact them, please email me and I will put you in touch.

    • Thanks, I’ll check it out. Scary left me his email, thanks for the offer.

    • Thanks Yvonne for sharing it,
      this is a small part of the german report i saw.
      (as you know for sure).
      Looking at it again bring tears to my eyes again.
      It could be everything so simpel…..
      Greetings and a hug
      Wolf

  6. Hello Katherine
    You say “These types of assemblies that shock and engage viewers are great catalysts for change but cannot be the remedy for the problem alone.”
    - Unfortunately you are talking about something that you have ‘gleaned’ from an innacurate CNN sensationalized story … and you too are referring to Scary and his work in much the same terms as CNN did! You even perpetuate the mis-representation of Scary and his work by adopting your title from their article, and label him a bully.
    Further to this,what Scary presents is far from an assembly. It is an in depth series of programmes designed as a structure through which people are able to modify their own behaviour. It is a sophisticated body of work accompanied by substantial curriculum around the theories and concepts presented. It is an extensive and highly effective whole school tool- where implemented. Thankfully, the evidence that we are receiving back is that once the children have heard the theories and concepts they are able to use them independently – even when/if the adults around them fail to make use of or implement the structure presented. I must say that it seems to me that your doubt filled comment is fueled by CNN’s playground gossip.

    • I appreciate your comment but perhaps I may have been misunderstood. I can see how someone like Scary is provocative and engaging. The little I did see on CNN reminded me of how drama therapists (like myself) use theater and projection to help our clients examine their worlds. By doing so it’s psychically safe since they are exploring it via acting but quite connected to their inner world. I don’t think Scary is acting a role, from what I gather he is committed to his work. I actually LIKE that he’s covered in tattoos! His quick visual image and name – Scary Guy – embodies what I think kids think of bullies in their mind – scary guys. But, at least from some of the comments and the email I received from him (I took him up and emailed privately) he’s not a bully. My doubts about his work come from my own experience working in schools where I’ve been brought it to help continue the work after a large scale assembly took place. Great dialogue afterward but months later some of the short term gains have been lost. Also, what works for some schools might not work for others given the population.

      • Thank you for your reply. The dialogue is important. My comments on what you have written lie in my concern at how dangerous the ‘messages’ of the media can be. It is a powerful presence that masks the dangers of the easy judgement that it peddles. It operates exactly like playground gossip .. people read it, take it at a surface level, skim read, or glance at a headline and pass it on in their own packaging (the headline to your blog is an example of this happening) … and so unless we open our minds and learn to use them independently,unless we substantiate what we ourselves say from our own knowledge and research, then we are at risk! We are used. We contribute to the cycle of doubt and fear and lose sight of a solution.

      • You’re welcome! And thank you for yours. I actually intended my title to be ironic in the, ‘You think you’re a bully, well there’s a bully for you to put you in you’re place,’ kind of way. Perhaps it didn’t read so well! I contacted Scary’s agent in the hopes I can see him live in NYC sometime in the Fall.

  7. Dear Katherine,

    I’m a psycholgist myself and from the classical psychological point of view I can understand your concerns, if the work of Scary is leading to a longlasting result – but isn’t that true for therapy-sessions also?

    I agree with you, that his performances can’t be the remedy for the problem alone. But I think this is not the point. Scary is not a therapist who can accompany his clients/patients for months (or years). But he’s able to get the attention of the kids, he manages to get a working connection to them and he’s able to get their acceptance. He makes them listen and think about their behavior. He’s able to make them look at the consequences of their behavior from a different perspective.

    You might call this a “wake-up-call”. But it’s a good one! As we both know, there probably isn’t a bigger challenge, than to change human behavior. The first and most important step is “self-awareness” and from my point of view he’s doing a very good job in that. It’s unconventional – yes. But this doesn’t mean, that it’s not working! There will be pupils who fall back into their bullying behavior after attending his performances. But there surely are quite a lot, who are willing to reconsider what they are doing!

    To get an idea about his work, please don’t rely on the CNN-article alone. Have also a look on youtube (for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyQndbjIUR4 ) or best – listen to what people (especially young people) have to say, who met the Scary Guy in person. I really think he’s making a (longlasting) impression for quite a lot of people and he’s providing the chance, to make a change.

    With best regards

    Matthias

  8. This is a Video, where you actually can see how he works:

    The Scary Guy Combats Bullying on Teachers TV
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js8Hrqvk8QM&feature=related

    And I have two more things to say:
    1.) Academics proof their theories empirically! From what I know the Scary Guy has a great deal of experience in this topic and evolved his theories!

    2.) The 7 Days and 7 Nights Challenge has an impact on self experience! There is a good chance of starting new habits in behavior! If such experience doesn’t shape us I don’t know what will!

    The documentation in german TV has had already an impact on me and the people i send it to! Now I’ll start to read his book!

    Send with a hug! Tobi

  9. I can tell you my eldest daughter and her mates are now 18 and I think it’s about six years since they met Scary. They are still strongly against any kind of hatred, they respect and hug each other easily and are ambassadors for their generation. Scary tells me he now incorporates coaching for teachers to continue to promote the lessons. I firmly believe in Scary and wholly recommend him.

  10. Hi, Katherine, before a few years I watched a TV film about Scary and his work and was amazed from that- later, last year, I found some websites, found contact to him and had the great honour to met his wife Catherine and him. The sentences of him I read give and gave me a lot of mental power back and I´m very thankful for that. Carl Rogers would be amazed too of his four- step- programme “acceptance- understanding- love- change” and I can deal with that very good and work on myself to be close to that. I can tell, he´s a real friend, even virtually, too and the both, Catherine and Scary are 100% authentic and honest people that I would like to have as neighbours, too…For some links you may take a look at my website. Greetings from germany to all of you- Thomas

  11. Hi,

    as a fan of Scary, I’ve come to the conclusion that your article isn’t that negative, but… if you think that Scary can fix things in one session, like things the parents/teachers/the environment/classmates/collegues have messed up… that’s just wrong. Scary’s ideas should make people START thinking and change there pattern of behavior, shouldn’t it? It can’t be the solution to it all! Think. Change. Live different. Period.

    Sincerely,
    Beatrix

  12. I am just an ordinary person without a psychological education but I seen the documentary on Scary and his work and was very impressed. I do think that his approach works and can have a long lasting effect on his audience. Especially young adults who seem to refuse to listen to authorities and the elder generation who they think are conservative and narrow minded. Then somebody like Scary shows up, treats them with respect and listens. And he gives advice without lecturing.

  13. Hi Katherine,

    as several others that have commented here, I saw that movie on Scary and his work several years back on German TV. After that, I got on my computer right away: I just HAD to know if that guy was for real or just putting on a show with what he was doing. So I googled him, found an e-mail address, and typed a message. Before long I got a message back from Scary and his team, saying he’d be in Cologne soon and that we could meet there if I wanted to.
    Well, I did, so I got on a train and we met in a Starbuck’s. We had a rather long and really good talk that day, and when we parted that day I knew Scary is 100 % sincere – his work is definitely not just a show of some kind. What he tells kids and adults in his “assemblys”, as you put it, or when he works with them in schools or other institutions is what he himself LIVES. Every day. He IS what he teaches.
    It may not have been the intention of that very first meeting we had – but exactly that meeting indeed changed my life lastingly. There were a few things he said that got me to re-think certain personal views, certain behaviors I had – and as soon as I dared face my inner self (which was on the train ride back home from Cologne) and as I started to do just very few and little things just a little bit differently, I began to see so many changes in my life. All were positive and lasting changes. I have come to be more relaxed, much more positive, less stressed, to name only a bit of what happened.

    Another effect kicked in later: I started to pass on things that Scary had told or shown me that day in Cologne to people around me – soon leading to similar effects with them as I had experienced myself.

    Anyway; I have known Scary for quite a few years now. I have seen his program, and we are frequently in touch one way or another. And I would always recommend him to any school or institution, because I know that what he does CAN lead to a lasting positive change in people’s lives.

    As someone else already wrote: Of course Scary is not a therapist who accommpanies clients, say, in weekly sessions over months and years. But as he has told you himself he does have a curriculum, and many schools or institutions are working with him regularly, as far as I’m informed.

    To those people who come to one of the public assemblys, of course Scary’s work might have “just” catalytic effect: In the end, it is up to every person to look inside him- or herself and be willing to re-think personal views and/or behaviors – and maybe change them. That “look inside” may not be easy and might even be quite painful for the individual.

    So not everyone is willing to take up this challenge – but with every other anti-bullying-program there will be the exact same problem in my opinion. It’s just not possible to reach everyone, still it is worth a try. Those who are reached, those who do make changes for themselves, will in many cases pass this on to others in their surroundings just like I did. Which is great. Every single one of those little steps makes this world at least a bit of a better place. That’s what I firmly believe.

    From your words I take you’re open-minded when it comes to Scary and his work. That is good, and I am happy about it. He already gave you his e-mail address – please do contact him, use the chance to get to know him and his work. I am sure you will not regret it in any way.

    Have a great day,
    Silke

    • Thank you for your response. I did take him up on his offer and have contacted his team; hopefully I can see him next time he is in NYC. I can see he rallied his support with all the comments here.

      I think one of the main points of this dialogue is that all of us in the field of social/emotional learning want our children to grow up as caring, empathic adults. We may have different methods and disagree with each other at times. At the end of the day though, we are working towards the same thing! What works for one school district may not translate in another. And that’s ok.

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