October is Bully Prevention Month

I’ve worked with a lot of teens who have experienced bullying.

In fact, as a pre-teen and teen, I experienced bullying myself, and was even labeled a bully at times.

I think it’s important to address bullying, but I think it’s important to address bullying differently than most everyone else does.

In this podcast I’ll address what I think most people who deal with bullying get wrong, as well as a better way to handle bullying.

From Bullied & Bully to High School Principal

When I was young, I was bullied.

I remember a time sitting down at a table at lunch during school, and having the whole table immediately stand up and yell, “PEE YOO!” And, they left me sitting alone and embarrassed at the table.

I remember another time, a little kid would just pick on me relentlessly.

He’d jump on my back, push me down, call me names, and he even punched me multiple times.

When I’d tell adults at my school, they’d just tell me that I’m bigger then him and to just deal with it.

One day I pushed him back, and I got sent home for being the bully because I was bigger than him.

Having had those experiences, I was able to handle bullying differently as a principal.

Empowering is Better than Disempowering

One of my biggest problems with the way that we currently handle bullying, is that I believe that our approach is disempowering to both the perceived victim and the perceived bully.

Far too often, we try to solve the victim’s problems for them.

Often, we buy into the victim’s narrative that isn’t completely accurate, without doing some exploratory work to understand how they perceive things.

Often we jump right into punishing the bully without even giving them the chance to fix the problem on their own.

Often, we disempower both the victim and the bully by handling the situation with their parents in mind rather than the kids.

I believe it’s better to EMPOWER both parties.

I’ll often ask the victim, “What are some things within your control here?” or, “What are somethings that you could do to solve this problem?”

It might not be popular, but it’s empowering.

I’ll often ask the bully, “What are some things within your control here?” or, “What are somethings that you could do to solve this problem?”

It might not be popular, but it’s empowering.

In my experience, I’ve seen better results from empowering both sides, rather than disempowering one side or another.

Empower the Victims

Usually, the bully is also a victim in some area.

Often, bullying gives the bully a sense of power when they feel mostly powerless in their life.

If you can see both the bully and the victim as victims, and then find ways to empower them, you will have better results.

What to do If Your Teen is Struggling with Bullying?

Empower them.

Ask them empowering questions.

Offer them opportunities to see the situation through different lenses.

Give them the opportunity to solve their problems on their own.

Ask them how you can help, and only help in empowering ways.

Get them the help they need to embrace their power.

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