Monday, October 7, 2013

Bully vs. Bullying

This weekend my wife was out of town and I needed to go back "home" and see some family and help out chaperoning a family member's 11th birthday party sleepover camp-out.  So we (our two kiddos, the two Labs, and I) made the almost-three-hour-drive back to where we moved from. And over the course of that 28 hour visit, I thought a lot about how our kids behave and how we address their behavior.

You know, a lot can be said in the power of words. Simply rephrasing a word can have a lot of impact. 

As parents and teachers, we always want to make sure we're addressing the behaviors and not the actual make-up of the kiddo. For example, this weekend had it's fair-share of fighting with their sibling, arguing with family members over whose toy is whose, throwing a fit, acting up, etc. But never once did I ever look at them and say "YOU are bad". No, we address the behavior and talk about how we can change. We tell them we don't like their behavior but that they are still a good person.

So what about a Bully. When we call a kid a "Bully" what we have done is label that kid and addressed his core make-up and not really the behavior. If they think they are a Bully, they may also believe that the behavior can't change, that that is what they are and will always be. But OH, how wrong they are! I LOVE a success story of seeing someone who used to bully others and now is running around making good choices with tons of friends and respect from teachers.

It's about time we start using the word BULLY as a verb and NOT a noun! They are bullying... but I don't like saying they ARE a bully. Their choices are bad. But they are not bad.

That is why I have tried erasing BULLY as a noun from all of my lessons. It has to start with us, as teachers, aides, administrative staff, Counselors, social workers, etc. If we put as much effort into erasing BULLY as a noun as we do replacing Guidance with School in our email signature lines, I think something amazing would happen! Kids might realize their behaviors can change. That they are more than the things they do.

Everyone has shared some pretty awesome resources for addressing Bullying so I don't want to take up a ton of time reinventing the wheel. But we all love tech-y stuff so here are a couple videos I use to address Bullying.

I use this video with 2nd and 3rd grades and we talk about the Perpetrator (used to replace "Bully"... see what I did there? :), the Victim, and the Bystander. Kids really like it and love pointing out why Zoe is so mean.

I also use this one for 4th and 5th:

Last year I used the actual music video from YouTube but our Corporation has since blocked YouTube (along with just about everything else) so I now use SchoolTube ~ which, by the way, I LOVE. My students like this version because they can see the words and we can talk about the story of what happens, how it made her feel, and how it makes us feel when the same things happen.

No one wants to be bullied, but no one wants to be labeled. If we are calling someone a bad name (like "bully") repeatedly meant to upset them and we do it over and over and over on purpose, what's that called? Oh yea... BULLYING! Don't be a bully!

Be amazing!



  1. I so agree with you and have been trying to educate students, parents and staff (even counseling colleagues!) about this same issue. While it's taken three years, slowly I hear less, "he's/she's a bully" and more "using bullying behavior" from students which has been my goal. It seems that it is taking longer for adults to make the transition, but not for lack of understanding....just habit. And those die hard I guess. :)

  2. I totally agree labels can be pretty powerful. use the terms aggressor/bullying behavior and target rather than victim.

    My kids also get a kick out of Mean Girls by Rachel Crow. ;)