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If you were to begin a conversation about bullying, especially with a child, it may be best to lay a foundation upon which to build. To create an understanding that goes deeper than just reacting to a crisis or trying to avoid one. Breaking the cycle should be more than just a Band-Aid slapped over the problem. Antibiotics are required. The disease needs to be treated, not the symptoms. Teach them how to take control and responsibility for being part of the solution, instead of just another

person talking about the problem. Give them a map, and then provide them with guidance and training. Give them the tools they need to not only recognize an opportunity to make a positive impact, but also the skills required to support that desire.

#1 “You have a choice”

You get to choose how you react. You get to choose whom to confide in. You get to choose whether to prepare yourself for the next time. You are in control right up to the point where you choose give that control over to the bully.

#2 “You have a voice.”

Your voice matters. People are listening to you. What you say has an impact, good or bad. Speak up. Advocate for peace and respect. Talk about it in a way that is relatable to your peers without being preachy. Seek out like-minded individuals and put your voices together.

#3 “Be mindful of how you move through the world.”

Awareness isn’t enough. Watching out for you isn’t enough. Reach out. Smile. Care about everyone, even if you don’t like or agree with them. Demonstrate the strength, which lies in compassion. Commit to kindness as a daily practice.

#4 “Put a name to the fear.”

There is power in language. When you name something, it becomes known. Once we know it, we can figure out how to deal with it. Know the difference between a social bully and a verbal bully. Share the language with your peers, your teachers, your family. Get clear on what it is you’re up against not only for yourself, but also for everyone else involved.

#5 “Get a trustworthy training partner.”

You need help. You need someone who will hone your skill. Someone who will call you that hurtful name while you train your reaction. A reaction that would convince an antagonist that hurtful names don’t bother you, even if you’re aching on the inside. Someone to grab you, push you, and help you learn how to develop the confidence to handle yourself. Most importantly, find someone who is willing to listen without judging. Someone whose sole concern is helping you help yourself

#6 “Practice dealing with situations that scare or worry you.”

Drag what’s happening out into the open. Look it in the eye. It’s not fair, but you may not get intervention. You may need to actively seek out answers and support. The resources you need are out there. Look for them, and then get to work practicing. Sometimes we have to face the bully. If you have a training partner and a plan, if that day comes it won’t be the first time. It will be the thousandth time, and for you, your reaction won’t be random and ineffective. It will be just like you practiced.

#7 “You don’t have to fix a bullying situation. Just influence it.
When you are not the target, you should be more than just relieved it isn’t you. You can rescue victims. You can even rescue misguided bullies. Just influence the situation. Mention in passing that a teacher is coming. Interrupt and ask a question as if you were unaware what was happening. Refuse to pass on the rude text. Walk away from an abusive or demeaning conversation. If the situation is unsafe, get help. Report what you saw. Be aware. Adults rarely get there in time. You are on the front line.

#8 “Find out who the knowledgeable mediators are.

Some adults don’t know how to handle bullying situations. They haven’t been trained, or they have personal experiences that cloud their judgment. Find out who gets it. That’s whom you speak to. That’s whom you present with a concern for yourself or a peer. Get to know the authorities on the subject before you need their help.

#9 “Get Strong.”

The best defense against an outside force is internal strength. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with respect. Get to know your best qualities. Build belief in your own value. Make

it impossible for a hurtful attack to take hold. Of course if you take a hit it will hurt. It will leave a bruise. Get strong in your mind, your heart, and your body, and it will give the hurt perspective. You can beat it.

#10 “The Answer is YOU.”

The Challenge with bullying is there is no real answer. There is no magic cure. You could do everything right and still end up in a terrible situation. There is only one answer that will begin to dissolve the problem slowly over time. That answer is you. There can be a lot of finger pointing. Teachers blame parents. Parents blame teachers. Students blame each other. You can choose to do your part. You can choose to lead by example. That’s how we get this thing to tip. We each do our part. We act. Every day, in little ways, until our commitment and conviction takes hold and the old habits and behaviors snap under the pressure. It starts with you. And I believe in you! 

 




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