2 Lesson Learned From Aggressive Behavior In Children

HidingWith so many news events that make us shake our head and wonder how a human that grew up in a ‘civilized’ society could act in such horrific ways – creating a culture of kindness / peace becomes more important to us as parents and educators.  I believe like many of you that culture change is difficult to affect on the big scale – in fact impossible to affect unless it is also achieved on the individual and family scale.  Really is “the world” at peace if we personally have turmoil, difficulties, and heartache in our lives?

Aggression that takes place between children usually happens out of the sight of adults and caregivers.  Isn’t that interesting? Because the same thing is true with adult aggression.  A child may pull their pranks of aggression in the bathroom at school, or on the bus or a corner of the playground – adults try to hide their aggressive acts too.

I heard a story one time of an adult who waited till their target was alone in the file room of an office before they showed a side of themselves no one in the office had ever seen or at least talked about before.  Pushing a co-worker against the cabinets – they told them to never ever do “such & such again” or things would get worse for them.  Now while this one incident would not in and of itself be bullying – this aggressive act had a major impact on the target, a young employee with no seniority.  She eventually quit the job and moved away, as her fear overwhelmed her desire to work for this company.

There are two lessons here.  The first lesson is that children who are aggressive can and will take this with them into adulthood.  The ramifications of that are huge.   The second lesson that is not seen as easily is that the effects of aggression – of bullying others – is devastating to the perpetrators too.

Did you know that those with higher rates of aggression when they are young also have higher rates of traffic violations, drunk driving, domestic violence, and depression.  Of those identified as being aggressive when they are young – 60% of them have committed one crime by the age of 24.

The effects on those who are the target of their aggression and on those who have observed it are devastating as well.   Ignoring or denying that bullying is perpetrated by a child or student or a child is a target of aggression,  is damaging to them and our society in the short and long term.  We must not ignore this behavior or go along with those that might see aggressive behavior as a part of growing up or who have a “my child is a leader” mentality.

The damage being done now will affect their life and that of others in the future.  One of my goals is to help our community become aware of and build a culture of kindness, peace and compassion in our families, schools and communities.

On September 27 at 10 AM I will be addressing the issue of bullying in a class titled, The Truth About Bullying.  This one hour class will not only discuss the definition and effects of bullying on children, but also why children wait so long to tell authorities and the six skills every child needs in our efforts to build a culture of kindness.  These skills are meant to help a child from becoming the target of bullying and to help those inclined to be aggressive.

This link will give further details on this class as well as the follow up classes to help every parent.


The Truth About Bullying

Joe Van Deuren
Joe Van Deuren

First I have to say that I, like many of you, probably do not like the use of the words BULLY or VICTIM.   I prefer the terms – Aggressor and Target.  There are a number of reasons, not the least of which is, that it is very easy for a child or even an adult to be labeled and have it stick for a very long time, and even learn to be that person.

The other part of the whole bullying discussion that always gets to me is that the word has been used so many times that it has lost some of its impact – in fact it is misused and applied to situations that should either be labeled ‘bad behavior’ or ‘assault’.    I have seen both.

There are times when parents are over reacting due to the emotional connection with their child, which is understandable.  There are others times that I have seen a parent or teacher believe that the situation should just be overlooked and the target just needs to “toughen up”.

The definition of bullying revolves around 3 basic rules:

  1. The acts must be deliberate with the intention to hurt someone
  2. Acts of aggression must be repeated targeting the same person over and over again
  3. There is a imbalance of power between the parties involved

These are fairly common, well accepted rules that most school systems and the public have agreed upon as the definition for bullying.  When the act or acts do not meet all 3 of these rules, it is likely that bullying may not be the correct word for the situation, even though the acts of aggression are still rather uncomfortable or even dangerous for those targeted.

parenting-talking-to-childThis does not mean that aggression should be ignored when the acts do not meet the rules listed.  Any behavior that is aggressive either in a physical, emotional or social manner needs to be addressed.  Addressing those behaviors help us to create a culture in the society that says, “this kind of behavior will not be tolerated by the social group.”

How we address the ‘culture we are trying to build’, either in a proactive or reactive manner, says a lot about the our own beliefs of what is important to us as parents and teachers.  One of my goals is to help our community become aware of and build a culture of kindness, peace and compassion in our families, schools and communities.

On September 27 at 10 AM I will be addressing the issue of bullying in a class titled, The Truth About Bullying.  This one hour class for parents will discuss the definition and effects of bullying on children, and why children wait so long to tell authorities including their parents along with the six skills every child needs in our efforts to build a culture of kindness in our schools and community.  These skills are meant to help a child from becoming the target of bullying and to help those inclined to be aggressive.

This link below will give further details on this class as well as the follow up classes aimed at helping every parent.

The Truth About Bullying

The Similarities of Bullying & Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence and Bully Prevention Month.

abuseEveryone needs to be aware of these two very similar and related methods of ABUSE .  In both domestic violence and bullying, certain behaviors are used to control another person. The behavior may occur in either a married or not married situation, it could be heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or living together, separated or dating. The behaviors may be occurring at school with kids or at home between siblings or even parents bullying kids. It even has happened at time with teachers on students. Here is a list of just some of the behaviors that are abusive that could be domestic violence or bullying:

  • name calling or put downs
  • keeping a person away from friends
  • actual or threatening physical harm
  • stalking
  • intimidation
  • sexual assault

Anyone could be a victim.  Abuse that starts as bullying as a child may grow up and either be abused or become the abuser.   It may be male on female, but can be the other way around too or male on male or female on female.

If you are being ABUSED – Remember

  • You are not alone
  • It is not your fault
  • Help is available.

For assistance with bully prevention check out our coaching,  advocacy work, and school workshops.

Parenting: Bully Prevention For Your Child

What should you do if your child is being bullied in school? Will you even know? If the the child is not talking about it, are there other signs that may help you know that they need help and some skills to deal with those kind of behaviors?

parenting-classesThe Bullying Prevention Class for Parents will be held on February 5, 2013 at 9:15 AM at Balanced Life Skills. The class led by bully prevention expert, Joe Van Deuren, will answer these questions along with why children do not tell and how to help your child even if they are not the target of bully at this time.

All parents in the community are invited no matter how old your child is and please feel free to invite your friends and neighbors. In our last class one of the participants said, “Every parent should take this class, I learned so much.”

Watch for our Focus on Friendship class for students too. The next one is on February 8th at 5 PM for Kindergarten and First Graders, both boys and girls. Call for more details.

Bully Calls News Anchor Fat – But Was it Really Bullying?

Over and over on Facebook I have been seeing this video being played that is noted below. So many workmates and others on Facebook have come to the side of the news anchor in support and it is heartwarming to see so many stand up for this young lady. The words that were sent to her obviously did nothing to make her feel good about herself and many of her colleagues and others have denounced what they called bullying. Please watch this and then I will comment on what I saw and heard.


Sending an email like this to someone whom you do not know anything about but what you see on TV was wrong. Would I like to see her lose weight. Yes for her own health’s sake. Do I know if she is on a medication that may lead to retention of weight? No I do not. Do I know if she has a medical condition that causes her to not be able to keep weight off? I do not. So I should keep my mouth shut and accept her for who she is and how she conducts herself. I may want to practice some empathy, tolerance, consideration.

But is this a case of bullying? The answer is a clear NO. Is this a case of a typical bullying behavior (name calling)? That is a clear YES. This was not bullying as defined by all of the experts, as bullying is defined as being DELIBERATE (with the intention to hurt someone) REPEATED (targeting the same person again and again) POWER IMBALANCE (difference in social, economical or some other perceived imbalance). This situation does not seem to fit this definition.

However the message she delivered in response to the sender was spot on. It covered many good points and I commend her for the response. But I would suggest that it was not bullying and not fair to those who are really being bullied, who have put up with all sorts of messages, physical and verbal abuse, being ostracized or manipulated or rumors & gossip being spread about them or many times much worse.

We should not be misusing the bullying tag.  We can and should stand up against bullying behavior and bullying.  But when we mix up bullying with bad taste, uncivilized behavior it is a slap in the face to the thousands of individuals who are bullied everyday.

October is National Bully Prevention Month

I want to share a story with you:

I”ve been bullied, ALL BY GIRLS, since I was 10. When it first started it was these twin girls who harrassed me too my face, told rumors about me. When they left the school, they started to cyberbully me. I was so hurt, and even got some death threats. I was scared, but ignored them so they got bored and moved on. Then I was 12, and this girl I was friends with suddenly decided she thought I was a “loser” for no reason. She stopped when I was 14. When I was 13 though, I had a friend and she made fun of EVERYTHING I did from Septmeber until around April or May. I finally told a teacher when she threw a fruit in my hair. I was miserable. She was suspended for half a day. It was horrible. Then my best friend, while all this was happening, decided she liked the bully more than me, so she joined in, but only on the computer. The bullying finally stopped for awhile. Then, when I was 14, this girl, also my friend, decided I needed to feel worthless. It was terrible I didn”t think this was very fair. She”s being nice to me again. My other old friend was also bullying me about how I spoke and apparently I”m clingy. She gossiped about me all the time. That”s resolved too. Sometimes I just wonder what I”m doing wrong because so many people start to dislike me randomly.

What can you do spread awareness and end bullying in your community?  This month of October is National Bully Prevention Month.  When you read a story like this from a 14 year old girl, how does it make you feel?  The Pacer Center is sending this message to everyone – The end of bullying begins with me!