Wouldn’t it be strange if schools required PE Class (aka: Physical Education or Gym Class) for students with physical health conditions such as asthma, allergies, and obesity? And what if PE was optional for the so-called healthy kids? Can you imagine the shame and stigma for the kids in Gym Class? Thankfully, schools don’t do that! But it’s a decent metaphor for how mental health is handled in K-12 schools. In the vast majority of schools, mental health is considered…
In our new book, Mental Health 101 for Teens, all four authors talk about our personal mental health journeys, and there’s one thing we have in common: back when we were teens, we all felt some level of shame around the topic of mental health. That is the essence of mental health stigma. It’s the common shame, fear, and misconceptions surrounding the topic of mental health. Stigma permeates our culture as if mental health is only experienced by people who…
When I was 15, I was sent to a three-week intervention program for struggling teens… rebellious teens… teens who get in trouble. That was my life, full of negativity and bitterness. I had gone through a lot of hurtful events with my family and at school, and I was basically mad at the world. That intervention ended up being the wakeup call I needed. Even after the three-week program, I continued going to counseling sessions on a regular basis. And…
Is Bullying Prevention Worth It?
Over the past five years I’ve done bullying prevention assemblies at over 500 schools, and I’ve often heard people say, “Ya know… if this helps even one person, it’s totally worth it!”
I always nod in agreement because every single life is infinitely valuable. On the other hand, I’ve always thought of it as just a nice saying. I mean, if it only helps one student, is it worth it financially? Honestly, I couldn’t live with myself if my speeches and curriculum only helped a small number of kids. Thankfully I’ve seen the proof and received the thank-you letters, so I don’t doubt the effectiveness of my program. I’ve only ever doubted the statement about the one person.
When I speak at school assemblies, people often ask, “What is the difference between bullying and teasing?” Bullying is a hot button issue for sure, and I can see why some people feel it is overplayed. If all we do is “raise awareness” about bullying (rather than teach kids how to respond to it), then guess what happens? Kids report a lot of bullying. So what is bullying? (And what isn’t bullying?)
A parent recently asked me, “Is it possible for a teacher to bully a student?” In essence she was saying, “My child is being bullied by a teacher, but I don’t know what to do about it.” As a parent myself, I know where she’s coming from. We’ve had a couple (not a lot) of negative experiences with teachers over the years, and it definitely feels like bullying. The behavior is much the same: one person attempts to take power over another person in a way that is negative, hurtful, or abusive. So is it technically “bullying” for a teacher to treat a student this way? (more…)
Is bullying really getting worse in schools? It's a hot topic in the news, but real statistics on bullying are few and far between. I'm very grateful to the team of bullying experts at WalletHub who put together these new Bullying Statistics for 2016 »
As a parent, I know what it’s like to have a child come home from school after being bullied. It breaks your heart. The struggle for many parents is to know when to step in and intervene, and when to step back and give kids the space to try and solve it themselves. Of course, we should always help our kids by being good listeners and providing advice for how to respond to bullying. But when should we step in and intervene for our kids? (more…)
This article has the potential to make a lot of people angry. As a full time anti-bullying speaker, would I ever advise parents to “step back” when their kids are bullied. Well… yes. Sometimes. But that doesn’t mean we should refuse to help them. What I mean is: there are times when our help isn’t help at all – times when we can accidentally make the situation worse. (more…)
A lot of parents tell their kids, “Don’t let the bullies get the best of you.” It’s a popular thing to say. It has a nice ring to it. Obviously no one wants to give the best parts of themselves to a bully. The crazy thing is: this same saying can mean different things to different people, and how you understand it makes all the difference.