Sunday, October 06, 2013

Bullying Basics

I have an interest in bullying behavior. I experienced it first hand as a kid. As a school counselor, I experience it from a prevention/intervention point-of-view. I decided early on in my doctoral program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that my dissertation focus would be bullying behavior - primarily because I was a school counselor struggling the best ways to prevent and intervene. As a doctoral student, one of the first things that happens is that your doctoral committee is formed. I researched, personally met, and asked those professors I wanted to surround myself with as I made my way through the program and the dissertation process. I secured quite a fantastic doctoral committee and had the fortunate opportunity of having Dr. Susan Swearer (Target Bullying Intervention Program, Nebraska Bullying Prevention and Intervention Initiative, Bullying Research Network, Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation Advisory Board Member) as one of my committee members. What a blessing it was to work with her and her research! In fact, I recommended her (more than once) to be a Keynote Speaker at ASCA 2014!

As I planned in year one, I wrote my doctoral dissertation on bullying behavior: 
The effects of a school counseling bullying curriculum on bully behavior in an urban K-5 elementary school. Through this work, I was able to combine my love for school counseling and interest in teaching, curriculum, and learning. What a process that was!! Full-time school counselor, full-time doctoral student, and carrying out this huge research initiative with all of the children in the school!!! I must say, I'm awfully proud of this accomplishment and the lengthy document/book I produced. On a side note: I haven't really opened up my dissertation much since I defended it. Why? The few times I did, I've found typos!!! That thing was read time and time again, proofed time and time again by me and a number of neutral parties and STILL there are typos. Ugh....that really bugs me!

If you would like to read my dissertation, please email me at: and I will get you the link.

Following my doctoral work, over the years I've been involved in the fight against bullying behavior. I've held parent workshops on what bullying behavior is and strategies to deal with bullying, parent workshops on the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and the process of handling bully behavior in our school, and parent workshops on cyberbullying/internet safety. I taught many lessons in every grade level, developed literature for parents and teachers, trained staff on these topics, and of course I've done my share of interventions. Here are some other bullying prevention activities/initiatives that I have been a part of. 

34 Days of Anti-Bullying Morning Announcements

In 2010, I wrote 7 weeks worth of morning announcements titled: Bullying Basics. Each week had a theme and each daily announcement supported that theme. I originally wrote these not for Bullying Prevention Month, but instead wrote them in response to springtime behavior. 

These documents still have the dates listed (Spring of 2010) for each announcement, but it gives you an idea of what the announcements sounded like for elementary aged students.

For the Bullying Basics Announcements, click below!
Week #1
Week #2
Week #3
Week #4
Week #5
Week #6
Week #7

PBS39 Tempo In Depth

In October of 2011, I was asked to be a panelist for PBS39 Tempo In Depth television show on the topic of bullying. The person who would have typically represented the school district was unable to attend the taping. After realizing this was an opportunity to talk about this very important topic, an opportunity to represent my school district in a positive way, and an opportunity to represent the work elementary school counselors do, I reluctantly agreed to participate. I remember that day vividly; I was so incredibly nervous and was so thankful that I didn't stumble on my words.  In the end, I don't think I will ever be doing something like this again:)!

Olweus Bullying Prevention Program 
Kick-Off Performances

For the past 5 years, our school has partnered with a local university to kick-off our Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Knowing the Performing Arts Division Head at DeSales University, I put myself out there and asked him if he would be willing to volunteer (for no charge:) to have his students perform for our students. He said "YES!" I couldn't even believe it! I knew the work it would take on their end to rehearse to put on a performance like this and each and every year I am so touched by their generosity!

So, I wrote 2 sets of scripts with each set containing skits for grades K, 1 and 2 and then grades, 3, 4 and 5. We have used one set of scripts on year and the next set of scripts the next year. I know nothing about acting, writing scripts, or performing -- so thankfully, Mr. Bell pulled out his expertise and created the most amazing short performances! We schedule the performances for an hour block because the student volunteer actors/actresses need to return to class; K, 1, and 2 attend the first performance and 3, 4 and 5 attend the second. The actors and actresses perform a bullying scenario and then they FREEZE. It is now my turn...I do the education piece. I walk around the stage, talk about the bullying behavior, talk about the characters (he/she doing the bully behavior, the victim/target, the bystanders), and discuss the feelings. Then, the actors/actress REPLAY the skit...showing how the bystanders are the true heroes in a bullying situation. They FREEZE again and I discuss what the students just saw.

After a visit by Olweus SuperHero and a review of the Olweus Anti-Bullying Rules, we have a meet and greet with the actors/actresses. My students have the opportunity to ask them questions....this portion of the program is so touching and so personal and so awesome!!

Hopefully I will be able to post some pictures of our performance in a few weeks!

You too can do this very thing!! Take a risk and ask a local college or university if they are willing to do something like this in your school. It is best to ask the year prior to when you want your performance to take place because a lot of planning, volunteering, rehearsals, etc. goes into this for the students and the faculty member in charge.

Some of My Favorite Bullying Resources

It wasn't too many years ago that there weren't too many anti-bullying resources for elementary aged children and staff members. Now, there are so very many! I have a bunch of favorites and I list a few of them below:

For Students
Trudy Ludwig:
Maria Dismondy and Bob Sornson
Becky Ray McCain
Margery Cuyler
Jacqueline Woodson
Clair Alexander
For Staff
Stan and Julia Davis


  1. What a comprehensive post ... thanks for your collection. I am pinning it now!


  2. Thank you so much for all this information! I especially love the daily announcements!