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  Dealing With Bullies


The Love & Safety Club
Dealing With Bullies
Keeping Bad Secrets
Dealing With Bullies For Parents
Cyberbullying: The New Online Crime
Keeping Kids Safe
Comments From Cyberspace
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Songs By Duncan

Buckle Up
Kiss The Hurt Away
Whoa Nellie
The Bullies On The School Ground
I'm In A Pickle
Ladder To The Sky
The Cow Paddy Blues
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About The Love & Safety Club

The Love & Safety Club for children has been a project of Duncan's since 1998. It began with a collection of safety education songs but soon became an in-class safety education tool for teachers in Canada and the United States. Turn your speakers on and then visit the Keeping Bad Secrets page to hear a beautifully recited poem about bad secrets. Or you can check out the The Love & Safety Club section to find out more about the program.

If you would like more information about Duncan Wells, or if you would like to use any of the material at this website please feel free to contact him.

External Links

Taking The Bully By The Horns

Bullying At Wikipedia

Preventing Bullying & Harassment
A Learning Resource for Teachers and Students

Acknowledgement: Stan Davis
Check Out Stan's Stop Bullying Now Website!

An important tool for teaching children personal security is reinforcing their trust in the adults who care for them, e.g., parents, police and teachers. To further lessen the chances of children becoming victims, the following objectives should be stressed:

"The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain't so."   -  Mark Twain

Bullying is something that many young people encounter in one form or another. Children struggle with being called names, being picked on, being excluded, not knowing how to make friends, or being the ones acting unkindly or aggressively toward others. All forms of bullying are abusive and all can be opportunities to teach children how to get along, how to be considerate of other people, and how to be part of a group.

Bullying can take many forms: physical, emotional, verbal or a combination of these. It may involve one child bullying another, a group of children against a single child or groups against other groups (gangs). It is very much like other forms of victimization and abuse in that it involves:

  • An imbalance of power
  • Blaming the victim for what has happened
  • A lack of compassion

Bullies are very often children who have been bullied or abused themselves. Sometimes they are children experiencing life situations they can't cope with, that leave them feeling helpless and out of control. They may be children with poor social skills who do not fit in, or can't meet the expectations of their family or school. They bully to feel competent, successful, to control someone else, or to get relief from their own feelings of powerlessness.


Not all children are equally likely to be victimized by bullying behavior. Those children who are more prone to be picked upon tend to have the following characteristics:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Insecure
  • Lack of social skills
  • Cry or become emotionally distraught easily
  • Unable to defend or stand up for themselves

Children who are not bullied tend to have better social and conflict management skills. They are more willing to assert themselves without being aggressive or confronting. They suggest compromises and alternative solutions. They tend to be more aware of people's feelings and are the children who can be most helpful in resolving disputes and assisting other children to get help.

  • Intervene quickly and decidedly in bullying situations
  • Consistently apply consequences
  • Provide praise for the diffusion of bullying
  • Provide adequate supervision at recess, lunch and passing periods.
  • Initiate serious talks with victims and parents as well as bullies and parents
  • Promote classroom discussions of bullying behavior


Make the message absolutely clear that bullying behavior is non-acceptable

When time allows, attempt to discover underlying problems that the aggressor may be experiencing and provide appropriate support and/or referrals

Provide the bully with a quiet place to calm down


  • Teach all students the six steps of dealing with a bully:
  • Ignore them, when possible
  • Tell them you don't like it
  • Move away from them
  • Ask them to stop
  • Tell them firmly to stop
  • Ask for adult assistance


  • Don't tell a child to fight back
  • Don't yell at or insult the bully
  • Don't blame the victim
  • Do ask other students to report bullying behavior. Give the clear message that bullying is not acceptable at school, and discuss the distinction between "reporting" and "tattling".
  • Don't bring the parents of the bully and the victim together; it seldom helps.
  • Don't forget that bullies need adult intervention as much as victims do. You can help bullies learn acceptable ways to deal with their behavior.


Things To Remember
When Dealing With Bullies


Although resources will always be limited, we as teachers and students have a responsibility to know which interventions are likely to work and which are unlikely to work. For example, much research has been done in areas of other types of abuse that parallel bullying and we can learn from this research simply by following the relevant parallels and the interventions that have been tried with them:

  • sexual abuse
  • spousal abuse
  • sexual harassment



Exactly what are we doing about the bully problem? As teachers, parents and students are we doing enough? Do we not care because it hasn't yet effected us? Will we simply remain a part of the silent majority and look the other way? The questions surrounding abuse of any kind are never easy to answer. We might shrug our shoulders, we might react with angry comments or gasps but, for the most part, we just wonder why some people do what they do and then go off on our merry ways. It has only been in the last 60 years that civilized societies have begun to take abuse crimes seriously so we are still more or less experimenting with both the questions and the answers. So, the question remains: "What exactly are we doing about the bully problem?" And better still: "What exactly are YOU doing about it?"

Society has reacted to sexual abuse, spousal abuse, sexual harassment, hate crimes and bullying:

  • With denial
  • By telling the victim to solve the problem
  • With broad-brush educational efforts
  • With interventions based on consequences followed by counseling for perpetrators, support for victims, and education of the silent majority



  • There is one incident of bullying every seven minutes
  • Adults intervene in 4% of bullying incidents
  • Peers intervene in 11% of bullying incidents
  • No one intervenes in 85% of bullying incidents
  • Question: What conclusions do students draw from this?



Although it is never the victim's fault we must still do what we can to educate them in order that they might be free of the type of harassment normally caused by bullies. There is, however, one major problem with educating victims in that by attempting to "train" them to do all of the right things when in the company of bullies we are actually encouraging them to blame themselves and causing them to think that it is they who are in need of this specialized education. Like the disadvantages, the advantages are obvious, but either way, right or wrong, here is how we educate the victims:

  • We offer assertiveness training
  • We teach them how to blend in
  • We tell them to: "Just ignore it"
  • We remind them that: "Sticks and Stones may break my bones..."
  • Advantages: Builds a sense of safety
    Disadvantages: Encourages victims to blame themselves

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt



Everyone must be involved in helping solve the bully problem that exists at school and in the community. Teachers, parents, students, clergy, youth group leaders and other community members who might be locally known for their involvement in sports or the arts must do whatever they can to speak out, to intervene and to help guide children toward a life-path of non-violence. Bringing a local children's entertainer or sports celebrity into the classroom to speak on the topic and to engage the children in discussions concerning the disadvantages of hitting, pushing and name calling is one idea. Here are a few key topics of discussion for educators and community members that may help bring concerned people together in order to help solve the bully problem:

  • Consensus - development
  • Consistent enforcement of rules
  • Ongoing education for all
  • Ongoing monitoring of schools, neighborhoods and problem individuals
  • Community sponsored events to promote awareness
  • Intervention with bullies
  • Support for victims



There must be consequences involved for those who take part in acts of bullying. Detention and denying bullies certain privileges is a start but if these penalties are of no value then it is our responsibility to find out what type of repayment is going to cause the bully to react in a positive manner. Providing an environment of people, school mates and friends who look down upon such acts can also help as a deterrent because it puts bullies in the uncomfortable situation of embarrassing and humiliating themselves, but even with this there must come further consequences and these consequences must be:

  • Predictable
  • Immediate
  • Inevitable
  • Escalating
  • Specifically chosen for that particular person
  • Uniform - same expectations of all
  • Confrontational - being prepared to deal with their denial

Consistent use of consequences will reduce bullying and are a necessary component of effective prevention. Inconsistent enforcement makes the problem worse.



Those of us who do not bully others but have continued to remain silent when it comes to intervening in such issues are of the majority. It is because of our numbers that we have the opportunity to offer a positive contribution when it comes to the bully problem. Enforcement of rules and consequences are helpful but continuous thought and actions must be in place to ensure a safe environment at school and in our neighborhoods. Here are a few things teachers and students can do to help stop bullying and to educate the silent majority:

  • Enforce rules and consequences
  • Start a Love & Safety Club Program in your school
  • Teach the silent majority to speak up, to tell and to reach out
  • Build peer pressure
  • Stop Copycat bullying
  • Discover the creative side to bullies and help get them involved
  • Specially appointed Secret Agent school ground bully monitors



Food For Thought: One thing we as teachers and students must remember is that bullies often come from homes where there is little warmth and parental attention, and where parents discipline inconsistently using physical punishment and emotional outbursts.



Formal: Structured education and counseling that stresses acknowledging actions, empathy development and restitution. May be effective if paired with consequences.

Informal: Serious talks, requests to apologize, asking why, pleading, and expressions of frustration. These are unlikely to help and may even make the situation worse.



Everything we do impacts upon our lives and in many instances these actions impact upon the lives of others. Bullies don't see this. Their actions are for the moment, for attention and for self-gratification. They see no one as the victim and those who must suffer at the hands of the bully are looked upon as nothing more than easy pickings and a way to be noticed by others. Bullies must be made to understand how their actions effect others and how others look at them because of their actions. Here is a list of seven things bullies must do:

  • Acknowledge their own actions
  • Acknowledge results of behavior on self
  • Develop shame
  • Change actions to stay out of trouble
  • Find other ways to get needs met
  • Acknowledge results of behaviour on others
  • Develop guilt



Victims and potential victims need to discuss the issues that surround bullying. As in most abuse situations, education is the key. Discussing the problem, asking questions and developing answers that relate to the problem is important. Special in-class activities such as skits, list making and/or drawing and coloring exercises can help. All of this along with support from your local community can go a long way into discovering ways of lessening the bullying problems on your school ground and in your neighborhood. Here are a few things to remember when dealing with victims and potential victims:

  • Education, not therapy
  • Develop an answer to the question: "Why?"
  • Develop an answer to the question: "Why me?"
  • Expressive education - act, write, draw, color, etc...
  • Supportive, safe community surroundings
  • Protection from future harassment
  • Support from others with similar histories



Most reactions to bullying incidents are spontaneous, emotional and are looked upon by the bully as just another idle threat. A moment for thought along with the proper environment is necessary to clear the air and to ask all of the right questions. Here are six questions you can ask the perpetrator once you have them in a comfortable environment:

  • What did you do?
  • Why was that a bad thing to do?
  • Who did you hurt?
  • What were you trying to accomplish?
  • Next time you have that goal, how will you meet it without hurting anybody?
  • How will you help the person that you hurt?



The words "I'm sorry" are probably the most over-spoken words in the world and such a convenient apology when no others are available or suggested. However, once this simply apology has taken place a bully will forget about it and continue harassing his or her victim. Bullies must be forced to confront their actions head on and to apologize not simply with words but with actions. Here are a few alternatives to saying "I'm sorry".

  • Have them describe what they did to the other person.
  • Have them tell the other person what effect they think their actions had on them.
  • Have them make a real commitment not to do it again.
  • Have them do something for or with the other person that they both enjoy.


Copyright 2005 Duncan Wells    Words & Music | Playscripts | Dunkle Unkin's For kids | Contact

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