Tag Archives: bully

Even Bullies Deserve Second Chances

His grade point average at the beginning of his senior year was .89. He missed more classes than he attended. And you wouldn’t believe that his mother was an outstanding elementary school teacher. YET he graduated high school with a GPA of 2.75! That last year, he earned all A’s with just one B. So what made the difference for him?

Can pathways in the brain re-route that quickly? Can the behavior of a young man destined for prison change so significantly that he becomes a behavioral psychologist and works in a prison where some of his buddies served time?


How? Someone gave this young man A SECOND CHANCE! (ok maybe it was a twentieth chance, but it was another chance to make changes) And what motivated the change?

SOMEONE BELIEVED IN HIM! AND SOMEONE TOLD HIM – “I believe in you” and gave him some direction toward a passion deep within that young man.

Principal Fred Duncan found David in his office again. “David, you have been suspended five times and it is only the seventh week of school! If I suspend you again, you will not be able to graduate as a senior. You will be suspended. Throwing chairs at teachers, and smoking in class is not acceptable. Is there anything that you are good at?”

office of the principal
It was the last question that David responded to, slowly and thoughtfully, “I was the only 7th grader to receive an end of year award, and mine was most likely to succeed in the theatre.” A passion from deep within this young man could be his last chance. Principal Duncan called the teacher in charge of drama, and learned auditions were happening that very night. “David, tonight at 6:30pm, there are auditions, be there, tell me you’ll be there. Do your best.” David did go to auditions and though he felt out of place, he did his best. The drama teacher approached him as he was leaving, “David, I know who you are. I know your reputation. I am concerned about my students, and whether you will be here on opening night. But you are good and I believe in you. Be here for practice tomorrow night, I have an important role for you to play.”

At BARE, we help schools, youth organizations, and communities become aware of bullying, and how to intervene. Intervention includes SECOND CHANCES.

Of course, when a certain kid repeatedly exhibits bullying behavior we call him a “BULLY”. Sometimes kids will give him back the behavior he displays toward weaker kids. Maybe that will change him? But it doesn’t.

Maybe if we take him out of the circumstance and put him in another school, that will work. But it won’t. Wherever he goes, there he is.

What if we listened to him talk? What if we heard his inner pain created by a circumstance that he has no control over? What if we heard his frustration that he has not friends, but he doesn’t know how to make friends? What if we learned he has invisible disabilities for which he is bullied?

What do we do then? Do we isolate him further? Do we tell him he is a bully and he will never change?


I challenge you, when you see a kid acting like a bully, TREAT HIM WITH KINDNESS. Tell him you believe in him and listen to what his passion might be. Then encourage his passion and BELIEVE IN HIM or HER!


P.S. The role that David was given to play was the role of a bully in the comedy, Comedia del Arte. He played the bully who tried to ruin everything, and he played it well. At the end of the year, after several plays and musicals, he was voted Best Actor. He went on to perform with The City Players of Saint Louis the oldest off off-Broadway theatre company in the nation. He helped the drama teacher paint and design stage scenery for other schools. And he continues to speak and teach as the Chief Learning Officer of BARE, Inc.

Bullying Won’t Stop……Until

“Oh, Mr. Ellis, I was just teasing Tony. We were just having some fun. He knows it.”

When a bully is caught, he/she often knows exactly what to say to get out of trouble. The teacher didn’t really see what happened, so has to rely upon the reports and the denial of the bully. What should be done? Reprimand, once, twice, thrice…..how many times?

In fact, the teacher remembers earlier that day he was making fun of the substitute teacher in much the same way. It wasn’t his fault the substitute is so brain dead, and senile. She should know she looks like the wicked witch of the east in Wizard of Oz, and not get so bent out of shape when someone mentions it. The teacher was only trying to make everyone else laugh. He didn’t think the substitute would go to the bathroom and cry for the entire lunch period before going to the Principal.

Bullying won’t stop……until adults stop bullying. Until adults say “enough is enough” and promptly take action to stop the kids from being bullies and…… stop being bullies themselves, bullying won’t stop.

Teasing is defined as a verb “to make fun of or attempt to provoke in a playful way.” And in the online”Free Dictionary”, the definition includes more: “to taunt annoyingly”, “to say in playful or mocking way”, “to provoke or irritate”.

That is the problem, however we define the word or phrase, we can win the argument.

We teach kids there is a difference between “teasing” and “taunting”. There is fun banter and play between kids. That is a healthy interaction, generally. So how do we really know the difference between teasing and bullying?

Bullying is aggressive conduct intended to intimidate or mistreat a perceived weaker person. There is an intention to cause harm or intimidate. There is aggressive behavior which is behavior that does cause physical or emotional harm to others. Aggressive behavior is a problem because it happens frequently or in a pattern. There is also a power disparity in bullying. One is stronger or appears stronger than the other, either physically or emotionally. Bullying happens because we are not teaching the alternative conduct, and interfering with the offensive conduct.

Adult bullying is called “abusive conduct” in California Government Code Section 12950.1. Adult bullying that is related to discrimination, harassment or retaliation on the basis of one of the named protected classes such as age, race, sex, national origin, etc. is illegal. Common bullying in and of itself is not illegal so employers often did not remedy the conduct. At the time of this blog, only Utah requires similar training. The definition of “abusive conduct” in the Utah legislation includes, “exploits an employee’s known physical or psychological disability.”

It is astounding that we need such laws for adults. Adults are role models for children. Our actions speak louder than our words.

That’s why bullying won’t stop……. until adults stop bullying.

BY Deborah Reisdorph, Founder of BARE Bully Awareness Resistance Education