How Do I Help a Child Involved in Bullying? Show Notes from Justice For Nate

girl with paint on faceiStock_000063932169_MediumLast April I had the amazing opportunity to be interviewed on Thrive Global Network in response to a death of Nate Wombles
Unfortunately many children and even adults are involved in the bullying cycle.

Many parents feel stuck  if their child is involved in a bullying situation. How do you teach your child to respond without egging on the child who bullies?

What is Bullying, and What do I do about it?

Bullying is aggressive, threatening behavior by one child or adult towards another child/adult. The whole goal of the bully is to gain power or control over a person who they perceive is weaker than them.

Bullying can be verbal, emotional or physical or through technology, called “Cyberbullying.”

(http://www.stopbullying.gov/)(http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/understanding_bullying.html)

Bullying can occur either by one person or groups. Groups of bullies may also be called gangs.

Bullying is not just for kids, bullying can occur at any age, even into adulthood.

What roles do people play in a bullying situation?

There are different roles students play in a bullying situation.

The person doing the bullying

The person being bullied

Someone who is both bullied and being a bully towards others.

Those who defend or stand up for the person being bullied.

Those who assist the bully.

Those who reinforce the bully by becoming bystanders.

A person can both be the victim of bullying and also bully others at the same time.

What are signs a child is being bullied?

Signs a child may be a bullying victim are:

Unexplained bruises, scrapes or marks

Changes in behavior such as eating habits, nightmares, stomach aches, making excuses to not go to school, ride the bus.

Unexplained  damage or loss of belongings

Child coming home hungry

Changes in grades

Child becomes sad, anxious, angry, or depressed

Child beginds withdrawing from others

Stops hanging around friends

Sources:  http://www.stopbullying.gov/“Bullies are a pain in the brain”, and www.Safechild.net

What do I do if I think my child is being bullied?

What parents can do if a child is being bullied:

  • Address the situation immediately.
  • If you’re not sure communicate with your child by stating the changes you’ve noticed and asking what happened. http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It
  • Role play ways to respond to the bully with your child.
  • Listen to your child when they want to talk about it.
  • Don’t encourage the child to ignore it or fight back
  • Encourage confidence and assertive communication
  • Talk to your child about who to tell if they are being bullied, create a safety plan with your child.
  • If the school is involved, allow school officials to address the other parents rather than calling them yourself
  • Seek counseling for your child if he or she is in distress (anxious, depressed, withdrawing, etc…)

What your child can co if he or she is being bullied.

The main thing to teach your child about preventing bullying is how to show confidence.

  • Don’t cry, and stay calm (crying gives them satisfaction)
  • Stay away from groups of bullies/gangs
  • Tell an adult if they see weapons, are being teased/bullied, you can help your child make a list of people they can go to
  • Go a different way than the bullies if having to walk home or go to a different part of the playground
  • Spend time with other friends
  • Run away from the situation if they are after them, preferably to an adult he or she trusts.
  • Tell their friends, friends can even help stand up for them.
  • Stick up for him or her self by using a confident voice “I don’t like….”
  • Practice what to say
  • Remember the bully wants power, it is more about their need for power than about you
  • If a child is alone and the bully wants their stuff, teach them to give it to them and leave the situation.

Some don’ts when dealing with bullies (Romain)

  • Don’t cry
  • Stay calm
  • Don’t ignore
  • Don’t taunt the bully.
  • Don’t beg the bully not to hurt you.
  • Don’t believe the names they call you are think negative about yourself
  • Name call back or agree with them
  • Try to fight back

What can bystanders do to help bullying?

“Research shows that bystanders intervene only 20% of the time, but when they do, bullying  stops about 50% of the time,” Bazelon said.

Even the smallest act of intervention can work wonders, she added. “Bystanders can help in many ways, simply by standing with the victim or touching their shoulder during an incident, or even by sending a supportive text or calling them on the phone afterward.” http://info.character.org/blog/bid/177221/Be-More-Than-a-Bystander-Speak-Up-Against-Bullying-and-Violence

  • Stand up for the person being bullied
  • Don’t give bullying an audience
  • Help the child being bullied get away without getting yourself in harms way.
  • Tell a trusted adult
  • Be friends

What teachers and schools and organizations can do if bullying is occurring:

First get the facts from multiple sources.

  • Listen to those involve without judgement or labeling
  • Separate children involved
  • Make sure person doing bullying knows what the problem is
  • Identify reasons child may have bullied
  • Have clear consequences:
  • have class discussion, role play situations
  • Attempt to help children make amends
  • stopbullying.gov has several tips on involving person doing bullying in consequences , including apology letters, doing good deeds, and what to stay away from
  • Provide opportunites for bullying education

Signs your child is bullying other children:

  • Gets into frequent arguments or fights with others
  • Is angry
  • Blames others for their problems
  • Unexplained new belongings or money
  • Frequent trips to the principle’s office at school.

There is a quiz at the end of Bullies are a Pain in the Brain to screen if your child is bullying others.

What to do if your child is bullying others?

  • Don’t get defensive, take responsibility for your child.
  • Talk to your child to tell you what happened and listen to their side.
  • Try to find out the issue your child is dealing with that led to the bullying behavior.
  • Set limits.
  • Apply consequences to the behavior
  • Provide alternatives to aggressive behavior.
  • Ask your child how you can help.
  • Seek professional help for your child if necessary to deal with the source of the issue.

Why do people bully others? According to stompoutbullying.org

  • Power and Control is the main issue surrounding bullying behavior
  • Sometimes someone else is also bullying the child
  • Child may be having difficulties at home or have experienced abuse, neglect or witnessed aggressive behavior themselves
  • To avoid getting bullied
  • For social power
  • Some plan their bullying and are liked by others but not their victims

Why don’t kids tell?

stopbullying.gov reported on the Indicators of School Crime and safety that bullying is reported to adults less than 40% of the time

  • Feeling helpless
  • Fear or intimidation by others
  • Not wanting to be seen as a tattletale
  • Feelings of isolation and withdrawal

What are the risk factors for being bullied?

It’s important to note that while these are risk factors, not all children with these characteristics are bullied.

  • Seen as quiet or different by other children
  • Difficulty speaking up for themselves
  • Difficulty with peer relationships
  • Are anxious, depressed or low self esteeme

What are the risk factors for bullying?

There are two types of those who bully defined by stopbullying.gov

Those whose goals are concerned with popularity, power, control.

Those who are more isolated, have low self esteem, less involved in school, less social involvement with peers.

Other risk factors include:

  • Are aggressive
  • More difficulties at home
  • View violence as a way to handle their problems
  • Less involvement from parents,
  • Negative view of others
  • Difficulty following rules
  • Have friends who bully

What are the long term consequences of bullying?

  • A NY Times article summaries a study by the JAMA network on psychiatry that found long term consequences of childhood bullying into young adulthood.
  • Young adults were interviewed/assessed on which role they played in the bullying scenario and placed into different groups
  • Outcomes included increased anxiety and panic for those who were victims, increased panic for those who were both bullies and victims and increased instance of adult antisocial behavior for those who were bullies but not victims.

“A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.” www.stopbullying.org

Resources and links

“Bullies are a Pain in the Brain” written and illustrated by Trevor Romain

“Cyber Bullying Not More” by Holli Kenley, MA

stopbullying.gov

http://info.character.org/blog/bid/128143/19-Signs-Your-Child-Is-Being-Bullied-and-What-to-Do-about-It

http://safechild.org/categoryparents/preventing-bullying/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/effects-of-bullying-last-into-adulthood-study-finds/

http://acestoohigh.com/2015/03/02/bullying-starts-early-with-parents-and-babies/

http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/understanding_bullying.html

6 Therapeutic Interventions for Children and Adolescents Involved in Cyber-Bullying; Interview with Holli Kenley Part 2

 

Holli Kenley
Holli Kenley

Last post I Interviewed Holli Kenley about her book, Cyber Bullying No More, and she gave so many good tips for therapists and parents I decided to write two posts. Today I want to focus on tips for therapists who are working with children and adolescents who have experienced cyber bullying. To read information about how parents can support their kids, visit “Cyber Bullying No More!, Parenting a High Tech Generation” Part 1: Tips for Parents with Holli Kenley.

What are some reasons you think kids use the Internet to bully other kids?

 

There are two main reasons why cyber bullying is so prevalent.

  • Technology provides ‘anonymity’ for the cyber bully. This is really important. The cyber bully is distanced from the victim (no face to face connection), detached from the real word (identity protected) and disinhibited from the harm or hurt being inflicted on the victim. Thus, the cyber bully feels disconnected from the real world and his/her actions.
  • Technology provides a “huge power differential” between the victim and the bully. The bully is able to effectuate his/her agenda with ease. An expansive audience and limitless victimization reinforce the bullying behavior, and the bully is emboldened because of the lack of accountability and overwhelming factors of reinforcement.  Thus, the cyber bully feels empowered.

Research suggests that the main motivations for cyber bullying include:

  • Revenge or retaliation
  • Power and control
  • Cool and fun
  • Use as a defense mechanism (insecure, angry, jealous, mean)

It is interesting to note that Albert Bandura’s current research suggests that cyber bullying is a behavioral manifestation of the ‘process of moral disengagement,’ largely learned and reinforced by the factors of anonymity and power differential.  Group work focusing on the areas of restorative justice, with a heavily embedded empathy component is strongly recommended.

How do you feel a therapist could help a child who is involved in Cyber bullying? Either as a victim or the bully?

Many children take on the roles of both cyber victim and cyber bully (cyber bully victim).  It is important to assess for both roles and their involvement in each.  During the intake process, it is extremely important to conduct a thorough 5Axis Diagnosis, paying special attention to Axis I – Clinical Disorders. Also, with both victims and bullies, assess for thoughts of suicide and homicide (Duty to Report and Duty to Warn).

Here are three interventions for each.

 

For a child who is being cyber victimized, remember the 3 “S”:

 

  • Safety Net – Implement safety measures and develop a step-by-step plan for the victim who is in danger of harming him/herself or others (victims are more like to carry a weapon than bullies). Pay attention to levels of depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviors. Implement technological safety measures as well. Put a strong ‘net’ around this child!
  • Support – Believe and validate the child and his/her feelings. Listen, empathize, and develop a support system for the child. Let the victim know that he/she is not alone.
  • Social Skills Development – Many victims are feeling powerless. Either through individual or group counseling, working on assertive communication and self- empowerment skills is extremely important.

 

For a child who is cyber bullying, remember the 3 “C’s”:

 

  • Consequences –Remember that the goal with the cyber bully is to change the behavior. Research suggests that punishment by itself does not work, nor does solely taking the technology away. There should be appropriate consequences that correlate with degree of severity of bullying. (One exception would be if there is a duty to report given the laws within each community or state.) Making meaningful amends to the victim or acts of restorative justice are highly recommended.
  • Contract  – A Family Online Agreement should be implemented at once with clear guidelines on appropriate use, rules, and expectations. Whether one is in place or not, there are grounds for restricting usage of technology for a designated period of time. During this time, the child must demonstrate accountability and responsibility for his/her behaviors. Frequent monitoring is mandatory.
  • Counseling – It is extremely important to perform a ‘needs assessment’ with the cyber bully. The motivations for bullying vary widely; and thus, effective interventions do as well. Research suggests that group counseling with an emphasis on empathic skill building is highly successful in reversing bullying behaviors.

 

Tell about other publications that are available, or that you are working on

Resources on Cyber Bullying:

  • One of the best online sites for references is Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) – www.fosi.org . There are all kinds of tools, downloads, materials, etc. available for counselors, therapists, educators, and families.
  • Another excellent reference is Cyber Kids, Cyber Bullying, Cyber Balance (Trolley & Hanel, 2010).

 

Other Publications by Holli Kenley

 

  • The PMS Puzzle: a recovery book based on my own struggle with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
  • Breaking Through Betrayal: And Recovering The Peace With, a self-help book addressing recovery from all kinds of betrayal.
  • two e-singles:  Betrayal-Proof Your Relationship: What Couples Need to Know and Do
  • Cyber Bullying no More: Parenting A High Tech Generation.
  •  My newest book is Mountain Air: Relapsing and Finding the Way Back…One Breath at a Time, addressing recovery from any type of relapse.
  • I conduct workshops about cyber bullying to parents and at educational workshops and at therapeutic/recovery conferences.
  • Recently, a small group of community members and I participated in a two day Valley Wide Anti-Bullying Outreach Event which will take place August 29th– 30th , 2013 in my hometown of Prescott , AZ.  As part of the event, we will screaned the “Bully Movie’ and we had guest speaker Kirk Smalley, whose family was profiled in the movie, speak to several schools and at an open community forum. Mr. Smalley’s organization – Stand For The Silent – is an international movement of change – an outgrowth in remembrance of his son Ty, who took his own life at 11 years old after years of relentless bullying.

I started this interview by saying that cyber bullying (and bullying) is a family issue, a community issue, and a societal issue.  Yes, parents must do their part, but so must we all.   Thank you Holli for your time and expertise on the important subject of Cyber Bullying. To purchase Cyber Bullying No More, please visit: Amazon.com or other major and independent book sellers. To read more about Holli and her work, please visit her website www.hollikenley.com

“Cyber Bullying No More!, Parenting a High Tech Generation” Part 1: Tips for Parents with Holli Kenley

cyberbullyfrontcover

“Cyber Bulling No More: Parenting a High Tech Generation,” by, Hollie Kenley   is a practical guide for parents to help navigate the issue of cyber bullying with their children, both victims and bullies. You can read my review of her book on Amazon.

The issue of how to teach our children how to be responsible with technology is a hot topic for parents that I work with (and in my own house!), so I know I will be referring parents to this book.

I interviewed Holli and there was so much to say that I have separated it into two posts. Today we will focus on the background of the book, and tips for parents on how to help their children deal with cyber bullying if it occurs.

Tell us about your background.

 

My first profession was as a middle and high school humanities teacher for almost 30 years. During that time, I returned to graduate school to become a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. I counseled in a faith-based counseling center before moving into private practice.  Early on, I was drawn to the areas of abuse, trauma and betrayal, working with both individuals as well as couples. Later on, my work became specialized in the area of sexual abuse recovery.

 

What inspired you to write Cyber Bullying No More?

 

As a teacher, I was disturbed by the bullying behaviors that I witnessed at school.  With the advancements in technology and the birth of a new type of bullying – cyber bullying – I was shocked by its prevalence and its potency.

 

In 2006, when I started hearing about young people such as Megan Meier taking their lives because of relentless cyber bullying, I remember saying to myself, “Enough is enough! This must stop!”  It was time to action and I wanted to do something to help. And from there, Cyber Bullying No More: Parenting A High Tech Generation(link) was created. It’s all about how to protect and defend your children from this potentially deadly experience.

 

Who will benefit from this book?

 

Parents/guardians and children will benefit from this book! I wanted to give busy parents them some straight forward strategies on how to communicate with their children about cyber bullying and how to implement practical steps to safeguard their children.

 

Educators, counselors, and therapists could also use this book as an educational as well as therapeutic tool with their students, families, and clients.

 

What age group do you think deals with cyber bullying the most?

 

Early research indicated that cyber bullying was more prevalent in the middle school years; but a vast majority of the surveys administered were at that grade level. Current research suggests that cyber bullying is problematic at all ages, with an increase correlating with more technological proficiency. Today, it is estimated that one in three children will experience cyber bullying (in some form) during his/her school years. Children with special needs as well as GLTB youth are more highly targeted.

 

 

What do you think is the most challenging part for kids involved in cyber bullying? For Parents?

 

 

Kids who are being cyber victimized are fearful of reporting because of retaliation. Victims believe that they won’t be believed and that no one will or can do anything about it.  So, they won’t tell and continue to be victimized for long periods of time. They show feelings of isolation, fear, and depression. They are often highly anxious and resort to unhealthy behaviors to self- soothe. Out of frustration and fear, it is common for a victim to also take on the role of a cyber bully.

 

The most challenging part for parents/guardians is that they don’t know what to do or where to begin. In my opinion, they often turn to the schools to fix it out of their own fear and frustration. This can be one step in the process, but it cannot be the only step. Cyber bullying is an epidemic anti-social behavior that becomes a family issue, a community issue, and a societal issue.  We must all do our part.

 

 

What are your top three tips for parents about how to protect a child from Cyber Bullying?

 

‘Protect’ is a key word.  When I use this word, I am referring to methods that will help ‘safeguard against cyber bullying’.  My top three tips for protection are the following:

 

  • Implement a “Family Online Safety Contract”. A free download is available at www.fosi.org/resources/html . It is mandatory that parents must begin talking to their children about how to use technology responsibly as early as possible. There is no better way of explaining the rules and expectations about the use of technology than having a written agreement that everyone understands and respects.

 

 

  • Parents must know why they are giving children access to a piece of technology or giving them permission to utilize the technology. Think about their age, what they can handle or not, and go slowly. Let your children demonstrate success and responsibility before giving them more usage and freedoms.   

 

 

  • Parents must monitor the use of the technology! No, I am not kidding! Remember, our children can go anywhere in the cyber world at any time. Get to know your children’s Net Neighborhood just as you would their school environment or other social groups. Spend time with them; learn with them; begin to communicate and connect with them about their online life.

Anti-Bullying Outreach Event August 29-30 2013

A small group of community members and I have been working on a two day Valley Wide Anti-Bullying Outreach Eventwhich will take place August 29th– 30th , 2013 in my hometown of Prescott , AZ.  As part of the event, we will be screening the “Bully Movie’ and we will have guest speaker Kirk Smalley, whose family was profiled in the movie, speak to several schools and at an open community forum. Mr. Smalley’s organization – Stand For The Silent – is an international movement of change – an outgrowth in remembrance of his son Ty, who took his own life at 11 years old after years of relentless bullying