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Recognizing Bullying Signs. An Interview with an Internationally Recognized Bullying Expert

Jan 24 2013in Whats New admin Comments Off on Recognizing Bullying Signs. An Interview with an Internationally Recognized Bullying Expert


Warning Signs of Bullying 

An Interview with Internationally Recognized Bullying Expert Michal Kolář

Dr. Michal Kolář is a psychotherapist who has been treating bullying for more than 30 years. He has created a special theory and methodology for the diagnosis and treatment of bullying at schools. He also works with the International and European Observatories on School Violence.

In my interview with Michal Kolář, he talked to me about the difficulty parents have when their children suffer from bullying.  In his book, A New Way to Treat Bullying, Michal writes about the signals parents can look for if their child is a target of bullying. Michal says bullying signs can be difficult to detect and parents who do notice that something is wrong with their child often find that it is very frustrating to get help from teachers and administrators.

Michal explains that when a parent tries to talk to teachers or administrators, they are quick to point fingers and tell them that their child provoked the situation or in some instances started it.  It is common for a parent to hear there was not enough evidence, their child yelled or pushed the bully and no witnesses.  Additionally, often times, when the target and the bully are both suspended and then come back to school, there are no consequences in place to protect the target from the bully or their friends. 

If school polices are in place but do not provide teachers with specific consequences for bullying behavior, children are in jeopardy of being harmed.  Many children, whether they have a good relationship with their parents or not have a difficult time admitting that other kids are mean to them or carrying out a campaign to ruin their reputations.  A target of bullying often believes that somehow they caused the bullying or in some way deserved it.  Michal says, “Admitting to an adult that other kids laugh, push or make fun of you can be a very shameful experience.” Making matters worse is a home environment where siblings or parents put down or ignore the child’s feelings, increasing their insecurities and low self-esteem.  

Weekly, there are stories about parents who are shocked and saddened to learn that their child was a target of bullying.  Their cries for help do not have to go unseen or undone by parents.  In fact, “Individual signals do not necessarily denote bullying“, he explains.  He places much more significance on the context of the situation, the repetition and frequency of symptoms.  His work was written up for the Ministry of Education. (Guideline Minister of Education, Youth and Sports to prevent and address bullying among school pupils and school facilities)

Signs and Signals of Bullying

• The child does not have friends over or seems to have no friends.

• The child is subdued, sad and depressed.
• S/he suffers from poor sleep, sleep disorders and nightmares.
• They have a lack of interest in participating in sports, family dinners or events.
• Before going to school or after school, complains about headaches, stomach aches, etc.
• Many children visit a doctor or say they are sick before school to avoid bullies.  

• Children may go to school or from school using detours.
• Students may come home with torn clothes, damaged or missing backpack & school aids.
• Make different excuses for losing lunch money and require more money.
• Children may come home hungry even when snacks and lunch were provided at school.
• Child cannot satisfactorily explain his injuries: a black eye, scrapes, bruises,
    slight concussions, a broken or pulled bone, burns, etc.

• Sudden drop in grades and no interest in studying
• Threatens suicide or attempts it

”There are some children that do try to talk to their parents about their difficulties at school,” Kolář says.  “In the beginning stages of bullying, there are cases when the child finds the strength and courage to talk to their parents.  It is very important that when a child opens up about a humiliating experience that a parent should listen, show emotional support and take everything they say seriously. Unfortunately, many parents are act surprised when they first learn about the bullying.  They often react inappropriately.  The only right attitude is to stand firm in love for the child.”

Written by, Melissa Sherman, Executive Director, Beyond Bullies www.beyondbullies.org


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Getting Bullied By Your Parents

Dec 3 2012in Whats New admin Comments Off on Getting Bullied By Your Parents

This article explores the ways parents and adults bully and how the children under their wing can protect themselves from future harm

When we think about bullying, often the thought of parents bullying their children are not the images we associate with it. While the situation at home may be one that is intolerable, there are adult role models, such as counselors at school, coaches, aunts or uncles and other adult figures that young people can turn to for support. Beyond Bullies also offers an online confidential chat for bullied teens by their peers.

Fifteen-year-old Beyond Bullies volunteer, Semara, (last name not used for privacy) studied the five-step recovery model in Karyl McBride’s book, Will I Ever Be Good Enough, to shed light on the steps children can take to protect themselves against parents who bully them.   

Tough Love is an expression often used when you treat someone harshly or sternly to bring about some positive change.

There is usually love behind a veil of toughness, but what happens when this power parents’ use gets out of hand and how can we tell the difference between what is genuine or what is deceptively done to hinder us?

As children, we see images of the stereotypical family; a loving and comforting mother and the kind and protective father, always encouraging and supporting their kids every step of the way. For many of us, this could not be farther from reality.

Some of us may not face our bullies outside at school, but within the walls of the very place, we call home. Whether your mom or dad says phrases such as, “You’ll never be good enough!” or “Can’t you do anything right you ___?” can be very commonly spewed out by them, much more so than genuine encouragement, acceptance or love.

Bullied children may have several experiences of their parents insulting them in front of relatives or maybe even strangers. A parent sharing your faults with others repeatedly can be humiliating and unfair. Others may now label you as the undisciplined or angry child, while the parents look like the concerned authorities.

When adults are talking about you, it is difficult to stand up for yourself.  Adults are more adept at getting their points across and most children are not able to communicate calmly and logically in order to defend themselves.

This type of adult bullying can also extend to teachers who talk to other teachers about you, which can also tarnish your reputation.

When your parents and the adults you trust are putting you down and insulting you, it can hurt your self-esteem and can extend to anything you do in life. It can lead to wounds that can never be recognized or healed and maybe even the root to some of our issues we currently face as adults.

Children may suffer from social anxiety as a result and try to please everyone around us out of desperation to win approval, the one we have never gotten from our parents. Some may end up as overachievers while others may end up as underachievers; believing they really are good for nothing, so why even bother to try?

Semmy contributed to the article. She is a 15-year-old high school student from Malaysia.

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The Dangers of Sexting

Nov 19 2012in Whats New admin Comments Off on The Dangers of Sexting


An Innocent Flirtation Can Alter Your Life Forever

While sexting is becoming more and more popular, so is ignorance toward its consequences. Sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit photographs or messages via an electronic device falls under the category of sexting. The real trouble begins when minors get involved.

A study conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy shows that 51% of teen girls feel pressured to send/post sexually suggestive content.

There are many reasons why girls send semi-nude or nude photos. If their peers are sexting, there is more pressure on them to conform. Many are experimenting with their sexuality and wanting to feel sexy or dealing with pressures from a boyfriend, friend, or stranger.

What begins as playful flirting may have serious repercussions. Sending as photo with the intent to harm another person, may be considered cyber bullying and child pornography.

The most common scenario is when a young couple sends each other an explicit photograph, but one of them decides to send it to their friends, after they breakup.  

Having your photos exposed to the student body in a very private way can have a detrimental effect on that student’s performance in school, social life, and attitude at home. Unfortunately, there have been many incidents where teens felt so humiliated when their photos were texted to students at school they ended their lives. 

For many parents who have lost their children to suicide after their pictures were shared at school, this is a very serious matter. So far, there has been child pornography charges filed against some teens in the United States.  Being a registered sex-offender before hitting age 20 is something that can very well ruin a future with goals that were once attainable. Charges relating to child pornography may affect a student’s chances at getting a job. Consequences include but are not limited to jail time, expulsion from school, organizations, sports teams, etc. If charged, the law will put you on the same level as those who have molested, raped and explicitly photographed children.

Pointing, whispering, ignoring, or making fun of a victim of such humiliation are ways that make a passerby just another bully. Treating this person as if you would treat them without the incident is the right path to take.

There are countless articles written, studies done, and television specials made to educate the public about these things and it’s as easy as turning on the computer or the TV. Just a simple talk can be the difference, and it is especially effective if it is all discussed before giving phone and social networking privileges. It’s always a good reminder that texting and being on social sites is a privilege, and if this privilege is taken advantage of, a world of consequences can follow.

Leda Costa, a volunteer with Beyond Bullies, http://www.beyondbullies.org contributed to the article,

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Beyond Bullies Teen Leadership Program Fundraiser ~ We Need your Help!

Nov 12 2012in Whats New admin Comments Off on Beyond Bullies Teen Leadership Program Fundraiser ~ We Need your Help!

Beyond Bullies Teen Leadership Pilot Program Event Fundraiser

Studies indicate that bullying spikes in middle school. Students impacted by bullying are most vulnerable to peer pressure and falling grades. The Beyond Bullies Teen Leadership program provides an opportunity for teens to talk about subjects such as, cyberbullying and sexting in a way that their peers can understand and ultimately protect themselves. BB fills this tech void while integrating creative methods to reach young people. Your donation help will jump-start a very critical program that will have the potential to reach schools spread throughout the country. Protect students now. Your donation will make a difference.


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Beyond Bullies is Set To Meet with Members of the Australian Parliament to Discuss Sexting

Nov 7 2012in Whats New admin Comments Off on Beyond Bullies is Set To Meet with Members of the Australian Parliament to Discuss Sexting

Sexting is a Growing Problem that is Hard to Regulate in the United States and Abroad

The Parliament of Victoria Australia’s Law Reform Committee is meeting with Beyond Bullies to discuss sexting among adolescents and teens. 

The committee is currently conducting an inquiry on sexting – the sharing of sexually explicit content on electronic devices. The committee intends to travel to Canada and the United States to gain an international perspective on legislative and policy responses to sexting and cyber-bullying.

“Sexting can have severe consequences for minors, yet a large percentage of youth are willing to take the risk to use sexting as a means to share nude or partially nude photos. One sext can result in jail time, expulsion from school, sports teams, rejections from colleges and future employment,” says Sherman. 

Members of the committee will meet with Sherman to discuss the legal issues that can arise from sexting, approaches to educate teens on the harmful effects of sexting as well obtaining general information about the phenomenon of sexting.

Beyond Bullies assist teens to become involved in leadership positions in their schools by providing opportunities for them online and offline to become aware, confident and caring role models.

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Beyond Bullies to Visit University High School During Anti-Bullying Week

Nov 4 2012in Whats New admin Comments Off on Beyond Bullies to Visit University High School During Anti-Bullying Week

Beyond Bullies is Set to Meet with the Dean and Postive Teen Support Program Director to Discuss Teen Leadership Partnership 

Los Angeles, CA – Beyond Bullies Executive Director, Melissa Sherman, will visit University High School Monday, November 5th to speak with school officials about a partnership for a Teen Leadership program.

Sherman says, "Studies indicate middle school students are most vulnerable to attack, addiction, peer pressure and lower grades.  The Beyond Bullies Teen Leadership program addresses these issues as well as subjects, such as sexting and cyber bullying that are taught and implemented to keep students safe and well equipped. Teen leaders will fill this tech void while integrating creative methods to reach children."

Beyond Bullies discusses the program at University High during first day of anti-bullying week. Beyond Bullies is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping teens and adolescents who are targets of bullying and cyber-bullying. The organization has developed a Teen Leadership program that will focus on middle schools and high schools, and gives students the opportunity to stand up and speak out against bullying.

University High School will host its 3rd Annual Anti-Bullying week beginning Monday. Sherman will be joining the students during lunch as events kick off.

Beyond Bullies assist teens to become involved in leadership positions in their schools by providing opportunities for them online and offline to become aware, confident and caring role models. 


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Sending a Sexual Message may Result in Felony Charges, Lost Scholarships and Job Opportunities

Sep 17 2012in Whats New admin Comments Off on Sending a Sexual Message may Result in Felony Charges, Lost Scholarships and Job Opportunities


From Sexting to Prison

            In today’s society, cell phones play a major part in everyday life. Cell phones create an efficient world for all of us but it can also create another world for criminality. This criminality can be in the form of texting while using sexual images or videos known as "sexting". Sexting can have major ramifications for teenagers. Sending nude photos or even semi-nude photos of minors constitutes as child pornography and teens do not realize posting illicit pictures on Facebook, Myspace, showing it to friends, or simply sending it or storing it electronically can bring forth a felony charge. The Federal Government is very stern on what the definition of child pornography is.  Basically, any drawing, picture, image or video depicting a minor in a sexually explicit manner is child pornography. This means that if an individual is caught "sexting" a picture of a minor they can be put in prison and be labeled as a sex offender for life.

            It is important to understand that the federal government can charge an individual with child pornography and states can have separate laws to charge an individual in regards to sexting. There are currently new legislatures introduced in twenty-one different states. These states are reviewing current laws and punishments and possibly revise laws already in place towards electronic pornography. Nine states have already enacted legislation towards sexting, most states tend to follow suit shortly after. These states are as follows:

H.B. 127
Status: 6/23/2011, Signed by Governor, but sexting provisions were amended out of enacted version.
Relates to the crimes of stalking, online enticement of a minor, unlawful exploitation of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, sending an explicit image of a minor, harassment, distribution of indecent material to minors, and misconduct involving confidential information.


H.B. 75
Status: 6/21/11, Signed by Governor. Chapter 2011-180.
Provides that minor commits offense of sexting if he or she knowingly uses computer or other device to transmit or distribute photograph or video of himself or herself which depicts nudity and is harmful to minors, or knowingly possesses such photograph or video that was transmitted or distributed to minor from another minor; provides that transmission or distribution of multiple photographs or videos is single offense if such photographs and videos were transmitted or distributed in same 24-hour period; provides that possession of multiple photographs or videos that were transmitted or distributed by minor is single offense if such photographs and videos were transmitted or distributed by minor in same 24-hour period; provides that act does not prohibit prosecution of minor for conduct relating to material that includes depiction of sexual conduct or sexual excitement or for stalking.

Relates to child pornography and sexting.

S. B. 277
Status: 6/3/11, Signed by Governor, Chapter 245
Revises provisions governing certain acts by juveniles relating to the possession, transmission and distribution of certain sexual images.

H.B. 1372
Status: 3/21/2011, Signed by Governor. Chapter 99.
Relates to the creation, possession, or dissemination of sexually expressive images.

H.B. 5094
Status: 7/12/2011. Signed by Governor, Public Law 2011-270.
Prohibits the use of a computer or other telecommunication device to transmit an indecent visual depiction of himself or herself to another person, which is commonly known as sexting, by minors; provides that any violation of this act is deemed a status offense and shall be referred to the family court. This act would take effect upon passage. 

S.B. 733
Status: 7/12/2011. Signed by Governor, Public Law 2011-295.
Would create various criminal offenses relating to Internet activity. This act would take effect upon passage.

S.B. 179
Defines and prohibits the offenses of juvenile sexting and aggravated juvenile sexting and provides for certain sanctions and remedies.

S.B. 407
Status: 6/17/11, Signed by Governor
Relates to the creation of the offense of electronic transmission of certain visual material depicting a minor and to certain educational programs concerning the prevention and awareness of that offense.

Bill No. 41-31 (COR)
Status: March 8, 2011, Signed by Governor
Relates to bullying, cyberbullying and sexting.   

To learn more about states that have introduced or our considering bills or resolutions against sexting http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/telecom/sexting-legislation-2012.aspx

*State Legislature information was retrieved from www.ncsl.org and should not be mistaken as legal advice*

By Alan J. Stevenson, Veteran, Criminal Justice/Information Security and Assurance Student


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Having a Mentor can Help with School, Bullying and Creativity

Feb 27 2012in Whats New admin Comments Off on Having a Mentor can Help with School, Bullying and Creativity

Q&A with Jill Gurr

Q: Jill you’ve written a wonderful book about mentoring and mentoring groups. What inspired you to write, Mentor Youth Now: A Guidebook for Transforming Young Lives?

A: In 1996, I founded a nonprofit organization called Create Now after I had taught a Screenwriting workshop to a group of incarcerated teenage boys. Not only did many of these kids learn how to read and write through my program, but many wanted to return to school or go to college. One tough gang leader even had tattoos removed. I taught a second workshop and got the same results. I realized that these successes were largely due to the relationships that I had developed with the youth, and their support from a few mentors that I brought in. Over the last 16 years, I’ve personally mentored dozens of the most troubled kids in our community and have trained and matched mentors with hundreds of kids. Some of the results from these mentoring relationships are astounding.

Q: How does mentoring transform someone’s life?

A: I think that kids respond so well to mentors is because they realize that someone who isn’t getting paid and isn’t their parent actually cares enough about them to volunteer their time. With a mentor, youth have a trusted adult who they can turn to without fear of punishment if they want to share secrets or ask certain questions. Mentors expose their menthes to many diverse opportunities and resources that they might not be aware of, and help them to find their goals. Mentors broaden their menthes’ horizons, encourage higher education or potential careers and support these youth in a variety of different ways by giving them encouragement and building self-esteem and confidence.

Children who are bullied could be reluctant to tell their parents because they may feel their child is complaining too much, or being weak. Siblings and friends possibly don’t want to get involved. They could also be so embarrassed about the problem that they hide the abuse.

As mentors, you’re already serving a valuable purpose by being a sounding board for your mentees, so they can vent their feelings to someone who is sympathetic and a good listener. Your compassion and encouragement is priceless, whether your mentee is being bullied, or if he or she is the bully, since bullies have feelings too, including anxiety, fear and guilt.

Q: What makes a good mentor?

A: A good mentor must always be reliable and punctual. These kids will look at you as a role model, so you should not disappoint them because they will look forward to your meeting. Build trust and learn how to LISTEN. It’s very important that you hear what they tell you and let them know that you get it, without passing judgment or forcing your beliefs. Don’t contradict your mentee’s parents or guardian since you can’t overstep your boundaries. Be available when your mentee reaches out to you.

Q: What are the benefits to mentors?

A: Mentors report that they are happier with their careers, fulfilled from volunteering in their community, and they feel better about themselves for having impacted someone’s life. Mentors develop leadership skills, enhanced interpersonal skills and a deeper understanding of youth. They receive admiration from their associates, have an opportunity to meet a challenge and they get along better with their own families.

Q: What are the benefits to mentees?

A: Research shows that 46% of youth who are mentored are less likely to use drugs; 52% are less likely to skip school and one-third are less likely to hit someone. They are more confident of their performance in school and they get along better with their families.

Q: What is the difference between being a mentor or a school counselor?

A: A mentor forms a personal relationship with a student and they become an advocate. They often become extended family members. However, a school counselor must keep a professional distance and not get involved in issues that aren’t directly related to school, unless they suspect there is abuse or neglect, which they must report to authorities. In regards to bullying, a child might be afraid to report this to a school counselor for fear that the information could leak out and have repercussions. Yet they usually trust their mentor enough to open up about sensitive topics and to seek guidance.

Q: How can we teach mentors to be more open- minded?

A: It’s really important to keep an open mind when you’re mentoring, since your mentee(s) might confide things that you are very much against. For instance, what if your mentee confides that he is using illegal drugs, or she tells you that she’s pregnant. You probably have strong opinions about these issues and you want to convince your mentee to follow your guidance. However, if they think that you’re going to just lecture them, or possibly report them to their parents, teacher or another authority, they will close up and not trust you anymore. Try to find a balance and send them to professionals in that field who can support them.

Q: Has your view of mentoring changed overtime?

Yes! When I founded Create Now, I thought it was the arts workshops that drew the kids and got them to change their lives. I discovered that arts mentoring really does make an impact, since kids learn valuable skills, develop goals and build self-esteem when they accomplish things. However, I’ve discovered that while the arts are precious as a motivator and an educational tool, as well as a positive creative outlet, it’s actually the mentoring relationship that affects youth. You could be coaching a sports team, taking kids on a hike in nature or just hanging out and watching TV with your mentees. It’s the fact that an adult cares enough about them that they want to spend time together, and they have someone they can trust to turn to when they need help. That’s powerful stuff!

Jill Gurr founded the Los Angeles based charity Create Now (www.createnow.org) in 1996, which transforms the lives of vulnerable children ages 2-25 through arts mentoring programs. Jill’s new book, “Mentor Youth Now: A Guidebook for Transforming Young Lives” is packed with valuable information and resources so that anyone can learn how to mentor kids and it’s available at: www.mentoryouthnow.com


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Renown Bullying Expert, Michal Kolář, Deals with Epidemic in Schools

Feb 2 2012in Whats New admin Comments Off on Renown Bullying Expert, Michal Kolář, Deals with Epidemic in Schools

Is it possible to stop an epidemic of school bullying?

(An interview with Dr. Michal Kolář)

 Do you think that bullying at schools has become a global problem?

School bullying is a very old phenomenon, certainly as old as school itself. However, its scientific understanding is relatively recent. Origins of its identification can be placed in the seventies. Since then extensive national and international studies have been developed involving millions of school children. There is a large number of empirical data indicating that the problem is global.

In the Czech Republic, located in Central Europe, the situation is best mapped in elementary schools with children between 6 to 15 years old. Using stringent investigative methods, the incidence of bullying has been determined to be around 20 percent. Empirical research also indicates that a similar unfavorable situation exists in high schools with students between ages of 15 to 18 years. This confirms my diagnosis that this moral disease is epidemic. In the Czech Republic, an epidemic is defined by more than two thousand people per 100 thousand inhabitants being impacted. Of course, I am presenting this image to underscore the seriousness and urgency of the situation.

Is it possible to stop the epidemic of bullying in school? If so, how?

My view is skeptical, but I think that the situation can be improved in a particular school and in a particular class. In terms of nationwide solution, I see many problems because I participate in several large projects. However, even here an improvement should not be ruled out. An important basis for effective help is to understand bullying as a relationship breakdown in the group. From this perspective, the best defense and the best prevention is an educational community, which means building open, friendly, and safe relationships. However, empirical experience (as well as my research) at various types of schools, showed that even the best democratic community cannot essentially stop the bullying. Each school needs to have their own special program that can detect bullying in the early stages and can treat it effectively.

I will share the good news that really encouraged me. As part of the Czech Ministry of Education, I worked on a project to design and implement a special program. In the experimental school selected for the project, we succeeded to reduce the incidence of bullying by 42.5% in 4 months which was a record short time. An especially trained team (there were teachers with long-term training) managed to reduce the number of victims of bullying by 50 to 75%. At the same time, there was no change in the control school. Later on, when this program was implemented on a larger scale at 50 schools its effectiveness was confirmed.

I would like to emphasize that the results of our program is one of the most successful in the world. It can be compared only with the program of Dan Olweus from Norway. Olweus is a pioneering figure in this field. During 2-3 years, he succeeded in reducing bullying in Norway by 50%. In the United States, in South Carolina, and in Schleiwig-Holstein in Germany, the attempts to replicate the success of this program have failed. According to some sources, however, the Olweus program achieved excellent results in US. Supposedly, some schools have managed to reduce bullying by more than 40%. But be as it may, other programs considered successful, usually have a maximum efficiency of around 15%. Not to mention that quite a few programs (led by top experts) had no effect. It is really difficult in a particular school and in a particular situation to demonstrably reduce the incidence of bullying.

What is the basis of the effectiveness of this program?

There were a number of factors, but the biggest difference compared to other programs, including the program of Olweus, is a new methodology for solving the existing bullying. The novelty of the methodology lies in the fact that it is not a general guidance in the form of cookbooks. But it is a specific and differentiated treatment – according to stages and forms of bullying, as well as, according to the level of treatment goals (See Appendix 1 – Classification of scenarios for assistance according to treatment goals, stages and forms of bullying).

This type of assistance is least risky and highly effective. I’ll explain its advantage by using the stages of bullying. Based on my long-term practical experience, I have come to the conclusion that the process by which the group relationships become infected by the “bullying virus” has its inevitable evolution. It evolves from the first embryonic form to a perfect fifth so-called ostracism stage – totalitarianism. To respect these stages is very important for the treatment of bullying for at least three reasons:

a) There is a fundamental difference in the investigation and first aid – partial treatment in the initial (i.e. first, second and third stages) and advanced (i.e., fourth and fifth stages) of the impacted group.

b) Overall treatment of the group has its own specifics for each stage.

c) These stages allow to select various experts that can provide qualified assistance (first contact experts, specialists, and unsolvable even for specialists).

For more details see Appendix 2: Stages of bullying and their significance in practice).

How important is for the success of your program the teacher training and peer programs?

These are two essential components that belong to 13 major components of our program. Peer programs are run at the level of classroom and school-wide community programs.

Training of teachers and other professionals is an essential step that must be started immediately at the beginning. The point is that all schools teachers must be trained using the modular course in the management of 6 scenarios (see Annex 1). They should handle the first and the second group by themselves. For others – third to sixth group of scenarios they need to recognize their suitability and to handle the most urgent and critical steps, including cooperation with experts.

Regarding the first two groups of scenarios, here are particularly important class teachers and the school counselor. They should be able to provide the first aid up to the third stage and overall treatment for the first two stages of common initial bullying. These cases of bullying are by far the most frequent and the school must fight them by itself.

The training must be provided not only for teachers, but also for experts from special services facilities who take care of the school issues. They must be able to work with the 3rd to the 6th group of scenarios. This requires in most cases, that some of them have received training and supervision in diagnosing and solving unusual and advanced bullying cases.

Do you work with schools that have no apparent interest in protecting their students from bullying?

Sometimes a serious case of bullying is uncovered and the schools where the bullying took place are forced to collaborate with me. But it is only dealing with a problem at a superficial level. To establish an effective school-wide program requires much more. The best preventive conditions are provided by a full-fledged educational community. This means a school that operates as a democratic community and relies on the morality of love.

School-wide meetings, school parliament, school board, etc. open up the chances for an effective defense against bullying. But be aware of the fact that this by itself will not be effective against already existing bullying. Also, it is important to note that schools that don’t yet have an educational community and want to implement the program must meet the minimum requirements. They need to have a good team and teachers as individuals must be willing to work on themselves professionally, personally and morally.

How do you protect children from cyberbullying?

The program includes the protection of children from cyberbullying. The assistance will take place on two levels.

If the cyberbullying affects students and happens during teaching or during a school program, then the school is responsible to provide a direct treatment for cyberbullying. Trained staff determines on the basis of stages and forms of bullying whether the school alone is capable to solve the problem or whether they need to see a specialist. (See Appendix 1. Classification scenarios for assistance according to treatment goals, stages and forms of bullying). It is a procedure that applies to all types of bullying; cyberbullying is no exception.

For practical help, it is very useful to know that most cases of cyberbullying are connected with the traditional school bullying. Cyberbullying is not investigated in isolation, but as part of bullying in the whole school. Using this approach, we can provide effective diagnosis and safe treatment.

As the main battlefield against cyberbullying I see the school itself. My experience shows me that the role of aggressors and victims in school bullying are usually carried over into cyberspace. Besides, most victims know their aggressor. Czech research in 2009 showed that 80% of the attackers came from the class or the school of the victims.

And now I come to the second level of assistance. If the cyberbullying does not happen during teaching and does not take place at school, then the teacher is not the one who will directly address the problem. When considering punishing the attacker, a lawyer needs to be consulted. Bullied students should be provided with an advice on how to protect themselves immediately, how to secure the evidence, and to whom to turn. It is always necessary to map the relationships in the classroom, where the victims of cyberbullying are. The goal is to determine whether there is already on-going school bullying. As I said – most of cyberbullying is just part of school bullying. It is also useful to find ways how to make relationships healthier in a particular classroom.

What can we do to encourage the young adults to confide their troubles in adults?

The basic principle of gaining the trust of children is a real interest of the school to address bullying. Children must also be able to verify that the school really knows how to deal with this problem professionally. This means that a child who seeks help will find it without being bullied for it even more.

Specifically, we need to weaken the reasons that prevent the victims to come forward. There are few and I will discuss some of them:

It is hard for victims to talk about how they were abused, because it threatens the loss of the last remnants of their self-esteem and break-up of personal integrity. It’s a similar situation and pain as with the victims of rape. Neither one can accurately describe what happened and how, which is important for the investigation. Often the victim submits to the pressure of the group, who commands him/her to be silent. Sometimes the victim may have internalized the prohibition of “ratting out” or the group has indoctrinated its “pseudo consciousness “, and if the victim reveals the aggressor, s/he is experiencing feelings of guilt, remorse and strong anxiety. In some cases, the victim does not want to testify because s/he has a great fear of retribution and sometimes even of being killed. The situation is complicated by the fact that sometimes the victim takes on the aggressors’ distorted view of the situation and themselves. And sometimes, the victim suppresses the painful experiences and forgets them.

Appendix 1: Classification of scenarios for assistance according to the goals of treatment, stages and forms of bullying (M.Kolář)

Scenarios that the school can handle itself  

1. First aid for initial stages of bullying with the standard form.

2. Overall treatment for dealing with bullying in the embryonic stage, Framework Class Program

Scenarios when the school needs help from outside

3. First aid for initial stages of a nonstandard form of bullying.

4. First Aid (crisis scenario) for common forms of advanced bullying.

5. First Aid (crisis scenario) for advanced bullying with an unusual form that includes, for example, an explosion of group violence, the school lynching etc.

6. Overall treatment up to the 3rd stage of bullying, ZIP – The basic intervention program (for advanced bullying it is always in combination with first aid)

Key to the level of treatment goals:

1. First Aid – partial and symptomatic treatment, quickly and safely stops bullying.

2. Overall treatment – works with relationships in the whole classroom, causal therapy at the level of school causes, requires a longer time.

As the table shows, the first area covers two types of scenarios that the school itself can handle. The second area includes four groups of scenarios where the school needs help from outside. The qualified work with these scenarios enabled teachers to effectively and safely deal with different types of bullying.

Appendix 2: 5 stages of bullying developed by Dr. Michal Kolář

First stage: The birth of ostracism

This stage includes mild, mostly psychological forms of violence, when the marginal member of the group does not feel well. She/he is unpopular and ignored. The others more or less reject him/her and don’t talk to him/her, slander him/her, concoct intrigues against him/her, and making “little” horseplay at his/her account, etc. This situation is already an embryonic form of bullying and includes the risk of further negative development.

Second stage: Physical aggression and escalating of manipulation

In stressful situations, when the tensions within the group are rising, the ostracized students will serve as a lightning rod. Their classmates unwind on them their unpleasant feelings from, for example, an expected hard written exam or from a conflict with a teacher or simply from the fact that going to school is bothersome. Manipulation is increasing and at first, mostly subtle physical aggression appears.

The third stage (pivotal moment): Creating a nucleus

A group of aggressors is created, so-called striking core. These “virus” multipliers (disseminators of virus) begin to collaborate and systematically, no longer at random, to bully most convenient victims. In the beginning, the victims become those who are already proven objects of ostracism. These are students who are lowest in the hierarchy, i.e. the “weak”.

Fourth stage: The majority accepts norms

Norms of aggressors are adopted by the majority and they become an unwritten law. At this time, an informal pressure to conform is gaining new dynamics and only very few could stand up to it. The members of the group overwhelmed by the “virus” are beginning to create an alternative sort of identity that is entirely indebted to the leaders. Even tame and disciplined students begin to behave brutally. They get actively involved in bullying of a classmate and find it satisfying.

Fifth stage: Totalitarianism or perfect bullying 

Violence is accepted as a norm by all members of the class. Bullying has become a group program. Figuratively speaking, here comes an era of “exploitation”. Students are divided into two groups of people, “slave masters” and “slaves.” Those in the first group have all the rights; the ones in the second one have none.

Dr. Michal Kolář is a psychotherapist who has been treating bullying for more than 30 years. He has created a special theory and methodology for the diagnosis and treatment of bullying at schools. He also works with the International and European Observatories on School Violence



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Beyond Bullies Agents of Change Video Campaign – Inspire Others to Take Stand Against Bullying

Dec 12 2011in Whats New admin Comments Off on Beyond Bullies Agents of Change Video Campaign – Inspire Others to Take Stand Against Bullying

Are you Beyond Bullies?

The Beyond Bullies Agents of Change video campaign is to help bullied youth express how they feel, what they are experiencing and how they took a stand against bullying. One of our main goals emphasizes being an active bystander in bullying situations, rather than remaining silent when encountering a bully or someone else being bullied. We want our message to bring people together, empowering students to use their voices, realizing they are not alone, and that they can become agents of change against bullying at their schools.

Beyond Bullies is asking YOU to send your videos telling us about your personal experiences with bullying: standing up for someone in need, dealing with it, and other personal or even inspirational stories. Your video will help others take a stand against bullying. Be creative – create your own video speaking of your experience and your message and post it as a Video Response to this link. End your video with, “I am _____, and I am Beyond Bullies.”

Tell us what you’re going through? Was there ever a time you stopped a bully at school or online? Have you ever made friends with someone who was excluded?  Tell a story in a video and be as creative as you’d like.

Please be sure to include your name and contact information, in case we need to contact you, if your video is selected to be featured on our Web site and Facebook page.  It may also be used as promotional material for our upcoming campaigns.

You may use a video camera, cell phone or computer to record your video.

For more information watch our video for details at:


Bullying Stops with You.

Melissa Sherman
Executive Director

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