School Bullying Prevention

When it comes to bullying, what can you do to prevent it,

Or Even Stop It?

A lot, say the experts.

And right here 31 Difference Makers in school bullying prevention tell you exactly what you can do. From leaders of advocacy groups to a motivational rapper to victims of bullying who have survived abuse and gained ground to thrive, 31 leaders share their work, their insight, and their resources to help you stop bullying in its tracks.

Originally developed to spotlight one Difference Maker each day during October's National Bullying Prevention Month, this page shines a light on what thought leaders are doing every day–and what you can do every day–to help kids value and respect each other for who they are. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter and share your results!


Wouldn't it be great if 31 of the most useful resources for school bullying prevention were all assembled in one place? Well this is the place! Check out these features.

School Bullying Related Products
Bullying-Related Products

Prevent problem behavior on the school bus. Learn how to break up fights. See bullying through the eyes of a child. Integrate CPI and PBIS strategies. From workbooks to online courses to DVDs, posters, and pamphlets, check out these helpful tools for creating a positive school climate!

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More School Bullying content
More School Bullying Content

Want to erase meanness at your school? Craft school culture to reduce bullying? Grab a bully by the horns? Look no further! Here at your fingertips is a clickable collection of bullying prevention articles from the CPI archives that you can use as your personal reference library.

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Unrestrained is a bi-weekly audio interview with subject matter experts in crisis prevention sponsored by CPI, the Crisis Prevention Institute.

Julie Hertzog, Director of PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center, talks about how the PACER organization founded National Bullying Prevention Month and the deeply personal roots of her commitment to school bullying prevention.

Signe Whitson, author and school bullying prevention advocate talks about her books, 8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools and Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Aged 5-11 to Cope with Bullying.

Michael Dorn, author and school bullying prevention and safety expert talks school climate, culture, and safety, and discusses the themes and content of his books, Weakfish: Bullying Through the Eyes of a Child and Staying Alive: How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters.

Deborah Temkin, child development research scientist and bullying prevention advocate, talks about her work with Child Trends and

Dr. Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, talks about the RULER social and emotional learning (SEL) program he co-created. RULER is designed to increase personal well-being, effective teaching and leadership, academic achievement, and classroom emotional climate change.

Sue Scheff is an author as well as a parent and family advocate. Her expertise is educating parents who are struggling with a troubled teen and Internet safety for both kids and parents. Sue is a passionate cyber advocate, educating kids and adults about best practices online, as well as a regular blogger on Huffington Post and


Julie Hertzog joined the Minnesota-based PACER Center, a resource for children and young adults with disabilities and their families, back in 2000, and soon after she became the director of the organization's National Bullying Prevention Center. Inspired by her son, David, born with Down syndrome, Julie became involved in bullying prevention efforts in response to research that indicated students with disabilities are bullied at a significantly higher rate than their peers.

What Julie Has to Say...

Q: Could you talk about the student-teaching-student model featured in your "WE WILL Generation" bullying initiative?

A: Nearly 60% of bullying situations end when a peer intervenes. A powerful statistic, showing the important influence that peers can have. Imagine the power of student-to-student engagement in which students are educated, inspired, and supported to take positive action to help their peers.

  • Today's students, like no other generation before them, have the opportunity to address bullying and change the culture within their schools, communities, and online.
  • This generation knows that bullying is an issue for their peers; they want to help, and research shows that their actions will make a positive impact.
  • To be successful they need a school-based structure, supported with online resources that provide practical strategies, solid information, and action steps.
  • Students often have an intrinsic understanding of their social environments and can exercise more "social leverage" with peers than adults.
  • Students who feel ownership of their communities, and realize that they can make a difference, can be powerful influencers.
  • In a student-to-student model, the presenters and the audience both learn powerful lessons about bullying and what they can do to prevent it.
  • This generation is ready to take action. What they need now is education, support, and inspiration-and a creative, practical program to make it happen!

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: It is so important that you do say "something" to those involved in the behavior, that you do take action. To not address it, to not say that one sentence, your silence sends the clear message to the person bullying that their behavior is acceptable and within the norms. To the person being bullied, your silence implies that they are not safe in that environment. If we as adults don't enforce and encourage the social norms, who will?

And what should that one sentence be? It can be as simple as "we need to talk." That way, depending on the immediacy of the situation, you can address it right then, talking with each of those involved independently or later. It is important that those involved have the opportunity to share their story. Also important is to not make assumptions. Behavior is complicated, especially when it comes to aggressive acts, and there can often be more to the story than what lies on the surface.


After a Midwestern upbringing that included a strong interest in athletics, Travis Brown went on to Illinois State and Purdue Universities and then to work in sales and executive management. After a decade in the corporate sector, he founded Mojo Up to "focus on providing success and leadership tools for students across the country." Since then he has gone on to become a motivational speaker and the leader of many anti-bullying tours, where he encourages students, parents and educators to take the Mojo Up Pledge. In addition to speaking to thousands of students across the country and beyond, Travis is also the accomplished author of Mojo Up Leadership for Teens, Mojo Up & Stop Bullying, The Ultimate Anti-Bullying Guide for Parents and is the creator of the Mojo Up Anti-Bullying Prevention Program. Travis has been seen on FOX, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and as an Inspiring Made Coach on MTV.

What Travis Has to Say...

Q: What is the "Mojo Up Pledge"?

A: The Mojo Up Pledge is a commitment that a student makes to, number one, not bully. But there's a series of different things. Number one, like I pledge that I will lead my school and my community through my positive actions. I will treat my classmates with respect through my words and my actions. I will embrace those who may be different than me. The Mojo Up Pledge is a positive commitment to do what we ask you, what we want you to do, not just about what we don't want you to do.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: Well, I always like to keep it real simple. And I would say something after I'm watching like, "Hey man, that's not cool." Or, "Hey man, you don't have to treat people like that. That ain't right." Something simple that is even less confrontational.

But I also teach the three things that students can do. Number one is you can step in. If you're comfortable, you can step in, and you personally can say something to that person that's the bully.

Second thing is you can reach out. That means reach out to the person who's being bullied, attacked, or talked about and just let them know that you're a friend, you're there for them, and you can be there for them long term.

The third thing is to get help, and that means reach out to a principal, counselor, teacher, or coach and let them know what's happening so they can intervene in the situation.

So pretty simple ways to really make an impact, make a difference. All you gotta do is Mojo Up, because you make a difference. Thanks.


Jim Dillon is an author, innovative educator, and school administrator with over 35 years of experience in the field. While principal of Lynnwood Elementary in New York, he developed the Peaceful School Bus Program, designed to prevent and reduce bullying, and subsequently published The Peaceful School Bus Program (Hazelden). The program is now being implemented in schools across the country. Jim was named Principal of the Year in 2007 by the Greater Capital Region Principal Center. In 2010, Lynnwood Elementary was recognized by New York ASCD for Educating the Whole Child for the 21st Century. Also in 2010, Jim was an invited participant and presenter at the first National Summit on Bullying Prevention. Jim is also the founder of The Center for Leadership and Bullying Prevention, whose mission is "to support the work of school leaders in addressing the problem of bullying while at the same time enhancing the culture and climate of the school.

What Jim Has to Say...

Q: According to No Place for Bullying, what are the three critical components of effective leadership for bullying prevention?

A: The three critical components of effective leadership for bullying prevention:

  • Understanding that bullying is not just a rule infraction like other school discipline problems, but rather is connected to broader and deeper issues on how people treat one another in the context of the school's culture and climate.
  • Having a good understanding of the change process for individuals and organizations and the skills to effectively facilitate positive change.
  • The ability to "reframe" or communicate about the issue for the school community to gain commitment and support for improving how people treat one another.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: My one sentence would be: "Stop. We need to talk." I want to immediately stop someone from being hurt, and I would need to inform the person who was doing it that there would be follow-up. Beyond establishing those two things, what I would say and do next depends a lot upon several things: the type/severity of the bullying, my relationship with the student who is bullying, and the situation/environment in which it is happening. In many cases after I made sure the bullying stopped I might decide that the student who was bullied might need more immediate attention than the student who was bullying. I would have to assess my resources at the moment since bullying takes place when many other things are happening that often cannot be put on hold; i.e., I would need to see what other adults were around to help me address the problem.

Unkle Adams Photo

Unkle Adams

Motivational Rapper


From his identity material: "Curtis Adams (aka 'Unkle') was born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. At the age of 13 he fell in love with Hip Hop music and soon discovered his natural knack for rhyming syllables. Starting out as a freestyle emcee, he quickly progressed from performing at parties to performing in front of large audiences at local clubs and bars. Now 28 years old, Unkle Adams focuses his musical talents towards real life issues that affect our society. His meaningful song content and powerful microphone presence have propelled his music into countries around the world. Unkle Adams chooses to write songs containing material that is inspiring, motivational and educational, rather than some rappers who are negative, stereotypical and materialistic."

What Unkle Adams Has to Say...

Q: Were the themes of "I Am Stronger" taken from your own experiences growing up? Why is the theme important to you, personally?

A: The themes expressed in "I Am Stronger" are my thoughts and opinions regarding the bullying issue based on what I have seen throughout my life. I am a 28-year-old man that has been through the school system K-12. Though the characters in the first two verses are fictional, they are based on what I consider to be realistic and probable scenarios. I would also like to point out that the girl "Shay" in the second verse of the song was partially inspired by Amanda Todd. If you have not heard Amanda's story, please Google her. Amanda's story really bothered me in 2012 and as time went on I kept hearing more heartbreaking stories about bullying and bullying-related suicide. I asked myself what I could do to help and how I could join the fight and be part of the solution. Then it hit me that I could use my musical talents to not only raise awareness about bullying but also to mend the broken spirits of those being bullied. I released the "I Am Stronger" video on September 14th of 2013 and the response has been staggering. Due to popular demand and public request, I now travel to schools speaking to students about bullying, sharing my own experiences, and performing live for the kids. I love what I do and it feels good making a difference.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: A: This answer would depend on the age of the student but here is one that comes to mind. You never know a person's struggle, so treat people with kindness; your cruel actions could send them over the edge.


Bill Belsey is a Canadian educator and the creator of several websites concerned with bullying, including:

Mr. Belsey has received numerous awards for his anti-bullying efforts, including the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal which honors significant contributions and achievements by Canadians. He now lives in Cochrane, Alberta, with his wife, Helene (also a teacher), and two teenage children. He currently teaches grade five at Springbank Middle School for the Rockyview School Division.

What Bill Has to Say...

Q: Can you describe the pledge and why people should take it?

A: Our pledge is a call to action based upon research that informs us that over 85% of bullying incidents happen in front of peers, when adults are not around ,and most bullying will stop in less than ten seconds when peers intervene to help those being victimized.

The best thing for peers to do is to support victimized peers and not confront the aggressors directly; this usually makes the situation worse.

Bullying typically directly involves about 15% of any population. This means 85% are often bystanders who watch, but don't act. It is the silent majority that gives bullies their power. strives to change this through education and awareness.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: First, people are less likely to be picked on if they walk, sit, and act with awareness and calmness and try to project confidence.

Bullying is emotional. Aggressors and victims of bullying literally aren't thinking rationally. Bullies use others to establish the power and control they want.

Most bullying happens when peers are together, nearly 90% of the time, but most bullying will stop in less than 10 seconds when peers intervene to befriend those being bullied.

This means that those who witness bullying have the power to stop it and cannot continue to give bullies power by being silent bystanders.

Speaking loudly calls attention to a bullying problem and can help to prevent it from getting worse.

What should bystanders say to the bully? "Stop! You're hurting him/her!" They should not confront the bully further; they should befriend the victim and walk away. This can be very hard to do on your own. Try to have at least one or two friends with you for support.


Back in 2005, Love Our Children USA™ founder Ross Ellis created STOMP Out Bullying™ to reduce and prevent bullying, cyberbullying, homophobia, racism, and other forms of violence online and in communities across the country. In the process, she has become a leading expert and media commentator on bullying and internet safety. Meanwhile, STOMP Out Bullying™ has grown into the leading national bullying and cyberbullying prevention organization for kids and teens in the U.S., featuring initiatives like the 2014 Blue Shirt Day® World Day of Bullying Prevention, happening on October 6, 2014.

What Ross Has to Say...

Q: You've written a powerful blog about overuse of the word "bully." Could you tell briefly how the word is misapplied and why it's important to strictly define bullying behavior?

A: Many people do not understand that bullying is a constant repetitive behavior. For instance, a girl told us that someone at school didn't like her outfit. While it wasn't nice to tell her that, it was not bullying.

Our mission is kids and teens, but many adults think they are being bullied if someone says one word they don't like. Because the media (as much as we love them) have overused the word "bully" there are some adults who think they are being bullied and it has to stop.

The message is being diluted. And when that happens, the real victims are not taken seriously.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: One word would be an authoritative STOP. One sentence: Stop doing this-no one deserves to be treated this way! They should then take the arm of the victim and lead them away, even if the bully is still talking.


At age eleven, Emily Lindin was branded the school "slut" by her classmates. Today, this Harvard grad, PhD candidate, writer, and activist is working to undo the dangerous slut shaming in our schools, communities, media, and culture by sharing knowledge and experiences through The UnSlut Project. The project works by providing a safe, collaborative space for sharing stories and creating awareness about sexual bullying, slut shaming, gender inequality, and related issues.

What Emily Has to Say...

Q: What did you learn during production of your documentary, Slut: A Documentary Film, and what are you hoping viewers learn?

A: Since starting The UnSlut Project and making the documentary film, I've been struck by just how diverse women's experiences with slut shaming and sexual bullying are. We have these experiences in common, but we all are affected so differently by them based on our background and various other factors. I hope to show those who might not have personal experience with these problems just how pervasive and devastating they are. And most importantly, I hope to reach girls who are currently suffering-to let them know they're not alone and that there are many ways to overcome sexual bullying and become who they want to be.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: "You don't need to be this kind of person. You have the power to make the world better, so let's figure out how you're going to use that power."


Signe Whitson is a licensed social worker, school counselor, author, and speaker with more than 15 years of experience working with kids and families. She presents customized workshops for professionals, parents, and students on topics related to understanding and ending bullying, managing anger in children, changing passive-aggressive behavior, and crisis intervention in schools and treatment organizations. Signe is the Chief Operating Officer of the Life Space Crisis Intervention Institute, a professional training and certification program for turning crisis situations into learning opportunities for children and youth with chronic patterns of self-defeating behaviors.

What Signe Has to Say...

Q: Whose responsibility is it to stop bullying?

A: To answer this question, I want to start out by unequivocally stating my gratitude and support for educators, counselors, youth workers, and other professionals who dedicate their careers to working with kids. I recognize your role as monumental and I thank you endlessly for your service.

With that said, there are also adults who fail children by minimizing the impact of bullying and/or sweeping incidents of unwanted aggression under the rug. I don't know any more eloquent or sophisticated way to describe my feelings about this "kids will be kids" rationalization than to tell you that it burns me. While I understand that kids are often mean to each other-and sometimes unspeakably cruel-what I cannot wrap my mind around is when adults knowingly allow it to happen.

Minimizing a problem is not what caring adults do; it is what manipulative bullies do. Yes, kids can be mean. No, adults should never dismiss bullying as a "rite of passage" or tolerable fact of childhood. When they do, they violate a child's trust and abdicate their role as responsible adults. Period.

Professionals and parents share a collective responsibility to create a culture in which bullying is unacceptable and to protect kids from physical and psychological harm. When young people feel unsafe emotionally and socially, they have difficulty succeeding academically. For this reason alone (notwithstanding an educator's legal obligation in most states), bullying is a problem professionals and parents are duty-bound to address.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: Many adults struggle with finding the "right" words to say to a young person engaged in bullying behavior. Truthfully, the most effective messages are the ones delivered in under 15 seconds, such as:

  • "It's not okay to say that to someone in my classroom. Are we clear?"
  • "Sending that kind of text is unacceptable. Are we good?"
  • "Leaving one kid out of the group is not going to work. Let's fix this and move on."

Brief messages have the distinct advantage of sending a clear message to the child who is bullying that his behavior will not be tolerated while, at the same time, definitively signaling to a vulnerable child that he is safe and has the backing of a trustworthy adult. Moreover, brief statements don't humiliate anyone but do let everyone know that the adult is attuned to social dynamics and not afraid to step in to bring an end to bullying.


For the last 25 years, Dr. Wendy Craig and Dr. Debra Pepler have dedicated their lives to researching, engaging, building, and co-creating initiatives and programs that aim to bring an end to bullying. They are the co-directors of PREVNet, (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), "Canada's authority on research and resources for bullying prevention," a Knowledge Mobilization Initiative funded by the Networks of Centres of Excellence.

What Wendy and Debra Have to Say...

Q: Can you describe the key features and benefits of your BEST Bullying Evaluation and Strategies Tool? What makes your program uniquely effective?

A: PREVNet's BEST (Bullying Evaluation and Strategies Tool) is an evidence-based, online diagnostic and assessment tool to help schools create a healthy, positive learning environment. When students are free from the worries of bullying, they are more eager to be engaged, to learn, and to strive for academic achievement. Research suggests that 3.5 out of 5 bullying incidents can be prevented by creating and sustaining an effective school-based bullying prevention program. That's where PREVNet's BEST will help. PREVNet's BEST is backed by more than 20 years of research into bullying and healthy relationships. It produces robust data that allows for insightful strategies to bullying behaviour in schools. It is a proven, reliable, and valid tool for assessing bullying behaviour. PREVNet's BEST is made up of three powerful tools-surveys, grade reports, and principal reports. Together they give schools the "research proven" resources they need for a valid assessment of bullying at their school, so that educators can take the appropriate actions to address it. The surveys ask students and adults important questions about bullying at their school. That information is then pulled together in grade and principal reports that detail the extent and nature of bullying at their school. The reports conclude by offering actionable, evidence-based recommendations for creating a more effective bullying prevention strategy.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: What matters most in a bullying situation is to immediately go to the child who is being bullied, remove them from the situation, and make sure they are safe. Safety always comes first. The next step is to address the child who is bullying. We can't change behaviour in one sentence. We need to work carefully and supportively with that child over time to create a change in behaviour. Children who bully need help developing problem-solving skills that don't involve aggression. It's important to provide them with opportunities to use their natural leadership skills in a positive way.


Dr. Susan M. Swearer serves as the Willa Cather professor of educational psychology (school psychology training program) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and co-director of the Bullying Research Network. She received a bachelor's in psychology from Swarthmore College, a master's in special education from Pennsylvania State University, and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. She has a long-standing track record of working with schools and districts nationwide to reduce bullying behaviors. For more than a decade, Swearer has developed and implemented a data-based decision-making model for responding to bullying among school-aged youth. Susan has authored more than 100 book chapters and articles on the topics of bullying, depression, and anxiety in school-aged youth, and she has appeared on national media to promote her anti-bullying efforts.

What Susan Has to Say...

Q: One of your stated goals is helping school personnel establish cost-effective strategies to reduce bullying behaviors. Where is the best place for them to start?

A: In our book, Bullying Prevention and Intervention: Realistic Strategies for Schools (Guilford Press, 2009), we outline cost-effective strategies to reduce bullying behaviors. The first step for schools is to gather data from students, parents, and teachers on their perceptions and experiences with bullying. Then, school personnel can get an idea of the scope of the problem in their own school(s). We suggest that this becomes an annual practice and that schools engage in data-based decision making as a foundation for bullying prevention. Then, school personnel need to educate students, parents, and teachers about the negative consequences of bullying. This can be done through programming, reading, and guided discussions. There are some good websites to help facilitate this:;; and (just to name a few). Enhancing home-school relationships and community-school relationships is also foundational for bullying prevention and intervention. Finally, everyone needs to make a commitment to change the social climate to where bullying and cruel behaviors are not acceptable. Instead, kindness and bravery should be the norm (see and everyone should strive to live and demonstrate these ideals.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: This line came from a group of kids who were telling me about a boy who was bullying them on the playground and then he learned to stop bullying. I asked, "Why do you think he stopped?" The kids told me that they said to him: "We don't do that here."

So, that would be my one sentence: "We don't do that here!"

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Anna Bucy

Anti-Bullying Advocate


Anna Bucy is an Ohio-based communication specialist with two decades of experience as a college-level instructor. Her specialty is in gender differences in schools; her doctoral research focused on gender differences in educators' intervention in student bullying. She considers training others about "the intricacies of bullying-physical, relational, and cyber-bullying" as her most important work. Ms. Bucy is also an experienced school-board member, balancing policy and law with her passion and vision for the school district. She offers training and consulting in one-on-one and group settings.

What Anna Has to Say...

Q: What was the most startling discovery you made in your investigation of gender differences in high school educators' intervention in student bullying?

A: I was surprised that, while a subtle difference, female teachers were more likely to discipline female bullies than male ones while male teachers were the opposite. Also, female teachers were more likely to provide support for male victims than female and the male teachers were the opposite again.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: "Your abuse of others does not make you better."


Barbara Coloroso is an international best-selling author and an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on teaching, school discipline, positive school climate, bullying, nonviolent conflict resolution, and restorative justice. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and NPR and has been featured in The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and other national and international publications. Her parenting and teaching strategies were developed through her years of training in sociology, special education, and philosophy, as well as field-tested through her experiences as a classroom teacher, university instructor, and mother of three.

What Barbara Has to Say...

Q: What's your response to people who say bullying is a normal part of childhood?

A: Conflict is normal, natural, and necessary; bullying is none of these. Bullying is about doing things that are mean and cruel and getting pleasure from the pain inflicted on the targeted person. Martin Buber talked about the I and Thou and our common humanity. In bullying, I am an I and you are an "it." Once I dehumanize you I can do anything to you and not feel any pain or compassion.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: If I saw a kid being mean, I would approach them and say in a very firm voice, "No more, not here, never. That was mean; that was cruel. This playground (bus, hallway, classroom) is a safe harbor for every kid." That's the beginning of stopping the behavior, then the follow-up is to hold those doing the acts accountable, and to assure the kid who was targeted that I am here for them, and I care, and I will help them avoid succumbing to the bullying.


Annie Fox is an author and educator who decided at age 21 to devote her life to helping kids. She received a degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and then went on to complete her M.Ed. at the State University of New York at Cortland. She is the founder of Cruel's Not Cool!, an anti-bullying campaign to engage students, teachers, administrators, and parents in "a community-wide exploration of our culture of cruelty," and the author of Teaching Kids to Be Good People, a practical guide for parenting.

What Annie Has to Say...

Q: The stated aim of the Cruel's Not Cool! campaign is to engage people in "a community-wide exploration of our culture of cruelty." Explain why you identify our culture as one of cruelty.

A: What often passes as entertainment in our culture is either disrespectful, rude, or violent. Even the content that is categorized as "humor." Cruelty is to intentionally put down, humiliate, degrade, demean, and/or hurt another person. Mainstream media, social media, and interactions they observe at home, in school, on the playing field, and out in the wider world (real and virtual) support cruelty more often than kindness and compassion. And so, it should come as no surprise that children mimic cruel behavior. I started Cruel's Not Cool! to challenge the culture of cruelty, to turn what is "normal" in our culture on its head. Cruel is not cool! Kindness is cool. Respect is cool. We need to do a better job providing kids with models of kindness and social courage (doing the right thing online and off).

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: "Tell me, please, what's making you so angry that you want to get back at him/her?" By giving kids (and adults) opportunities to express their destructive emotions (anger, hurt, jealousy, rejection, fear, frustration) to people who are really listening, we help them get back in control of their emotions while helping them think more clearly about their options for getting their needs met.


Raychelle Cassada Lohmann is an active author and blogger as well as a counselor specializing in anger management for individuals and groups. She is the author of The Anger Workbook for Teens, Staying Cool . . . When You're Steaming Mad, and blogger of Teen Angst for Psychology Today and a contributor at Raychelle's new book, The Bullying Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal With Social Aggression and Cyberbullying, is now available.

What Raychelle Has to Say...

Q: How do anger management skills impact a person's ability to deal with the trauma of bullying behavior?

A: When a person is being bullied they may become anxious, depressed, and angry. The bullying attacks often result in social withdrawal and isolation. In these situations youth may experience low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. The hurt, isolation, and depression can quickly turn into unexpressed anger.

These youth often lack effective anger management skills to help them deal with being bullied. So, they end up suppressing what they are really feeling.

Oftentimes when we react in anger, we are just covering up a different underlying emotion such as hurt or humiliation. Sometimes it's easier to get mad at someone rather than admit they scare us or hurt our feelings. When other emotions get replaced by anger we focus all of our energy on the anger. However, anger is not a positive way to cope. In order to begin healing we have to go to the root of the problem (i.e., what we are really feeling).

Until we "go there" the anger will continue to manifest itself and lead to harmful choices. Unfortunately, unexpressed anger can be substituted by self-destructive behavior. Some youth turn to drinking, cutting, fighting, or other methods of self-harm. If left unable to express their feelings and emotions these youth may take their anger out not only on themselves, but also on the ones they love most.

Here is a great way to think about anger-think of anger as a dam that is filled to the max with water. If more and more water is added, what's going to happen? Yep, that dam's going to break and things are going to flood, leaving a mess in the aftermath. Bottling up unexpressed anger is just like filling a dam beyond capacity. It can only hold so much water before it breaks and causes a lot of damage. When humans explode, they too can cause a lot of damage. That's why it's important to deal with our emotions before they get the best of us.

So you see, it's not really anger management that needs to be addressed as much as it is the bullying. However, make no mistake-being bullied does open the door for anger and there needs to be an outlet for release. There are many ways to work through anger, such as exercising, practicing mindfulness techniques (e.g., yoga, meditation, deep breathing, etc.), drawing/painting, playing an instrument/singing/writing a song, journaling, playing video games, etc. While these activities will provide temporary relief, true relief will only come when the youth reaches out and tells a trusted adult he/she is being bullied. In order to heal, we have to go beyond the anger and to the real root of the problem: the bullying.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: Imagine if someone just said (or did) exactly what you just did to someone you really love and care about.

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Michael Dorn



Michael Dorn has dedicated his career to public and school safety. Coming from a distinguished career in law enforcement, Michael went on to become the top expert for the nation's largest state government school safety center. In addition to his duties as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, the world's leading international nonprofit campus safety center, Michael has authored and co-authored 26 books on school safety. He has also keynoted hundreds of state, national, and international conferences from Virginia to Vietnam.

What Michael Has to Say...

Q: What policies have you personally seen adopted in schools that most reduce and help prevent bullying?

A: One of the most important ways to help reduce both the frequency and severity of bullying is to develop thoughtful and effective student supervision. Schools can enhance these efforts through carefully developed and properly enforced policies on student supervision. While no policy can replace and evidence-based bullying prevention program, improving student supervision is a very effective supportive strategy. An intensive focus on student supervision will also significantly reduce the risk of serious injury and death from the majority of potential school hazards.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: Though I cannot assure you that I can fix this immediately or completely, I will not give up on helping you if you do not give up on me while I try to help you.

Tyler Gregory & Scott Hannah Photo

Tyler Gregory & Scott Hannah

National Spokespersons

Great American NO BULL Challenge


Inspired by the suicide of a bullied teen, Tyler Gregory and Scott Hannah joined the Great American NO BULL Challenge and produced two powerful anti-cyberbullying videos which debuted at Southeastern High School in 2012. Using the NO BULL campaign toolkit, Tyler, then 18, and Scott, then 17, crafted a 30-minute assembly program that brought cheers and tears from the 400 middle and high school students who attended. Tyler and Scott set out to raise awareness about this deadly problem, and to let students know they have the power to stop it. Tyler says, "If we helped just one person overcome the hardship of bullying, then I feel I have accomplished the world." Scott adds, "A few days after the assembly, some students actually came to us for advice about a situation they were in, and that, to me, made our whole project worth it."

What Tyler and Scott Have to Say...

Q: There's a saying about mastering a subject: "If you really want to learn a subject, teach it." What have you learned about bullying on your speaking engagement tour?

A: We have learned that no matter who we are speaking to, everyone has a connection with bullying, whether by being a bully themselves or a victim or bystander. So for us, when doing assemblies, it is important to reach all of these students that we speak to. That, mixed with the fact that we are close to their age, makes our presentations exciting and engaging. Bullying is something that everyone agrees is a bad thing, yet not a lot of people do anything about it, which is why we take what we see as the most effective way to stand up to the issue and challenge the students we address to take part in The Great American NO BULL Challenge.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: You never know what somebody might be going through; they could be being abused at home or going through a death in the family, and your actions and words could be the thing to push them over the edge. It's not worth it.


Justin Patchin, Ph.D., is a Professor of Criminal Justice in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Since 2002, his research has focused on adolescent behavior online. His award-winning book, Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying, co-authored with Sameer Hinduja, examines the ways adolescents use technology to cause harm to their peers-and what adults can do about it. His most recent book, Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral, written for teens, was published in December 2013. Patchin has also published in a number of academic and professional journals and magazines. Dr. Patchin has spoken at the White House and the FBI Academy, and has appeared on CNN, NPR, and in The New York Times to discuss teens' use and misuse of technology.

What Justin Has to Say...

Q: We read and see examples of bullying behavior going viral; can you give an example of how educators can encourage students to use social media for positive pursuits?

A: Well, this was the driving force behind our latest book, Words Wound: Delete Cyberbullying and Make Kindness Go Viral. We were frustrated that most of the attention was paid to the negative things a few teens were doing online and not enough focus was placed on all of the positive things teens were doing. So I think it is important for educators to highlight some of these positive examples. If they hear of an incident where a teen did something great using technology, they should celebrate it in front of their students. If this is done regularly, hopefully it will inspire some students to do something amazing on their own.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: I don't know if I would say anything to the kid doing the bullying. I would more likely go up to the kid who was being targeted and remove him from the situation and make sure he knew I was a resource for him. If anything, the one sentence I would say to the kid engaging in the bullying behaviors might be boiled down to one word: "Why?" Of course this is my thirty-something self responding. It is quite different for teens who are put in this situation.


Pernille Ripp is a Denmark native who now works and lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. In addition to being a dedicated educator and mother of four, Ms. Ripp is also the creator of Global Read Aloud, a global reading project that has connected more than 500,000 students on six continents since its inception in September 2010. She is also the author of Empowered Schools, Empowered Students, Creating Connected and Invested Learners, published in September 2014 as part of Corwin's Connected Educator Series, and Passionate Learners, a book detailing her solutions to teaching concerns, including discipline and classroom management.

What Pernille Has to Say...

Q: You wrote a blog post about being a teacher who is bullied by other teachers, and you followed up with a post mentioning that lots of teachers have experienced this. How hard is it to change a school's culture and reduce bullying when teachers are setting that sort of example?

A: I believe that we have to be honest with how we treat others and the acceptance we demand of our students. We are often quick to tell students how to act and then don't follow the same rules, yet we forget that someone is always watching and noticing what we are doing. Negativity can spread throughout a school, so much so, that you can feel it when you enter a building. When we let this happen, even if we try to stay out of it, we foster a negative learning environment. Then our energy is not just spent on trying to be great teachers, but also spent on just trying to get through the day dealing with a toxic environment. To be great teachers, we have to work in positive schools. And that positivity starts with us; what we say about others matters so much. We can choose to tear down or we can choose to build up. Each one takes time and effort, but each one is a choice. We should not be making our jobs harder, but rather be the role models we are expected to be.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: I would ask, "Why?" There is always a story; there is always a reason, and it is our job to get to the bottom of it and to help the bully stop and the victim heal.

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Kirk Smalley


Stand for the Silent


Stand for the Silent began in 2010 when Kirk and Laura Smalley spoke to a group of students from Oklahoma State University , sharing the story of their son, Ty Field-Smalley. Ty was just 11 when he took his life after being suspended from school for retaliating against a bully that had been bullying him for years. Stand for the Silent exists as a platform to allow Kirk and Laura to share their story and offer education and tools that will prevent their tragedy from happening to other children and families. Kirk and Laura's mission is to continue to change kids' lives and bring awareness to bullying and the real devastation it causes. Since May 2010, Kirk and Laura have traveled to hundreds of schools and spoken with nearly a million kids. In March 2011, the Smalleys met privately with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House prior to attending the first ever White House conference on bullying.

What Kirk Has to Say...

Q: Can you talk about the warning signs parents might see in kids at risk of bullycide, and what pre-emptive actions they can take to help prevent it?

A: The main problem is there are not always early warning signs! Our son never quit smiling and laughing; even the morning he took his own life he was smiling. Some of the signs we have learned that other kids have shown have been mood swings, giving away favorite possessions, and stopping hanging out with normal friends.

One thing I do know is that we have to learn to communicate with our kids again, learn to talk their language and ask the " hard" questions.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: I think the one sentence I would say to a child being a bully would be: "Stop, you have no idea what your actions can cause someone else to do and the price for finding out is more than you or anyone should ever have to pay."

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Tyler Stricker


High School Fat Ass


"I was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan, and I was bullied every day of my life for being a 'fat ass.' My childhood consisted of a friend deficiency and a Swiss Cake Roll surplus. I couldn't control what I ate." So begins Tyler's tale of enduring relentless bullying through elementary, middle, and the better part of high school. After an attempt to take his own life during his junior year, Tyler lost over 100 lbs. and returned to school to find his classmates treated him in a completely different way. "I realized people's attitudes change on a person just based on how they look, and it sucks," says Tyler. From there he went on to create "to make a difference in this world by using this website as a public forum for people to share their stories and to bring knowledge and awareness of our bullying issues." Tyler's novel, High School Fat Ass, is a true story about a young man dealing with teen bullying, obesity, and suicide.

What Tyler Has to Say...

Q: Can you talk about the day-to-day resolve you found after your suicide attempt? Other kids facing similar struggles may benefit from knowing more about your source of strength during that time.

A: It's been 10 years since that day in high school, and the biggest lie I can tell anyone is that I'm OK.

I was viciously bullied because of my weight problem and I thought there was nothing I could do. I asked myself, "Is it worth it? Is this crappy life worth it? Is waking up each morning and going to bed each night in both tears and fear worth it?"

One day after school it wasn't worth it, and I tried to do something about it. As explained in greater detail in my memoir "High School Fat Ass" I tried to kill myself. The bullies that told me I was useless and that I sucked at life were right. I failed. The pills didn't kill me; they just made me dizzy, vomit, and sleep for what seemed like days.

I soon realized something; why would I kill myself? Isn't that like forfeiting the Super Bowl? I would let the bullies win and get the final laugh. Over the following days I dedicated my life to be better than anyone who ever judged or bullied me. I wanted to win the game and I wanted to get the last laugh.

I did. Over the next six months I hit the gym every day, ate right, and worked my ass off, literally. I lost over 100 pounds and was suddenly treated like a god in school. Girls loved me and guys wanted to be me. It's proof that if you never give up, good things will happen.

Today, I am a certified personal trainer and author specializing in teen obesity and bullying prevention.

If you or anyone you know wants to share their personal story, needs help, or just wants to send me a personal message, please visit or follow me on Twitter: @Hsfatass.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: I would say, "I know bullying that girl gives you this 'high' and makes you feel all-mighty and powerful. But the truth is, a few years from now when you grow up, have kids of your own, and look back on what you've just did, I promise you won't feel all-mighty or powerful; you will just look in the mirror and feel sad."

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Joey Katona

Culture of Empathy Builder

Start Empathy


Joey Katona is the Project Manager for the Empathy Initiative at the world's leading social entrepreneurship organization, Ashoka. He leads a small core team working to launch the Empathy Initiative in the US and globally. He joined the Empathy Team from Covington & Burling LLP, where he spent two years as a Litigation Paralegal, managing the firm's caseload in the state of Minnesota. He is also Co-Founder of the DC-based social venture, SPACIOUS. An honors graduate of the University of Virginia, Joey raised nearly $100,000 to finance the cost of a friend's college tuition and expenses at Earlham College. While at Ashoka, he is pursuing a M.A. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. Joey serves on the Board of Directors of the restorative justice nonprofit, Offender Aid and Restoration.

What Joey Has to Say...

Q: One of the goals of is to unleash demand for empathy by partnering with social entrepreneurs. Can you talk about the specific roles social entrepreneurs might play to unleash this demand?

A: Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society's most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change for the good of all. Empathy is critical to this sustainable and systemic change. When we react to a problem without empathy, we can make it worse or create new problems. The best social entrepreneurs instead empathize with the individuals or institutions contributing to a problem so they can realign incentives to solve it in a systemic, rather than reactionary, way. For example, low-resourced urban public schools in the US have been cutting recess, a reactionary response to academic underachievement, behavioral issues, and lack of resources. Empathizing with school teachers and administrators struggling with too many demands and too few resources and with children disempowered and disengaged from learning, Ashoka Fellow Jill Vialet started Playworks to make recess responsive to the needs of students and educators alike. Today, one of the most effective solutions to the problem of bullying, as shown through a recent randomized control study of Playworks, is a recess program that never set out to be an anti-bullying effort at all.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: If someone did that to you, what would you say to them?


An expert in human development and education policy, Deborah Temkin holds a doctorate in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University, where her research focused on bullying, adolescent social networks, and education policy. From 2010 to 2012 Deborah was the Research and Policy Coordinator for Bullying Prevention Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education, where she lead the Obama administration's efforts around bullying prevention. During that time, she managed the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention, a coalition of nine federal departments working together on the issue of bullying. Deborah helped coordinate the 2011 White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, and she also oversaw the creation and content development for, the government's central repository for information on bullying. Currently, Deborah is a senior research scientist at Child Trends, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that provides information and insights on the well-being of children and youth.

What Deborah Has to Say...

Q: What are some of our most damaging and/or persistent cultural myths about bullying?

A: There are many myths about bullying which fundamentally shape how we approach preventing and intervening in the behavior. The first, which I do think is changing, is that bullying is a normal childhood behavior. In fact, we know that it can lead to serious negative outcomes for all youth involved. That being said, perhaps one of the biggest myths right now is that bullying directly causes suicide. While we know that bullying is a risk factor for suicide, the vast majority of youth who are bullied do not consider suicide, and the majority of youth suicides do not cite bullying as an instigating factor. Media tends to promote a lot of these myths, such as that cyberbullying is more prevalent than other forms, when really only 9% of youth report being cyberbullied compared to 28% reporting being bullied through traditional means. Finally, the belief that we can punish away bullying is very misguided. We see this in new legislation across the country that intends to criminalize bullying. Instead, we need to work on creating the cultural shift that promotes respect and prevents bullying before it starts.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: "What you're doing is hurting someone, but I understand you're struggling too." One of the things we have to recognize is that bullying does not happen in isolation. Kids bully for many reasons, whether as a response to trauma or stress in their lives, or as a way to gain popularity and status based on the norms at their school. They may not even realize what they are doing is really hurting someone else. It's often not as simple as telling a child who is bullying not to do it. We have to give them the tools to address the reasons why they're bullying and change the climates that reinforce the behavior.


Dorothy L. Espelage, Ph.D., is a Professor of Child Development in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Indiana University in 1997. She has conducted research on bullying for 20 years and more recently has examined correlates of sexual harassment, dating violence, and homophobic teasing. She is co-editor of four published books including Bullying in North American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention and International Handbook of Bullying published by Routledge. Her research focuses on translating empirical findings into prevention and intervention programming. She is currently funded by the CDC and is conducting a randomized clinical trial of a bullying prevention program in 36 middle schools. She authored a 2011 White House Brief on bullying among LGBTQ youth and attended the White House Conference.

Dr. Espelage has appeared on many television news and talk shows, including the Today Show, CNN, CBS Evening News, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Anderson Cooper 360. She has been quoted in the national print press, including Time Magazine, USA Today, and People magazine.

What Dorothy Has to Say...

Q: In response to an audit of bullying prevention efforts by the California Department of Education, you said, "Most schools in the U.S. have no systematic ways of tracking reports, and in most situations, do not even follow their own policies or guidelines." How might those schools most effectively begin to track their efforts?

A: Schools can track bullying and peer victimization in the same way they track academic outcomes. They need to have a system in place that guides school administrators through the steps of an investigation and create a system of accountability and ensure follow through at each level of the investigation.

First, parents, students, and teachers must have a way to report incidents that require immediate attention from the staff assigned to tracking bullying incidents.

Second, once a report is made, an investigation must follow where youth involved are interviewed separately to understand what happened, where it happened, the duration of the bullying, and any previous attempts to address bullying incidents with the same youth.

Third, it is critical that students involved complete an assessment to understand if the victim is at risk for significant psychological distress and/or suicidal behaviors. This assessment should also consider what might be underlying the behavior of youth that are engaging in the bullying. This could include anger management issues, retaliation from his/her own victimization, or sibling aggression issues at home, to name a few.

Fourth, these assessment results can then be used to develop a resolution plan for both youth engaging in bullying and the targets of the bullying. It is best if school districts use a computer program of some type to track the progress on the investigation, resolution, and long-term outcomes. An example of such a program is called BullyTracker.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: Do you realize that your behavior is not nice?

Have you stopped to think how your behavior is affecting her/him?

How do you think you would feel if another kid did that to you?

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Fabianna Pergolizzi

President and Founder

Project Ani-Bully


Fabianna Pergolizzi is the president and founder of Project Anti-Bully. She is currently pursuing her Juris Doctor (J.D.) at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, PA. Fabianna was raised in Naples, Florida, where her experiences with bullying and cyberbullying at The Community School of Naples motivated her to found Project Anti-Bully. Fabianna conducted a national study to find the prevalence of bullying within the US and found a shocking 82.7% of students reported daily bullying in their school. She presented her research at the American Psychiatric Association, British Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, and The Scientific International Honor Society, Sigma Xi. At age 16, Fabianna was recognized as the youngest presenter in APA's 160-year history. She went on to create Project Anti-Bully in 2006, originally an online support forum for victims of bullying who were seeking relief and advice.

What Fabianna Has to Say...

Q: We were impressed by the originality and power of many of the entries in your "Define It" initiative. Can you tell our readers about the concept?

A: Bullying is a global phenomenon that happens 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. What even is bullying? The Define It campaign strives to demonstrate how each bullying or cyberbullying occurrence happens individually. Although we may have similar experiences with bullying and cyberbullying, each story is very unique. Define It was created in 2013 and dedicated to Amanda Todd who was a fifteen-year-old Canadian teenager who committed suicide. She posted a YouTube video explaining her bullying situation in school and her story went viral through the Internet. Define It has become a viral anti-bullying campaign that has been implemented in more than 15 countries.

One of the biggest challenges to bullying is the word itself. The term "bullying" is generally associated only with adolescence. But individuals of all ages around the world experience it daily. Bullying affects everyone either directly or indirectly.

The Define It campaign also highlights the cross-cultural differences in how bullying is experienced around the world. In the United States of America teasing and cyberbullying on social media networks are more prevalent. However, in Mexico, we have found that bullying is predominately experienced physically and verbally especially in regards to an individual's socio-economic status in their community.

My favorite entry for our Define It campaign was when a student at Georgetown University wrote: "Bullying . . . is what gave me power when I was suffering with accepting myself."

This entry demonstrated Project Anti-Bully's mission of trying to raise awareness that there is more to bullying than what meets the eye. Just as the victim suffers, so does the bully but in a very different way. Our goal is to help understand why the bully is expressing their aggression in this fashion and try to encourage them to push that energy into creating a positive rather than a negative.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: When I was a high school senior and Project Anti-Bully was in its preliminary steps, I witnessed a freshman boy being shoved into a locker by another taller freshman boy. There was a group of students watching this happen and doing absolutely nothing to help the young student. I walked right up to the freshman bully and said, "You wanted attention and now you have mine. Bullying him will not relieve the hurt you're feeling. But I can certainly help." Shocked, he let go of the other student and was rendered speechless. This bully's name is Tom.

Tom is one of my main spokespersons for Project Anti-Bully. He tells students around the world that we must raise awareness of the emotional experiences the bully feels as well. For him, bullying was a main form of release for his emotional distress. Both boys became great friends and were roommates throughout all of college.


Elizabeth K. Englander is a professor of Psychology and the Founder and Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University, a Center which delivers anti-violence and anti-bullying programs, resources, and research for the state of Massachusetts and nationwide. She is a nationally recognized researcher and expert in the area of bullying and cyberbullying, childhood causes of violence, aggression and abuse, and child development. She has a particular interest in technological aggression and how it interacts with peer abusiveness in general.

What Elizabeth Has to Say...

Q: In Bullying and Cyberbullying: What Every Educator Needs To Know, you write about the importance of "gateway behaviors." What are they and why are they important to the bullying discussion?

A: Gateway behaviors are social behaviors that express contempt. For example, ignoring someone when they're talking to you, or whispering about someone right in front of them, or rolling your eyes when someone speaks are all gateway behaviors. These are acts of contempt that are used in many situations-definitely not just in bullying-which complicates things. When an adult sees a gateway behavior, there is no way to know if bullying is going on, or if the kids involved are mad at each other or are just acting a little meanly this one time. This makes it very difficult to spot bullying when it happens.

Individually, gateway behaviors are small and typically insignificant. It's the accumulation of them that begins to affect and alter a school climate. A good analogy is littering. One piece of garbage doesn't matter too much, but a lot of garbage and litter makes a place feel very unpleasant.

The answer to gateway behaviors is simply to remind children that such acts of contempt are against society's rules, and that they affect everyone (including yourself). Children should perceive that adults and society in general do not tolerate contemptuous behaviors (and for a good reason!).​

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: Stop that. You are bothering and offending me when you behave that way, and we don't do that here. I know you can behave better than that. ​

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Emily-Anne Rigal

Founder and Director

We Stop Hate


Emily-Anne Rigal says that she is on a journey to teach people that there is power in looking silly, but there is nothing frivolous about her anti-bullying achievements. This Barnard College undergrad is the Founder and Director of, a non-profit dedicated to teen self-esteem and anti-bullying, the author of FLAWD . . . and Fine with It, a book that encourages readers of all ages to be fearless about their flaws, and ranks on Newsweek's "150 Most Fearless Women in the World."

What Emily-Anne Has to Say...

Q: We love the idea of teaching people to embrace differences. Can you describe what inspired you to frame the bullying discussion by focusing on being fine with not being the same?

A: One of the recurring themes in the WeStopHate videos from teens sharing their favorite confidence tips and tricks is the fact of "flaws." We have them. But the idea that goes along with having flaws is that there is something wrong with us for having them. The WeStopHate community has reframed the idea of flaws with the message that far from being something to be ashamed of, they are what make us unique, special, who we are.

Doing what it takes to embrace what we see as less-than-OK about ourselves makes it possible to see others in the same way. When enough people think and talk about flaws (aka differences) in a generous way, it shifts things. We're seeing that happening now-having the courage to be openly flawed and quirky and imperfect is celebrated as cool more and more.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: The one sentence I would say to a kid I saw bullying someone would be: "I'd like to talk to you; may I?" One-on-one with someone is where it's possible to make a real difference. In a firm yet non-shaming way I'd ask what's going on with them. And then I'd be prepared to really listen. Because people who bully are people, too-hurt people, and "hurt people hurt people." Hurt people who seek to hurt others need to know there are other ways to manage their hurt.


Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D. has degrees in special education and law. She taught emotionally disturbed students, practiced in the area of computer law, and then shifted to educational technology planning. Then, students started using the Internet in school-and there was a need for someone with combined expertise in the areas of youth risk behavior, technology use, and legal issues. Nancy is the author of the first book ever published that addressed issues of cyberbullying, Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Aggression, Threats, and Distress (2007, Research Press). She is also the author of Cyber Savvy: Embracing Digital Safety and Civility (2011, Corwin Press) and several other books on digital safety.

Along this path, Nancy realized that it is impossible to address issues of bullying in the school environment or when using digital technologies, using a 20th Century "rules and punishment" approach. Quite simply, this is because bullying behavior is socially motivated by peers and occurs outside of adult presence. Students do not report because doing so far too often makes things worse, not better.

Her latest book, Positive Relations @ School (& Elsewhere): Legal Parameters & Positive Strategies to Address Bullying & Harassment, presents a 21st Century approach to address the age old problem of bullying by ensuring a positive school climate, engaging students as full participants in the effort and resolving negative incidents in a positive and restorative manner. Her new program for middle school students, Be a Friend ~ Lend a Hand: How Young People Can Powerfully Promote Positive Relations, focuses on empowering young people to engage in positive peer intervention, restoration of hurtful incidents, and resiliency.

What Nancy Has to Say...

Q: In your new book, Positive Relations @ School (& Elsewhere), you talk about "restorative interventions that effectively address student challenges." Could you give some examples of restorative interventions and how educators can make them part of their own bullying prevention strategies?

A: We have to ensure that young people who have treated others badly "own it and fix it."

Restorative practices are grounded in the understanding that punishment does not change behavior for the better; instead, it often makes things worse. Instead of focusing on what rule was broken and how to punish the offender, we need to focus on what harm occurred to whom, what needs to be done to repair the harm, and who needs to be held responsible for such repair.

When people are hurtful to others, they often create rationalization for why their actions were justified or not all that bad. They will say or think: "It was just a prank." "Everybody does it." "He overreacted." "She deserved it." To help young people reach the point where they "own it" it is necessary to challenge these rationalizations.

The best way to do this is using the universal golden rule: "Well, if you were in that person's shoes, how do you think you would feel?" Then follow up with: "What do you think others really think about those who do things like this?"

After a student truly understands the harmful impact and assumes personal responsibility (owns it), the conversation can then shift to remediation (fix it). The one who was targeted needs to have a say in determining what is necessary for such remediation. A sincere apology following acknowledgement of wrongdoing can often be helpful. Make sure this is not a forced apology prior to "owning it." Other remediation steps could relate to safe passages requirements of the other student and remediation to the school community itself through community service.

My recommendation is that schools use a diversion approach. A student who has been hurtful to another must complete an Accountability Agreement whereby he or she acknowledges wrongdoing and its harmful impact, commits to acts that will remedy the harm to the one wronged and the community, and agrees to discontinue such harmful acts. As long as the student abides by this Agreement, the formal disciplinary report is held in abeyance.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: "How would you feel if someone did this to you and what will you do to make things right?"


Sue Scheff is an author and nationally recognized parent advocate and family Internet safety advocate. She founded Parents' Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.) in 2001 and for over a decade has been helping families with at-risk teens. Her specialty is educating parents on the daunting industry of teen help and assisting them to locate safe and quality residential programs when their own searches have failed to locate acceptable care. In 2008, Health Communications, Inc. (HCI) published her first book, Wit's End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen. She is a noted expert on Internet defamation after winning $11.3M in a 2006 lawsuit against a woman who posted viral defamatory statements about P.U.R.E. Her second book, Google Bomb: The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet (2009, HCI) is co-authored by leading Internet attorney, John Dozier, and offers expert solutions to protect yourself online. Sue has been featured on a variety of national media including ABC News, 20/20, Dr. Phil, CBS Nightly News, BBC, and CNN Headline News, and she is a also a contributor to the Huffington Post, Stop-Bullies, GalTime,, Ten to Twenty Parenting, School Family, Parenting Today's Kids, Platform for Good, and many more.

What Sue Has to Say...

Q: In the "Bullying and Cyberbullying" page of the P.U.R.E. website, you write, regarding bullying, that "education is key to prevention and it begins at home." What are the fundamental messages parents need to convey to their children to help them understand and effectively cope with bullying behavior?

A: Kids who bully are generally struggling with their own emotional problems, sometimes stemming from a troubled home-life situation. They might be witnessing aggression at home as being the answer to resolving problems (which can be upsetting to any child), and we need to let our children know this is not acceptable. Our children need to understand that this type of behavior is never acceptable and not healthy for anyone. Instilling a sense of empathy, even for the bully, can help us to better understand and cope with peer cruelty. Understanding that bullying is a learned behavior, and can be unlearned, helps us know that there is good in the majority of people. We must continue to always be kind in our words and keystrokes, and remember that maybe a bully today could be a friend tomorrow. I have to believe that people don't like being cruel. We never know what is going on in someone's private life.

Don't wait for a national headline (tragedy) to start talking about bullying. This needs to be part of a family's daily dialog. When you ask your child how school was or if they have any homework, don't forget to ask how their social life is as well as their cyber-life. Have they discovered any new apps, friends, sites, etc.? Short chats are better than no chats at all. Did you know that spending 15 minutes a day listening and talking with your child can help build the foundation for a strong relationship? It can also provide support for your child to come to you with a problem, such as bullying or cyberbullying.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: "Stop and think about what you are saying." I would immediately attempt to de-escalate the situation. Depending on the age of the children and the circumstances, I would ask them to consider how they would feel if someone was treating them the way they were treating the victim. I am someone that believes there is a learning experience in all situations-and hopefully the bully and the victim can walk away shaking hands.


Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and also a senior research scientist in psychology and faculty fellow at the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development. He has developed two university courses on emotional intelligence. His grant-funded research focuses on the influences of emotional intelligence training on student and educator effectiveness, bullying prevention, and school climate. Marc is working with Facebook on a large-scale research project designed to both prevent and decrease online bullying. Marc serves on numerous research advisory boards, including CASEL, Born This Way Foundation, and the Greater Good Science Center. He regularly delivers keynote addresses, consults with school systems, and works with corporations on best practices for incorporating emotional intelligence.

What Marc Has to Say...

Q: Can you give an example of how cultivating emotional intelligence in students can help prevent bullying?

A: By cultivating students' emotional intelligence, we are creating the opportunity for students to choose empathic responses to challenging situations. In developing their emotional intelligence, students consider the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and even the circumstances of others, as well as the impact of their own words and actions on others. They also are taught to manage "triggers" with effective strategies. For example, when annoyed or angered by someone they may be compelled to bully, students learn to pause and breathe, channel their best selves, and choose effective ways to manage their emotions and behavior.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: I need you to stop treating X that way. It's hurtful and completely inappropriate.


Dr. Michele Borba is an internationally recognized expert and author on children, teens, parenting, bullying, and moral development. Her work aims to help strengthen children's character and resilience, build strong families, create compassionate and just school cultures, and reduce peer cruelty. Her practical, research-based advice is culled from a career of working with over one million parents and educators worldwide. Her proposal to End School Violence (SB1667) was passed into California law. She has worked with hundreds of schools to reduce bullying and create compassionate, just learning climates. She is also a regular contributor to national media, including over 125 appearances on NBC's Today Show. Her strategies to mobilize student bystanders to reduce peer cruelty were featured on Dateline and NBC's Nightly News. Dr. Borba is currently working on two upcoming book projects, The Complete Educator Guide to Bullying Prevention, from Free Spirit Press, and The 12 Habits of Empathy, from Simon and Schuster.

What Michele Has to Say...

Q: Why are bystanders so important to reducing peer cruelty in schools?

A: Bystanders are the hidden secret to stopping bullying for a number of reasons. First, they are the witnesses - 85% of the time bullying happens adults aren't present. Second, their response can either increase the bullying (if they are the audience-because bullies love power and can be reinforced by the audience) or curb it - and within the first 10 seconds - with what they say or do. Third, they can mobilize other students to step in and speak out…there's power in force! Fourth, they can change the school norms from "it's cool to be cruel to it's powerful to be kind." The trick though is giving them permission so they can step in, supporting their efforts, challenging their courage and empathy, and teaching them specific strategies so they know what they CAN say and do that will reduce bullying ...and still be safe. They also need to be instructed in "situational awareness" - so that they can recognize what is and isn't bullying, if someone could get hurt (to get help) and know that the vast majority of people (aka adults) do not speak out due to psychological principles called "the diffusion of responsibility" and the "plurality of ignorance." as well as others. If we can teach kids what to expect and how to respond in bullying situations we've done a huge step in reducing bullying and empowering students.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: "Excuse me.. it's not OK to make fun of another person (or whisper behind their back or exclude someone). That's not how we treat others at this school. Please stop." (Start by addressing the behavior…what you see.. and then emphasize the damage it causes the whole school climate..not just the child. You can get into more specifics later. The first is a calm, direct message that addressing a clear inappropriate, hurtful behavior."

Alexandra Penn Photo

Alexandra Penn


Champions Against Bullying


Alexandra Penn, founder of Champions Against Bullying and author of the award-winning, Ministry-of-Education-recommended interactive CD-ROM, "The No-Nonsense Guide To Kids' Bullying Solutions," is a leading expert on school bullying and youth violence. She continues to expose its enemies - the silence, denial, shame and blame that surround, hide and perpetuate the abuse. Penn is an internationally certified trainer in youth violence prevention, a crisis intervention specialist, a parent coach, writer/editor, dynamic workshop leader, keynote speaker, mother of two and founding member of the Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention in Canada. As a counselor in Special Education at the Board of Education, her breakthrough work with an autistic child inspired a video used as a teaching tool at the world-renowned Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Canada.

A well-respected specialist in the field, Penn is known for her sass factor, warmth, and insight. Workshops and keynotes are tailored for schools, kids, parents and educators, universities, associations, and corporations. She quickly puts everyone at ease, opens the lines of communication, and creates a dialogue,

Penn maintains, "Children's mental health is directly linked to their academic success and removing the obstacles that impede learning, such as fear, are crucial. Today's children are tomorrow's leaders - your leaders, our leaders. It's up to all of us to decide how we want them to evolve. Kids need our help. They can't fix it themselves. Together we can make it happen!"

For more information, please contact

What Alexandra Has to Say...

Q: One Champions Against Bullying preschool workshop is named "We Feel Good." Could you talk about why reaching children in pre-school is an essential first step in the prevention of bullying?

A: Bullying in preschool happens more often than most people realize and believe. Kids barely out of training pants are being expelled. As one preschool teacher said, "I was shocked to see how often three and four-year-olds in my class, especially the boys, would punch and kick other children when they thought I wasn't looking."

Telling your child to ignore it or toughen up leaves him unprotected and doesn't solve anything. Whether your child is the bully, target, or bystander, he needs the tools to bring it to a halt ASAP.

Reaching children in preschool and providing them with the respectful tools of language, along with social and emotional skills, boosts successful learning and reduces aggressive behavior.

The sooner the better. If we leave it until later, we simply are applying bandages.

Responding to their needs, my colleague and I wrote, "There's A Bully In My Belly," for the preschool and early childhood crowds. It's an entertaining, accessible read, as kids learn how to prevent and solve a bullying situation. The book also offers a parent and teacher guide loaded with activities, role-playing, and discussions.

Q: You witness a kid engaging in bullying behavior. You have an opportunity to say one sentence to him. What is it?

A: Assuming the target is smaller than the bully, I would get between the two of them and ensure that nobody is hurt. Then, I would suggest the bully imagine how he would feel if he saw this happening to his younger brother. Would he like it? What would he do?

I would schedule separate follow-up meetings with the target and the bully and a third meeting that has the bully apologizing to the target. I would also inform both sets of parents, separately. I would then check in with the target in a couple of weeks to confirm that he is safe.