Bullying and Children:

Let’s Work Together to Stop It!

When talking about bullying and children we are not even close to realize how harmful this reality can be for children. As we’ve seen lately, an alarming number of suicides among children and teens are due to the cruel and constant bullying in schools.

Bullying in schools is not going to be solved by punishing the bullies alone. We need everyone to stop it! Bystanders, parents and teachers need to step up to the plate and get actively involved in bringing this sad reality to an end!

An Interview with Robert Spencer Knotts

Bullying and Children

I had the privilege to interview my dear friend, Robert Spencer Knotts who generously took the time to give me a detailed explanation of the different aspects concerning bullying and children.

Bob, as I fondly refer to him, has been actively involved in working out solutions to stop bullying in schools. His “Anti-Bullying Through The Arts” program has had a massive impact in the Broward County public schools.

Bob is also the Founder and President of “The Humanity Project”. An outstanding nonprofit organization dedicated to teach that action for the greater good also serves our highest individual interests.

Gabriela: Bob, how would you define bullying?

Bob: Bullying is any type of behavior where another person tries to intimidate, harass or harm another person. In schools, it usually is defined as repeated behavior of this nature.

G: What types of bullying are there?

B: Many types! But let’s focus on school bullying, since that’s what the Humanity Project is trying to stop. Bullying can mean anything from ignoring another student intentionally in order to embarrass them and include anything all the way to killing the student with a weapon. Typically school bullying involves one or more students harassing another student, verbally or physically or both.

G: What is Cyber Bullying?

B: Cyberbullying is something new – and awful. It means that kids use the new technologies as part of their bullying. Maybe they post a Facebook page saying something like, “I Hate Bob!” as the title, including embarrassing photos or comments. Or it might mean sending threatening emails or text messages. That’s the kind of thing we’re talking about. When I was a kid, I at least could get away from the bullies by going home. Today, the students can’t escape the bullying anywhere.

G: Which would you say are the most common bullying scenarios?

B: It’s hard to say exactly. I think the scenarios are as varied as the students themselves and the schools they attend and the communities in which they live.

G: What are the effects of bullying?

B: Again, it depends so much on the particulars of the bullying. How bad is the bullying and how long does it go on? What kind of person is being bullied? Is she or he sensitive or less concerned about the opinions of others? And so forth. But we can say that bullying often results in serious damage to children, psychologically and sometimes physically. This damage can be permanent, scarring them for a lifetime. Research has shown that children who are bullied very often grow up to become adults who lack self-confidence. Bullying has always been a terrible problem but society finally is recognizing how bad it can be and how awful its effects really are.

G: Can you tell us about your work to prevent bullying in schools?

B: As you know, the Humanity Project is more than an anti-bullying group. But we created our Anti-bullying Through The Arts program as one expression in the real world of our original ideas. This program has proven very effective, as shown through pre and post tests given to the students by their teachers in schools where we’ve presented Anti-bullying Through The Arts.

G: What are your anti-bullying programs about?

B: Our program uses all original materials to connect with kids emotionally. That means an original positive rap song, roleplaying, a story with music, a music video and more. The Anti-bullying Through The Arts program’s goal is to make the message fun and memorable. When we help students to feel our message emotionally, rather than just think it intellectually, that message is more likely to stick with them. Then they’ll remember it when they get into a bullying situation. We focus on the bystanders, who are the key to stopping bullying. We try to show these bystanders that bullying hurts everyone in their school, not just the kid who’s being bullied. And we also show them why and how everyone can help to stop it. Basically, the idea behind our program is that bullying isn’t cool – and bystanders should show bullies that it’s not cool!

G: Could you say that the work you are doing in regards to bullying in elementary schools can prevent future bullying in high schools?

B: I believe it can. Basically that’s the idea, in a sense. We think that younger kids are more impressionable and also haven’t become as involved in bullying behavior yet. If we can teach them to stop bullying at that age, they’re much less likely to participate in bullying later on in their lives.

G: Is there such a thing as bullying in preschool?

B: Oh sure. There’s bullying at all levels and ages among kids. But I think it’s fair to say that bullying is much less common, and not as big a problem, at that very young age. Still I believe it’s important to teach children in that age group the same lessons: that bullying hurts everyone and everyone must help stop it

G: Are there currently any laws against bullying in the U.S.?

B: There is no federal law yet, though I’m in favor of one. But many states have their own laws against bullying. Many still have no laws, though. I think every state needs an effective anti-bullying law.

Please visit the second part of this fantastic interview with Robert Spencer Knotts. "Bullying and Children (Part II)". We will talk about what parents can do to stop bullying and how is bullying instigating Anxiety and Depression in children. Don't miss it!

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