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The students were awesome!

The students were awesome!

Your Children Are Looking Up to You for Guidance

Parents your children are looking up to you for guidance. They want to know right from wrong and they want to know you care about what they have to say.

Here are some of the things that your children can learn from you:

Respect: Be respectful of other people and they will respect others too.

Hope: Display a positive outlook on life and they will discover how to lighten up a dark situation.

Bravery: Show them you are not afraid to step out of your box and they will be willing to take calculated risks.

Self-control: When someone says something to annoy you, walk away and your child will see that fighting doesn’t solve conflicts.

Self-motivation: Be an example of someone that doesn’t just talk about it, you do it and your kids will too.

Anger management: Be willing to step away, take a breath and peacefully release your frustrations and your child will learn how to do the same.

Most importantly be a good listener.  A few months ago my oldest was having a life challenge and he was spilling his guts to me. While he was talking I cut him off in main sentence. He quickly stopped me by saying, “Dad can you please not talk and just listen?”

“The most important function of education at any level is to develop the personality of the individual and the significance of his life to himself and others.” Grayson Kirk

Our kids don’t want us to preach to them or tell them what to do, what they want is for us to give them space, and allow them to take what we have given them over the years and implement it.

“We learn simply by the exposure of living. Much that passes for education is not education at all but ritual.  The fact is that we are being educated when we know it least.” David P. Gardner

Your child is looking up to you for guidance and support don’t let them down.


Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Your Kids Need to Know You’ve Got Their Back


The early years and all through the teen years children need to know you love them, you are proud of them and you have their back. Just after my son’s graduation, my wife and I received a letter of thanks. He was grateful for all the positive support, guidance and most of all he was happy to know that we had his back.

Having your child’s back is providing them with a web of trust. They need to know you are the foundation of love they can lean on when they are afraid, feel alone or have problems. Children and teens want to know you are willing to give them social support not only in their everyday needs like food, clothing and discipline they also require your non-judgemental emotional support.

I think the worse thing we can do for our kids is to assume they know we have their back. In this fast pace world of busy parents, single parents, divorce or loss of a parent, a child might be afraid to share their feeling or let parents know they have a bullying problem. They may feel the parent is too stressed and angry or that mom or dad really doesn’t care.

Here are some of the ways to remind your child you care:

1)      Be sensitive to the child’s/teen’s needs

2)      Have clear behavioral expectations

3)      Listen and give advice if they ask for it.

4)      Be constistant with the rules and expectations

5)      Never stop telling them you love them and how you appreciate them in your life

Working in combination, parental support and parental control are believed to foster children’s emotional, psychological and behavioral well-being and development.” (Rothrauff et al., 2009 and Bully Free Schools: Circle of Support Resource Guide for Trainers, Dee Lindengerger)

Your kids need to know we’ve got their back, don’t let them down.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

A Bully Free Summer

Many of us think that bullying only happens in school or during recess, when actually bullying happens anytime and anywhere.  It can happen at bible camp, sports camp, scouting events and even in your own backyard. This is why as parents, neighbors, volunteers and camp counselors we should keep an eye out and speak up when a child is demonstrating aggressive, bullying behavior.

All camp counselors and volunteers should be properly trained to not only recognize bullying behavior but also understand the rules and policies.  They need to all be committed to reminding the campers and their parents what is expected and the discipline that will be enforced if they demonstrate aggressive bullying behavior.   (Richard Paul offers extensive bully prevention training for camp counselors and volunteers.)

Just like at school  there should be a set of rules  at camp that your child understands and that he and his friends know will be enforced if they  start bullying behavior.

“We are not doing children any favors when we rationalize their behavior as “just part of growing up”; when we “give them a break” on honestly-earned consequences we deprive them of the opportunity to learn effective and respectful ways of achieving their goals and meeting their needs.”  Taken from Bully Free Schools Resource Guide

 What constitutes bullying?

1)      Constant one sided teasing

2)      One sided pushing and punching

3)      A child trying to isolate another child from the group

4)      Texting mean things and fibs about another child

5)      Degrading and racist remarks

This also is true for camp counselors and volunteers, who like to joke around with the campers. They need to understand what appropriate playful fun is and what is bullying.

It’s no secret kids love summer vacation and we as adults want them to experience the same childhood memories we all hold dear to our hearts.  So this summer if you see a child being bullied speak up, enforce the camp or household rules.  Let the children know we’ve  got their back.

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

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


Parent Involvement (The Target)

In my last article I shared how over the past three decades there have been several changes to help put an end to bullying in the schools.   According to forty nine states now have anti-bullying laws in place and many schools have policies in place with “zero tolerance” but for many targets of a bully this is not a enough.

If you are a parent of a target of a bully you too must not leave it up to the school to solve the problem, because in most cases they won’t.  You need to get involved.  Dan Olweus says that “you should contact the child’s teacher as soon as possible. The goal should be to achieve cooperation with the school about the problem. “

As I mentioned in many other articles you need to keep your personal baggage at home and stay focused on what is happening to your child. Be specific and make sure you follow up with the teacher, principal or social worker regularly.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease”

The more you follow up, get involve and keep a watchful eye, the quicker you will see it pay off.

Here is a letter from a parent that attended my teacher/parent night “Stop the Bullying” presentation. Her son Colt was targeted by a bully. When she found out she contacted the principal and they took some action but Colt was still being bullied. She remembered what I shared in my program  to keep contacting the school until there is an end to the aggressive behavior.

Here is what she did:

“I contacted the school counselor and asked that she please get involved. I know that she met with Colt and he felt better after the meeting. I also contacted the teacher again explaining the manipulation this boy was using and how that can be confusing to Colt.  The boy claims to be a friend yet treats Colton horrible.  She was surprised to hear, because this young man is shy. After she heard the behind the scene details she also met with the bully and warned him. She talked to Colton and explained that it was a poisonous friendship. Soon after that the bully picked another victim and Colt stood up to him, and reported to the teacher. She then came down hard on him and met with the parents. They have not had any trouble since then.  This is a perfect example of why the adults NEED to  be involved  in giving the kids the tools they need to solve these issues that arise when there is lack of supervision at home and school.”

Thanks for all you do,



This is a perfect example of how parental involvement can put an end to your child’s bullying issues, if handled correctly will pay it forward the message to other children like Colton to inspire them to report when other students are being bullied too.


1)      Find out the facts from your child and write them down

2)      Stay focused and share those facts with the teacher or principal

3)      Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up

4)      Keep a record

5)      Don’t stop till you put an end to it


Bullying Parent Involvement

Over the last three decades school districts, parents and students have been speaking up against bullying behavior.  Dan Olweus first published his Book Bullying At School in 1993, he describes what we know about bullying and what we can do about it.

Now in 2013, according to forty nine states now anti-bullying laws into place mandating schools district to implement some kind of bully prevention policies and or strategies.

But we can’t leave it all up to the schools; the parents need to get involved too. If it has been brought to your attention that your child is being aggressive toward another student you need to make it clear to the child that you do not tolerate such behavior and that they will be disciplined. Don’t just assume because you told them once it will put an end to it.  Keep your eyes and ears open; if they are doing something right praise them, if they are not remind them of your expectation.

“The parents must make it clear to their child that they take the bullying seriously, and that they will not tolerate any such behavior in the future.” Dan Olweus

1)      If you hear your child is being aggressive toward others take action

2)      Be specific

3)      Create an easy discipline chart that hangs on the refrigerator

4)      Never give a warning- Follow through

5)      Remind them daily that you love them.

For information about our Parent Night Programs visit our web site:

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

Adults Can Be Bullies Too

Many years ago after finishing my self-esteem/self-image assembly program at a middle school, I was pushing my equipment cart down the hall toward the door where my car was parked. On opposite side was a hall monitor screaming to a young man. He was shouting, “Your nothing! A loser! Do you hear me? You’re a looser!” I left my equipment by the door and walked over toward them but when the hall monitor saw that I had witnessed what he said, he quickly motioned to the student to come with him to his office. As they were walking away I commented, “Didn’t you listen to anything I shared today?” But the hall monitor just slammed the door in my face. When I reported it to the principal his answer was, “See what I have to deal with every day!”

At many of the conferences I have spoken to, teachers and counselors have shared similar stories of teachers, parents and administrative staff crossing the line when it comes to disciplining a student.


For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness”    Ralph Waldo Emerson

To paraphrase for every minute you are angry toward a child you chip away their self-worth.

There is a right way and a wrong way of disciplining a student. Screaming at and/or degrading a child is not only wrong but it may also leave a negative impression that can spread like germs.
“Just as positive actions are like seeds, rude gestures and remarks are like germs- you may not see the impact they have on you for a while, but they are there silently infecting you and everyone around you.” Power of Nice, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Rovin Kovel


Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of physics is Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction.
If we want to reduce bullying and violence in schools adults must be the example of good behavior. As one of the parents at my Stop the Bullying session at the Michigan PTA Convention shared, “parents need to be a little more patient and monitor what their saying to their children. They need to remember they are the person their child looks up to, and the only opinion they value the most.”
If we are telling our child they are stupid or worthless the equal and opposite reaction will be lower self-image and lack of confidence creating either a violent or depressed disposition.



The right way to discipline:
1) Make sure the child understands the consequences for their actions
2) Focus on what they did and why it was wrong
3) Make sure the discipline fits the behavior
4) Never let them off with just a warning, follow through
5) Remind them that you love them unconditionally

Copyright Richard Paul 2013

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