There seem to be 2 schools of thought about how to prevent bullying in our schools. The most common approach which I’ll term “Anti-Bully” seems to be some form of focus on how to stop the bully from being a bully. This includes more stringent rules and laws as well as increased surveillance, punishment, and the criminalization of any kid who is mean to another kid.
In this approach the “victim” is told to “walk away from the bully”, “tell a teacher”, “ask for help”. etc.
The real life effect or this approach is that the kid who is picked on tells a teacher and gets the “bully” in trouble.
Now the kid who got in trouble has even more reason to get even with the “snitch”. So the cycle of bullying is continued perhaps off school grounds or in one of the hundreds of moments during the school day when a teacher or staff person is looking the other way.
Then we wonder why bullying seems to be getting worse. It’s no different from the “War on Drugs” that seems to actually create the crime and cartels that it seeks to stop.
What if there was another approach altogether? One that focuses on empowering the “victim”? I call this “Bullying Prevention” or “Empowering The Target”
What if there was an entire behavioral tool box that is not being taught to the “target” kids that would enable them to peacefully and powerfully change the dynamic between themselves and the other kids who are picking on them?
So many schools call me who have a bullying problem and they want me to come in and make everyone be nice to everyone else. But the reality is “Hurt people hurt people.” The kids who are being labeled as “bullies” are just kids who are often experiencing themselves as victims somewhere else in their lives.
They may feel bad and are attempting to make themselves feel better at the expense of a weaker kid.
They are not “evil doers” intent on harming other students. They are doing what most primates and other animals do, they are seeking to be dominant. The other kids who they are choosing to test their dominance on are usually chosen because they are perceived as being weaker and therefore more easily dominated.
Body language is a huge factor in how we perceive others.
What if, the target kids learned how to move their bodies in a more powerful dominant way? What if moving their bodies in a new way could create thoughts of confidence and self-assuredness?
My point is that the dynamic would shift rapidly for the better.
One of my challenges in making this point is that I don’t have “research” to “prove” my theory is correct. I only know from being a “victim” of bullying growing up that when I felt and acted like a victim, a bully seemed to show up to match my own internal experience.
Harvard researcher, Amy Cuddy has proven that the way we move our bodies actually influences our bio-chemsitry to a mearsurably significant degree.
I think this applies directly to helping targeted kids to stop being victims. All without having to “snitch” or run away.
Please make sure you watch the entire video and even give it a test in your own life.
Disclaimer: Please understand I am only suggesting that teaching targeted kids these body language techniques is only one tool in the tool box. Just one piece of the puzzle leading to a solution.
It is not the only thing to do. It is one of many strategies to empower and support kids who have become targets because they are different, sensitive, gentle, smart, non-athletic, artistic, or whatever. I am also not talking about physical abuse here. I’m talking about name calling, teasing, exclusion, and other non physical forms of being mean.
I always welcome questions and respectful thoughts from you my readers! Please feel free to use the handy contact form below.
All the best!
Mark Shepard, Bullying Prevention Trainer