The Bully Proof Classroom


Bullying Basics

Written By: Kevin Brenden - May• 27•17

Parents: Signs that your teen is being bullied

Bullying is threatening, aggressive, persistent and unwanted behavior that intentionally harms another person emotionally and/or physically. There are several different types of bullying that may occur among teens, including physical bullying, emotional bullying, verbal bullying and/or cyberbullying. It is extremely important that parents, as well as children, understand that there is no form of bullying that is less serious or that requires less attention than another form of bullying. The person being bullied usually has difficulty preventing the behaviors that are being directed toward them, and they often struggle with defending themselves. Many teens, especially boys, will not tell their parent or another adult that they are being bullied. So, it is extremely important that parents are aware of the possible signs that their teen is being bullied. The following guide will help you recognize the signs of a teen that is being bullied.

Identifying Potential Victims of Bullying

In most situations a victim of a bully will display signs of being distressed. Signs may include withdrawal, anxiety, cutting class, depression and/or a decrease in school performance. Unfortunately, some teens may become the victim of a bully simply because they are considered to be a minority, such as ethnic minorities, religious minorities, low economic status, and homosexuals or simply because they are smaller in stature than the bully. However, any child or teenager can become the victim of a bully, without falling into one of the above categories. Although the victims of a bully may vary, it is common for teens that are different in some way than their peers to fall prey to a bully.

Signs That Your Teen is Being Bullied

There are typically warning signs that can indicate when a teen is being bullied; however, not all kids that are being bullied will exhibit the warning signs. It is essential that parents talk to their teens on a regular basis about bullying and encourage them to come to you or another adult if they are being bullied. Some of the warning signs of a teen being bullied may include:


  • Unexplained cuts, bruises and/or scratches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Has reoccurring bad dreams
  • Torn, damaged, or missing pieces of belongings, such as books or clothing
  • Fearful of riding the school bus, walking to and from school, or participating in organized school activities
  • When walking, they will take an illogical route
  • Loss of interest in school work and/or sudden drop in grades
  • Appears sad, moody, depressed, or teary when arriving home from school
  • A sudden change in appetite
  • Reoccurring headaches, stomach aches, frequent complaints of sickness, or fakes being ill to avoid going to school
  • Appears to suffer with anxiousness and/or low self-esteem
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as running away from home, harming themselves, and/or talking about or attempting suicide

Bullying can happen to girls or boys and children of all ages at any time. It is vital that you talk with your teens about bullying and encourage them to learn what to do if they are being bullied. It is also equally important to talk with teens you suspect are being bullies about their behavior. Encourage your teenager to speak up when witnessing bullying and to speak up when being bullied. It is also extremely important to encourage schools to enact no bulling policies and encourage the school faculty to intervene.

Boy ‘driven to suicide by bullies’

Written By: James H Burns - Mar• 05•17

A distraught mother has claimed that her 11-year-old son was driven to suicide by bullies at his school.

Thomas Thompson took an overdose of painkillers after other pupils picked on him because he was clever and well-spoken, she said.

Sandra Thompson found her son in his bedroom when she returned home from work in the evening.

Are You a Bully Magnet at Work?

Written By: James H Burns - Mar• 05•17

These five factors determine whether you’re tempting prey for office bullies and abusive co-workers.

Workplace bullying is epidemic. In fact, 37 million U.S. workers face “abusive conduct” during the workday, according to a 2014 survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute. Nearly 29 million others witness this abuse. To put this into tangible terms, the nearly 66 million workers who face or witness bullying equal the combined population of fifteen U.S. states.

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How to Prevent Bullying of Children with Epilepsy, Other Medical Conditions

Written By: James H Burns - Mar• 05•17

These strategies just might save a life.

Bullying can be a serious problem for any child, but for children with a medical challenge such as epilepsy, the risk is increased. Knowing the facts about bullying is the first step toward preventing victimization of children and teens with epilepsy or other medical conditions, and keeping them safe.

What exactly is bullying, and how does it affect the children involved? Bullying consists of aggressive behaviors that are repeated over time and involve an abuse of power by the perpetrator. It may take the form of verbal or physical abuse, or, especially for girls, cyberbullying through social media. The child who bullies learns how to use power and aggression to control and distress another, and the child who is victimized learns about losing power and becoming trapped in an abusive relationship. The lessons for both parties are clearly destructive. Contrary to what some people may think, bullying is not a normal part of healthy adolescent development and the suffering it causes may start early and last a lifetime.

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2017-18 Professional Development Opportunities

Written By: James H Burns - Feb• 28•17

Schedule Now For 2017-18

If you are planning for the 2017-18 school year you are probably looking for a quality in-service or keynote to start off the year. Jim Burns is a former teacher, and administrator with over forty years of experience. He has been a professional speaker since the year 2000. He is a college instructor, anti bullying consultant, writer, and course designer. In May of 2015 Jim was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his almost 40 years of work in the area of student behavior management and anti bullying. He can speak to your staff on a variety of topics that are both humorous and enlightening. He believes that Everybody Knows about the true issues in education but for some reason can’t come up with the solutions. He offers self study professional development opportunities that can be found at To learn more about scheduling an in-service or a consultation click on the link below for more information.

The Bully Proof Classroom


Written By: James H Burns - Feb• 17•17



Post-Election Parenting: What to Do When Adults Act Up

Written By: James H Burns - Feb• 16•17

US News January 12, 2017

How much of your parenting time have you spent teaching, talking and modeling for your children that name-calling, shouting and bullying is no way to behave?

Then along came the 2016 national election cycle. Everything you’ve admonished and taught your children not to do was on display – and your kids were watching.

So what’s a parent to do now? Here are four steps you can take to keep your kids on their best behavior – even when some adults act up.

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To The Parents of The School Bully: You Created This Monster

Written By: James H Burns - Feb• 16•17

Huffington Post

9/30/2016 05:13 pm ET | Updated Oct 03, 2016

Amanda Redhead Mother, Nurse, Writer, Warrior

Every school has at least one bully. The child that, no matter how vigilant the school is, finds a way to make other children miserable. Sometimes this child appears to have lovely, engaged parents and no one can make out how this bully was created. More often, however, it is wildly apparent to all of us that the parents are the direct cause of the child that feels free to be cruel to the other children.

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How To Listen So That Kids Will Talk About Bullying

Written By: James H Burns - Feb• 16•17

Huffington Post

10/31/2016 11:16 am ET | Updated Nov 02, 2016

Signe Whitson Author; School Counselor

In the last several years of working as a School Counselor and speaking with professionals, parents and students across the United States on the topic of Bullying Prevention, one of the observations that stands out to me the most is that parents, in general, are very eager to talk about bullying while their kids, on the other hand, seem to want to do anything but talk to their parents about this topic. The more parents pry, the more kids withdraw. The more parents push, the harder kids push-back — with excuses, minimizations, abrupt subject changes, stonewalling, silence, and sometimes even complete denial that a peer problem exists.

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Mental Health Issues In School

Written By: James H Burns - Feb• 11•17

Here is a great article I found on NPR. It truly gives a great summary of an issue that schools rarely consider or address. I credit the authors for a job well done. I am posting it here to be informative about this problem that I believe is reaching epidemic proportions.

The Mental Health Crisis In Our Schools

Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students

Mental health as a giant ocean wave

  LA Johnson/NPR

Part One in an NPR Ed series on mental health in schools.

You might call it a silent epidemic.

Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year.

So in a school classroom of 25 students, five of them may be struggling with the same issues many adults deal with: depression, anxiety, substance abuse.

And yet most children — nearly 80 percent — who need mental health services won’t get them.

Whether treated or not, the children do go to school. And the problems they face can tie into major problems found in schools: chronic absence, low achievement, disruptive behavior and dropping out.

Experts say schools could play a role in identifying students with problems and helping them succeed. Yet it’s a role many schools are not prepared for.

Educators face the simple fact that, often because of a lack of resources, there just aren’t enough people to tackle the job. And the ones who are working on it are often drowning in huge caseloads. Kids in need can fall through the cracks.

“No one ever asked me”

Katie is one of those kids.

She’s 18 now. Back when she was 8, she had to transfer to a different school in Prince George’s County, Md., in the middle of the year.

“At recess, I didn’t have friends to play with,” she recalls. “I would make an excuse to stay inside with the teachers and finish extra work or do extra credit.”

We’re not using Katie’s last name to protect her privacy. She’s been diagnosed with bulimia and depression.

She says that in the span of a few months, she went from honor roll to failing. She put on weight; other kids called her “fat.” She began cutting herself with a razor every day. And she missed a ton of school.

“I felt like every single day was a bad day,” she says. “I felt like nobody wanted to help me.”

Katie says teachers acted like she didn’t care about her schoolwork. “I was so invisible to them.”

Every year of high school, she says, was “horrible.” She told her therapist she wanted to die and was admitted into the hospital.

During all this time, she says, not a single principal or teacher or counselor ever asked her one simple question: “What’s wrong?”

If someone had asked, she says, she would have told them.

Who should have asked?

We talked to educators, advocates, teachers and parents across the country. Here’s what they say a comprehensive approach to mental health and education would look like.

The family

The role: The first place to spot trouble is in the home, whether that trouble is substance abuse, slipping grades or a child who sleeps too much. Adults at home — parents, siblings, other relatives — are often the first to notice something going on.

The reality: Many families do not know what to look for. Sometimes a serious problem can be overlooked as “just a phase.” But it’s those sudden changes — angry outbursts, declining grades, changes in sleeping or eating — that can signal problems. When something unusual crops up, families can keep in close touch with the school.

The teacher

The role: During the week, many students see their teachers even more than their own families. Teachers are in a prime spot to notice changes in behavior. They read essays, see how students relate with other kids and notice when they aren’t paying attention.

The reality: Teachers already have a ton on their plates. They’re pressured to get test scores up, on top of preparing lessons and grading assignments. Plus, many teachers receive minimal training in mental health issues. But when they do see something concerning, they can raise a flag.

The social worker

The role: Social workers act like a bridge. If teachers come to them with a concern — maybe a child is acting withdrawn — one of the first things they’ll do is call home. They see each child through the lens of their family, school and community. They might learn that a family is going through a divorce or homelessness.

The reality: There aren’t enough of them. According to one model, every school should have one social worker for every 250 students. The reality is that in some schools, social workers are responsible for many more.

The counselor

The role: In some schools, counselors focus solely on academics: helping students pick classes and apply to college. But in others, they also act a lot like social workers, serving as a link to families and working with students who need support.

The reality: Like school social workers, there just aren’t enough counselors. On average nationwide, each counselor is responsible for nearly 500 students. The American School Counselor Association recommends a caseload nearly half that size.

The special education teacher

The Role: Special education teachers may start working with students when a mental health problem affects the ability to do school work. They are primarily responsible for working on academic skills.

The reality: Again, there aren’t enough of them. Nearly every state has reported a shortage of special education teachers. Half of all school districts say they have trouble recruiting highly qualified candidates.

The school psychologist

The Role: Here’s one job that, on paper, is truly dedicated to student mental health. School psychologists are key players when it comes to crisis intervention and can refer students to outside help, such as a psychiatrist.

The reality: If you sense a pattern here, you’re right. In the U.S., there is just one school psychologist for every 1,400 students, according to the most recent data available from the National Association of School Psychologists.

The school nurse

The role: Most any school nurse will tell you, physical and mental health are tough to separate. That puts nurses in a prime spot to catch problems early. For example: A kid who comes into the nurse’s office a lot, complaining of headaches or stomach problems? That could be a sign of anxiety, a strategy to avoid a bully, or a sign of troubles at home.

The reality: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least one nurse for every 750 students, but the actual ratio across the country can be much higher.

The principal

The role: As the top dogs in schools, principals make the big decisions about priorities. They can bring in social-emotional, anti-bullying and suicide-prevention programs.

The reality: Principals also have a lot on their plates: the day-to-day management of student behavior, school culture and teacher support.

Getting help, and “excited for life”

Katie says things started to turn around for her when she met a nurse at the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., who finally showed interest in what was wrong.

Now, she’s begun college and wants to be a pediatric nurse.

“I’m doing a lot better now” she says. ” Obviously, I mean, I’m a lot happier. I’m excited for school. I’m excited to graduate. I’m excited for life.”

When you are finished with this article read this one:

Schools and Mental Health: When The Parent Has To Take Charge