What age levels do you speak to?

I speak to students at elementary, middle, and high school assemblies, as well as youth conferences and colleges… and many of them go through my Victimproof.org Anti-Bullying Curriculum. I also do parent programs and teacher trainings after school. My goal is for kids and adults to go through Victimproof together. There’s nothing more powerful in the life of a student than a trustworthy adult who invests in them!

Does “Victimproof” blame victims?

No. If you’ve been bullied, I know how you feel, and I don’t blame you for what happened. That stuff is real, and it can hurt for a long time. If you’re going through bullying you need to report it right away. And if the people in charge don’t listen to you, then you need to keep reporting it until you get the real help you need. Telling is not tattling… telling is brave. But you can’t just stop there. You still have some mental, heart-level work to do… and this can take years. You have to talk it out. You have to unpack the pain with a trusted adult or a counselor, and ultimately you have to release the desire for revenge. Because when you do, you break the power of bullying, you break the cycle, and you set yourself free. At its core, Victimproof teaches that even if you get bullied or victimized, you don’t have to stay a victim forever. Victimproof is a way out. It’s a way of taking power over your life.

Does your program include any political or religious content?

Nope. I speak on universal values that we all agree on, like Respect, Responsibility, and Self-Esteem. I do not speak on the topics of politics, religion, or student sexuality. I believe those conversations are best had between students and their parents.

How long are your presentations?

My typical speech runs about 50-minutes followed by a 10-minute meet-n-greet time where I connect with students. (We can shorten/lengthen the program at your request.)

How much do you charge to speak at schools and conferences?

We work hard to make our programs very affordable. Contact Kelli Masacek ([email protected]) for a quick quote. Better yet, fill out a booking form and she will contact you.

How much funding does a school lose if a student drops out due to bullying?

The short answer is… a lot! In the United States the median per-pupil funding is $11,000. Some states spend upwards of $20,000 per K-12 student. That’s every kid, every single year.

You can look up your state’s per-pupil spending at THIS LINK. You can even dig deeper and see how many kids are getting bullied and how many are dropping out due to bullying at THIS LINK. And beyond the loss in funding, some schools are being sued by parents for not doing enough to prevent bullying or cyberbullying.

CONCLUSION: When considering the cost of a bullying prevention program, we should also consider the cost of doing nothing; because that cost is very high. On the other hand, if we focus on value, we can ask deeper questions like “How much is a program worth if it prevents even one of our kids from dropping out or changing schools?”

How can we find funding for your program?

Booking Tom Thelen to speak at your school is a great investment in your students, and it can create a defining moment for the school. Here are some creative ways to make the budget work:

  • Team up with two or three other local schools and schedule multiple assemblies on the same day. This greatly reduces the price for each school, and it helps me to reach a lot of students in a short amount of time. I normally do three or four assemblies per day.
  • Another good option is to find sponsors. Make a list of the largest businesses in your area, and then go visit the top five in person. Ask them to underwrite the program, and offer something in return (such as showing their logo at the event, or letting them introduce the session). Remember: when they donate to the school, it’s a tax write off!
  • Print off my bio and present it to your local PTO group. If they can’t fund it directly, they can normally steer you toward sponsors.
  • Many schools use their curriculum budget to pay for the assemblies. Since the program comes with digital download cards of my book, it can be funded as a curriculum expense. Or buy enough hard copies of my book, and I can come speak for free.
  • You can also get creative and write a grant to secure funding. Here is a list of grant writing resources.

Why are you so passionate about bullying prevention and student leadership?

In my book I describe how I went to a counseling program when I was 15. The positive impact of that program and the investment of wise mentors in my life helped make me the person I am today. My mission now is to take that message to the audience that needs it most, our students.

Tell us about your family.

It’s the best! My wife’s name is Casie, and we have four great kids: Addie, Jack, and our twins, Ellie and Lucy. The kids love playing outside, making up games, and having tickle fights. We live close to both sets of grand parents too, so we visit them all the time.

What’s in your earbuds?

I’m a huge fan of the Beatles and U2. (How could I not be?!!) I also like Imagine Dragons, Cake, Phoenix, The Black Keys, and Cage the Elephant.

What are your favorite books and movies?

Some of my favorite books are: Boundaries, Failing Forward, Scary Close, and Good to Great. My favorite movies are The Truman Show, Napoleon Dynamite, One Fine Day, and of course, The Shawshank Redemption.

Have another question for Tom?

Email him at Tom @ TomThelen.com. For booking inquiries contact Kelli Masacek: [email protected].