How to STOP Bullying Before it Starts!


Did you know that being called a bully used to be a good thing?  It did! When the word “bully” was first used in the 1500’s, it meant “best friend” or “loved one.”  Go ahead; Google it! President Teddy Roosevelt even called the White House a “bully pulpit,” as he wanted the White House to be the greatest platform in the world to do the most good!  It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the word began to take on its current meaning.

Since then we’ve seen bullying transform into, arguably, the greatest challenge facing schools in the history of public education.  But, why?

Almost every school in the country has a bullying policy in place, but it seems that the problem is getting worse.  In fact, in 2013, the University of Texas Arlington found that students were more likely to be bullied at schools with an anti-bullying policy than schools with no policy at all.  But, why?

The honest truth is that most anti-bullying policies do not take one simple thing into consideration: basic social emotional learning.  Guidance counselors and mental health professionals agree that "bullying" is a catch-all word that encompasses the many facets of social conflict, including dominance behavior. And, from what I’m told, it’s getting out of control.  

As I wrote in my book, P.S. I Bully U, much research shows that the typical strategies are not working!  Ignore it. Walk away. Tell an adult. In fact, they are not working so badly that the problem is getting worse and kids are begging for answers!  Luckily, the answers are right in front of our faces!

With over a decade in the classroom, I’ve seen the strategies that work are those that take into account the social-emotional learning of students, their interactions with others, effective coping strategies and, above all, empowerment.  By teaching our students the values of resilience, the Golden Rule, and positive social skills, we’ll see “bullying” become a thing of the past because we will have raised up a generation of empowered and emotionally strong kids who are able to face adversity and solve their own social problems.