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April 16th, 2010 by kristen

Our Kids are Counting on Us

bully_1Over the next few weeks, I’ll be delivering a series of public service announcements to raise awareness about the dangers of bullying. We have seen what bullying can do to our children — the hate, violence and even death. As I’ve often said, this is a real issue that is not going away, and the Dr. Phil team is determined to do everything we can to ensure that kids are protected from those who mercilessly taunt, intimidate and abuse them.  

That’s why we’re doing this anti-bullying campaign. Despite all the news media attention surrounding Phoebe Prince’s tragic suicide last month, so many adults still may not realize just how widespread bullying has become. They don’t understand that cyberbullying can be just as painful as getting beaten up behind the gym after school. Many parents, and even teachers, still dismiss bullying with the old line about “kids being kids” — which, in my book, just shows that so many adults can be a quart or two low on empathy.

I can’t stress enough that someone who stands by passively and watches a kid being terrorized is just as bad as the actual bully. If your child is being picked on, don’t tell them to quit whining and go work it out. Don’t tell them to quit tattling and go work it out. Instead, moms and dads, sit down with your child and talk about what’s happening. And if you’re not sure where to start, the following coping strategies can help. Let your child know: Don’t get into a fistfight or retaliate against a bully. Speak confidently when telling a bully not to physically touch you. Don’t believe the insults about you. Write down your feelings.

And, if you have a friend who is being bullied, remember that you are not a snitch if you report it. Talk to a parent, a teacher or an adult whom you trust. Please don’t let your friend suffer in silence. For more coping techniques, you can click on any of the hyperlinks throughout this blog.

There are steps you can take as well to keep your child safe: Get involved at his or her school, and demand tough anti-bullying laws and no-nonsense educators who will go the extra mile to “bully-proof” their schools.

Bullies are nothing more than cowards. We have to answer the call to action. Let’s continue to sound the alarm that bullying is not OK. In the public service announcements, you’ll hear me say, “Our kids are counting on us.” I pray that we all take the message to heart.

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69 Responses to “Our Kids are Counting on Us”

  1. Els G. says:

    I have recently seen the show on bullying and wanted to share the event that changed me.

    As a young child (about 6 years) I went to a small school. In our class there was a blind girl following the same classes with the rest of us. One day someone started bullying her by telling her that there was a spider in her hair. We all thought it was funny the way she was jumping around to get rid of the so-called spider.

    The teacher found out what happened and punished us by letting us all wear a blindfold and then using a paintbrush on our arms and telling us there were insects on our arms. I freaked out and learned a lesson for life. I became the best friends with the blind girl, protecting her against whoever trying to hurt or bully her.

    When I moved to the country side, I was bullied a lot (having a strange accent from the big town I was a victim from the first day on), it went up and down (depending who miss popular chose to pick on). Every time someone was picked at, I stood by their side, asking questions on why this and why that. In the end it was always the same, they embraced the bullied girl again and I became the victim instead.

    In the end, I am doing ok in life and I rarely think of those days now. But whenever I am in a big meeting or in a meeting with important people and they are listening to me, it kind of freaks me out and I get the cold sweat. If that is the only problem left, I am ok with this ;-)

  2. Andrea Cope says:

    Dr. Phil first let me say you know God has a special place for you and for everyone who stands up.Well I stand up now and am no longer going to allow fear to keep me from doing whats right.Dr. Phil in my local community not only are our Children being bullied are Teachers are as well a gag order has been placed on them denying them their God given right of freedom of speech.The teachers by law cannot disclose any concerns they have with are public school system or say anything that would “show the WFISD in a negative light.”Dr. Phil I recognize the signs there are red flags all around.I know there has to be a way to bring this to light.I have proof of the perversion and the lies.When my daughter brought home papers from a local school that seemed shady I kept them I have one where the school asked us to dress our daughters in “mini skirts” for a school play.One where they were going to take the kids on a field trip and the students and teachers but not the parent chaperons were going to be in a hotel but the parents would have to sleep on the floor of the YMCA gym floor (trying to discourage parents from going).Once I stared to confirm each student would be getting their own bed to sleep in and that anything less is unacceptable the plans changed but they chose to keep the original permission slip and just marked out the old plans that can still be read.The way they rewarded students with good behavior was with makeup and bracelets and necklaces that said I Love Boys.All of this may sound pretty unbelievable but you have the resources and I have the proof to bust this thing wide open.Our teachers are under attack and are being replaced with with only 2 years of collage and lack of compassion and love that is required to teach.Dr Phil if you will listen to the revelations that have been reviled to me I know it will get you to the source of this epidemic a lot faster time is of the essence.Like you Dr. Phil I to have a greater purpose and I want to thank you for being an inspiration to all.God bless you!I am glad you went to Hollywood so you can be heard in every home and do the Lords work but Texas hasn’t been the same since you left.Much love Dr Phil to you and your beautiful family unlike many in Hollywood you guys are beautiful from the inside out.I hope to hear from your organization.I am ready to stand up.

  3. Kathleen Colclasure says:

    My grandson has been a victim of bullying in his elementary school. I have challenged the superintendent of the Centerville, Ohio school system to help me lead the Centerville community to becoming pathfinders by organizing the entire community to begin an ONGOING dialogue on how our community can make a difference in the lives of EVERYONE who has been a victim of bullying. I even offered my services and help free of charge (I am a recent “not so retired Registered Nurse) ! I specifically introduced the idea of requiring an age appropriate ongoing course in the schools that would address topics such as empathy, sympathy, compassion, etc., etc. I even introduced the idea of a school levy that would fund such a program. We’ll see if the superintendent responds! I have sent an email to you, Dr. Phil, with this information and I hope you might consider inviting myself and the superintendent of the Centerville school system to appear on your program in the future as I know you will continue to cover this issue in the future. Thank you for your help too….I hope Centerville, Ohio can and will show courage and be bold in the hope we can make a difference and set an example for other schools and communities.

  4. Linda S. says:

    What about the teacher that bully certain students. They pick out student and the teachers all bully that student. This is happening in colleges. Student end up so stressed out. They don’t let them continue their studies when the campus has said they could. Cousellors don’t help. They end up leaving, when they had plans to further their education to be employable again. Leaves the student feeling worthless and wondering what is going on.
    This was all female instructors.

  5. melissa says:

    i am 31 years old and have a 9 year old son who is bullied at school every day. i know how important it is to stop the bullying in school and out of school. i was bullied at school and on the bus ride home from school from the time i started school until i quit school in the tenth grade. i dont want my son to go through what i went through at his school. so i take this time to thank dr.phil for taking the time to do what he is doing to stop the bullying altogether

  6. Joost Bastiaansen says:

    First of all, as some may have noticed from my name, I am Dutch, so I apologise for any mistakes I make while typing this.

    Dr. Phil does a great job in bringing Bullying and its dangers under the attention of all the people who watch his show. I would like to add my comments an experience in th hope that someone may find them usefull.

    I was Bullied during much of my early life, from age six untill about sixteen. For some unknown reasong I was separated from all the friend I had made during my first two years in school, and was thus left in social isolation. This made me an easy target, and it did not take long for the bullies at school to single me out. It did not help that I was a better then average student, whose grades inspired jealousy, and my dislike for ‘normal’ things like television and soccer (nr. one sport in the Netherlands) added more fuel to the fire.

    By the time I was ten years old, the fear and isolation had withered away my pride, self esteem and self value. Suicide was more than once on my mind (I have always had a somewhat adult mindset, making me aware of such ‘options’). This was agravated by the fact that I had nowhere to go with my trouble. My teachers were aware of my trouble, but did nothing. Worse so, my parents did not realise in what kind of situation I was. When i told them what was happening, for the first four years the told me to stand up to the bullies, and it all would go away.

    However, when I was about ten years old, virtually the whole boy half of my class caught me after school and beat me up. It was the first time they actually became violent and it marked a change in my situation. For the first time my parents became aware what was going on and contacted the school. At school things did not change much however. Though I had the support of my parents now, the headmaster stonewalled any action that could be taken against bullying, because he did not consider it a problem. This changed when he retired, but by then I had only one year left at that school.

    My next school (the dutch equivalent of junior and high school) was a learing factory of 2200 students in which Bullying was adressed in general and in person.
    A dean helped me to get professional help, and I made some good friends, despite still being bullied during the first four years. After my sixteenth year Bullying became less of a problem, although some of the bullies kept haunting me untill I was 18.

    The whole episode has scarred me for life. I will never know who I would have become without the bullying, but I am positive I would have been a different person. The emotional trauma has left me unfit to teach, which was a lifetime dream. Social contact is still difficult for me to establish, although I have made many friends over the years.

    I have come to terms with what has happened to me in the past. I like who I am today, and have no regrets considering the past. During counseling, which I had with my parents to talk about the sitution I realised the regret my parents had of not intervening sooner. I did not even have to forgive them, because I realised they loved met deeply, and I still believe they could not have been better parents even if they had taken it seriously from the start. I have also come to forgive most of the Bullies realising they simply did not know better, or realised what they did.

    During my youth I thus gained a lot of experience considering bullying, and I would like to give some advice, from my point of view.

    First of all: Don”t hesitate to ask for help. When you are bullied, you stand alone, while the buillies are with many. Level the playing field. I have never shied to ask for help, from teachers, my parents, family or anyone. My mother joined the school parenting board and my father my volleyball club to support me.

    Second: Standing up to them seems like a good idea, and it is. However, Bullies do NOT respond to calmly telling them you don’t like what they are doing. They do NOT care for yopur feelings. I have found that they only backed of when I lost my temper and became violent. Usually this resulted in a relative period of calm as they realised that I was very much able to hurt them. What I am saying is that you should not PLAN to use violence. Just don’t hold back when you feel you are losing your temper. You may get in trouble, but it also may spark a change (I even got charged with Assault by the parents of a boy I beat up, but he has never bothered me again). In this I disagree with Dr. Phil. Violence can be an effective, if dangerous defence mechanism if you are pushed in a corner. Remeber, it is your mental health you are defending.

    Third: Do not expect any compassion or support from the parents of bullies. They are virtually blind when it comes to the actions of their children, certainly in this matter. ‘Kids will be kids’ etc. is what they think, or ‘my child would never do this’ and ‘how bad can it be?’.

    Fourth: Make sure that everybody knows what is happening to you. Show them what can happen if bullying is left unchecked. Show them an episode of Dr. Phil and tell them you could be the topic, or find some other way.

    Fifth: Do not give in to Bullies. Do not run from them. I have never wanted to change school, because it would mean admitting defeat. This thought is one of two things that kept me from taking my own life (the other being the love of my family). Although it seems like an easy way out, it never is. You can’t run away from the damage that has been done. I have tried. Confrontation with the pain is harder, but much more effective. Also, when you are gone, the bullies will often pick another target, starting a new circel of pain. And thirdly, you can’t run away from the internet. Bullies will simply find you and bully over the internet, or spread some rumours on your new school (happened to me).

    And Final: remember: You are not alone. There are many people around just like you, being bullied. Find support groups you can join, on the internet or via school. There are countless books in the library about children who are bullied. Read them. There are movies about this to (The Breakfast Club is an amazing film for anyone who has ever been bullied. Carrie is one to avoid however). These stories will be a great support in your troubled times. They were to me.

    I hope my tips help everyone who reads them. Dr Phil, if you read this, although i do not agree with everything you say or do in your show, I hope you continue to be a voice of reason in a country that so desperately needs more of them

    Joost Bastiaansen from the Netherland
    (All this is my personal opinion, borne out of my experience)

  7. Cathy Harper says:

    This is the first time I have ever done this; responded to a TV show. But I have so much frustration in my heart about what these young people are experiencing and I can’t stand that some of their parents are not helping them. My daughter is a lesbian. She is now 22 years old. When she was in high school she was beat up, kicked off the basketball team, taunted regularly…just all kinds of horrible abuse from her peers and some of the adults in the school. She tried to kill herself twice. She was put in a locked institution by her doctor both times. She was so unhappy and I was terrified because I didn’t know what to do. What I did was I tried to be as supportive and helpful as I could. Her girlfriends have always been welcome in my home; I treat them like my own. I go shopping with her. I have done and will do anything to support her. What I don’t understand is how some parents can disown their child because of their sexual identity. So what?!? I don’t understand how they can love them and then when the child comes out of the closet, the parents disown them. What happened to the love? It’s at this time when that child needs home to be the safest place ever! It’s when that child is facing a bigotted world and all those fools out there when the family needs to hold them close and love them fiercely!! It’s the home and the family that needs to give them the safety net they need to cope. Please, Dr. Phil, these parents need to know that their child being gay is no big deal. Actually, I’m kind of glad my daughter is gay. I don’t have to worry about unplanned pregnancy, she’s less likely to be abused physically or emotionally, or date raped…I mean there’s lots of benefits to having a gay child in my eyes. Well, that’s all I have to say. I just had to share that. I hope other parents understand that if you love your child, you love your child unconditionally. I hope they don’t have to deal with the guilt of their child killing himself because they couldn’t get past their own crap! (Sorry for the language…but that’s exactly what it is!) Thanks..Cathy Harper

  8. understand is how some parents can disown their child because of their sexual identity. So what?!

  9. canada goose says:

    taunted regularly…just all kinds of horrible abuse from her peers and some of the adults in the school. She tried to kill herself twice. She was put in a locked institution by her doctor both times. She was so unhappy and I was terrified because

  10. Sergio Ortega says:

    Thank you for doing the show on bullying. Thank you for stating that if one watches someone being bullied you are as guilty as the one doing the bullying. I am 54 years old now but I remember when they tried to bullying me. By the grace of God i was able to handle the bulling in elementary school one year. since that day I refuse to allow bullying. I am not braver than others I just learned that most bullyies are actually scared themselfs and need to pick on someone to prove to themselfs that they are tough. Please continue to bring light to this subject all children are precious. Some are a little heavier my friend Charlie some are frail looking like me. Others are picked on because of they wear glasses, sexual preferance, to black to white, some have big ears others have buck teeth. They are all beautiful and adults have to quit hiding and protect all children. Teach all children to respect everyone and yes we are different but we are more alike than we are different. Please everyone open your eyes and when you see bulling put a stop to it.

  11. Tracy Backus says:

    Is there any material about adults bullying elementry children? There is an issue in my elementry where adults are bullying children. The principal says its “an issue betweent the parents” and the school does not get involved.

  12. Cindy Pulsipher says:

    Hey Dr. Phil, I’ve got a question. What do you do if the bully is a parent and is always telling their child they cant do anything right (or that they are wrong),or call them a baby. Start fights over things that is not their business??????? PLEASE I need some answers!

  13. Dolores Reando says:

    I am 80 and still involve with the lives of my grand children and great grand children. Is there a cyber space for this older generation that are on the internet for us to help this cause? Many of us are helping to raise this generation and we need the place to go also to help our children.

  14. Andrea says:

    We are terrified that our child who also has cerebal palsy is going to be yet bullied again in the school that he is in…Our child is 11 yrs old and has been kicked, spit on, punched and laughed at. We as parents have done EVERYTHING in our power to make it stop but the SCHOOL does not uphold its “No Tolerance” policy. It is overwhelming as he was a new student last year and that has some to do with it I suspect. There are a variety of kids that do this that do not even know each other and I want to know HOW do we make the School take care of this situation..We have been to the Superintendent of schools and even requested a school board meeting and they refused that meeting. What do we do???

  15. Patty says:

    My granddaughter, age 12, (who has Aspergers Syndrome) saw her friend getting beat up, and not fighting back, by a bully at school. She was the only one who stood up for her friend. She made her way through the circle that formed around the attack. The bully then turned on my granddaughter and attacked her. She did not fight back, but tried to block the punches to her head and face. The school did not contact my daughter about the attack. My granddaughter told her and she has been treated for a concussion ever since (several months). The friend and her parents stopped persuing legal action while my daughter is hanging in there while the bully and her mother have evaded being served and not shown up for court when they finally did get served. Now the bully is sitting in juvenile jail until the next court date. It just goes on and on with no resolution.

  16. Tammy Morris says:

    I am so glad to have watched your program today, I know bulling is a big problem at our schools. I am so glad that the schools in my area (savannah ,Tennessee) have programs for no bullying! they even have a no bullying week like they have spirit week for homecoming game. I know that most likely does not stop all the bullying in school, but at least the school teachers and students can be more open and hopefully more aware of the signs of bullying.

  17. Everyone should help fight againist bullying, my big brother was bullied when he was younger. He went through alot of pain his whole life, he got token away from my mother when he was younger by cps. As time went by he lived in foster homes and grew up there, we got to see him but it wasnt the same. He was still bullied there in the foster homes and no one stoped it from happening and no body realized what it would do to him. So the day he turned 18 the forster home made him move out he came and lived with our family. It was really nice to have him back home i got my big brother back so everything was good again, he got to be in his neices life and see her grow. My brother decided that he wanted to go to the army and do something with his life. But the army didnt help he got off his medicine and thats when everything went down hill. He was going through alot and dealing with the past wasnt helping, on March 20 my brother and I got into a fight and not knowing this was going to be the last time I would get to see my brother. At 5 A.m the next morning on March 21 I opened the door to the police telling me my big brother was gone forever he wouldnt be here for me or my daughter, I didnt know what to do I didnt know what to say it felt like a dream like it wasnt real. If everyone only knew that it takes one word to change someones day and that the person you love can be gone forever.

  18. Cristina says:

    This is so true, bullying soluhd never happen in the first place. Kids are always getting bullied, everywhere i look. Even one of my friends is at her breaking point because these stupid kids who won’t leave her alone.

  19. Robyn Price says:

    Hi Dr. Phil , I have been bullied my whole life , picked on made fun of and , it has made me feel insecure about myself,, my life and even being able to make friends!!!! They always turn out to be the wrong ones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish i knew how to be able to approach someone to even start a conversation. can you help me ??? please reply . Thanks alot for reading this Dr. Phil i appreciate it alot .sincerely Robyn Price

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