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bullying quotes
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Is fighting bullying creating more bullying?

bullying quotes

Bullying has been a huge issue and has been on my mind a lot recently as I have been doing research for a chapter I’m writing. What strikes me as odd is how there are more laws in place than ever before and yet kids are only getting meaner, the bullying more intense.

Why is that?

Well, as we’ve seen in the past, fighting something or someone only makes it grow stronger. With all the focus on the problem and all the negative emotion it stirs up, the issue has no choice, but to expand. We have to pay attention.

But what if these young people are presenting us with an opportunity? What if they are a mere reflection of the hatred and social injustice that has plagued this planet for centuries? How can we expect kids to respect each other when as a whole our society preaches to us that anyone who is different is to be rejected?

We learn to judge ourselves first, then we start to judge others. These kids are showing us what we do to ourselves and each other on a daily basis, only it has become magnified and they are suffering greatly because of it. The anti-bullying movement, for the most part, is just another way to reject what is, rather than getting to the root of the issue.

Yes, all forms of abuse are unacceptable and should not be tolerated. But by saying the bully is wrong and the kids being bullied are just victims, we are setting them up to believe those things about themselves for the rest of their lives.

Now the bully believes “I’m wrong and everyone knows it so why should I even try” which feeds his or her every action.

The bullied believes “I’m just a victim and I need other people to take care of me” which means he or she will almost always let his or her fear run the show.

No one wins. The bullying has stopped temporarily, but will most likely appear again and again in a different form for the rest of their lives.

Unless we start teaching something different.

So what is the root cause of this epidemic? Or at least a major contributing factor?

Disconnection.

Many young people do not have a strong connection to who they really are. It’s no wonder so many feel lost and alone.

They are longing to feel a real connection to themselves and to each other, but have no idea how to express this in a healthy way.

So they act out.

With a life full of shoulds…

  • “I should be skinnier.”
  • “I should be more outgoing.”
  • “I should be better grades.”
  • “I should go to college.”
  • “I should be more like so and so.”

They feel trapped.

There is no perfect human being.

But we teach young people to tie their worth to how they look, what grades they get, how much money they have, etc.

And if we don’t teach them it’s okay to feel what they feel, they will deny an essential part of who they are.

I see it all the time.

Young people denying their feelings for the sake of others.

Automatic disconnect.

Quick tip to help kids reconnect to their feelings:
  1. Acknowledge – Ask them to identify the feeling
  2. Accept – Validate the feeling saying things like “you have every right to feel this way”
  3. Change – Let them know they have the power to now decide how they’d like to feel instead

Many people try to jump right to changing it because it’s uncomfortable to feel bad, but in truth the only way for the feeling to be released is to actually feel it.

Additional possibilities for schools to consider:
  • Make emotional intelligence courses part of the school curriculum
  • Teach empathy and acceptance
  • Teach resiliency
  • Teach self-respect
  • Teach self-defense to increase confidence
  • Teach kids how to stand up for themselves
  • Encourage self-expression – help kids discover the best way for them to get it out
  • Encourage positive self-talk to fuel self-worth
  • Don’t encourage helplessness
  • Help young people find and acknowledge their strengths
  • Create a safe environment for self-expression
  • Bring more programs designed to do all of the above to schools (i.e. Challenge Day)

These things are all easier said than done. And in a perfect world this would not only be taught in schools, but at home too.

But it’s not. Which is why it is up to as as individuals to commit to “being the change.”

And not just do everything we can, but be all of who we are.

Next time: Helping kids connect to who they really are

Some questions to ponder until then:

What part of this can we take responsibility for? In what areas are we not modeling the kindness we wish to see?

How has “fighting” bullying created more bullying?

How will knowing ourselves better impact those around us?

Affirmations for teenagers
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Teen Truth: Donte’s Story

This post first appeared on TEEN TRUTH.

JC Pohl met TRUTH TRIBE member Donte Winrow while on the road this fall. Donte and JC learned a lot from each other at that TEEN TRUTH LIVE: BULLY presentation at Johnson Middle School in Westminster, CA. Read Donte’s powerful story!

I want you to understand that the TEEN TRUTH LIVE: BULLY presentation changed my life and the way I look at my disorder. The disorder I have is called Tourettes Syndrome and it’s not very common. The disorder forces me to have physical and vocal tics that often can’t control.

I realized I had this disorder when I was in 6th grade and it made that year the worst year of my life! It was so hard for me because I was always so embarrassed.

I still remember all the names of the people that made fun of me and tried to copy my Tourettes. At school I heard a lot of jokes and rumors about me. One of the tics I use to have because of my Tourettes was a twitch where and hit my nose. I heard a joke about my tic that was spread around the whole school. They said I would twitch because I was sniffing crack and that bothered me a lot.

Imagine living 8 years of your life having fewer friends then your supposed to have just because you have a disorder you can’t control. I always struggled with my Tourettes and the way people treated because of it. I also struggled with treating people nicely because I felt they were always mean to me.

On Thursday October 29, I heard we had an assembly at my school. They said it was going to be about life and teenagers. I immediately thought it was going to be a bunch of bull and a waste of my time. Because I was thinking these thoughts I started talking through the beginning of the presentation.

I wasn’t loud until my Tourettes started acting up. My Tourettes starts going off when there’s increased activity or excitement in my brain. I was talking and my tics from my Tourettes were causing me to make strange sounds.

Because of the strange noises JC, the speaker, got on me about talking aloud and told me to be aware of the impact I was having on the rest of the group. I felt ashamed and embarrassed.

After that, we watched TEEN TRUTH BULLY and it literally made me think in a way I never thought about before.

My mind went into shock, my whole mind just blanked. After the film I was glued to what JC had to say. I loved the presentation and in the end it actually made me realize that I had to apologize for disrupting the presentation.

I told JC about my disorder, and he realized that it wasn’t my fault. He told me that we often times don’t realize what issues a person is dealing with because we never ask and the impact that we have could hurt.

That day we both learned a TRUTH about each other and we both realized we made judgments that were false.

The TEEN TRUTH LIVE presentation was the best presentation I have ever seen. It made me realize that it is okay to be different. If I weren’t different, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

If you’re not the same as everyone else, that doesn’t mean your stupid or a retard. Get over the bad comments and rumors spread about you because you’re a different person.

Be a happier person, be yourself. To get over your obstacles you need to forget all the bad. Try to go on with your life, and stop copying the people that are not going to make a difference. I believe anyone can make a difference. You just have to believe in yourself and try!