James Alan Kearbey, fourteen, murdered his principal and wounded three others in his junior high.  He said he was bullied and beaten by students for years.

Nathan Faris, twelve, was harangued about his chubbiness.  He shot a classmate, then killed himself.

John McMahan, fourteen, was bullied by other boys.  He shot two students.

Joseph Todd, fourteen, shot two students who he said humiliated him.

This ledger of tragedy will continue until others—the estimated 85 percent who are neither bully nor victim—end their conspiracy of apathetic silence and confront bullying.

Barbara Coloroso, teacher and author in Littleton, Colorado, says she would handle her son’s problems with bullies differently today.

I took bullying seriously, but I didn’t know how to deal with it effectively.  My youngest child was targeted in grade school….On top of it, he was a loudmouth, so his teacher didn’t offer any help.  Back then, we were livid, but we didn’t know what to do.  Now I’d go to the teachers and the other parents and make sure they dealt with the boys who were bullying my son.  We would also work harder at helping him develop social skills, such as how to enter a group successfully.  He was artistic and liked to do things by himself, but any small kid who is on the playground alone is an easy target.  I wish I had worked harder to debunk the myth that bullying is normal.

Coloroso reports that today her son is doing well as a professional artist.

Furthermore: 

~ Encourage your child to always tell you when she’s being bullied (kids are prone to keep quiet).

~ Demonstrate assertive behavior.  Teach your children to ask for things directly and to respond directly to others.  Demonstrate that it’s okay to say no.  Do so yourself, and let your kids see you doing it.

~ Teach social skills.  Show them how to resolve problems fairly and firmly.

~ Identify potential friendship problems and correct them.  Teach them how to ignore common teasing and, when possible, to respond with lighthearted humor.  Teach them the value of friendship and the importance of being a good friend.

~ Encourage them not to give in to bullies, to stand their ground with toys and territory.

~ Demonstrate the rewards of personal achievement.  Help them learn to trust their feelings so they can resist peer pressure and respect healthy adults.  Help them set realistic goals, and let them work toward their goals without taking over the process yourself.

~ Take bullying seriously.


Paul Coughlin is the author of numerous books, including No More Christian Nice Guy and No More Jellyfish, Chickens or Wimps. He also co-authored a book for married couples with his wife Sandy, titled Married But Not Engaged. His articles appear in Focus on the Family magazine, and he as been interviewed by Dr. James Dobson, FamilyLife Radio, HomeWord, Newsweek, C-SPAN, The New York Times, and the 700 Club among others. Paul is founder of The Protectors, the faith-based answer to adolescent bullying, which provides curriculum for Sunday Schools, private schools, retreats, and individuals that trains people of faith to be sources of light in the theater of bullying. 

Visit Paul's websites at: http://www.theprotectors.org, and http://www.paulcoughlin.net

Visit Sandy's website for reluctant entertainers at: http://www.reluctantentertainer.com