Friday, February 25, 2011


Bullying has become a hot topic lately.  That's because bullying has become a serious problem, and sadly, it has taken school shootings and teen suicides (now called bully-cide) to get parents (me included), school officials, counselors, and other experts to realize we can't just sit back and do nothing.  In years past, there were "schoolyard" bullies, but a teenager could escape these bullies, and once they were at home, they felt safe and were out of the line-of-fire.  But now,  there is cyberbullying, and there is no place to hide.  There are text messages, instant messages, MySpace, Facebook, blogs, and other websites. If you go to YouTube, there are hundreds of videos about teenagers who have committed suicide because of bullying.

So, what can we do?  We need to start now  and teach/remind our teenagers about respect and exactly what respect is.  You certainly expect them to respect you and other adults.   They also need to learn to develop tolerance for others who are different from themselves.  In any given school, there are many differences among students, including race, religion, academic ability, and sexual orientation, so there has  to be respect and tolerance.  It is never too late to start teaching  your teen to show respect for others.

National Crime Prevention Council’s (NCPC) will be unveiling a campaign, Circle of Respect, to protect teens from bullying and cyberbullying. "Launching in October, the campaign seeks to change the commonly held belief that bullying is a rite of passage, and teaches instead that such behavior is unacceptable through a positive, pro-social message that encourages respect and consideration for others."

I recently had the opportunity to conduct an online interview with Robin Young*, children and youth expert, who manages the Circle of Respect program:

  1. Watching the news, with the recent suicides because of bullying, it sounds like some schools are ignoring the problem.  How much responsibility falls to the schools to help prevent bullying?
Bullying can be a tricky issue for schools because sometimes the bullying activities occur off the school grounds, but because it can spill over into school hours, the school personnel have to be prepared to respond.  However, there’s a partnership that must be maintained between the parents and the schools to address this problem for our children.  For instance, many parents have become involved with their local schools through the NCPC “Be Safe and Sound in School” program where we help schools and parents work together to create codes of conduct about bullying or create safety plans to prevent school violence.
Schools have also been proactive in implementing bullying prevention activities and programs specifically designed to improve the school climate.  If your school is not among those being proactive on this issue, parents should contact their local schools and discuss plans to create a specific anti-bullying policy.

2.   How involved should the schools be in terms of issuing punishment for bullying, and what type of punishment should the bully receive?

This is a tough area for many school administrators and staff.  The schools have to establish a climate where students feel safe to learn and thrive.  It is important that the school inform students and parents that bullying will not be tolerated on school grounds and outline the potential consequences through their code of conduct document for any students caught bullying.  Disciplinary actions can range from zero tolerance, such as suspension or expulsion, to in-school detention or attending counseling or conflict resolution programs.  When the school notifies the parents about a bullying situation, it is important for the parents to take it seriously and work with the school to resolve the situation. 

3.   When a student commits suicide because of bullying, should the one who did the bullying be charged with a crime?

It is tragic when a young person takes their own life because they were bullied.  Each bullying situation is different and must be evaluated as such.  Not every bullying situation escalates to the point where law enforcement must intervene.  However, in some cases young people have been charged with a crime, such as physical assault or where the laws exist, might be charged with some form of cyber-harassment or cyberbullying.  Many states are now looking at or in the process of passing legislation about bullying and cyberbullying.  Parents need to check what type of legislation exists in their state.

4.   Should the parent be held accountable if their child is bullying?

It depends.  If the parent is encouraging their child to bully another child ,then they should be held accountable.  However, parents may often be unaware of their child’s unruly behavior.  So parents can watch for several signs to determine if their child may bully others:
  • Values aggression
  • FIghts often with other siblings
  • Is an arrogant winner and sore loser
  • Likes to be in charge
  • Lacks both empathy and sympathy for others 
5.   What is the best way for parents to teach their children to respect others who are different?

A child who is exposed to others with different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities becomes more appreciative and respectful of others who are different.  Respect is at the heart of several pervasive crimes with our young people, especially bullying.  A person with respect for a classmate is less likely to bully that person or engage in cyberbullying or sexting. A partner in a teen dating relationship is less likely to commit relationship violence. A youth with respect for his or her community is less likely to vandalize that community or resort to petty crime.  NCPC’s newest initiative called the Circle of Respect works with young people and their parents to foster a culture of respect they can embrace at home, in school, and within their community.

6.   What signs should parents look for to determine if their child is being bullied?

In our research, NCPC found that of the 43% of children who reported being cyberbullied, only one in ten of them told their parents.  Bullying is a problem where many kids suffer in silence.  Therefore, it is imperative for parents to recognize some tell-tale signs of bullying:

  • Sudden withdrawal from friends or activities they once enjoyed
  • Isolation or loss of friends
  • A drop in grades
  • A loss of interest in activities
  • Torn clothing or bruises
  • Not wanting to go to school or coming up with excuses to miss school
7.   Which do you feel is more damaging, cyberbullying or bullying in person?

Some may argue cyberbullying is more devastating because technology allows them to be re-victimized every time someone forwards the cyberbullying messages.  Cyberbullying and bullying can both have long-lasting effects on a child.  At NCPC, we aim to prevent both forms of bullying because they can be equally devastating.  It is important for parents to realize that bullying is not a rite of passage for any child.

Putting a stop to bullying is everyone's responsibility, and you can teach your teen ways to help stop bullying. (Tips from the Circle of Respect website.)

Stop the Bullying

  • Refuse to participate in taunting and teasing
  • Treat others the way you would like to be treated
  • Tell adults if you witness cruelty or hear about violence that might occur
  • Walk away from fights
  • Speak out against the bully
  • Stand tall and walk with confidence and in a way that commands respect
  • Hang out with friends who don't get involved in bullying
  • Stand up for others who are being intimidated
  • Include the person who is being bullied in your activities
  • Show compassion for the victim
Do you want to become more active in The Circle of Respect?  Here are some other ways you can do so:

Circle of Respect Book Club: Take part in the online Book Club to generate a guided national discussion about this issue. The Book Club will feature one book each month on the Circle of Respect’s website by a noted author in the field of bullying and cyberbullying. Each author will also lead an in-depth discussion via a downloadable podcast.
Sign up for Email Alerts: Sign up for email alerts to get updates on the campaign, find out how you can be involved, get sneak previews of what's happening next, and even enter contests.

Make Your Pledge: What actions will you pledge to take in order to spread awareness and widen the Circle of Respect? Let us know.

View Pledges: Sign up for your own free account on the Circle of Respect to see what others are doing to help.

Awareness Video Viral: NCPC and Saatchi & Saatchi unveiled an animated short starring everyone’s favorite crime dog, McGruff®,  to teach a whole new generation of children how to “Take A Bite Out of Crime.” View and share the video here: 

Simply spread the word: It’s as easy as it sounds. Share the campaign online via your social networks and also talk openly with your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and/or peers.

Join us on Facebook: Become a fan today and share your ideas and stories with the community. Visit:

For more information, visit:


*Robin Young has appeared on several television and radio stations as an expert on bullying prevention and has been quoted in media sources such as Yahoo! News and The San Diego Tribune advising parents on how to protect their children from cyberbullying.  


ch said...

A very serious topic.
I watched the video and my heart broke for those kids and their families.
What a great program. I hope it makes a difference.

I am currently subbing in a middle school and one thing I have discovered is that when you acknowledge good behavior and make those students the star of the class, i.e. the quiet one who is always on task and you ignore the "bad" behavior, the ones seeking attention through negative behavior, those students quickly change their ways and start behaving. As soon as they are behaving positively, I give them recognition and put them on my "excellent" list on the chalkboard. This also helps the quiet student, the one who is more likely to be bullied, feel really good about him/herself. It makes for a really positive environment!:)

I think we have to look at why these kids bully and hurt others. It is usually because they feel so bad about themselves and they feel it is the only way they will receive attention.

When you feel good about yourself you have no desire to hurt others. We need to make these kids feel good about themselves, as well as the ones being bullied.

Just another thing to think about.
Thank you for bringing awareness to this important topic.

Happy weekend sharefest!

Dana @ The Coupon Challenge said...

So sad to watch the video of those children when it could have been prevented

Visiting from the Blog Hop Network. I'm following you on GFC. Have a great weekend!

Glynis said...

I have joined the Circle of respect. My daughter was a victim of bullying when she was younger. I have taught her to not believe the words of others just believe in yourself.
New follower.

SoMo Mom said...

I seriously hope you will keep blogging for the next 10 years so I can come to this site when I have teens. Mine are 6 and 8 and I know I will be doing my research during those years! What a wealth of information you have here!

Monica said...

This has to stop!! Bullying should never be tolerated!!
I'm your newest GFC follower! Hope you have a chance to check out my blog, have a look around and hopefully follow me back!!

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