We sat down with Brian Taylor who has been working in education and safety for over 18 years. At Vector Solutions, Brian focuses on innovative technology solutions that help create safer more inclusive schools and solve complex education-related problems. Along with Brian Taylor, we sat down with Dr. John Mayer who is a Clinical Psychologist and leading expert on teens and families, to talk about bullying.

Key takeaways about bullying prevention

  • Students tend to believe that telling an adult about a bully is tattling. However, telling an adult is a part of the resolution.
  • The social and emotional effects of bullying can be just as traumatizing, if not more so, than physical bullying.
  • Ensure that kids in your community know that adults will care, take action, and do something if they are being bullied.

What are the top two myths about bullying?

Too many people have been conditioned to the fact that if they report something; they’re being a snitch. With bullying, to resolve the problem, it’s important the people know. The myth is telling on someone is bad; when in fact it is part of the problem resolution. The other myth is that bullying is only physical. Bullying takes a lot of different forms. In this age of social media, we need to help kids understand that the social and emotional effects can be as traumatizing if not more than physical bullying. –Brian Taylor, Vector Solutions

There’s a car dealer commercial that starts out with “everybody knows you have to stand up to the bully.” Wrong! You are not a narc or a tattletale if you tell somebody. The best thing to do is tell an adult who’s in charge. This is another message that we need to get to kids that are victims of bullying; it’s not you. There’s something wrong with that other person. By telling a person in charge, you’re helping that person, you’re helping them to do something better. –Dr. John Mayer, Clinical Psychologist and Teen Expert

Are there other popular myths about bullying?

Ignoring the problem, it’s a nature of human tendencies to want to ignore something and hope that it goes away. Bullying situations tend to get worse. By acting on the concerns and telling an adult, that’s the constructive way to address it. Like an ostrich putting its head in the sand, it doesn’t make it better. Do more than telling an adult. You should get a sense that action is being taken. Bullying is not only physical. There are a lot of types of bullying, it may be social, emotional and sexual. For students online, cyber bullying is ever present. There are three conditions that make bullying. One, harm being done. Two, there is an unfair match. Three, it is being repeated. In cyber bullying, it gets repeated fast with a wide circle of folks. This can be damaging to an affected student. –Brian Taylor, Vector Solutions

How can we encourage students to tell an adult if they encounter bullying?

As parents and educators, we want kids to know that they can go to adults and will not be dismissed. We need to let them know that we care, we’ll take action and we’ll do something. –Dr. John Mayer, Clinical Psychologist and Teen Expert

What are some of your best tips on anonymous bullying?

One thing that a student can do is watch out for other students. One of the most effective means of bullying is bystander intervention. Kids in anonymous environments don’t stand up for themselves. Just because it’s online, it’s anonymous doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it. You can intervene and remain anonymous. New state laws protect the anonymity of a student looking out for another student. –Brian Taylor, Vector Solutions

It is a form of helping when we tell an adult what is going on. We get the bystander phenomena because kids don’t want to get involved, they don’t want to have repercussions. We’ve got to let them know that this is about helping someone in your community. If you discover your child is a bully; it doesn’t mean your child is going to be a criminal when they grow up. It is at this point in their life they have maladaptive socialization. As a parent, don’t bury your head in the sand like an ostrich and not accept the fact that your kid is bullying someone. –Dr. John Mayer, Clinical Psychologist and Teen Expert

How can parents and educators talk to kids about bullying?

If you’re a parent or a teacher, you have to think of informing your students in age-appropriate ways. It is important to be balanced as you talk about the problem of bullying. Don’t alarm and terrify. Remind students, it’s okay to speak up. –Brian Taylor, Vector Solutions

Share tips for parents and educators on how to see the signs of a bully

Parents and teachers need to look inside themselves, how are we presenting ourselves as adults. Kids look at adults as models. First, look at yourself and look how you’re presenting yourself because those kids are looking at you. Second, how we are going to interface with the person who is doing the bullying? Don’t reinforce behaviors that are along that continuum of being a bully. Look at how you are reinforcing the behavior in the bully. You need to step in when you see a bully do these things and give consequences for it. –Dr. John Mayer, Clinical Psychologist and Teen Expert

What are some frequently asked questions about bullying?

The biggest one that I see is that we feel helpless towards this. I want to go back and introduce that phrase earlier “peer pressure”. Nothing that I can do as a parent because once they’re out of my eyesight the peer group takes over. That’s a huge myth for parents. We are still powerful entities in children’s lives. Don’t ever forget that. –Dr. John Mayer, Clinical Psychologist and Teen Expert

How can parents protect their kids from bullying?

Every kid is vulnerable to bullying but certain populations are at more risk that others. Students with disabilities are more prone to being bullied than their more enabled peers. If you’re looking out for friends; look out also for those students with disabilities and LGBT students. For students and parents alike, you’ve got to see yourself as a member of a community. It doesn’t mean that all bullies are bad. A lot of times it can be indicative of an emotional behavior disorder or something else. First step of resolution is speaking up and making sure that the target or victim of bullying is protected. –Brian Taylor, Vector Solutions

 

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