Archive for the ‘Intervening’ Category

What to do?


What to do when your child just hurts?

Day after day he’s scared, he’s afraid.

It’s daunting the power a bully exerts.

Should I take a stance and dissuade?


Dissuade all those who still believe,

Boys must be boys, there’s nothing amiss.

And girls are so harmless; it’s just so naive.

The adults at school are remiss.


Remiss in their task to protect.

Kids are at risk; as parents, we know.

When they don’t intervene, I call that neglect.

A failure of faith we bestow.


Bestow on those powers that be,

To ensure they’re safe; they’re in their care.

When we send kids to school, we want an emcee.

A person who’s fair and aware.


Aware that children are daunted,

By not knowing to whom they can turn.

We tuck them in bed, their nightmares are haunted.

But next day, to school they return.


Return to some kind of torture:

Name-calling, punches, gossip or lies.

He needs a supporter, a rule-enforcer.

Someone to help and advise.


To advise the child and me too.

Pleas for assistance fall on deaf ears.

We need some help; how can we know what to do?

Alone we can’t allay his fears.


His fears are well founded and real.

His friends are supportive but afraid.

We’re at our wits end as to whom to appeal.

Will anyone come to our aid?


Topics for Discussion:

  • To whom should a parent address their concerns? The bully? His parents? The teacher? The principal?
  • How can a parent prepare for this interview?
  • Should the children be present?
  • What realistic and enforceable expectations should the parents request?


Classroom Activities:

  • Stage a meeting between the parents of both the bully and the bullied and the principal.
  • Brainstorm how to address the conflict in a way that keeps everyone safe from retribution and opens the way for healing and reconciliation. (Discuss those terms.)
  • Extrapolate what will happen to all the players if nothing is dealt with.



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Wear Pink

Today is Nova Scotia’s new official “Stand Up Against Bullying Day”. I congratulate their Department of Education for designating the second Thursday of every school year for this event. What a wonderful way to recognize and remind everyone of the innovative and inspiring actions of two Central Kings Rural High School students last year. On an annual basis, reminding all students, parents and staff that bystanders have a critical and pivotal role to play can truly make a difference. If we could convince bystanders to refrain from contributing to bullying incidents and transform them into advocates for the victimized, we could initiate a shift in perspective.

Like so many other contentious issues, bullying is undergoing a shift in attitudes and tolerance. Whereas many of our parents considered bullying as an unavoidable right of passage to be endured in childhood, this generation of parents is balking at that conclusion. We would not dream of driving a car without our off-spring safely tethered into their boosters or seat-belts. We would not consider ourselves to be responsible parents if we allowed our kids to ride their bikes without helmets. Heaven forbid that we smoke a cigarette (or worse!) within their breathing space. Our parents were blissfully oblivious of these potential dangers and didn’t intervene or modify their behaviour. As we become more informed, our responsibilities multiply.

Addressing bullying requires just such attitudinal shift. It will likely take at least one generation to implement meaningful change. What an opportunity to make a difference!

I have decided to try to make this site more interactive in future. I never wanted to be the only voice. I would really welcome comments and contributions.

I have recently attempted to write a cyber-bullying poem but failed miserably. After passing it by my two teen-aged sons, I was convinced that I was out of my depth. It is a huge issue and one which I feel needs to be addressed.

So, I send out the challenge: Write us a cyber-bullying-poem. Use the lingo. Portray what it feels and sounds like….

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I sit here in the lunchroom,
And chomp my ham and cheese.
I smell the scent of mushroom.
The gang begins to tease.

“Your spring rolls have sprung.
Your bean curd’s a turd.
Your dumplings are dung.
And you’re such a nerd.”

Her name is Ming Ma Wong.
She’s eating egg drop soup.
Her eyes look sadly woe begone.
Her shoulders start to droop.

I catch a waft of Parmesan.
The gang has smelled it too.
They soon devise a master plan.
While watching Tony chew.

“Cannelloni, minestrone,
Fettuccine and linguine,
Pannetonne. Tell me Tony,
Do you think you’re Mussolini?

Tony looks so devastated.
Garlic fills the room.
That smell cannot be understated.
Taunting will resume.

“Paté de foie and basilic,
Les Crèpes and croque monsieur …
You call this food? It makes me sick.”
Martin exclaims, << Mon Dieu! >>

There soon arrives an odor,
A smell I can’t define.
No matter what the flavor,
The gang will realign.

The new boy’s called Masaki.
He loves to eat his Nori,
His Sushi and Shiitaki,
And Tofu Yakitori.

The gang surrounds Masaki.
I watch as they regroup.
“Teriyaki, Sukiyaki.
What the heck is Miso Soup?”

The foods all smell so good to me.
The gang is so unkind.
I really have to disagree.
I’m of another mind.

So …

Tomorrow I will ask my mom,
To hold the ham and cheese.
I’d prefer …

Sauerkraut, Moussaka,
Baklava, Tofu,
Strudel and Frittata,
Couscous and pistou …

I won’t be in a hurry.
I’ll look them in the eye,
While savoring my curry.
They will not make me cry,

If that gang should come along,
I’m ready. I’ll be braced.
They will not faze me with their song.
I’ll ask them, “Want a taste?”

by Andrea Wilson

Topics For Discussion:

  • This poem is about inter-racial bullying. Why is being different perceived as a bad thing? What is prejudice?
  • Verbal harassment can hurt every bit as much as a punch or a kick. What can be done about it? What attitude does the narrator propose to take if harassed? What is likely to happen if a bully doesn’t get the reaction he is seeking?
  • What qualities does the narrator display?

Classroom Activities:

  • Make a drawing to illustrate an incident of inter-racial bullying, either personal or global.
  • Taking a stand when you witness an injustice takes courage. Write a brief account of an incident you witnessed which you found to be unfair or unkind. What could you or did you do to intervene? When would it be ill-advised to intervene? If you can’t remember an event, feel free to invent a story.
  • Imagine a world in which everyone is the same. Write a brief description. Would you like to live in that world?

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My friend Patricia’s a fabulous girl.
Her hair is gold with a bit of a curl.
She smiles like an angel and sings like a bird.
The likes of Patricia have never been heard.

She has such a talent for singing a song.
Her voice is so clear, and so sweet, and so strong.
There isn’t a doubt; she is terribly gifted.
When listening to her I feel so uplifted.

That’s why it’s so sad,
The things that they say.
Those kids on the playground,
I heard them today.

Because they are jealous of what they have heard,
They tease her,
They taunt her,
They call her a nerd.

Patricia’s gold curls have started to wilt
Her lyrical voice is losing its lilt.
That radiant smile is gone from her face.
Of the old Patricia, there isn’t a trace.

It’s a terrible loss and it must not be.
Someone must fix this,
I guess it is me.

The next time those kids,
Are being unkind
I’ll say to them “Stop!”
And perhaps they may find …

The fact that she’s pretty,
The fact she can sing,
Is not for one moment.
A terrible thing.

I can speak French.
He can run laps.
You can score goals.
And maybe, perhaps …

I’ll be your fan.
You can be mine.
So, sing on, Patricia,
And let yourself shine.

by Andrea Wilson

Discussion Topics:

  • What is jealousy and is it healthy?
  • How would you define self-esteem? What effects can bullying have on a victim’s self-esteem?
  • How can onlookers positively and negatively affect a bullying incident? What is a social conscience?
  • Describe what is meant by loyalty. What is the value of a good friend?
    When and how should you intervene in a bullying incident?

Classroom Activities:

  • Try to recall an occasion when you felt jealous. Write a short account of how you felt and what you may have done or thought of doing.
  • List ten qualities which a good friend displays. How might you go about applying these qualities in a relationship?Pick names out of a hat and tell that person one thing they do well or that you like about them.
  • In small groups, put on a play about a clique ganging up on someone. Pretend that a few onlookers decided to intervene. What do they do and say?

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A Friend

Never underestimate the value of a friend.
Someone who is loyal, on whom you can depend.
You might not always play with them. They play with others too.
But when the chips are really down, they’re always there for you.

I once had such a friend. She was a most amazing person.
Her hair was red and wavy and her name was Gwen MacPherson.
Until that point in early life, I didn’t comprehend,
That life is nicer, safer when you share it with a friend.

You see there was this other girl who caused me great distress.
She told such lies about me that my life was one big mess.
Her whispers and her nasty gibes had long begun to haunt me.
Then other boys and girls joined in. They too began to taunt me.

It seemed no one would help me and I felt so all alone.
The outdoor playground had become a dreaded combat-zone.
And then one fateful day while hearing jokes at my expense,
Gwen MacPherson jumped right in and came to my defense.

It wasn’t what she said that day or even how she said it.
It took a lot of guts, for which I’ll always give her credit.
The others looked so very stunned and soon they crept away.
My own relief was more than words can possibly convey.

With Gwen as my own buffer, I felt much more empowered.
The girl who used to bug me had become a nervous coward.
Gwen and I would stroll around, while walking arm in arm.
The other girl was puzzled and would flee us in alarm.

I’d been in such an awful funk and given up all hope.
Then Gwen became my trusted friend and showed me how to cope.
So never underestimate the power of a friend.
Someone who is loyal, on whom you can depend.

by Andrea Wilson

Topics For Discussion:

  • The narrator refers to her friend as a “buffer”. What does that mean? In what other ways might a friend be helpful in avoiding or coping with bullying incidents?
  • The bully in this poem succeeded in recruiting other children to join in her nasty game. What would have happened if everyone had refused to join in? Do onlookers have any power over the way a bullying event unfolds? Do they have any responsibilities?

Classroom activities:

  • Think of a time when you felt all alone and afraid. Using a simile or metaphor describe what that felt like. Example: Being alone and afraid feels like a cold, damp day. Being alone and afraid tastes and looks like an empty desert. Being alone and afraid is like having a mouthful of hot chili peppers.
  • As a class, brainstorm qualities that make up a good friend. Individually, identify which qualities you possess and which ones you need to work at.
  • Draw a picture about a time when someone stood up for you. If you can’t think of an example, make one up.

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Belinda Bates is a bully
A bossy, belligerent bully.
Though a beauty and bright,
She’s so full of spite,
But adults don’t know she’s a bully

“On please let me help, Miss O’ Neal”
“What a lovely tie, Mister Beal.”
She’s as sweet as canned spinach,
A fake to the finish,
Yet grown-ups are sure she’s for real.

But …

If they’d walk out on the playground
On any given day,
They’d see Miss Bates in action,
And much to their dismay,
They’d see …

A shy girl is shunned and she’s teased,
Her brother is kicked in the knees,
Another called “Fatso”
Her clique?
They all laughed so.
Such pain she inflicts with great ease.

But …

I can see it happen.
And I know it isn’t right.
I can tell a teacher,
And refuse to watch a fight.
I can help the shy girl.
Lift her brother to her feet.
Call Fatso by his real name,
and refuse to join the clique.

I can even be nice to Belinda,
For I’m sure there is something wrong.
I think she is really unhappy.
Let’s see if we can’t get along.

by Andrea Wilson

Topics for discussion:

  • Why are adults often not aware of a bully’s behavior and how does a bully manage to pass undetected?

  • Describe different types of bullying: physical, verbal, relational or social. How do they manifest themselves?

  • What are cliques? When do cliques become a problem?

  • What roles can an onlooker play?

  • When should you intervene and how?

  • What might be the underlying causes of bullying behavior

  • What is empathy?

Classroom activities:

  • Using the first stanza as an example, practice using alliteration to write a stanza about bullying.

  • Using the phrase “She’s as sweet as canned spinach” as an example, write examples of similes to describe bullies.

  • Explore empathy by finding possible explanations (not justifications) for Belinda’s behavior.

  • Try methods of intervening by role-playing.

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