Bullies and
Youth Violence

Q&A About the Book Taking the Bully by the Horns

1. Why was "Taking the Bully by the Horns" written?

There is a great need for information on bullies now as a lot of children are having problems. I know this because I receive a lot of mail asking for help from parents, children and educators. Also, our book was written right before all the school shootings and bomb threats began so there is a definite NEED for it.

2. How did Dr. Carter become your co-author?

My book, "Taking the Bully by the Horns" is the children's version of Dr. Jay Carter's best-selling book, "Nasty People." Dr. Carter asked me to write this book because he had liked my short stories that I wrote for children. He had placed an ad in the newspaper for a co-author and said he picked me over 50 other authors who submitted writing samples because he felt I had a way with talking to kids.

3. How does his influence affect the book?

Jay Carter is a psychologist and owner of the Center for Self-esteem & Carter Counseling. Our book, "Taking the Bully by the Horns" is largely about self-esteem and self-help because of his influence. The book not only teaches kids how to handle bullies, but also shows kids how they can improve their self-esteem and feel good about themselves. This will help them grow into healthy, strong adults.

4. Who is the book intended to help?

Educators are helped by using "Taking the Bully by the Horns" to control their school's bullies and also to help their school's victims. Teachers & parents are helped by reading the book to their children or having them read it themselves. And children/young adults are helped - both victims AND bullies. The victims will learn how to handle bullies and where to get help. The bullies will learn how their negative actions are affecting people and how to change their behavior. Both are helped with self-esteem as well which is very important when dealing with these issues.

5. How can we order your books & videos?

There is info. available at our web site: www.kathynoll.com or, to order our four videos and books by mail, please send $12.95 each plus $3.95 S/H to: Kathy Noll, 3300 Chestnut St., Reading, PA 19605 Thank you. Schools may use purchase orders. Discounts are available for orders of 20 or more items for workshops/Dr. Carter's programs/classroom use.

6. Define Bullying; what does it consist of?

Bullying consists of ongoing threats, physical attacks, words, gestures, or social exclusion directed at a student or students by a student or group of students who are older, bigger, or more powerful. Besides physical bullying, there is also verbal bullying and mental bullying which may include: teasing, swearing, put downs, gossiping, twisting your words around, judging you unfairly, making you self-conscious, passing blame, bossing, embarrassing you in front of a group, making you cry. The bully will try to "control" by making you feel small so he/she can feel big.

7. What are the statistics on children being bullied?

According to the US Dept. of Justice: 1 out of 4 children are being bullied. 83% fear harassment in the bathroom. Over 100,000 kids have carried guns to school. More statistics are available at our web site.

8. If a child is hit, should he/she strike back to defend him/herself?

In my book, "Taking the Bully by the Horns" we call this the "bully cycle." Bullies create more bullies. This is no good. The cycle needs to stop somewhere. If the child had tried confronting the bully or talking out the situation peacefully to no avail and was backed up against a wall so that he/she couldn't walk or run away and actually needed to defend himself/herself, that is a different story (worse case senario). But when we're talking about teasing or verbal abuse, tell your child, "You don't need to listen to that. You're better than that. Just walk away."

9. What sort of feedback have you gotten from those who read your book?

Those who have shared "Taking the Bully by the Horns" with their children/students tell me the children feel stronger after reading it. They also understand bullying behavior better, and improved their self-esteem. One handicapped boy touched me when he told me he read my book Christmas day when he received it. He didn't put it down until he was finished and said it was the best book he ever read and that it made him feel a lot better about himself.

10. How are schools using your books?

Schools/Teachers need to be aware of conflicts and to not be afraid to get involved. Start your own "peace" programs. One example would be students in Hillsboro H.S. in Nashville, Tenn., who created the "I will pledge" and urge fellow students to sign the pledge not to mock or bully others who dress, act, look, or talk differently. Teachers are also using, "Taking the Bully by the Horns" for role playing in the classrooms. Since I believe in my book, and the help it's been giving children, I suggest reading it aloud to the group. The book is written in first person, so you will be addressing them, and speaking directly to them. This way, you can teach them the skills they need to handle bullies and feel good about themselves (self-esteem/life skills). I ask questions in both my bullying books, and you can pause to get their opinions. I also added a bit of humor so it will be enjoyable for them AND they will learn something. Then, you could try some role playing, where they take turns acting out situations where they play both bullies and victims. This will show them how it "feels" and give them ideas on what to do to help themselves and others.

11. What information does your web site provide?

Articles (which may be used and printed out), advice and statistics for educators, parents and children. Also, information on Dr. Carter, myself and also on our books & other items- including how to order. I am constantly adding more helpful info. as I find/research it and as we publish new books.

12. How does a bully become a bully?

He (or she) may be angry at problems he's having in his own life and is looking for people to use as punching bags. It could also be a learned behavior from being bullied at home by family members. Another reason we hear a lot about is the influence of violence in the media. But the major reason is that they really have a low self-esteem. They make look high and mighty but that is arrogance. Don't mistake arrogance for a high self-esteem. If someone truly has a good self-esteem they would not feel the need to control others.

13. What signs can we look for to know if a child has become a bully?

Damaging property, setting fires, torturing animals, violent rage/outbursts/tantrums, angry at everyone/everything, was bullied himself/herself (in my book we call this the "Bully Cycle"), lack of respect for others, a controller, lack of remorse...

14. What are useful questions you can ask a bully?

What did you do? Why was that a bad thing to do? Who did you hurt? What were you trying to accomplish? Next time you have that goal, how will you meet it without hurting anybody? How will you help the person you hurt? These questions will help them to: Acknowledge their own actions and the consequences they have on themselves and others, develop shame and guilt ("I don't want to go through that again" & "I hurt someone"), change their actions to stay out of trouble, and learn to trust and form relationships with helping adults.

15. What are the signs to look for to know if a child is a victim of a bully?

A change in behavior, such as suffering a lack of concentration and/or becoming withdrawn, excessively clingy, depressed, fearful, emotionally up and down. Happy at the weekend but not during the week. A drop in performance in school or at work. Physical signs: stomach aches, headaches, sleep difficulties, bruising, torn clothing, bingeing on food, cigarettes, alcohol...

16. What can kids do to deal with bullies?

We offer many suggestions depending on the situation. One thing to do for verbal bullying is ignore them. Bullies feel the need to "control." They want to get a reaction (anger/tears) out of you. If they don't get this, it won't be any fun for them and they'll become bored and give up.

17. What about a child "confronting" a bully?

We suggest confronting the bully only if the bully is not physically violent. This is only suggested if the bullying is verbal. Therefore the bully should be confronted and questioned as to why he is doing this. "Why are you saying these things to me?" "Why are you trying to hurt me; I've never done anything to you." If the bully sees his "victim" is actually a respectable thinking, feeling human being, he may not think of him anymore as his door mat. The bully doesn't always have a reason for bullying a particular child so when asked why he is doing what he is doing, it may stump him. It may actually make him think. This is just one idea to try. It is also good to stand your ground with a bully. To be strong but kind. You need to show that you respect yourself, you are strong, and are not interested in playing the bully's games. The bully is more prone to go for those who look weak, have poor social skills, hold their heads down, speak without confidence etc....the bully sees them as easier to control.

18. What can parents do if they think their child is being bullied?

You *know* there is a problem. The first step is to get your child to admit there is a problem. He/she may be too embarrassed or scared, and might deny it. They need to know they can trust you and look to you for help. (Encourage them) First give them this option: They might want to settle the situation themselves before getting you involved (you calling the school or bully's parents). You might try giving them some ideas. For example: If your child is getting bullied because of poor social skills - his shoes are always untied, he walks with his head down, shoulders slouched, avoids eye contact, shirt half tucked in, unclean hair or body, always biting nails or picking nose - You can help him/her by teaching them better social skills. You also might try a type of role-playing to see how your child acts around other kids. This gives you the opportunity to help your child work out acceptable responses. (especially if he/she is being bullied verbally) Allow your children to confide in you and listen with an open mind. The victims must first admit on their own that there is a problem. Allowing children to handle it themselves will help with their self-esteem. If the bullying is physically dangerous, or the victims want the parents to get involved, the parents should make sure both the school and the parents of the bullies are notified of the situation. They can also provide a safe means of transport to and from school or suggest their child walk in a group, never alone.

19. What is the difference between the boy bully and the girl bully?

They are the same in many ways. However girls are prone to specifically bully through gossip, ostracizing, and forming "cliques." Girls and boys both use teasing and verbal abuse; however, the boys are more prone to use physical violence. 80% of the time an argument with a bully will end up in a physical fight.

20. What is the best way to approach kids who have been victimized?

Don't question victims intently or ask anything that might make them feel that they have done something wrong. Broach the subject obliquely, giving them the option to talk about it or not. Let them know that you are willing to listen at any time. When they start to talk, listen carefully to what they have to say. Once they begin to discuss the bullying, it may seem to be all they can talk about. Be patient and let them go on - it's better for them to let it all out than to bottle it up. Don't overreact - victims need rational advice and help, not emotional overload. Believe the victim and not any authority figure who may dismiss the claims of bullying simply as "part of growing up" or "part of the rough and tumble of life." ("Boys will be boys") No one should have to put up with bullying. Ask victims if they have any suggestions about changing the situation. Seek advice from an individual or a support group with experience in this area. (Dr. Carter's presentations cover these areas.) Keep an eye on the victim. If they threaten suicide, take this very seriously and obtain professional help immediately.

21. Does an individual set himself/herself up as a victim?

You never tell the victim "it's their fault" when a bully bullies them. The bully is the one with the problem. The victim needs to know he's OK and did not cause this. However there are certain kids who are more likely to be bullied. For example: those with poor social skills. You could reduce your chances of being bullied by walking straight and tall, shoulders back/head held high, making eye contact, speaking loudly and clearly, assuming an air of confidence with yourself and your surroundings.

22. What can parents do to prevent their children from getting bullied?

Parents really need to get more involved in their children's lives. That way they will be more sensitive to problems occurring. Promote honesty. Ask questions. Listen with an open mind and focus on understanding. Allow children to express how they feel, and treat a child's feelings with respect. Set a good example by showing them a healthy temperament. Settle conflicts by talking things out peacefully. Congratulate or reward them when you see them using these positive skills to settle a difference. Teach them to identify "the problem", and focus on the problem, "not" attacking "the person." Tell them conflicts are a way of life, but violence doesn't have to be. And finally, teaching them to take responsibility for their own actions will make for a healthier child, a healthier self-esteem, and there will be no need for any "bullies" or "victims" in the world.

23. What are your local schools doing to lessen the problem of bullying?

Our local schools participated in Berks County's Annual Week Without Violence. One program included, "Hands Around Violence." Students made paper cut outs of their hand prints and wrote nonviolent messages on them. For example, "I will not use my hands or words for hurting." The "Pledge Hands" will serve as a visual reminder that together they can make a difference. Other activities included a white out, where students wore as much white as possible to symbolize peace, a unity day, where students wore their school colors, and a smile day, where each student received a smile card and handed that card over to the first person to smile at them.

24. What can we all do to help prevent bullying?

It's all about talking it out: Child to Child (Peer Mediation), Teacher to Parent (PTO's, PTA's), Teacher to Teacher (in service days), Parent to Child (at home). There should be town meetings involving the parents, students, and entire school faculty to discuss Conflict Resolution. The teachers should also allow the students to give "their" ideas on how they would like situations handled. For younger students, role playing of "victims" and "bullies" in the classroom will help them understand the cause and effect - how it feels. Another idea for younger kids getting picked on could be to have an older student assigned as a type of mentor that he could talk to, and who would step in to settle a conflict or dispute. Groups have also been created where victims and their parents can meet with other victims and discuss solutions. It's comforting to know you're not alone, and friendships can be made there.

25. Any other ideas of anti-bully programs that have been put into action?

The schools can also pass out questionnaires, and do surveys or polls to find out what students and parents think about what is happening and what they would like to see done. Some teachers have told me that their schools put up a peace flag outside on days when there is no conflict in the school. This promotes a pride in the school, and teaches them that even one person's actions can have consequences that affect everyone. Other schools are using posters, and having the students wear certain colors on certain days.

26. How are schools using "peer mediation" to combat bullying?

In mediation, trained students help their classmates identify the problems behind the conflicts and to find solutions. Peer mediation is not about finding who is right or wrong. Instead, students are encouraged to move beyond the immediate conflict and learn how to get along with each other - an important skill in today's world. Peer mediators ask the disputing students to tell their stories and ask questions for clarification. The mediators help the students identify ways to solve the conflict. Mediation Steps: Agree upon the ground rules. Each student tells his/her story. Verify the stories. Discuss the stories. Generate solutions. Discuss solutions. Select a solution. Sign a contract. Participants should be willing to: Solve the problem. Tell the truth. Listen without interrupting. Be respectful. Take responsibility for carrying out the agreement. Keep the situation confidential.

27. Anything else you'd like to add?

Many schools admit that the lockers are the most common place that bullying takes place. Teachers could take turns standing by these lockers during class changes. Another great idea schools are using is to have teachers hold up pictures of kids faces while asking the students, "How does this person feel?" This promotes a discussion aimed at helping kids to identify and describe emotions. And for teens, pictures of conflicts or stressful situations can be used to promote discussion & ideas for resolution.

Brainstorm with students a list of fact-based questions they have about bullying. Students might want to know, for example, the percentage of students who are bullied, the percentage of suicides that are blamed on bullying, the number of incidents of school violence that are the result of bullying, the percentage of bullies who commit violent crimes as adults, the percentage of schools that have anti-bully programs, and so on. Select five to ten of the most important questions, arrange students in pairs or small groups, and ask each group to research print or online resources to find the answer to its assigned question. Combine the questions into a quiz, either online or in print, and invite students to take the quiz. I will continue to add more ideas to my web site as to what other schools are doing to stop bullies:

©2012 Kathy Noll

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In violence, we forget who we are. - Mary McCarthy

Kathy Noll is the co-author of Taking the Bully by the Horns. She has had her short stories/articles published in magazines along with interviews, helped NBC news monitor a classroom in Philadelphia for bullying behavior, and also helped many people with their own bully problems through her book, educational and family related Internet chats, message board hosting, and e-mail. She has also spoken on radio and television shows discussing the topics of school violence and self-esteem. Most recently she appeared with co-author Dr. Carter on the Montel Williams show where they talked to kids about bullies, and promoted their book, "Taking the Bully by the Horns." She also works as a consultant for various TV News & Talk Shows. Her second book, Encounters with Every-Day Angels, is a workbook on bullying and character development that can be used in the classroom. www.kathynoll.com or Email.

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