Anti-Bullying seminar: Don’t Stand By, Stand UP!

As I mentioned in a previous post about Parent-Teacher Conferences, I am in charge of Parent Education for the parent-teacher association (PTA) of my kids’ elementary school. And any time I share with the parents something of interest – whether it be a speaker, reading material or an Internet site – my goal is to share that information here.

I have already covered the importance of parent-teacher conferences and another on learning about the apps your kids are using. This past week, I brought in a speaker to talk about bullying and how to empower your child to Stand UP.

The presentation was called “Don’t Stand By, Stand Up!” and it was presented through the Texas PTA’s Ready, Set, Achieve program. Our presenter was Dr. Sylvia Reyna, a retired Texas teacher, principal and superintendent.


The first thing was to define bullying and address that conflict is not necessarily bullying. To define bullying, they use the abbreviation RIP.

RRepeated over time

I Intentional – behavior intends to cause harm or distress.

P – There is a real or perceived imbalance of power.

So a child accidentally bumping into another (not intentional) is not bullying. A child kicks another once while in the lunch line (not repeated) is not bullying. And for the imbalance of power, you are looking at someone who is larger than the victim or has “power” over them. This could be a fifth grader or crossing guard intimidating a first grader.

One of her facts that concerned me as Jase is about to enter 6th grade is that bullying most often happens in middle school. I guess this is all the more reason to learn about the signs your child is being bullied and what to do to help them not to be a victim.

Signs your child is being bullied

Now this is not an exclusive list. There can be other signs and these signs can be other problems besides bullying.

  • Unexplained injuries, lost or destroyed clothing, books, belongings
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking an illness
  • Changes in eating habits like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves

Signs your child is bullying others

bullyChildren who bully are more likely to get in fights, steal, vandalize property, drink alcohol, or drop out of school. And research shows 60% of boys who were bullies in middle school had at least on conviction by the age of 24.

  • Get into physical or verbal fights
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity

It would be naïve to assume your child is never going to be bullied. So the best thing to do is prepare them (and yourself) for when it happens.

What Students can do

One of the best tools to prepare your child is to practice or role play what to do when they are confronted by a bully.

  • Learn to be assertive (rather than aggressive)
    • Ask the bully to stop and then walk away
    • Ignore the behavior/leave the situation
    • Use social skills, humor or agree with the bully (You aren’t agreeing with that bullying is correct but more of a sarcastic “yeah, right” type attitude)
    • Avoid escalating the situation with anger, retaliation or encouraging others to gang up on the bully
  • Do not cry or act hurt in front of the bully.
  • Report bullying to an adult

Reporting bullying can be hard as many children fear a backlash from the kid who bullied them, or they may feel they are seen as weak or a tattletale. They may think no one will believe them. They can fear rejection from their peers or that no one can understand.

If your child witnesses bullying, they should make sure they aren’t giving the bully the audience they crave. They should tell the bully to stop or seek immediate help. Basically, they need to Stand UP and Not Stand by.

Parent Support

The way a parent reacts to bullying is also important. If you dismiss the situation or tell them to “suck it up,” you are giving your child all the more reason not to come to you when they have a problem. Bullying can hurt and you should never tell them their feelings or crying are unacceptable (except don’t cry in front of the bully). You, as a parent, need to work on teaching them the social skills of being assertive and self-confident. And most of all you should be an advocate for your child at the school and with the police, if needed.

Now there is even more to her lecture, so I think I will tackle the information on cyber bullying in a separate post. But before I sign off for today, I wanted to provide these links for students, parent and teachers to become more informed about bullying and how to prevent it.


“R” Time

Olweus bullying prevention program

STRYVE – Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere

Connect for Respect


Be sure to check next Thursday’s blog for information on cyber-bullying.

Today’s Featured Author – Chinadu Enechi

Today, author Chinadu Enechi stops by my blog. His debut novel, Ifechidere, came out in November.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a social person, very determined and ambitious.

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born in Nsukka and I grew up in Onitsha. They’re both in Nigeria. Anywhere I have family, including my brothers and sister, is home to me.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

My late mother Mrs Josephine Nebechi Enechi was my inspiration.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After I wrote my first novel titled “Wise ones never Loose”, my father then gave it to a friend who was then an English Lecturer in their school to edit but then said man disappeared with the book because of that, my mum swore to promote my writing career and she was there till she died.

How much of yourself, your personality or experience, is in your books.

A couple of the characters in my books have my personality. What I write mostly contains my experiences of experiences of those around me. In fact, the story of “Ifechidere” is mainly based on my mother’s life.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, I actually have two projects I am currently working on.

One is about a young man who married an older woman and how he was antagonized for it, by his father, his family and even her family. A man marrying an older woman is frowned upon in Nigeria and this story offers view points of why it is so, and how some people navigate that problem.

The second story is about a young man whose love turned sour, after his poor parents visited his girlfriend’s family. The girlfriend was pregnant …

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
The best is that I can let people know my thoughts and feelings on some things, as well as inform them about some current events or facts.

The worst is the criticism from people who get upset that I am writing a particular thing, because of their bias.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

My family, friends and my dream of being a successful writer whose work is enjoyed by fans.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

My plot ideas are a combination of my experiences, experiences of people around me, stories heard and sometimes figment of my imagination.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Sometimes, I do; sometimes, I don’t.

Book Blurb

ifechidere-coverThe loss of both her parents, even before she is old enough to speak, appears to pre-determine Ifechidere’s life. She is made to toil from dusk to dawn.

Yet, Ifechidere is no modern-day Cinderella, as she finds that faith in the will to survive, which is stronger than any absentee fairy godmother, will propel her to find herself. And it’ll lead her to the thing that was always meant to be

About the Author

Chinedu Enechi is a Philosophy graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and an MA student of Political and Social Philosophy at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. His hobbies include cooking, reading, watching movies and hanging out with friends.

You can purchase Ifechidere on Amazon US, Amazon UK (and all other Amazon affiliates – simply search by author name or book), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, ITunes, Kobo and Okadabooks.

Outlining your Novel

One of my very first posts was about whether as an author you outline your novel before you write or do you just sent down and write. Basically are you a plotter (outliner) or a pantser (someone who flies by the seat of their pants).

I have never been one to plot out my whole novel in advance. I tend to have an idea what the novel is about and maybe some ideas for some scenes. As I begin to write, I generally plot out what will happen in the next scenes. Since this is a very loose outline, I am free to let the characters drive the story.

Now there are many benefits to have an outline of your novel before you begin. It helps to create a well-developed plot and there is less rewriting involved. If you write just whatever comes to mind, you will most likely have a lot of editing and pruning during subsequent drafts than if you had it planned out in advance.

So let’s say you don’t want to do that extra work, and you want to do all the work upfront (along with your world and character building). You want to know what is going to happen and where your characters will go. You want an outline. How do you go about doing that?

Outlining methods

snowflakeSnowflake method (aka Expanding Outline) – Here you start with a basic premise. (I found this example on another website.)

Jack and Jill get injured while climbing a hill trying to get water.

Then you expand on it.

Jack, the mayor’s son, is sent to fetch water. Jill comes with him. They get injured while trying to climb the hill where the well is located.

Then you expand on it some more.

Jack, who is the mayor’s son, is sent to fetch water for the town. His girlfriend Jill comes with him. At the top of the hill, where the well is located, the two are attacked. They attempt to escape but trip and fall down the hill. They are both injured.

You continue this process until every part of the story has the level of detail you want. This method can be very labor intensive. You can find out more about the method here.

Pure Summary/Narrative – On this method you write the story from beginning to end but in summary form. There are no descriptions or dialogues. You can pretty much do this one by bullet point or you can just write it out almost as a synopsis.

  • Susan lives in the jungle.
  • She is struggling to survive with very few supplies.
  • Susan receives an unexpected visit from her daughter.
  • Susan decides to leave the jungle and live with her daughter in the city.

flashlightHeadlight (or Flashlight) Outline – With this method, you plan out a few scenes or chapter. You plan just enough to get you writing. Once you have written that and reread it to see if you like where your story is going, then you do the next few chapters.

(Now as I write this, I realize this is my method of writing though I don’t do it in chapters. I write down ideas for a few scenes (never full chapters) and then usually write and connect them while keeping the big picture somewhere in the back of my mind. I like that I can change directions as things develop, and I am not restricted to having the whole novel planned.)

Chapter by Chapter Breakdown – Some writers do a quick summary of what will happen in each chapter. Again, it can be almost like bullet points, but if you add a little more information, you can plan out cliffhangers for the end of your chapters.

These are really just a few of the methods, and as you can see some of the methods are very similar to others. Outlining had its benefits and if one of these methods doesn’t tickle your fancy, simple use Google and find other outlining methods that do.

And remember, if outlining a novel doesn’t work for you, don’t force it. There is nothing wrong with being a panster. There are many authors that plan and many who don’t. You just need to do what works for you. The most important thing is getting a comprehensive well written novel done.

What to do when your kid “tattles”

“Mom, Jase is being mean. He won’t let me…”

“Lexie hit me!”

As parents, we are all too familiar with our kids coming to tell us what another sibling/friend/classmate did wrong. And too often, I hear parents telling their kids not to “tattle.” I have even said that to my own kids but then wondered later if I am doing the right thing.

I mean after all we want our children to come to us when something is wrong. We need to know if someone is hurting them or doing something dangerous.

My friend, Sara, had an issue with her daughter’s teacher telling her eight-year-old daughter Madeline not to “tattle” when a boy was hitting her. She was asking for help after having already told the boy to stop doing it. The teacher wasn’t hearing her plea for help. She assumed, as too many of us parents and teachers do, that Madeline was just seeking attention or attempting to get the other kid in trouble.

Sometimes adults assume tattling is an outright lie but research has shown that nine out of 10 times, a tattler is telling the truth.

I recently read an article online about tattling, and it confirmed my concern about telling my child not to “tattle” is a mistake. We are not encouraging kids to work it out or “tough it out.” We are basically dismissing their concern. There is a distinct difference between reporting and tattling.

reportingvstattlingAccording to the article, research suggests that by the time a child comes to tell you something is wrong the child has already endured or witnessed the kid’s offense multiple times. By the time they come to you, they have run out of options. They are asking for help.

As parents, we often tell our kids we want them to tell us when something is wrong. We want them to tell us the truth. But then we contradict ourselves when we tell them not to tattle.

The article suggested we stress to the children that it is important to report other’s harmful behavior – such as the case with Madeline’s classmate who was hitting her and wouldn’t stop when asked. In this case, it really isn’t tattling. And ignoring the child’s plea for help can make them less likely to report harmful behavior in the future and can teach them to be silent when they observe bullying and abuse later.

So what should you do next time your child comes to you with what sounds like a tattle?

  • Ask – “Are you OK?”
  • Ask – “Did you tell him/her to stop?”
  • If your child did not tell them to stop, then part of the problem solving would be to work on this. It can be hard for a child to assert themselves.
  • Listen attentively to your child as they tell you their side of the story. This will let them know that you are taking their concern seriously (even if you don’t agree with their perspective.)
  • End by asking your child what you can do to help. He or she may not need anything other than to be heard. Or he or she may request that you intervene on their behalf. Or this might be a time to brainstorm solution for next time this becomes an issue.

So next time Lexie or Jase comes in to tell me of some offense the other one has done, I am going to stop and listen to them instead of dismissing their claims as an attempt to get the other one in trouble. Not only will this encourage them to reach out to me but hopefully, I can help them decide what issues are important enough to bring forward and which ones they should be able to handle on their own.