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Entries Tagged as 'What Can We Do About Bullying'

Student Charged in Transmitting Sexual Images


I was reading in the local paper about two high school students being arrested and charged in a sex photo case. As a Cyber Bullying speaker at middle schools and high schools I have explained to students that what you put up never goes away, and that it can hurt the person you are bullying and hurt you and your plans for life.


Young people need to be aware there are limits to what can be distributed and shared via social media avenues like Twitter and Facebook.” Sheriff Wickersham, Macomb County Sheriff  


In the new world of Cyber Bullying, and Sexting, I believe there are a group of students out there that think that they will never get caught or if they do get caught they believe they will get off with a warning. The truth is these two individuals are being charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct a 15 year felony.  One of the defendants is facing charges of sexual activity, a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison. Also if they are convicted they would likely be required to register as sex offenders and have their names and photographs entered on the state’s online database.


This is the real deal, a story that should be shared with your children and your students. If you put bad things up on Twitter or Facebook and are distributing explicit photos of someone that is clearly under age you may find yourself being arrested and charged like these two high school students. Cyber Bullying and Sexting is serious and in most cases against the law so don’t do it!

Copyright Richard Paul 2015

Setting Rules and Sticking to Them

Seven years ago I adopted a white German Shepherd mix from the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue. When we drove over to meet him he was an angel. I played with him, walked him and decided quickly without consulting my wife and kids to adopt the dog.

Needless to say when he came into our home he turned from this calm laid back dog into a monster. It got to the point where my wife said, “It’s either me or that crazy dog!”

I called some friends who knew a dog trainer and when I told him my wife gave me the ultimatum he said, “Do you like your wife?” Then he asked me a bunch of questions and said, “The problem is you have no rules and consequences. You need to figure out your rules, what this dog can or cannot do and enforce them. The dog needs to understand the consequences so he can begin to learn what is right and what is wrong.  Most importantly you need to be specific and stick to it!”  We did what he said and implemented positive training and overtime he has become great loving family friend.

Let’s be clear our children are not dogs, but there needs to be rules at school and at home that children/students can understand and know what will happen if they break those rules.

For example many children are involved in a sport. From day one they are taught what to do and what not to do. They’re given a set of rules or boundaries and if a player breaks a rule or steps out of the boundaries there are consequences. When my daughter plays softball if she gets three strikes she’s out.

At home and at school we need to discuss the rules and the consequences with our children and students. They need to know without a doubt that if you break a rule they will disciplined accordingly. There can be no second chance, or allowing even one child to slack off.  If this is done even once, they will take advantage of you or the situation.

I was at a restaurant a few weeks ago and I overheard a mother saying to her child, “If you do that one more time we are going home!” After eight more times the child was still aggressive and unruly and she was still threatening to take him home.

Like New Year’s resolutions if you don’t actually implement them then why even write them out or bother saying you are going to do something if you’re not going to follow through.

Here are some things to do:

Sit down with your children and create a discipline chart that they can understand.

Once a month or as needed go over the chart explaining behaviors you expect from your children,

Don’t write a bunch of rules or create them as you go along, instead write five or ten and stick to them.










Coach’s Need to Appreciate Every Player

I have listened to many talk shows and read articles on children who play sports and how we should only reward the players that try their hardest, give their all and display good sportsmanship.

Unfortunately there are many coaches that fail to see the quiet kids, the ones who are willing to go the extra mile if you ask, the ones who stay after and help load up the equipment and pick up the mess the other players left behind.

I remember when my son was playing soccer many years ago, the assistant coach’s boy and my son hardly ever played. Even though they both worked hard and went the extra mile at practice, the coach never gave them an opportunity to play.

As a parent you want to speak up and ask the coach; “why aren’t you picking my kid to play?” “He’s a good boy and tries really hard!” But that isn’t how it works. When it comes to sports the coach is the caption of the ship. She/he are the ones that have to make the tuff decisions for the team.

I have talked to many of my friends who have been coaches and they all said that the goals is to win, and we will do whatever it takes to win the game. They also added that we try to play everyone but unfortunately sometimes kids get left on the bench.

I understand that the goal is to win and that not every kid can be a winner. There are some kids that are gifted and others that are not. But I think we are forgetting that these kids are not professionals but rather kids that join the teams to learn the game and better their abilities. They can’t better themselves and help the team sitting on a bench.

I wish there were more coaches like my friend Mike who was willing to take the chance on the quiet kid. The one who would do his best and never complain. Here is Mike’s story of giving the quiet, reserved player a chance to better himself, build his confidence and to truly be part of the winning team.


The ‘Quiet and Reserved’ player:

I remember one of my soccer kids who was very quiet and not very confident.  He was always very timid during practices but would give his best, and never complained.  He was always respectful and did whatever I asked of him.

One day we were playing a big game, which we needed to win, and we were actually leading by a couple of goals.  We had a corner kick to make and I decided to take out one of our best players and substituted him with my quiet and reserved player.  Not only was my key player stunned, so was the rest of the team, especially when we had a chance to win and here I was sending in a non-aggressive player to make the play.  At first the quiet player was reluctant to go in he didn’t want our team to lose because of him.  I just encouraged him to go in and do his best and nothing more.  To our amazement the quite little boy scored many goals and thanks to him and his willingness to go the extra mile we ended up winning the game.  He was so proud, his confidence level rose to a higher level and his self-esteem improved.  As the season went on, he was more outspoken and aggressive and not afraid to play soccer to its fullest and enjoy it.

If we want to help the quiet kids from being bullied or isolated from other kids we have to not only give them a push but also appreciate what they do to help the team.

Coaches remember these kids will never forget you and your leadership. Especially if you are willing take the chance on the quiet kid, you may find like my friend Mike did, that it may or not pay off on the field, but in the long run depending on how you handle things you will inspire that child to raise their confidence and improve self-worth and self-esteem.

Thank you Mike Rother for contributing to this article.

Copyright Richard Paul 2014

Somebody Needs to be Willing to Quit!

A couple weeks ago I was waiting in line eaves dropping on someone’s conversation. One woman was talking to another about a disagreement her daughter was having with one of her friends. It was apparent that the two girls were involved in a pretty bad conflict over a boy in school.  The woman telling the story kept saying “her daughter’s friend was bullying her daughter.” But is sounded to me more like a bad conflict.

At most schools and conferences I have spoken at many teachers and parents really don’t understand the difference between conflict and bullying.

Here is the brief definition:

Conflict is basically two people in a disagreement and no one is trying to overpower anyone.

It is not serious, accidental and only happens occasionally. In most cases it is face to face or texting privately between the two individuals. 

 Bullying is when someone is over powering another, it is purposeful, it is a repeated action and can happen quickly. It is when someone crosses the line and spreads lies, rumor and gossip to other people online or directly in front of the person being targeted. In some cases there are physical violence and threats.

 Bullying is bad and it can bring darkness to all involved but a good conflict can actually strengthen a relationship.

 Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but Margaret Heffernan says good disagreement is central to progress. She argues the best partners aren’t echo chambers, and how great teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.”  (NPR/TED Staff- “Is Conflict Good For Progress”)

 Think about the disagreement you may have had with a friend. In time you were both able to work it out and find some kind of common ground.  I know I have had many disagreements with my friends, but in the long run we both learned why we value each other’s wisdom, and friendship. 

 Getting back to the two moms I overheard in line at the checkout one of them said these words that I thought could help you with your students or child, “somebody needs to be willing to quit!

 There is good conflict that can help strengthen a relationship and there is bad conflict, where each party hits below the belt so to speak. (but this is not bullying) They may regret what they said to each other and it could end a good friendship.  This kind of conflict may need mediation, someone outside of the two parties involved to help them realize that “somebody needs to be willing to quit”.


 Most schools and some churches offer mediation for student to use to help work out their differences.

Check with you school counselor or church office for recommendations.

 There is a difference between conflict and bullying and I welcome your comments and your stories.


Presidents Day Bully Prevention Blog

This past week I have been watching the Thomas Jefferson documentary on PBS.  When they talked about the Declaration of Independence and how Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the three men elected to be the committee to write the document, Ben Franklin didn’t want to write it because he didn’t like people editing his work.  John Adams said “too many people don’t like me.”  This left Jefferson to write the entire document.

In the Declaration of Independence it talks about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It made me think of schools that have aggressive students bullying other students, in essence taking away the way they want to live their life at school, the freedom to feel safe, and their fears that take away any chance of happiness while at school.

I think that like our nation’s forefathers administrators, teachers, parents and students need to come together to draw up their own Declaration of Independence from aggressive, bullying behavior. Including a set of strategies, policy reinforcement and procedures that remind all students that aggressive bully behavior is no longer tolerated.  Letting it be known that a team of students, parents and staff are committed to making sure every student will have Life, Liberty and Happiness.

“Efforts to create a safe and supportive school for all students will be optimized when the school functions as an aligned system where all members, programmatic components and policy and procedures are coordinated, guided by the same underlying principles, and working toward the same goals.”   Bully Free Schools: Circle of Support Resource Guide for Trainers

Have selected students read this document weekly on the announcements, at assemblies, in the lunch room and parent night events.

Like Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson you are the chosen one to speak up for those who are afraid to say STOP IT.  But instead of making excuses like Franklin and Adams, be committed to work as a team to draw up a school declaration that students, staff and parents will be proud of they will abide by.


Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Sticking to Your Discipline Strategy


Here is another great story that my friend Mike Rother shared.  I believe this is an example of what it means to set rules and stick to them, even if the entire school or team may be affected by your decision.

 “I think this was my second season in Omaha coaching a 14-16 year old kid’s soccer team.  We were at the start of the season and I was getting the kids into shape before we started working on some drills.  I remember one of the kids John B. as a good player but also a little outspoken, the one that was a little cocky and arrogant at times.  Anyway, after I had everyone running laps around the soccer field, this young man decided he did not have to wear his soccer shoes and was basically going to do a fast walk instead around the field in his bare feet. The rest of the kids followed his lead with a fast walk pace and sped around the track.  Seeing this, I immediately stopped the kids and had everyone take off their soccer shoes and socks and directed them to continue back running laps around the field, compliments of John B.  At first they all thought it was cool, but after several laps around the field you could hear his fellow teammates complaining to John for taking off his shoes. They complained that the bottoms of their feet were hurting and that they had to take on extra laps.  After poor John B. received enough slack, I stopped them and asked John if he wanted to put on his soccer shoes. He did so respectfully and gratefully, so did the others.  When they did, they thought I would start our soccer drills, but I had them line up again and continue to run laps.  No one said a word and they all continued running around the field as a team.  After a couple more laps, I stopped them and we started our normal practice and nothing more was said.  John B later became one of the best players I ever coached for ten more years. After I moved back to St. Louis, I would still get a Christmas card from John B.”

As you can see Mike, didn’t give in when he made the decision to have all the kids take off their shoes and socks and run the laps; even though they were all clearly upset with John B.

I have seen many parents, teachers and administrators give in when are crying or upset. When you stick to what you say and follow through, in the end they learn. As you can see from the outcome of John B. he likes and respects Mike as a mentor and a leader.

Copyright Richard Paul 2014

A Lesson in Leadership and Respect

I was speaking recently at an event near Atlanta, Georgia.  During the evening social I met a new friend Mike Rother, and he shared several stories that relate to my bully prevention, positive behavior topics and with his permission I want to share them with you.

 Over the next few months I plan to offer up a few of Mike’s stories. At the end I will be giving you some tips and suggestions from those stories you can implement with your student, scouts or team members.

This story took place one afternoon as I was getting my 12-14 year old boys soccer team ready for the fall soccer season.  I remember it was at the beginning of a practice session, while I was assigning kids to their appointed positions so we could play a scrimmage, when one of the kids, who I had assigned to play a defensive position, came up to me with had an attitude. He demanded that he be given the goalie’s position as he was deserving of it over the kid who had been assigned to play that position.  I responded nicely but firmly that he takes the position I give him.  He was a good defensive player as I remember and I wanted to see how he performed as a full-back.  He then threatened me that if I did not allow him to play goalie, that he would walk off and not play. He said something along the lines of “we can’t win without him.”  I told him I was not changing my assignments regarding positions and if he wanted to leave, to leave.  I believe, he dared me one last time while he started to walk away and I just waved at him with a friendly sign of goodbye.  I believe some of the kids who overheard the conversation were stunned by this as he was a strong player.  I watched him walk back to where the cars were parked and where some of the kids kept their bikes.  After that, I diverted my attention and energy to the rest of the kids in coaching them as we played our scrimmage.

 I can’t remember the exact time frame, but it was a good half hour or better when the kid with the attitude came back, walked onto the field and came up to me with a total different attitude and respectfully and humbly asked me if he should go out onto the field now to play the defensive fullback position I originally asked him to take.  Without a beat and if nothing ever happened between us, I said no and that I wanted him to play goalie and while pointing to the net, I gave him some pointers of what I wanted and expected for him to do as our 1st string goalie.  He said yes sir and immediately ran to the goalie net and the scrimmage went on.  Nothing was ever said about the incident again and this kid became the best goalie I ever had.

 In the classroom, during the den meetings, on the field and at home we are going to get tested by our students/cub scouts/team members/children. If we quickly give in to their demands in short run we quiet things down, but in the long run we lose respect. As one school principal put it “we lose our ability to lead.” What Mike did was demonstrate two things. One that he was the leader/coach the one who makes the decisions for the team. Secondly he refused to backdown and the young man as well as the other team members got the message. Being a leader is being someone who is open to suggestions, but in the end, makes the final decisions that are beneficial to the group as a whole.  


Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Important Topics for Parent/Family Nights

Recently I read an article about a school that was putting on a family night to help educate the students and parents about mental issues.  It was a free event for youth and families to shed some light on the dark stigma associated with mental health concerns. This is a great topic. It is a message that is needed to help promote understanding and respect. I believe the more we understand and respect one another the less likely are to gossip, isolate and spread rumors.

What really caught my eye was how they had a strategy in place to convey the message and inspire students and parents to want to attend the event.

First of all they were serving pizza. That way attendees would not have stop home to eat before attending the event.

Secondly they asked the teachers to offer attendance at the session as extra credit. If the students brought family members and they all stayed for the entire presentation they would receive the credit.

Thirdly they also put together a raffle with prizes donated from local business. At the end of the presentation they drew the tickets and the people that remained present during the raffle had the opportunity to win a prize.

The topic they were presenting was enlightening and so was their strategy to promote it, bring people in and keep them there. If you’ re planning a parent night or family event you may want to implement some of these ideas.

If you have other suggestions that have worked for your school parent nights please share and I will make them available to our readers.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013


NFL Speaks Out Against Bullying

I was at a business meeting the other day and one of my clients asked me what my thoughts were about the recent reports involving Miami Dolphin’s football player Richie Incgnito. He has been accused of obscenely harassing, bullying, and threatening a teammate and fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Jonathan Martin in the locker room, via text and voicemail, and elsewhere.

I agree with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis who said: “there is a difference between hazing and hate.”  There is also a difference between positive team motivation and negative team aggression. One of my older friends is a former college football player and at lunch the other day he shared, ”In my time our definition of hazing was the rookies carrying in the equipment or dressing up funny in public.” Today I think some players and coaches have crossed the line when it comes to good team fun.”

At many of the middle schools and high schools I have spoken to about bullying and cyber bullying, social workers and counselors have shared that there seems to be a double standard regarding what is and not tolerated in the school and in the locker room (field or on the court). For some reason, society seems to think its normal behavior for coaches and team members to trash one another.         . As one counselor put it, “the problem is the teasing, threats and harassment don’t seem to stay in the locker room and on the field.     It finds its way in the hallways, into the classroom, on the bus and on Facebook.” This why is many social workers and counselers are beginning to speak out agains negative, disrespectful locker room behavior.

As a bully prevention specialist I see firsthand how hard many schools and parents are working. They are trying to teach their students positive behavior skills only to be struck down by sports figures and celebrities that have gotten away with their disrespectful behavior.

I am so grateful to Jonathan Martin for courageously coming forward and his willingness to take a personal leave of absence from a football team that was working toward the playoffs. Because of Martin’s willingness to speak up, he reinforced what we as bully free advocates have been driving home to every student to “SPEAK UP AGAINST BULLLYING!” 

I am also appreciative to the NFL and Miami Dolphins for suspending Richie Incognito indefinitely from the team for alleged detrimental conduct pending continued investigation of the inherent issues. This helps reinforce our message to the student that if they speak up against harassment and bullying behavior that we’ve got your back.

Other football greats like Hall of Fame San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young has said, “Great locker rooms self-police.”  This message also reinforces our bully prevention message, “If you see someone being harassed verbally, physically or online you need to say something. Report it and speak up against it.”  Many of the schools that I ‘ve followed up after presenting the bully prevention assembly for their students have reported that when the students follow our instructions to speak up in the hall, classroom, on the bus and online they’re helping  the teacher and staff  put an end to what could end up being an ongoing bullying problem.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Pretending It Doesn’t Bother You

Growing up I remember my mother telling me over and over again to pretend it doesn’t bother you. YAH RIGHT! I don’t know how many times I tried that strategy only to have the aggressor in my face screaming and calling me names. Now he wasn’t only making fun of me he was broadcasting it to everyone waiting to go into school. It was so embarrassing I would run into school just trying to get away from everyone.

Dr. Kaufman, Dr. Raphael and Pamela Espeland in their book “Stick Up For Yourself!” writes, “Don’t ignore the bullying. Bullies want a reaction from the people they are picking on. If you ignore them, they’ll try harder.”

Here are three tools available to a child that may be targeted by a bully:

1) Teach them how to use eye contact. Practice in the classroom and or at home. When they are asking you a question remind them to give you eye contact. The more they practice this the easier it will be for them to look an aggressor or a child bullying them in the eyes and tell them to stop it.


2) Demonstrate how they can refrain from giving the aggressor the response they are looking for. Brain storm ideas on how they can avoid crying, getting even and losing their temper. For example when I was in 4th grade a kid used to steal my hat and throw it in the mud. I used to get so mad and cry. So my friends and I brainstormed an idea to put an end to the bullying. I went to the second hand store and bought of 15 hats. Then next day I put them in my coat pockets. At school when the kid ran up to steal the hat, I would not get mad or upset I just pulled another hat out of my pocket and put it on my head. After about ten hats he stopped, never bothering me again.


3) Start laughing as loud as you can as you walk toward a large crowded place, near a teacher or parent or friends. Just laugh and laugh. I used to do this when a big kid was calling me names, it really freaked him out. Laughing wasn’t the reaction he wanted and he quickly stopped teasing me.Remember instead of telling our kids to just ignore the aggressor teach them how to stay calm and work through it. If you have other suggestions that has worked for you or your children please email me your suggestion at, comment on this blog or on our Facebook page


Also remember from January 20 – 24, 2014 students across the country will participate in the 10th Anniversary of No Name-Calling Week. If you would like additional information on how you can participate email us at

Copyright Richard Paul 2013