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Nobody Did Anything!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at a bully prevention conference for elementary and middle school students.  After my program a young man walked up to me and explained how he had been bullied and was able to put an end to it. I asked if he reported the bullying and he said, “I reported it several times to the teacher and the principal and nobody did anything. The kid kept on hitting me, pushing me down and taking my backpack every day.” I asked the young man how he put an end to the bullying and he said, “I punched him and he never teased and pushed me again.”

Using violence to put an end to a bullying situation is not only wrong but will not put an end to the bullying in the school.  Many counselors and social workers agree that if a student listen’s to their parents and “hit’s them back,” two things can happen.

1)      The aggressor moves on to another child

2)      The once target of the bully starts to be aggressive toward weaker students.

We have been told by many that violence only breeds more violence.

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

Martin Luther King Jr., December 11, 1964

If we want our students to refrain from solving their bullying situation with violent behavior, then we all must make a commitment to step up to the plate to help and protect them.

My Twitter, Facebook and Linked In groups are loaded with people who are sharing outstanding information on how to help children peacefully stand up to the bully. There is also information on what they should do to report it.  But as Nancy Buyle one of my bully prevention mentors and a trainer for Bully-Free Schools once said to me, “you can’t ask these kids to speak up if there is nothing in place to protect them.”

Dr. William Damon (1995)  Director of Brown University Center for Study of Human Development, points out that we serve young people best when we use small negative consequences so student’s attention is fixed on their actions and what is wrong with those actions rather than primarily on the consequences themselves. Most of all, expectation should be consistent so that young people cannot expect to get away with aggressive behavior. (Taken from Schools where Everyone Belongs, Stan Davis)

Here are something’s your school can do to help children reporting bullying behavior:

Every day during the morning announcements students should be reminded why certain actions are wrong and what is expected of them.

There should never be just a warning, the child that is aggressive to another, must know the consequences and most importantly understand why his actions were wrong.

I know principals are busy and teachers over extended but for the safety of a child who is a target of bullying behavior you must commit to following and enforcing the rules when deemed necessary.

Parents you too need to take an active role but please leave the personal baggage at home and focus on the safety of your child.

Parents also need to step up to the plate if they see something wrong, they too need to get involved and follow through.

Parents you need to get on or create your own school Duck Sense Bully Prevention advisory council to monitor all weekly and monthly reports from students and check how they were handled.

Together as parents, teachers, social workers, counselors and bully prevention specialists we must be willing to get involved to help and protect these kids and stop them from thinking that “nobody did anything.


Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Safe Place

Yesterday I was cleaning out my mom’s old desk in the basement of her home.  She died two years ago this May and dad who is now ninety-five is ready to move into an assisted living apartment.

When I opened the desk door inside was a pile of things mom collected.  Old pictures of family, our first dog Ringo, my brother’s band and a picture of my mom and dad hugging and laughing.  She also had a bunch of old Christmas and greeting cards from twenty years back and her Aunt Gertie’s old work photo from 1947.  At first I thought to myself, “Mom why did you keep all this stuff?”  Then I realized that this was her space, her safe place to go to get away from all five kids pulling her in five directions, a safe place to run to when my dad was complaining about all of his aches and pains, a safe place to relax and be herself.

We all need our space, a safe place where we can run away from people who are not treating us with respect.  When I first started speaking on bully prevention, a sixth grader once told me that she was being bullied on the bus every day.  When I asked her what she is doing to put an end to the bullying she replied, “Every day I run up to my room, my safe place where he can’t call me names and then I pray for him.”


Just like at home our schools also need to be a safe place for students. As one middle school teacher told me, most of his students come from broken homes or have a parent or parents who are bullies or dealing with their own demons. The students need to know that at school they’re safe and there are people willing to listen and support them.


“We know from lots of research that if students are afraid, they’re not coming to school and they’re not engaged when they’re there. We’re continuing to lose minutes of instruction and it’s going to negatively impact academic engagement.” Jeff Sprague, Ph.D.,Professor of Special Education University of Oregon, Co-Director of the University, of Oregon Institute on Violence and Destructive Behaviour


Some of the things we can do to promote a safe school and a safe place for our students:

A staff that is respectful to students

Students who learn and understand what it means to be respectful to staff

Well defined school discipline policy

Promotion of parental involvement

A teacher to student mentoring program

A student to student mentoring program

Law enforcement involvement when necessary

Mental Health Professional involvement

Monthly social activities that promote student interaction and personal pride


Ed Virant Coordinator for Drug Free Schools, Omaha Public Schools says: “A safe school climate is one that builds on the strengths and assets of each student.”

Barbara Clayton, Peer Intervention Program, Chicago says: “A save school is where we teach and modelling pro-social behaviour”


In October most of the schools in America celebrate Safe Schools Week where they have programs on bullying and school violence prevention.  I believe in addition to this information they should add a reminder to the students that their school is their second home, with a family of students and staff willing to listen and support them.  Remind them that their school is a place where they can relax and be themselves.


Copyright Richard Paul 2013



We Just Receive this good news from the No Name Calling People

We are happy to announce that we have completed the judging process for the 2013 Creative Expression Contest for No Name-Calling Week. The competition was tough this year with submissions from all over the country. After much debate, we are excited to announce that Larchmont Charter Elementary School is the winner!
The judges loved the way Larchmont creatively connected social justice leaders throughout history to the No Name-Calling Week mission. Civil rights heroes featured in the mural faced bullying and were consistently called names, but they responded with nonviolence, setting an example for every student. Larchmont’s “mosaic mural aims to represent visually that each and every student plays a part in achieving a school culture of nonviolence and peace where there is no place for bullying or name calling.” Larchmont has made a clear commitment to ending name-calling and bullying. We will reward this effort with a No Name-Calling Week prize pack.