Students who bully feed off of fear, an expert on “bully-proofing” recently told an audience of parents at Olentangy Liberty High School.
Jim Bisenius, a child and adolescent therapist with 20 years of experience, said he wants “to stop the dance” between kids who bully, and those they target.
“Students who target feed on fear, attention and things,” Bisenius said. “Take these away and you will starve bullying behavior. Just like a stray dog will go away if you stop feeding it, bullies also move on when they don’t get the reaction they want from the kids they target.”
The worst thing a parent can do if they find out their child is being verbally bullied is to call the bully’s parents, he said. That will only increase the amount of bullying and have the child upset with their parents. Also, don’t give the bully anything in the hope that they will like you, because they will continue to bully.
Instead, Bisenius recommended changing the child’s body language to project confidence instead of the fear a bully is looking for. He suggested training the child to hold and carry themselves in a confident manner. In addition, don’t give the bully any attention or say anything back to them. As a demonstration, an audience member came on stage to berate Bisenius, who walked past him and ignored him. Soon the bully ran out of things to say.
Bisenius said that whenever a bully is shot down in that manner, they are no longer considered cool by their classmates, who are watching.
“Always protect the ‘cool’ of your child,” Bisenius told the parents.
Another nuisance is social bullying. Bisenius said some students have told him they like manipulating their classmates by planting rumors against one of the members of a group and other techniques. He said the best way to prevent the social bullying is to form a friendship so strong that it can’t be split up by the bully. However, this was the most difficult form of bullying to overcome.
Rarely does bullying become physical, but if it does, Bisenius recommended the student take martial arts classes to counter future attacks.
Cyber-bullying was also touched on, with Bisenius recommending not responding and blocking the bully’s texts.
Bisenius said it was a good idea to learn bully-proofing techniques, because bullying can be a lifetime problem that can continue even into the nursing home. He also said those who have been bullied when they were younger often lead richer lives than the kids who bullied them.
The talk was presented by the Olentangy Local School District’s Parent Programs Team, which sponsors a couple of talks a year.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.