US News and World Report Discusses Spotting and Stoping Bullying

US News and World ReportWriter Rachel Pomerance with the “US News and World Report” wrote a very interesting article called “How to Spot and Stop Bullying: 5 steps to help prevent, detect, and address bullying”.

The article, which talks about the issue of bullying today and also looks at five techniques for detecting and trying to stop bullying. These five steps include:

  1. Talk to your kids. It’s not always easy to get your kids to open up to you. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Ask every day about their day—who they ate lunch with or played with at recess, suggests Susan Swearer, associate professor of educational psychology who researches bullying at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
  2. Be an example. Your kids are watching—and learning from—your behavior. “If we call someone a name,” or “get upset with someone and hang up on [them],” they might follow suit, says Young.
  3. Look for changes in your child’s behavior or belongings.“Trust your instincts,” Young says. “You know your child.” If an outgoing kid becomes withdrawn or a strong student’s grades drop, take notice.
  4. Treat the problem. Your response to bullying behavior will, of course, depend on the incident. But there is plenty of help to guide you. For starters, the child must know to alert a parent or trusted adult on feeling threatened, intimidated, or excluded.
  5. Change the culture. Many of the resources now available aim to promote systemic social change to prevent bullying. For example, the National Crime Prevention Council provides an assessment of a school’s climate, training to students, parents, and school staff, and even Powerpoint presentations for communities’ own use.

These  five steps are just the beginning of the article, which goes into much more details on all these steps and other interesting information for you. To read the full article, click here to go the the US News and Word Report website.

It’s Too Late for Me (A Personal Story)

I received this story from the son of the writer. In his note to me he said of his mother that “she is a truly remarkable and wonderful woman and an amazing but due to years of being bullied as a child she has self-esteem issues and a lack of confidence.”  This is such a common statement that I think many of us feel and coming from someone’s child, it just means that much more. What would be the potential of so many of us, if bullying wasn’t a factor of our childhood. Unfortunately, without a time machine, we just don’t know. ~Alan Eisenberg

A few weeks ago I went to a training class for a new position I recently accepted. This training class involved a lot of group speaking as well as speaking in front of the class. The feelings I was experiencing started to get me thinking about my childhood. When I was standing and speaking in front of these strangers, I felt like a child again. All I was thinking is that they were all thinking how fat I was. It was a miracle that I passed the training. Now I will share with all of you why to this day I still feel that way.

I will share a lot of the experiences that shaped me. I will share a lot of the childhood memories that I have.

I will go back as far as the first grade. I have been overweight my entire life. I was always the fattest kid in class. The other kids constantly made fun of me. They made my first year of school miserable. I never wanted to go. The main thing I remember about first grade was lunch time. I remember standing in the lunch line to get my lunch. The kids would make animal noises at me when I would pass by their table. This went on for several weeks. I stopped eating my lunch and throwing it out. They still made fun of me. My father was called into the school because I was not eating. The teachers knew what was going on but they blamed it on family problems. My father said I had to eat. Eventually I just skipped the lunch line and started going outside to sit down. During this whole ordeal the teachers never asked the children to leave me alone. This went on for the entire first grade. Continue reading

A Bullying Story from Indonesia (A Personal Story)

I received this story from Richard in Indonesia. I think it very important to remember that bullying doesn’t just take place in one place in the world, but in all places in the world in many different ways. Richard’s story share exactly that thought. ~Alan Eisenberg

My Life Story

Hey, I’m from Indonesia. I’m 16 years old. I just found this great website and I realized just how big bullying is. It pushes me to tell you my own story of getting bullied. I’ll just start from my earliest recollection of bullying. (And sorry for bad grammar)

Well first thing to know, I like to classify my former self. I know it feels wrong to classify people into some certain groups (or classes as I liked to call it) but it holds true in every school around this entire world.

I believed that there are several good ways for you to get bullied at school. One of them is being a nerd and a loner like me. It’s not like being these kinds of guys particularly bad. People just don’t accept and never try to tolerate people who are a bit different from they are. It’s just who I am and I don’t need to explain how not wrong it is to have a social identity different than most typical kids, right? Continue reading

The Teacher Who Bullied

I know there are many great teachers and administrators out there that care very much about the bullying issue. That is why it is so shocking that, in this day and age, a teacher was actually caught on video bullying a child. The teacher, from Washington state was put on administrative leave. The video was shot last February, but is just being released. It was the parents of the student that had the video released, because they were upset that the teacher didn’t lose his job over the incident.

Frank sent me the link to this video, which shows the bullying and discusses whether the punishment of the teacher was enough.

Thank You (A Personal Story)

Rachel sent me her story below with the title “Thank You”. A few months ago, I shared my writing called “I’m Sorry”. Thank you seems so much more powerful than even saying I’m sorry. Rachel finds a way to thank her bullies to help her conquer other things about herself. What a confident and positive way to handle that. I think saying thank you and finding a way to win against bullies is a very positive way to think and Rachel helps us learn this lesson through her words below. ~Alan Eisenberg

From grades kindergarten to my sophomore year of high school I was categorized by some of my classmates, and a few of my teachers, as being the class target-the one others taunted on a daily basis.  If someone had told me at that time that I would be writing a thank you letter to these same people, twenty years later, I would not have believed them.

However, as I sit here reminiscing about that difficult time in my life, I have begun to see how God had used this situation to begin molding me into the person he needed me to be.

Below is how God used the same attributes my classmates used to taunt me with to help me become the self-assured positive person that I am today.

Shyness–  My shyness was so severe, and had made me such an introvert, that when ever I tried to speak up for myself, during a confrontation or speaking with someone one on one, the only words that would come out would do so in the form of stutter.

To my classmates; Thank you for using my shyness as a way to put a bull’s eye on my head.  Because, unknowingly, you helped me to take the time to think about what I was about to say before I said it.

Clothes; I have always enjoyed dressing in retro clothes more than purchasing things off the rack so that I would fit in.  Even today I shop at second-hand stores more than I do Department Stores.

To my classmates; Thank you for bringing attention to my style of dressing.  Although you meant to use it as a way of embarrassing me, God help me to use it as a way of being myself.

Hair; I always have enjoyed wearing my hair naturally even when some took it to me that I was unkempt or non hygienic.  I simply did not want to keep putting harmful chemicals in my hair over and over again.

To the class; Thank you for noticing my choice of hair styles.  Although you seen it as one more thing to pick at me about, I could see how my choice to be an individual helped others to do the same.

Intelligence; Whenever I would answer a question correctly, I would hear “Teacher’s Pet!” “Teacher’s Pet!”  To some this may not feel like a bad named to be called.  However, when you hear it over and over again on a daily basis it can be seen as a negative word.

To my classmates:  Thank you for constantly calling me teacher’s pet because of this I learned to ignore the name that I am being called and instead focus on who I know I am.

I did not write this letter for anyone else except myself.  No copies were sent off by snail mail, email, text, or any other form of communication.  Writing this letter helped me to finally discover that who I am is fine and the only person that I can be is me.

~Rachel S.

Anyplace Other Than Here (A Personal Story)

I remember well begging my parents to move when the bullying was so bad for me. I would say I could go anywhere but here, anywhere where people wouldn’t know me and know what happened to me. I remember the feeling of real pain as someone physically attacked me. As I read Stacy’s story below, all of this came flooding back as she tells her own painful tale of bullying that happened to her. ~Alan Eisenberg

Hi my name is Stacy I’m now 25 years old. My bullying started when I was very young. I was in first grade and had switched schools. I went from a teacher who adored me (actually asked my grandparents who had custody of me if she could adopt me) to a teacher who didn’t like me simply because she didn’t like the idea of grandparents raising children. Mrs. C as we’ll call her was horrible to me. She encouraged my classmates to bully me. She herself bullied me. She told me that I smelled bad and made fun of my hair and clothes. She would take me in front of the class and publicly humiliate me. She pinched me and pulled my hair. I was left-handed and anytime she caught me writing with my left hand she’d rip the pencil out of my hand smack my hand call me “Satan’s Child” and put the pencil in my right hand and squeeze it and force me to write with it. The other children participated in her cruelty. They would repeat things she said. When it came time to play games as a team or at recess nobody wanted me to play with them (or near them). During games where we were to hold hands nobody would hold my hand. It was horrible. I had no friends nobody to talk to and I didn’t think my parent’s would believe me so I retreated into myself. I didn’t talk to anyone and when free time came I’d sit alone at my desk and draw pictures of my own made up super heroes that I wished would come and take me away from it.

As I got older school didn’t get any easier. Even though I begged and pleaded with my parents to allow me to go to a different school I was stuck with these same kids year after year until 5th grade that tortured me. In second grade a boy pushed me off of the jungle gym which knocked out two of my teeth. In third grade these group of girls harassed me to the point that I broke down crying and was carried into the counselor’s office (later me and one of the girls became good friends). Also in third grade I was physically assaulted by Mrs. L. A friend of mine had gotten a pink slip and i was going to go with her to the office. Casey told on me to Mrs. L. Mrs.L came out grabbed me by my bad wrist squeezed and twisted it and slammed me against the brick wall. By lunch time I had a hand print bruise around my wrist and a bruise across my shoulders all because I was going to go to the office. In fourth grade I was already near suicidal and looked for excuses to stay home cause I was so tired of putting up with the bullying. We stayed two weeks into the fifth grade before we relocated this time it was out-of-state.

In a way the thought of relocating was exciting and looked like a fresh new start. But in a way I was scared that it would be just like my last school. I was determined to make friends. Well we ended up moving to Arkansas from Ohio. We moved to a little town and I knew from day one that I just didn’t belong. I got a really nice teacher Mrs.S. She asked me to introduce myself in front of the class. At recess I had a few kids come up to me and introduce themselves. But the group of girls I originally met were teasing another few girls and when I refused to join in I was out cast yet again. I once again found myself in a situation where I was bullied all because I wouldn’t bully other kids. But I never knew how horrible bullying could be until I crossed paths with Kevin.

I met Kevin in sixth grade. He put a small baggy in the teacher’s bookcase that contained marijuana and a porn magazine on her desk. Our teacher came in saw the magazine and went and got the principal. He came in and threatened if no one spoke up that we’d all get detention and swats (In Arkansas they still give swats). He had us write down on a piece of paper if we would tell him what happened I wrote that I would. The next class I sat beside Kevin our principal called over the load speaker: Mrs. R I need to speak with Stacy (don’t want to put my last name). Kevin looked over at me and said “I’m going to f***ing kill you.” Kevin didn’t get in much trouble but he made sure that he made the next 5 years of my life hell. He tortured me. If he caught me between classes he’d punch me or throw me into the lockers he called me “rat” “slut” “skank” “nerd” “freak” told me that he was going to rape me and kill me. Once on my way to my 7th period class I was going down the stairs and I heard him say “Hey guys watch this” to some of his buddies then he swung his bag at my feet and I tumbled down the stairs. On my way down I tried to stop myself by grabbing the railing. BIG MISTAKE. I tore all the muscles in my shoulder and dislocated it and had to have surgery. I told but nothing happened. You see Kevin was our Superintendent Mr. T’s nephew so Kevin didn’t get in trouble. That is until he crossed the line.

One day during lunch I had Ensemble practice. I went to my locker to get my folder (which was in the basement of the school) Kevin and his buddies had spit all over my locker. I backed up and said “EWWW” then he came behind me and grabbed me. He put a knife to my throat and said “Rat’s die horrible deaths. You know Stacy I could kill you right now. But I think I’m going to wait. I want to kill you and your Preppy Jock Brother at the same time. I have a gun I can’t wait to see you dead….” a fellow ensemble member came down the stairs to see what was taking me so long. When they heard her coming they slammed me against the lockers and took off. I immediately went to the principal’s office. I told Mr. B what happened. He told me to “wait here” then he came back with the Dean and Mr. T. Mr. T told me that I was making something out of nothing that Kevin did no such thing. He told me that he checked and Kevin didn’t have a knife on him. I insisted that I saw the blade and felt it against my neck. He told me that I was imagining things and told me that I was not allowed to tell my parents. He told me that if I told my parents that I would get in trouble for insubordination.

I cried all the way home. I was scared. I believed Kevin when he said that he would kill me and my older brother. The next morning I cried and pleaded for me and my brother to stay home. My parents refused and demanded to know what was going on. It took a while but reluctantly I told them what had happened and the warning from Mr. T. My father was furious. He had my brother stay home with mom and took me up to the school. You see Kevin had turned 18 that year I however was only 16 meaning by law Kevin was an adult I was still a minor. My father demanded something be done about Kevin. He said “You are going to expel him or my daughter and I will be on the evening news tonight and Kevin will be arrested and charged for terroristic threatening and assault on a minor.” Kevin’s uncle gave him the option of quitting as opposed to being expelled. Kevin quit. I was never so relieved. However I became the object of his friend’s hatred for getting Kevin in trouble. The rest of my Junior year went badly.

The summer after my Junior year we relocated back to Ohio. I begged my dad “Any town in the state of Ohio except W ANY school except WR PLEASE!” Where did we move to? W. Where did I end up finishing school? WR. I was NOT happy. Dad said “It’s a good school I want you to graduate from there.” And sure enough same kids same treatment as before. I hated my entire senior class. I didn’t have 1 friend. Then everyone wonders why I have no intention of attending either school reunion Ohio or Arkansas. No thank you I’ve had enough for one lifetime. I have nothing to say to any of those people. It took me years to get to where I could get over everything and I have no intention of stirring up old emotions. Thank you.


Anger Management Issues & Past Bullying

Eby (6/11/12, Cool Comebacks post) came to counseling with long term effects from bullying that caused anxiety in social situations. Annabel had a different story:  she was a walking powder keg ready to explode.  The week before her first counseling session she became so angry at her boyfriend that she had to go to the ER with severe chest pains and high blood pressure.

Annabel was originally mystified about the cause of her intense reactions, but it became clear when she was asked, “Have  you always been quick tempered?”  Tears welled in her eyes as she recalled being a meek child who kept quiet during relentless teasing about her old fashioned name and high forehead.  The move to middle school gave her a break until eighth grade.  Someone started to taunt her, saying her name in a sing-song voice and Annabelle fired back, demolishing her would-be attacker with a barrage of belittling comebacks.  Many schoolmates witnessed her poweress and no one bothered her again.  Underneath her bravado, Annabel felt defective and weak.  It took all her strength to muster the verbal vibrato to humiliate anyone who might want to hurt, talk about, or deceive her.  If others were nearby, all the better.  Her intention was to send a message to those present that she was not to be messed with.

Expose Wounds in Private

Annabelle and I went back to her early memories of being belittled for bogus reasons.  Angry tears welled up.  Like a protective momma bear, the 46 year old Annabel was helped to express what her younger self never could:

Do you know what it does for an eight year old to be teased this way?!  A person starts to feel like there is something terribly wrong with her…like she can never measure up.  You have no idea of the damage you’re doing!!!!

Wrapping words around inner wounds releases them.  Retorting with name calling is a verbal punch that leaves painful bullets inside to fester.  Exposing such anguish should only be done with trusted others.  Once hurt is expelled, the mind is cleared to consider a cool comeback.

The Power of Positive Speaking

Now the fun began.  I asked Annabel to take the role of the bully so I could play her younger, empowered self.

Bully:  You’re forehead is so shiny it could light up a coal mine.

Anna:  So you’re blinded by my light. I must have super powers.

*     *     *

Bully:  “Annabel”—what a silly old name.

Anna:  I guess you can’t name your children after me.

Both comebacks brought a smile to Annabelle‘s face.  In role-play, she had no words to counter the disarming responses.  We switched positions and she glibly replied with her own version of, You’re blinded by my light….  Her demeanor reflected inner strength.  But something telling happened with the knock on her name:

Bully:  “Annabel”—what a silly old name.

Anna:  But it was my grandmother’s name and you don’t even know her…


Annabel’s defensive reaction again brought tears to her eyes.  She was quickly reminded of possible cool comebacks:

  • You say my name like it’s a bad thing.
  • Annabel is my nick name—my real name is Rumpelstiltskin.
  • OK, now you can’t name your kids after me. 

In the redo of the role-play, You say my name like it’s a bad thing easily rolled off Annabel’s tongue.  She looked bright-eyed and strong.  Annabel had given a powerful demonstration of how defensive reactions weaken people and disarming responses, indeed, arm and protect us from cruel comments.   The following explains the subtext that makes cool comebacks so arresting.

EXPLAINATION—Cool comeback (AAAH) responses:

  • Act as if it’s all good—admit, agree, compliment, show gratitude
  • Ask questions—curious questions, hidden questions (I wonder why…)
  • Actively listen—rephrase (Are you saying…), name feelings or      behavior (blaming, accusations, threats, etc.), sympathize, validate (It      makes sense that you…)
  • Hide suggestions—truism (You can…), false choice (Do you      want to … or …), Underlying assumptions (When will you be able to…),      reverse psychology (It’s good for you to keep… because….), power      words (try, dare, but), random responses.
  1. So you’re blinded by my light… I guess I have super powers: a cool comeback that acts as if having a shiny forehead is a good thing and uses a compliment.
  2.  I guess you can’t name your children after me:  a cool comeback that acts as people would want to call their child “Annabel” and then uses reverse psychology to make her name even more attractive.
  3. You say my name like it’s a bad thing: a standard one-liner that implies that her name is a good thing.
  4. Annabel is my nick name—my real name is Rumpelstiltskin: acts as if Annabel is a desirable to cover up a much worse (storybook) name, “Rumpelstiltskin.”   If this response leads to being taunted with the name Rumpelstiltskin, a ready comeback would be….
  5.  Are you practicing saying Rumpelstiltskin to avoid giving me your first born?

This confusing question hides the suggestion that continuing to say Rumpelstiltskin means the bully is fearful of giving up his or her child.

These cool comebacks do not focus on understanding the bully with questions and active listening.  Reasons for random and meaningless remarks may not be worthy of decoding.  It is not likely that this first lesson in the verbal arts will eliminate all of Annabel’s anger problems, but she has been able to experience robust responses that block attempts to rob her of her dignity. A felt sense of being overpowered is the root of all anger.

~ Kate Cohen-Posey, MS LMHC LMFT

Remember to send verbatim Cruel Comments to me at
and I will post them here with suggested Cool Comebacks!


For more information, please check out my books listed on this site: HOW TO HANDLE BULLIES TEASERS AND OTHER MEANIES; MAKING HOSTILE WORDS HARMLESS, and EMPOWERING DIALOGUES WITHIN (for the bullies in your brain).