Bully-Be-Gone. What Can You Do as a Parent?

I must have posted a half-dozen times, here, and in other blog sites, concerning this subject, but, Hell’s Bells, bullying is still here, probably worse than ever.  Bullying has always been here, but doesn’t it seem to you like it’s actually – if that is possible – getting worse?  I mean, come on – a bunch of bullies set another kid on fire!  Damn.  And, here, in my area of Pennsylvania, big boys are still harassing and beating up on little boys; girls are terrorizing other girls; and, when the intended victim is not so small and defenseless, bullies are recruiting more bullies to gang up on the poor kid!

Fact is bullying is one of our most common forms of violence in this country.  Which is scary because our country leads the free world in home grown violence.  Over 30% of our children are either victims of or perpetrators of bullying.  I could go into the statistics of the psychological scars of bullying, what it does to both the victim and the perpetrator.  But, as a parent, I suspect you would much rather read about what you can do to help your child – if, of course, he/she is a victim of bullying.

You have heard this before from me, but you’re going to hear it again because it is vitally important.  You need to accept the role of your child’s Safety Coach. And just like any good coach, you need to take a caring and supportive approach to the issues, but add another element – a Drill Sergeant’s Combat Eye – toward the skills you need to teach and maybe even repetitively train “into” your child assure that he/she will be able to prevent, avoid, and, when necessary, prevail over the bully.

  1. BE AWARE OF ANY SUBTLE OR OBVIOUS CHANGES IN YOUR CHILD. Be sensitive to any cluster of changes in your child regarding the grades he/she brings home; his or her study habits; attitudes toward going to school; hygiene; and/or in his or her enthusiasm in taking part in school activities, etc.  A child who normally seems cheerful about going to school but is now moody and withdrawn, and who is later and later for school, bringing home lackluster grades.
  2. ASK QUESTIONS. Show you care by asking artful questions.  Maybe not, “Hey, Dude, are you getting bullied?” but questions that show an unflagging interest in what he/she is doing in school, what activities is he/she involved in, who his or her friends are, what has happened that seems to have you upset?  Do not allow the child to get away with vague value statements.
  3. ONCE YOU ARE REASONABLY SURE OF YOUR SUSPICIONS – even if your kid denies being bullied – contact responsible authorities and/or his/her teacher who you “know” to be caring at the school and let them know what you have learned, or what you fear.
  4. TAKE ON THE ROLE OF SAFETY COACH. There is still a good chance the bullying will not stop.  It may even manifest itself into neighborhood or computer or telephone harassment.  As your child’s Safety Coach you definitely can teach him/her the skills to Escape and Evade these jerks and Jerkettes.   Let me assure you as a Bully-Be-Gone Instructor that you can do much more than I can by teaching your kids these skills at home.
  5. Teach Your Child How To Adopt A Tough-Target Personality, including how to stand up for themselves; How To Stride Confidently while Scanning the Environment with his/her eyes (instead of walking “meekly” with eyes cast down).  Respond verbally to any and all challenges.  Not to allow the bully to verbally insult, threaten, or otherwise abuse hi8m/her without  strong verbal response:
  • “Hey, I don’t appreciate what you just said.”
  • Ask:  Allison, how about getting out of my face?”
  • Tell:  “Allison, I’m telling you to back off!”  (Combine the words with a back-step and raise your hands correspondent to where his/her hands are (See:  Nearest Weapon/Nearest Target ).
  • Demand:  Combine your command with a hard-step to the rear and assume a fighting stance.  “Get back.  Get back, now!” And, of course, once your child does this, teach him or her to have a definitive plan of action (which, actually, should have been formulated in your child’s mind before the bully even started his or her confrontation.  A reasonable and doable plan of action, especially if you, the Safety Coach, had helped the child develop and train the physical part of the plan, will always help your child’s confidence).
  • TEACH YOUR CHILD A RELIABLE “PRE-SHOT ROUTINE.” In any sport requiring nerves, accuracy and hand-eye coordination (golf, tennis, basketball, for example), there is a pre-shot routine that coaches teach their athlete-students.  You can teach your child the same type of Reliable Pre-Fight Routine, a routine that actually will work so well your child will probably come out on top without ever having to fight.
  1. BREATHE DON’T FREEZE. 98 out of 100 victims freeze because they don’t breathe. As a result, the element of Fear destroys whatever Plan of Action they might have had.  Worse, fear freezes their ability to think, talk, and move.  Teach your child to inhale through their nose, hold the air in  for a count of two, and exhale through the mouth deeply (count of two) to get oxygenated blood flowing to the brain.
  2. HAVE A VERBAL RESPONSE PREPARED. Possible the worse thing your child can do is to make no verbal response to a bully’s taunts.  A controlled and “normal” verbal statement that reflects no fear is best.
  3. ALWAYS CONTROL YOUR SPACE. Never allow the bully to invade your space.  It is yours.  STEP DIAGONALLY TO CONTROL YOUR SPACE.
  4. DISTRACT AND ESCAPE. More likely than not, if your child has a good “Pre-Shot Routine” and carries the routine out, the bully will have lost what he or she is after more than anything.  And that is the drive to see fear in your son or daughter’s eyes.  To prop him or herself up in his or her own eyes, and/or in the eyes of his or her audience by diminishing your child.  Likely, by now, the bully would have said something face-saving (“Well, this is not over douchebag—“), and then backing away.   If, however, the bully is still standing there and the clock in your child’s head (instincts) says “it’s time to get out of Dodge, ” a good way to accomplish this is to Distract and Depart, which is one of my best Counter-Bully (or, for that matter, Counter-Sexual Predator/Counter-Criminal Tactics) Tactics.
  • Look, Point and Go!  With the bully concentrating on your, look past his shoulder, point and say”Oh, Mr. Smith (a name of a teacher, principal), I’ll be right there.”  When the bully breaks eye contact with you, “Open the Door,” Rock the Door,” or perform the Hip Torque Technique (See the next post), and go!
  • Redirect Focus. The bull is singularly focused on your child.  Teach your child how to fracture the bully’s focus and redirect it back onto him or herself.  Almost any kind of verbal distraction will work here.  Point at his crotch and say, “Damn, look!  You pissed yourself!”  When he looks down, you are gone!  Believe me, distractions work.

In the next post.  When All Else Fails, rely on The Fighting Arts.

Until then, Stay Safe.


  1. FIGHTING ARTS PLAYBOOK, which will be featured in my next post.

Until Then, Stay Safe.


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12 Responses to “Bully-Be-Gone. What Can You Do as a Parent?”

  1. thik that bullie are looking for something they are not getting at home. they are making fun of the other person were they dont have something that that person has

  2. Kim, thank you for your thoughtful response. I probably have less of a clue as to what inspires a bull to bully. You could be right. Matter of fact, I am sure parenting and homelife has a lot to do with it, and parenting & jealousy could certainly apply. Add peer pressure, unsettled anger issues, self confidence – trying to prove oneself – and the “opportunity” provided by another child who appears to be an ideal victim.

    Thanks again.


  3. I have started posting on this site because i think its important for adults to see everything that happens to children from a childs eyes. i have a solution, but you won’t like it. numbers children need to be in large groups and not be afraid to hurt their bullies back

  4. Christian: Darn Skippy I like your solution to the bully problem. I like you also. That is a great suggestion. Always be in the company of others. Not only that, have a pact between you all that you will always have the others’ backs. Someone bullies one of you, the others will take up his or her cause. Bullies are often cowardly & wil likely back down when faced with more than one person and/or when facing someone who is willing to fight back.

    Best of luck, CP.


  5. Harry,
    I enjoyed reading your suggestions and have a question for you. When you have exhausted the above steps to prevent bullying where do you turn with the schools when they will not do anything? I currently have a child that has been bullied for years now. We even have pressed charges because my child has been hurt. Attempted to get a PFA. Filed complaints with the school that date back 8 years. Short of selling the house and moving or transfering my child whats left to do?

    Thank you for any advice.

  6. Jason: Thank you for responding to my post about bullying. You have my heartfelt sympathy, concern, as well as my admiration, none of which is what you are looking for, which is a solution to what has to be a troubling & heartbreaking dilemma. I ay “admiration” because you have done darn near everything, and probably more, than I would have suggested. Have you consulted with an attorney about your situation? I have to believe that a good, aggressive attorney would be salivating to get his or her teeth into your school’s administration. You probably have seeing that you have filed complaints. But, if you have filed a complaint and documented every incident, your child’s injury(ies), etc. & still the school has done nothing, any lawyer worth her/his $400 three-piece suit would be having a field day. Have you considered going to your newspaper? Mayhap talking with an editor, reporter, etc?
    I don’t know, but I am getting pissed off just writing this. The scars of bullying can haunt your child into and beyond adulthood. I know this personally. Just the fact that he/she has confided in you about this – many victims say nothing out of shame – says a lot about you.
    Sorry for rambling. I feel kind of helpless here, but, please, do not give up.


    Keep in touch with me, if you wish, at harrywigder@rcn.com

  7. Hi Hammer,
    Thank you for your response. I did contact a lawyer and well I have to find another one this one wanted $950 for a letter to the school. I am making and calls and sending many emails to the school trying to make any progress.

    PS if anything new happens I will stop in and post a follow up.

  8. My two children (twins) have been bullied for over 2 years now.

    Principal promised ongoing that he would take care of all the bullying events but he never did, yet he told me he was working on the issues.

    Other problems in the farming community school is that the teachers were the worst bullies of all. They were predatory and nightmarish.

    I hard them talking a few times and they were like 8 year old kids but the principals role was to protect the teachers and in turn the teachers would protect him. It was a mutual admiration society

    It got to the point we had to pull them out 8 days before end of year.

    Please help me.

  9. Ms Linda: I feel for you, really I do. This is a very serious problem and I can understand how this must make you feel, especially when you consider the long-term damage this can do to your children. I am at a loss, however, as to what I can do to help you. Believe me, if you have any suggestions, I will go to whatever lengths to get something done.

    I say this because I am sure you have gone to the school several times to try to get some changes made. You have probably gone to the local media with your dilemma. The media is a great resource for getting a blinding, bright limelight focused on the issues at hand. Especially when you consider how much national attention is focused on the problems associated with this kind of bullying. You have probably been persistent, too.

    It is not easy, but BE PERSISTENT! Don’t let this slide.

    Please contact me with any suggestions, questions, concerns, requests at 484-542-0040 or harrywigder@rcn.com

    Best of luck


  10. Hammer,
    I was looking for some info on the accountablility a school has if they don’t deal with a bully. We have a student who has a history going back 6 years in our school. Last week he punched a kid in the face 2 times at the lunch table. He was given detention. Though my son was not involved in the event or has never been bullied by this student, I felt compelled to go to the principal & demand an explanation for the lack of discipline. I was told they don’t look at he history of the child, only in how he’s been behaving the last 9 weeks (our grading period). Because he’d been “good” so far this year, he received the appropriate discipline. I believe the school is obligated to take into account this student’s history. I belieive the school is setting itself up for a serious liability lawsuit. How do I get them to wake up? Let me also stress this is a private school! They have the ability to remove the student permanently.

  11. Hi, Jamie: I believe you are right. However, as far as the exact liability circumstances, I am at not sure. I will look into it. I know that the school is responsible for the safety of its students. No doubt. I will check with a local principal.