Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Anti-Bullying Seminar - A Review - Part I

On Monday night there was a lecture on Anti-Bullying at my daughter's school. HighMark High Five gives grants to schools for an Anti-Bullying assembly. The premise is that children who are bullied are more likely to miss school either because they are afraid or they are sick. Dr. Jay Carter is the author of the bestselling book Nasty People. He co-authored the book Taking the Bully by the Horns with Kathy Noll.

I was eager to attend the parents session. I wanted ask what the appropriate use of self-defense is in a bullying situation. Several people cautioned me to be careful about my questions at the seminar so I did not give the wrong impression. My brother told me what he would do. He suggested I approach the parents of the bullies after the seminar.

I pulled into the school parking lot.

There were no cars in the lot. I walked into an auditorium full of empty chairs. The session began in five minutes and there were only three people in the audience. A woman in the second row looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. I said "I am shocked". The principal heard me and nodded. Eventually a group of about thirty people sat down to listen to the talk. Dr. Carter explained the dynamics of the Bully, signs of bullying, statistics of bullying and intervention. The talk focused on the psychology of the bully.

Some highlights:

People have tendencies. We are either more physical or more cognitive.

Executive function is a set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate abilities and behavior. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behavior as needed, and to plan future behavior when faced with novel tasks and situations. Executive functions allow us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. The ability to form concepts and think abstractly are often considered components of executive function. Read more:

Executive function is developed in adolescence.

Bullies usually have physical tendencies and a lack of executive function.

Martial arts are excellent because it provides physical activity and a code of ethics.

It was clearly apparent, from the audience questions, that the parents in the room were NOT the parents of the bullies. The main message of the program was that bullies need to be identified early, nurtured and mentored to make different choices.

Not what I expected.


More thoughts on the seminar to follow.....


Father said...

So, other than the school obtaining grant money, what are they going to do about it? Nurture and mentor the bullies while it impacts others? My suggestion would be "no tolerance", one strike and your out. This has been the position on drugs, weapons, threats ect. Being a private school, I would guess that the bullies' parents are the same ones that fill the collection basket on Sunday, and they would not want to cut off that source of income. Separate sets of rules if guess.

Jennifer Brindley said...


Thanks for stopping by my blog and for the great comments. :) I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling to make it to the gym.

And this is a shame. I feel so strongly about bullying in schools... it shocks me that there were only 3 of you there. :(

~Jenn (Ex Hot Girl)

Randel said...

I provide these seminars for educators and parents. Sadly many of these have poor attendance and the ones that need to be there are usually not there. Most of the time the apple does not fall far from the tree when it comes to bullying. Martial arts is one of my many suggestions to parents because it addresses self-confidence, body language and self-esteem.

Michele said...

Father: I know...
Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Jennifer: Thanks for visiting my blog! I just might try to go to the gym at 5:00...but not today. :)

Randel: Thank you for your comments. I stopped by your site and plan to return to read additional articles. I am you recommend martial arts for the bully, the target of bullying or both? My husband and I have a small dojo. How can we get the kids that would benefit the most from karate in the dojo door?

MinivanNinja said...

It's dismaying that the parents of bullies tend not to attend these meetings. I wonder if they feel that there is anything wrong about their child's behavior. I tend to assume they don't, or otherwise that behavior wouldn't continue unchecked.

I love your recommendation for "Please Stop Laughing At Us". I read her previous book about her experience with bullying and you are right, it sticks with you LONG after you have finished.

As far as using self-defense techniques, I'm not sure what the right thing to advise would be. Kids need to be careful not to get into trouble by instigating a fight on school property, and one physical action (even in self-defense) could possibly backfire and make things work. It's such a tricky thing to have to navigate.

I think the best advice is not act like a target or victim, but that puts responsibility for bullying on the victim and that doesn't seem right either, since they should be able to go about their day without being singled out for some arbitrary reason and it's dancing on the fine line of blaming the victim.

MinivanNinja said...

BTW, it's Amy from MinivanNinja

Michele said...

Hi Amy,

Thank you for your comments. Bullying is a tough subject. I was surprised the seminar did not offer more suggestions for the targets of bullying. The session provided a different perspective. There was a lot of information provided in the two hour session. I am still thinking about it.