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Archive for the ‘Mainstream Media Coverage’ Category

Boston Herald Story on Bullying

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

This is an interesting story in the Boston Herald.  What do you think?  Leave a comment here for us.

Judy Helm Wright, of Missoula, Montana has become “The Bully Advocate.” As an author, keynote speaker and family educator, she has seen the damage done when bullying occurs.

Her blog is filled with information and a free report for parents and teachers.  The goal of the blog is to:

  1. Empower the bully to gain empathy and gain new ways of communication
  2. Empower the victim or target to gain assertiveness skills and how to set boundaries.
  3. Empower the bystander or witness to speak up or find help.
  4. Empower the group, school, family or community to adopt a no-bully, respect for all policy.

Football Players Suspended For Hazing in Montana

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

My husband and I read the local Missoula newspaper each morning at breakfast. It is called the  Missoulian and has some of the finest writers and photo journalists in the country.  Many come here to the University Of Montana for the school of journalism and then stay because of the beautiful country and caring community.  We are very fortunate to have them.

November 3, 2010 there were two articles that especially struck our interests and started a good conversation.  Jamie Kelly, who has done an excellent job of covering the bullying controversy in the community, wrote about a hazing incident that probably started out innocent and playful, but could have ended in a tragedy for one or more teens.  The four students, all football players and seniors, are serving three to 10 day suspensions for the role in the hazing, which happened after football practice at Big Sky High School.

This was a hard lesson to learn for the kids, the team, the school and the community.

Teen age boys sometimes make decisions that will have far reaching effects for the future.

At least 10 students, sophomores and juniors were shot in the back or buttocks with a pump action Airsoft pellet gun that was brought into school in an athletic gear bag.  None of the kids “ratted” to teachers or administration.  But one mom was concerned enough to call officials.  The prinicipal Laboski was quoted in the article as saying “A lot of kids said it didn’t bother them, that it was no big deal.”

But it could have been a very big deal.

On the same page as the article by Jamie Kelly was one by Nick Gevock, of the Montana Standard.  His report was about teens and guns too.  But these teens had gone hunting with their fathers and grandfather.  This is a time honored practice in Montana.  A little male bonding, a little sharing of family stories and learning values and standards from various generations.

However, these 5 five young men aged from 13 to 16 learned a lesson too.  When the teens woke up and discovered the adults who had slept in anothertent with a propane heater were unconscious, they acted with keen minds and problem solved a situation that was very frightening.  One of the teens drove back off the isolated road to get into cell coverage and made an emergency call.  The other four stayed in camp and pulled the men out into the fresh air and safety.

Even though the boys were not sure what to do precisely, they recognized that they needed to step up and do something positive in order to change the outcome of the situation.

The adults are recuperating and the boys are probably saying “Oh, it was no big deal.”

But it could have been a very big deal.

For more information on hazing, bullying, encouraging bystanders to step up, please see

Hazing – Tradition or Tragedy

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Hazing – Tradition or Tragedy

In America kids have been back in school for a couple of months. Athletic teams have been selected. After school groups and clubs have formed. There has been a migration for those who want to find a group to either finding that community or feeling even more isolated and alone.

Recent blog posts and articles  have dealt with the one who was left out, the victim or the target. We have discussed the bully and what motivates the bullying actions, and we have written about  the bystander who does not speak up or even worse, encourages the bullying

We have even talked about what makes us do what we do. Why do we bully or give in to bullies or stand by while someone else is being bullied.

Most hazing by groups is a tradition, but it is very easy for the humiliation to escalate and become a tragedy.

As I have talked and shred many times, it is a fine line between being teased or taunted and being bullied.  It is the pattern of abuse and the intent which defines bullying.

Is hazing considered bullying?

Players Change But Hazing Continues

How about the kid who finally makes it on the team or into the fraternity and wants to retain that status.  It is no longer the hidden push in the locker room, but now an organized and sanctioned group “ritual” that has been going on for years.

In some schools, the incoming freshman are required to carry the books for the senior classmates.  It has always been done, they say.  It is a time honored tradition and just helps the freshman to know the school and meet kids who are in upper grades.

A  recent Family Circle Magazine (April 1, 1010) article stated “Most kids can recognize hazing when it happens to others, but a staggering 90% of victims are unable to admit that they have been hazed.”  Is it that they want to belong so much, that it is worth the price of a little embarrassment or humiliation?

Willing To Participate No Justification For Doing It

Most teens allow themselves to be hazed because they don’t know how to stop it.  The consequences can be just as severe for a child who is being hazed as if he/she were being bullied. One young man told me recently; “Well, at least with hazing, I can stand it because I know it will end when soccer season ends.”

But will it end there?  Will those who are in the position of power enjoy that rush of leadership, no matter how warped it is.  Will they search to find other targets or even continue picking on those who were willing to be hazed in a certain setting.

Bullying and Hazing Are About an Imbalance of Power

Whenever one has power over another it creates an atmosphere of dominance.  That is not character building, but soul destroying.

Questions To Think About

  1. Have you ever witnessed a hazing or teasing that went too far?
  2. What did you do and how did you feel?
  3. Has a gang , group or individual ever told you that “this will build character and it has always been done this way” while embarrassing or humiliating you?
  4. If you were being hazed would you feel powerless?
  5. Will you reflect on these feelings the next time you are in a situation to haze or tease someone else?

Please claim your free report on resources to help in bullying situations at

The Language of Bullies – Power of Mean Words

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The Language of Bullies – Power of Mean Words

In recent years we have taken Political Correctness to new heights to show respect for different races and religions. It is no longer socially acceptable to use derogatory names to label a person based on faith or ethnicity. So why is it socially acceptable to use words like Fat or Stupid or Gay?

Gender Differences in Bullying

Boys who bully tend to be more physical with lots of hitting, pushing, and violence in general.  Their choice of hurtful words usually center on sexual orientation or accusing both boys and girls of being gay, bisexual or promiscuous.  Research has shown that males who are regularly exposed to media or video violence are apt to become desenitized to real-life violence.  They are less likely to be sensitive to the pain of others and thus become bully bystanders.

Girls or females, however, tend to hurt and bully by using emotional and psychological means to isolate and embarrass other girls.

Boys bully with attacks on sexual orientation, strength and ability to win games.

While a boy’s favorite taunt is “gay” or “fag” a girl almost always goes for the physical attributes.  So the dreaded taunt of the female is “fat” or “ugly.”

Nasty Name Calling

In many schools or work places, for example, if a person were to call an African-American by that now taboo “N” word they would be hauled into an office and disciplined. We regularly hear people called Fat, or Stupid, and not much is done about it.

Many, many studies have shown, and it is widely known that name calling can have a profound affect on a person psychologically. So why are these types of slights against another person socially acceptable to so many?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

The old nursery story that our parents advised us to say when someone teased us is not only eneffective, but a lie.  Words can and do hurt. Physical wounds do heal much faster than those in the heart and soul. Be sure to sign up to receive your free report on bullying by going to

Words can be used as weapons. The words people use to label us enter into our inner dialogue and can really affect how we feel about ourselves.

Words have Power

We need to teach our children to chose the words they use wisely. Children and adults alike need to think about how they would feel if someone was using that language to talk about them or someone they loved.  Too much television and video involvement may give a false sense of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in society. Some individuals have become desensitized to real life violence, pain and suffering.

We, as a global society, need to stop casually throwing around words that are hurtful. All caring adults will model and teach how empathy, kindness and responsible action makes for a better world and a happier day for all involved.  If you would like assistance on teaching these life skills, please go to

We All Stand In Choice

Children and teens should be taught that being positive is a lifestyle choice which will bring joy, and happiness to themselves and the people around them. You can do it. I have confidence in you.

Ellen, Drew, Cooper and Dr. Phil Speak Out Against Bullies

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Celebrity figures are speaking up about the high cost of bullying. Adding to the voices of those who have been bullied or had loved ones take their lives over bullying, many famous names are now taking a stand against bullies and those who deliberately humilate others.

In a plea during an appearance on the Ellen Degneres show recently NFL Football great Drew Brees had this to say:

“If you think that making fun of someone is harmless, you are wrong. If you think its OK to do because everyone else is doing it you’re wrong. Bullying has to stop, and it has to start with you. I want my fans to know that if you’re making fun of someone because they are different, then you are no friend of mine. If you are being bullied I want you to know that there is support. I support you. Making fun of someone because they are different from you, that’s not being tough. Its being ignorant. Appreciating people for how they are different from you, that’s what it takes to be a friend.”

Brees isn’t the only one concerned about bullying. The topic has been in the forefront of the media recently with the high profile suicides of four young people whose deaths were the result of constant bullying.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper has always been on the forefront of this subject, reporting on the issue regularly and trying to make a difference.

In a recent appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show Copper suggested that he doesn’t recall being bullied himself, but he does remember standing by and watching others be bullied. He said as a bystander he remembers having a sense of relief that he wasn’t the person being picked on.

Cooper said the bystanders need to intervene and stand up against a bully to help break the cycle. It is not easy to empower children

Working together we can build a world of mutual respect and kindness for all.

unless we can model and teach the skills.

We all know that growing up, particularly during the teen years is difficult for everyone. Parents need to understand that today’s teens have a much different experience than they had.

For more information on bullying and the effect it can have on individuals, families, schools and communities, please check out

You will be able to claim a free report for parents and teachers on what to look for if your child has been bullied or is a bully. You will also find techniques to use to build up the assertiveness skills and self esteem of children and teens.

Wise Mind, Open Mind Interview with Ronald Alexander

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Hello Ron, I am a parent educator and author who lives in Missoula, Montana.

The past six months I have been working on the international crisis of cyberbullying and internet safety for kids.

My blog is at and comments are always welcome.

I have some questions for you that could use your wisdom and experience.

I maintain that empathy is a behavior along with an attitude.  What are your feelings on this?

Yes, I too agree with you.  Empathy as a behavior is the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes and feel or relate to what they are experiencing.  As an attitude it is keeping one’s mind and heart open to feelings, ideas, and concepts that may differ from what you yourself hold to be true.

Does the idea of anonymity encourage kids and adults to be more cruel online than they would be face-to-face?

Well even though the Internet is an extraordinarily valuable tool for our time it can also tend to de-personalize the people using it.  This aspect makes it much easier for cowards to throw jabs, hurtful words and become vicious from a distance with someone they are not with face-to-face.  Programs like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace need openness but freedom of speech should also take into consideration that words can be powerful weapons if not use mindfully that inflict deep and hurtful psychological wounds. Inflicting injuries from a distance is in itself a cowardly, cruel and inhuman manner to respond to another beings feelings and sense of self

People may think that directing anger and hurtful words at another is not necessarily life threatening but the emotional wounds they create can be just as deep as physical abuse. From both a Zen and a psychological view, if you have an unwholesome intention and are consciously choosing to attack others, you’re limiting your own capacity for change and stunting the creative unfolding of your own life. Your energy is being wasted on the futile effort of trying to force the external world to conform to your vision. The mental and emotional effort required to maintain this negative energy and pretense is enormous. Having wise intention is more than merely being ethical; it’s necessary for one’s psychological well-being and clear thinking.

Why would a child who has a strong sense of self and compassion give in to “group think” and pick on a certain child in the playground.

Children are always impressionable to group thinking and pressure, especially at the adolescent and teenage years.  Even the strongest individual child can become swept up into activities that are incongruent with the values and behaviors they have been taught. It is not only best to teach your children about strong values and codes of wise and right conduct but also discuss with them how to handle those moments when they are pressured by their peers.  For example many of the children I grew up with in the 60’s ended up in spiritual cults, one of which was in the top 10 percent of my high school graduating class.

Generally females tend to be more emotionally hurtful and boys more physically demeaning.  Why do you think that is?

This is a DNA and cultural creation that goes back to the gender roles in cave man mentality when women tended to make a nest while men were the hunters and gatherers. Historically, men with their higher levels of testosterone tend to be more competitive and are taught through activities such as sports to be more physical so they will often use this method to lash out.  Women who are genetically wired to communicate emotions will tend to use words when they want to be hurtful.

In time of crisis, a divorce in the family, a forced move to a new neighborhood, loss of a boyfriend etc. all contribute to the actions of teen girls. Some become more quiet and thoughtful, but others completely reject former values and standards.  Why do you think this is?

Divorce, a change in family dynamics or friends and even moving to a new neighborhood can stir up deep unconscious feelings of resentment, hurt, loss and abandonment. Often simmering on the surface of these feelings is anger. Acting out this anger is easier than struggling with the deeper issues that require awareness and mindfulness of the sorrow, loss and vulnerability children feel when sudden and shocking changes occur.

How do parents, teachers, coaches and other caring adults teach and model empathy and compassion?

Ghandi said you must be the change you desire.  So coaches, teachers, parents and others need to mirror compassion and empathy along with understanding and care in all situations, even in the most extreme of life expectancies.

How can caring adults help children and teens to understand that it is not cool to be cruel?

That would be a great bumper sticker IT’S NOT COOL TO BE CRUEL!  I council my patients to talk with their children and teens at home over dinner, in the car and in the family living room on how to be more courageous, empathic and compassionate. It is important for them to understand the destructive nature of cruelty and how it can destroy lives.  They also need to learn how the values of creativity and hope can inspire and help people feel that growth is possible. This way they can discover that contributing to another beings growth and transformation is far superior to tearing down or taking apart their sense of self.  Of course the best way for children to learn this lesson is to see it in action through their role models and parents. All the best heartfelt discussions can fall on deaf ears if the caring adults are unable to set an example and “walk their talk.”

Ronald Alexander, Ph.D. is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss, and Change. He is the Executive Director of the OpenMind Training® Institute, practices mindfulness-based mind-body psychotherapy and leadership coaching in Santa Monica, CA for individuals and corporate clients ( For full details about the Wise Mind, Open Mind virtual blog tour, visit

About Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss, and Change – In his groundbreaking book, Wise Mind, Open Mind pioneering psychotherapist, Dr. Ronald Alexander shares his innovative program for using mindfulness meditation, creative thinking, and positive psychology to transform times of crisis or change into opportunities for greater personal awareness, clarity, and creativity.  His original three-step plan includes, learning to let go of resistance to change, learning to tune in to your soul’s deep wisdom or core creativity; and then learning how to move forward based on your newly acquired insight.

Bully, Bullied and Bystander

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Hello from Montana,

Thanks for visiting this blog and joining a community of kind, thoughtful people who want respect for all. Dr. Phil McGraw is also part of this community against cyberbullying.

My goal as a “BullyAdvocate” is to:

  • Empower the bully to gain empathy and other ways of communication
  • Empower the victim or target to gain skills in assertiveness and setting boundaries
  • Empower the bystander to speak up and let others know that cruel behavior is not cool

According to National Association of School Psychologists, about one in seven schoolchildren has either been a bully or the target of a bully.

What If Your Child Is The Bully

Bullies come in all sizes, shapes and temperaments.  They may come for a dysfunctional home, but may also come from a great home with parents who care deeply and are mystified as to why their child would deliberately hurt or abuse someone else.

It may be teasing that got out of hand. It might be revenge. It might be part of “group think” or power of peer pressure.  It may be behavior that mimics what was seen in a movie or television show.  It can also be that the personality is manipulative and self-centered.

No matter why or how your child tries to dominate others, it is important to teach empathy and kindness.  Helping a child who has been bullying others for power or attention, may

As many bullies as there are in the world, the one common denominator is a desire for power. They want to win at all costs.

If your child
What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied

The first thing to do is remain calm and remember you are the adult, not the child you were when you were being bullied in the third grade. Listen to your child’s story and reinforce that you want to help him/her solve the problem and what would they prefer you do to help.  It is important to let them know it is not their fault and that there are mean people in the world who deliberately hurt others with words or actions.

If your child needs social skill training, help them role play some responses to the bully.  Teach them about being assertive and give them some words to say that will deflect the bullies anger or hurtful conduct. You will find some great exercises and techniques  in my book and classes at

Children who are different in some way or have behaviors that annoy or amuse their school mates still have a right to be treated with respect and kindness. But, as parents, we may need to coach our children in ways to increase “likeabilty.”

Bullied kids feel helpless and hopeless. This can lead to depression.

What if Your Child Witnesses Violence?

Remember to empower young  people by reminding them they are strong and capable and that you have confidence in them. Help them to see that they have a voice and a choice not only in their actions but in their reactions.

If they have witnessed bullying but did not speak up, they will be traumatized and feel they have betrayed their value system.  Help them to understand the power of the word.  A single word of kindness  or a pat on the arm can make the difference in not only how the victim feels but how they feel about the situation.

Practice with them as they speak in a polite assertive voice “Hey cut it out.” Or,  “Please stop. No one deserves to be treated that way.”

There are no winners in a bullying situation. The bully, the bullied and the bystander all suffer in some way.

By teaching respect and kindness for all, we can build a better world.  For more information, please see and leave a comment or claim your free report on bullying.

You can do it. I have confidence in you.

Judy Helm Wright

CyberBullies – Bully Online

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Dealing With Online Bullies

With the advancement in modern technology the evolution of the bully has moved from playgrounds, workplaces and gyms to the internet. It is not that kids being mean to one another is anything new. But the methods and techniques are certainly more sophisticated and allow more cruelty because of constant access and the power to be anonymous.

Cell Phones and Social Media Make Being Mean Easy

Unlike adults, kids don’t regard technology as separate from the rest of their lives. Many have a cell phone in their hands and moving to text or talk constantly.

Cell phones and social media have made it easy for mean kids to bully online and become cyber bullies.

Bullies are now using chat rooms and social media sites to attack their victims. Bullies use the cyberspace to leave harsh, cruel or even threatening comments for their victims.

Sometimes bullies post fake or hurtful videos, or even create fake online profiles to harm the reputation of the person they wish to victimize.

FaceBook Works To Stop Offenders

Social networking sites like FaceBook work hard to control serious incidents through online reporting. Through filing a report users can have wrongful photos or comments removed from the site.

FaceBook also enforces consequences for the aggressor up to, and including closing their account for serious offenders. But, unfortunately, kids are smart and pretty internet savvy. They can start another account with a false name and new email address.

No Easy Answers or Solutions to Combat CyberBullies

So, how do we combat online bullies? There are a number of software programs and online services that can help parents monitor what kids are doing online.

There are also services to help parents monitor text messaging on cell phones, which is another rapidly growing problem.

We need to encourage our children to inform parents, teachers or other responsible adults when they are being bullied whether it is face-to-face or online.

Recently authorities have begun taking credible threats of injury or damage to property very seriously. In serious cases authorities should be contacted to deal with bullying concerns in an efficient manner.

Questions To Ask Yourself:

  • Would I be able to tell if my child is being bullied online?
  • Is my child mature enough to conduct him or herself responsibly on social networking sites?
  • How will I monitor my child’s activities online?
  • How will I deal with incidents of bullying against my child or, if I find my child is bullying someone else?

Cyberbullying is a serious threat to individuals globally.  Teaching internet safety and social skills online is a part of what a caring parent does.  You should be informed and aware of what your child is sending and receiving online.

You can do it. I have confidence in you.

Judy Helm Wright, family relationship author and keynote speaker

Dangers of Cyberbullying – Online Threats

Friday, September 10th, 2010
The Dangers of Cyberbullying

It has become a part of our mainstream media to read about cyberbullying and the young people who are affected daily.  Many do not tell, but suffer in silence.
Out of a fear of losing access to technology many kids and teens do not inform parents and caregivers, teachers or friends they are experiencing problems with cyberbullies.
Although similar to normal bullying in many ways cyberbullying involves the use of cell phones or other technology as a means to harass others.
Cyberbullies use the internet and text messages to embarrass or intimidate another person.
Messages and posts can range from threats of physical harm to disclosing personal information on their victim. The information cyberbullies put out information intended to defame or embarrass their victims.
Cyberbullying often begins with young boys, but girls are more likely to continue the behavior through young adulthood. Threats, and sexual remarks are often the earmark of the cyberbully. However, sexual remarks are not usually classed as sexual harassment and do not usually involve a sexual predator.
Who Is The CyberBully?

The behavior of the cyberbully is not limited to kids and young adults. There are many instances of adults who commit some form of cyber-harassment against another adult. These adults have a pattern of threatening employment or earnings of another individual.

Many teens and children who are being cyberbullied are afraid to tell. They are fearful they will lose computer or phone privileges if they tell their parents.

They often stalk others through the internet–threatening the safety and reputation of their victim. These cyber stalkers often use search engines and social media to sabotage and harass their victims.
Cyberbullying can be either direct or indirect

Direct bullying involves communication directly between the victim and the bully, while indirect bullying involves others in the process to gang up on the victim.
Cyberbullies can often remain anonymous by using temporary e-mail addresses and social networking accounts to harass or impersonate others.
How To Combat The Threats
  • Change your e-mail address and cell phone number, be choosy who you give your new contact information to
  • Avoid unfamiliar chat rooms and websites
  • If a child, then tell an adult who has the power to help you.
  • If an adult, consult the local police
With few laws governing harassment over the internet and through texting messages victims often feel helpless and scared. These feelings can lead to low self esteem, anger, frustration, depression and even suicidal thoughts.
What to Ask Yourself
  • How can I tell if someone I love is being cyberbullied?
  • What would I do if I found myself the victim of a cyberbully?
  • Have I ever written or done something online that another person might consider cyberbullying?
For more information please visit

Effects of Girls Who Bully Other Girls

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Effects of Girls Who Bully Other Girls

Bullying can take many different forms especially in a society that values technology so highly. Text bullying and online bullies are quite common. In particular, a girl bullying victims will often be much more subtle in the tactics used.

Queen Bees and Wanna Bees

Girls will usually form groups and use these to their advantage, encouraging a group to gang up on one victim. The Queen Bee is the leader and holds the keys of power to the clique. It is she who dictates what to wear, how to talk, walk and befriend.

The Wanna Bees, the other girls in the clique are in fear of disappointing the leader of the pack.  They are eager to share the power and gain favor in the eyes of the other mean girls in the group.

All girls want to belong to a social group and have friends. Queen Bees, the leader of a clique, can decide their fate in school. It is all about power.

Effects of Cyberbullying

Because students prefer to use phones for texting rather than talking, many texts and messages fly through cyber air about who is in and who is out.

One seventh grade girl told me recently, “None of our fights were face to face, we were too afraid the teacher would catch us. It is easier to fight online, because you feel more powerful. You can also be as mean as you want to on FaceBook. It is kind of fun to “dis” somebody.”

Cyberdramas of Girls

If there is a conflict between teenage couples, surprisingly, the girls will blame the girl and want to “punish her.”  In the Phoebe Prince suicide in Massachusetts, even though  the boy and girl were no longer dating, when he started dating Phoebe, she was bullied and attacked.

The groups will usually pick and choose their members and exclude others, sometimes completely at random.

While it is normal for both girls and boys to form social groups and strong bonds that naturally exclude others, it becomes bullying when power plays over individuals or other groups are involved.

Questions on Girls and Cyberbullying – We welcome comments

  • Why do you think girls turn against each other over the attention of a boy?
  • Do all cultures have cliques of girls?
  • Do you remember a Queen Bee from middle school?
  • Why do you think it is important for a young girl to fit into a group?
  • Is cyberbullying more dangerous than face-to-face bullying?