“The Bully Proof Kid” &
“The Bully Proof Teen”
Bullying Prevention Programs That Teach Students How To STOP Being “Bully Bait”… Peacefully!
“Mark Shepard’s powerful, interactive bullying prevention school assemblies, workshops and trainings teach immediately usable skills to help students (and staff) to immunize themselves from bullying from the inside out.” – Michael Guerin, teacher
“Thank you so much for coming to Harry Hoag Elementary School and sharing your experience and skills with how to deal with bullying from the inside out. Both of the boys who volunteered to help you on stage connected with your program. I am sure they will be using those skills and teaching others what to do. the book is wonderful. I have added it to my book collection and will use it daily. Thank you for making a difference in our students lives.” – Stephani Macherone, School counselor, Harry Hoag ES, Fort Plain, NY
What if there was a way to immunize our kids from teasing, taunting, put downs and other less than kind behaviors of other kids?
Most Bullying Prevention assemblies attempt to get everybody to be kind, accepting, supportive, compassionate and empathetic. And that’s laudable. It’s a really good thing. But like a good church sermon or motivational speech, after everybody feels all warm and kind for a few minutes, we all tend to fall back on our “default” human behavior patterns. It’s pretty clear that human nature and behavior has continued to be pretty predictable despite thousands of years of attempts to teach kindness.
We all get “hijacked” by our emotions and do things and say things that we may later regret. Every single one of us has had a moment when we were mean. Often to people who we deeply love and care about.
And even if we could get all your kids, teachers, and staff in your school to ALWAYS be nice, kind, respectful, compassionate, empathetic and loving, what happens to your students when they meet someone outside of school who did not get the “memo” to be kind?
The approach that I’ve been using with my private clients as well as in my own life, is to stop focusing on the futile attempt at getting other people to behave well. Instead I focus on giving the “target” kids tools to STOP the cycle of bullying themselves by changing their reactions, interpretations and responses to negative interactions with other kids.
In other words, I teach “Modern Jedi Mind Mastery” tools that give all the power back to the “target” in a peaceful yet extremely effective way.
Ultimately I teach kids how to stop feeling powerless and victimized and instead to exert personal mastery and resourceful responsiveness. And that’s actually good for both the aggressor AND the former target. My tools and techniques also help highly sensitive, anxiety prone students to deal with tests, intense athletic competition, boos and hisses from opposing teams fans and dealing with the inevitable challenges of being gay, transgender or dating and relating to members of the opposite sex, (or just being different).
Listen, I know you probably have some questions. You probably want to know exactly what’s in the program. That makes sense. In order to answer them properly I feel I have to share a bit more of my story. Feel free to skip ahead to the “What’s In The Program” section if you already know it.
You already know me. I was that quiet, shy kid that never caused teachers any problems. I wasn’t good at sports. I was sensitive, artistic, musical.
I didn’t know how to defend myself physically or verbally or stand up for myself peacefully, without fighting.
In other words, I was the perfect “target.”
I had all of the behavioral traits that seem to be the equivalent of a large “kick me” sign scotch taped to my back. It just seemed like I was a “Magnet” for bullies. And what very few people seem to understand is that ultimately kids like I was, have the potential to be “the most dangerous kid in the school.”
I say this because at some point many “victims” or “targets” reach a pain threshold that “snaps” and causes them to either strike back at their tormentors or turn their anger and rage inward to cause themselves harm, even to the point of what the media calls, “bullycide”.
From Columbine to Sandy Hook, the majority of serious school violence and shooting incidents were perpetrated by students who saw themselves as “victims” of bullying.
Doesn’t it make sense to EMPOWER the victim? So they can stop feeling victimized without in turn lashing out and victimizing someone else?
The sad thing is that the pain these kids are in is avoidable, if we could only teach them effective strategies to respond resourcefully to adversity and stay out of “fight or flight.”
I eventually discovered extremely useful, powerful “anti” bullying resources that weren’t “anti” anyone. These tools enabled me to take charge of adversarial interactions with other people in order to peacefully and positively stop bullying in my life and turn the people who I perceived as against me, into friends. When I taught the tools to my private clients, they were able to do the same thing in their lives.
Since 1993 I have been a professional storyteller and musician performing multicultural arts and education programs in elementary, middle and high schools throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont & New Hampshire.
(Recently schools have been reaching out to me from all over the US: South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, California, Colorado etc.)
It became clear to me as I was telling traditional folktales, that stories have a powerful effect upon people’s unconscious minds.
The parents and teachers would often comment, ” Wow! Even the kids who normally can’t sit still were mesmerized!”
Intrigued, I began to research the therapeutic use of stories, in particular the “teaching tales” of psychiatrist Milton Erickson. Erickson would tell specific stories to his patients that would cause them to change their behavior practically without resistance or even being aware that they had made a significant change… until their problems disappeared. He also worked with Olympic athletes on their “inner” game.
I had to learn more. So, in 2003 I took intensive trainings in Irvine California where I received my certification as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming and Ericksonian Hypnosis and Time Line Therapy(tm) Techniques. From that time to the present I’ve worked with hundreds of clients. From those with fears, phobias, anxiety, panic attacks, to peak performing high school and collegiate athletes and business execs who were allowing their thinking to get in the way of their performance. I’ve also taught my own NLP certification trainings at the practitioner and master practitioner levels and in the process dramatically improved my own life and the lives of others with this material.
I continue to do a variety of DrumSongStory Arts In Education School Assemblies as well as practice NLP coaching with individuals who are looking for rapid and powerful solutions to personal challenges such as anxiety, phobias, self sabotage, low self esteem and more.
Combining my history as a bullying victim, with my years of experience presenting “mesmerizing” school assemblies and my expertise in NLP, I’ve created bullying prevention assemblies, workshops and keynotes that teach students powerful, practical tools to stop the behaviors that attract bullies as well as how to interrupt aggressive or negative behaviors in other people.
When young people discover how to manage their emotional states and the thought processes that create behaviors that attract bullying, it gives them confidence and empowerment.
Most anti bullying programs attempt to indoctrinate kids with the message: “Don’t be a bully!” And being considerate of other people is DEFINITELY a positive. However, my concern was that there will always be external circumstances and people in our lives who play the role of the “bully.” If I had known as a kid what I know now, I would have been able to thrive instead of having suffered and struggled throughout school.
Ultimately I cannot rest until I’ve done everything humanly possible to teach these tools to young people so that they can benefit from them for the rest of their lives. I will never be able to know how many kids choose to NOT take their own lives because I taught them how to get out of pain and get back to a state of wellbeing with my techniques, but I HAVE to give this everything I’ve got.
I don’t know if this program is perfect for your school. I DO know that adversity in all its forms will always be with us. As educators who care deeply about young people, we are being called to find a solution that can actually address the real issue.
What if, instead of looking for someone to blame, we worked on learning actual skills to help resolve conflict peacefully and communicate more clearly with each other.
That’s a life skill that would have MASSIVELY positive repercussions through out their entire life.
Once students learn how to actually manage their emotional states with my techniques, they can master communicating in ways that get mutually beneficial results.
What’s in the Program?
- My award winning original songs. To keep it fresh I don’t always sing the same songs. You can hear some of them here: Anti-Bullying Songs by Mark Shepard
- Mesmerizing stories that work on multiple levels to engage and hold their attention while delivering the message directly to their unconscious minds.
- Effective breathing and grounding techniques to stop from going into “fight, flight or freeze” reactivity. By making these specific techniques a habit, It keeps the blood flow to the conscious, rational, reasonable, solution finding neocortex instead of dropping into the mammal brain or full out lizard brain where reactivity takes over.
- NLP pattern interrupts: how to change the course of the verbal interaction instantly. By breathing we stay aware and in control of our responses, so we respond in a way that the other person doesn’t expect. Confusion makes any person highly SUGGESTIBLE. And then we change the subject and express a sincere compliment. All without giving the bully the pleasure of a reaction.
- Anxiety relief. Half the challenge with bullying is the anxiety about bumping into the bully and a repeat of the aggressive verbal abuse or teasing, putting down or shaming. I teach kids how to manage their own internal mental movie screen to maximize their confidence and empowerment.
- Anchoring. We anchor powerful good feelings and states so that if needed we can instantly “fire” them and “reset” our state into a good or even great one.
- Humor. I use a lot of humor and cool sound effects to keep things lively and light in between the instructional sections.
- Body language and sub-communication. How to stop looking like the kid that everybody picks on. How to read the body language of other people in order to accurately gauge the threat level of another person.
Please Note: For smaller groups in the workshop we can actually practice these techniques with each other. For the best results, we can do the assembly program for the whole school and the workshop for just kids who might be having a hard time. Or, we can do the assembly program before lunch and the workshop program after lunch for the entire school.
Use the handy form at the bottom of this page to Contact me for details.
What this program is NOT:
- This program is not going to stop people from being mean. If Jesus and Mohammed, The Buddha and Mother Theresa couldn’t do that, I probably won’t be able to either. But we CAN teach profoundly simple and useable communication skills to your students (AND teachers) which simply make life easier because while they don’t work 100% of the time they DO work consistently enough to become self perpetuating healthy communication habits.
- This program is not fluff. It IS entertaining and engaging but it delivers real, actual personal mastery tools and techniques that work, IF a person actually practices them. Once they give it a shot, they will WANT to keep practicing because they will FEEL BETTER. (and the ultimate point I make in my program is that someone picks on another person because he or she is feeling bad and wants to get rid of the “hot potato” of pain by being mean enough to get some kind of reaction from the “victim” or “target”. If the Target does NOT get upset and literally turns the interaction around to change the subject, and actually compliment the bully on something, THAT will make BOTH of them feel better.
- This program is not blaming the victim or in any way suggesting that bullying behavior is anything other than unacceptable. My point is that the target of bullying actually has more power to change the interaction than they may be aware of. My job is to connect them with resources they actually already have so that no one else can make them feel bad. As a result they don’t react the way the bully wants them to which actually extinguishes the bullying behavior.
- This program is not suggesting that someone engaging in bullying behavior or intimidation is a bad person. Scratch the surface of a “bully” and you will find what I call “The Bully’s Secret” someone who is often being bullied somewhere else in their lives. So the tools and techniques I teach actually work for BOTH the instigator of negative behavior as well as the target of that behavior.
- This program is NOT suggesting that the tools and techniques I teach work automatically or all the time. Each person must apply them. However they are EASY enough to do that with a little practice, even teachers, parents and administrators can use them in THEIR lives.
- This program is NOT a physical self defense program. It’s designed to stop conflict and negative interactions BEFORE they get violent. I highly recommend that anyone who is fearful of physical harm a. get help immediately and b. take some kind of self defense training like Krav Maga or Aikido that like my program is designed to neutralize an attacker not escalate physical violence.
- This program is NOT finished. It will never be “done”. It is constantly improving and changing as I continue to develop and refine it. The more input I get from schools and kids the better it gets. For example, I was at a school doing an evening program for parents. A couple of kids showed up WITH their parents. As I was demonstrating an NLP technique to clear the anxiety about THINKING of the bully that was bothering these kids, they tried it one way and got some relief. But when they asked a question, it triggered a new way of doing the technique that they both confirmed got them COMPLETE relief IMMEDIATELY. You may not believe how fast we can get results with NLP, but after practicing for almost 20 years now, I’m continually amazed at how powerful these “Modern Jedi” mind mastery tools are.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Since you are presenting to the entire school, the kids who are being aggressive are learning all these tools at the same time as the kids who are being targeted, won’t the bullies just use this to make things worse for their victims?
A: Great question! The thing is if both the aggressor and the target know these tools, then they can both change their state instantly in order to feel good. And chances are the instigator of the conflict is already in an emotionally hijacked state and that gives the target the opportunity to stay in control of theirs. Ultimately the target can help the “bully” to stop their behavior and feel better instantly rather than get into trouble.
Q: Do you have referrals and references I can contact about your programs?
A: Yes. Please contact me (with the handy form below) and I’ll connect you with them.
Q: What does it cost?
A: Within a 2 hour radius of Albany NY the cost is $1,000 for 1 | $1,500 for 2 | $1,800 for 3 (same day, same location. All inclusive. 50% deposit with contract, Balance on the day of the program.)
For locations further than 2 hours that can still be reached easily by car, overnight and mileage charges apply. (see block booking below)
For locations that require air travel the hotel and airfare expenses apply. HOWEVER. I do offer to waive all expenses for block bookings of 5 or more schools.
Block booking: for school districts of 5 or more locations please contact me for a specific price quote. My goal is to make it as affordable as possible while still honoring the massive value I strive to bring to your community.
Any other questions? Use the handy form below and I’ll answer them promptly.
A few other things you should know.
- I am not an academic researcher with double blind studies to prove that everything I teach works 100% of the time. Nothing works 100% of the time.
- Many of my techniques have been pioneered and tested in the educational field by veteran school psychologist Izzy Kalman. In other words this is not “woo, woo” stuff but it IS leading edge and eminently practical. It simply focuses on empowering the targets of bullying instead of attempting to shame or force the instigators of bullying into behaving better.
- The fastest way to evaluate whether my tools work is for you to try them in YOUR life as well. Say the word and I will hook you up with my Bully Proof Kid Book or Bully Proof Teen Online Course so you can evaluate for yourself whether What I’m proposing would work. I “get” that teachers and administrators are under more stress and pressure today than ever before. The challenge for a lot of educators is that they often feel “bullied” by the “system” as well as by parents and boards of education. And the tools work in any adversity context at any age.
- More than anything I want to help kids. And chances are that’s why you got into education yourself. Let’s create something together that can truly improve the lives of your students.
And What about you?
Chances are you are reading this because you know how. (that was a joke to see if you were paying attention and because I weave humor through my entire program to keep a heavy and intense subject from getting too heavy ;o)
Chances are you, yourself, may be in a position to benefit from these same techniques, I can’t tell you how many of my one on one clients have been educators and administrators at the highest levels. Their stress levels and possibly yours, were through the roof. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s a system that continues to burden educators with more and more requirements that aren’t exactly teaching. You may feel like you are being “targeted” as well by factors that you have no control over. I hear stories from educators all the time about parents out for YOUR job because their child is being targeted or harassed, ostracized or teased.
I’m not suggesting that you book my program right now before my calendar fills up for the season, all I ask of you is that you consider my program for your next school assembly and reach out to me with any questions you may have. The scheduling can usually be worked out. If I’m booked this semester let’s get you on the calendar for the next one. In order to avoid snow closure havoc on my calendar I do most of my air travel to southern locations during the winter and then northern states in the Spring and Fall. But none of that is carved in stone. I will always do my best to get to you asap if the need is urgent.
How To Contact Me:
Please use the handy contact form below.
All the best!
– Mark Shepard, NLPT