Monday, June 28, 2010

Responding to the New York Times Cover Story on Bullying

If you haven't seen the excellent article that came out today,
"On-line Bullies Pull Schools Into the Fray," take a look.

More and more kids are being affected by the growing epidemic of bullying, and schools are wondering what to do. To that I say, be proactive, not reactive. We can't just respond to bullying after it happens, we have to put measures in place to prevent and decrease bullying and other acts of cruelty before BEFORE they take place. Sure, we'll never wipe out bullying completely, but we can do plenty of things to prevent and decrease it. It is possible to teach kids to be kinder, more compassionate, and less prone to doing mean things, especially when angry. But teaching these things takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen by addressing these issues once or twice. Helping kids learn to be kinder, more compassionate, and better able to work out conflicts and deflect bullying is like teaching any new skill – we have to start early, show them step-by-step, and provide plenty of opportunities to practice.

We also have to teach them to be upstanders, rather than bystanders when bullying or other cruel behaviors take place. Here’s an excerpt from No Kidding About Bullying that can help you help your kids be an upstanders for kids who are picked on.


Standing Up for Those Who Are Mistreated

This activity fosters kindness, compassion, respect, personal responsibility, decency by
helping kids think of ways they can support peers who are called names. It teaches them
how to be an “upstander" who chooses kind actions, particularly when others are being unkind.

Preparation. On chart paper, write: “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”—Helen Keller

Introduction and Discussion.
Ask kids if they’ve ever chosen to be kind to someone everyone else was acting mean to. Ask if they’ve ever been an upstander for someone who was being mistreated. Discuss, acknowledging how hard this can be.

Show the Helen Keller quote and invite a student to read it. Ask: What is “something we can do” when someone’s being called names or made fun of by others? Why does it take courage to choose to be kind when others aren’t or to stick up for someone when no one else does?

Present the following scenarios and ask for volunteers to act them out. After each scenario, ask: What kind choice could you make? What would an upstander do?

• Brian gives the wrong answer to a question the teacher asks. Other kids start to snicker and make faces.
• Mindy comes to school wearing a shirt with a big stain on it. Her hair is all tangled and looks like it hasn’t been washed in awhile. A few kids hold their noses as she walks by.
• Jason has trouble reading. He stumbles over some simple words that most of the class can read with ease. Someone makes a joke about this at Jason’s expense. A few kids start to laugh.
• Jessie tends to be awkward around other kids. Sometimes she talks too loud. People find her annoying. She always ends up sitting alone at lunch.

Ask kids to list kind, caring choices that were demonstrated during the role plays. List responses on a piece of chart paper entitled, “Kind Choices We Can Make When People Are Unkind.”

Distribute the “8 Ways to Be an Upstander” handout (below) and review how to help people who are picked on. Encourage students to come up with other upstander actions to add to the handout.

Wrap-Up. Affirm students for acts of kindness, compassion, and good listening you observed during this session. Ask whether anyone would also like to acknowledge a classmate for any positive actions or attitudes.

Adapted from No Kidding About Bullying by Naomi Drew, M.A., copyright © 2010. Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; This page may be reproduced for individual, classroom, or small group work only. For other uses, contact

8 Ways to Be an Upstander

1. Choose not to join in when people are picking on or laughing at someone.

2. Speak out against unkind words or actions.

3. Say something helpful to the person who’s being picked on or laughed at.

4. Ask people who are teasing how it would feel if they were the ones being teased.

5. Ask the person who’s being left out or picked on to join you in an activity.

6. Let an adult know what’s going on.

7. ______________________________________________________________


8. ______________________________________________________________


Think of two more things you can do to be an upstander in real life. Fill in numbers 7 and 8.
And remember, you don’t have to do any of this alone. You can ask someone else to partner
up and be an upstander with you.

Adapted from No Kidding About Bullying by Naomi Drew, M.A., copyright © 2010. Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323; This page may be reproduced for individual, classroom, or small group work only. For other uses, contact

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Poem From No Kidding About Bullying

Here's a poem from the book that kids love. It's actually on the CD Rom that comes with the book. Feel free to download the copy below and use it with your kids or your class. I'm in the process of updating my website to include more free, downloadable stuff you can use, including new activities and worksheets from No Kidding About Bullying. I'm interested in hearing your responses, and your kids', to the poem.

You Belong

by Naomi Drew

Come join in, come join in,

whatever your background or color of skin.

You are of value, for all that you are—

your special uniqueness will carry you far.

It’s not about the way you look,

your size, or weight, or height.

What matters most is what’s within,

the things that aren’t in sight.

It’s not about the clothes you wear

or place that you may live.

Your character defines you—

and the kindness that you give.

This world that we inhabit

could never be the same

without your excellent qualities,

your presence, and your name.

Take these words with you every day,

and treasure your own worth—

this planet changed in wondrous ways

the moment of your birth.

You are part of everything --

to life’s great promise you belong.

Rejoice in who you truly are,

stand up, join in,

and sing your song.

From No Kidding About Bullying, by Naomi Drew M.A., copyright 2010.Free Spirit Publishing inc. Minneapolis, MN, 800-735-7323, This page me be reproduced for individual, classroom, and small group work only. For other uses contact


What an exciting feeling to hold the book in my hands! After three years of writing, research, and going through more than 2100 surveys from kid in the US and Canada, I can't believe this day has finally arrived! Idealist that I am, I pray that this book will help create a kinder, more compassionate generation of kids. Through the activities within it, may kids learn to be more accepting of differences, and may they disavow cruelty in any form. May classrooms and schools become emotionally safer places for all kids, and may bullying someday become a thing of the past.

To give you an idea of what's inside the book, click on the image on this page. There's an activity called "Rumors Are Unkind." I think it's downloadable.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Remember Your Worth and Value

Kids who are bullied often think they’re being picked on because there’s something wrong with them. This is absolutely not true. People who bully are looking for an available target, so they latch on to the next convenient person they believe they can gain power over. You just happen to be that person, and when it isn’t you, it’s going to be someone else. So if you’re feeling that the bullying is your fault, let go of that idea. It’s not your fault. No one deserves to be bullied. Period.

Too often kids who are bullied keep the problem inside because they feel embarrassed or ashamed. Doing this only makes it worse. Shame and silence can make you forget who you really are. Never forget the personal power you have inside. You don’t have to be just like everybody else to be worthy of respect. Your individuality is what makes you unique and special.

Unfortunately there are too many kids who believe everyone has to dress, talk, eat, think, act, and look alike. Well, they have it backward. The most interesting people are the ones who are completely and uniquely themselves. You are just right exactly as you are.


The Real Deal for Kids who are Bullied: 8 Keys to Building Your Courage

1. Don’t believe a word they say. It’s more about them than you.

2. Don’t let them see you sweat; fake it till you make it.

3. Claim your dignity. Stand tall and walk proud. Use the Dignity Stance (See below.)

4. Use an exit line like, “I don’t have time for this stuff.” Then walk away with your head held high, even if they keep talking.

5. Take your power back by confiding in a trusted adult. Save the proof if there’s been cyberbullying.

6. Stick around other kids and adults. People who bully look for kids who are alone..

7. Strengthen your natural skills and talents. This will build your confidence muscle and renew your energy.

8. Reprogram your brain. Every night, picture yourself strong, confident, and standing up to the person who’s bullying you. See yourself triumphing.


The Dignity Stance

* Stand tall with your head held high, feet apart.

* Take slow deep breaths to keep your cool.

* Act as if you’re totally confident, even if you’re nervous.

* Keep your body language and facial expression strong but neutral.

* Make direct eye contact.

* Speak in a firm, steady tone of voice.

* Walk away tall and strong, silently repeating a calming statement.

Copyright 2010, Naomi Drew, author of No Kidding About Bullying, Free Spirit Pub. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Who among us isn't interested in finding out how to be happy?

Happiness something people have been questing after for centuries, and

now, thanks to new findings, we're actually getting some solid answers

on how to create a happy life. The field of positive psychology has

opened up a whole new arena of research in this area. This is

incredibly important for all of people, but even moreso for parents

since kids learn primarily through our example. By creating happiness

in our lives, we teach them how to do the same. This issue of Peaceful

Parents is devoted to providing you some very important data on what

it takes to create a happy life. The more you intentionally do, the

happier it's possible to become, even if you're dealing with difficult


In peace,


p.s. I'm scheduling book signings now. If you'd like me to do one

in your area, e-mail me at


3 Three Most Important Things You Need to Know About Happiness

- HAPPINESS IS SOMETHING WE CAN CREATE. According to University of

California research professor, Sonja Lyubomirsky "durable increases in

happiness are indeed possible and within the average person's reach."

But we have to be intentional about getting there. 40% of our

happiness comes from things we do and think. We need to engage in

daily intentional activities that create happiness. Here are twelve

from Dr. Lyumirsky's book, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach

to Getting the Life You Want:

Express gratitude

Cultivate optimism

Avoid over thinking

Practice acts of kindness

Nurture social relationships

Develop Strategies for Coping

Learn to forgive

Increase Flow experiences

Savor life's joys

Commit to goals

Practic religion and spirituality

Take care of body through meditation and physical activity

- HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS, so seek out happy people. Try to minimize

contact with grouchy types, and add in as many positive, optimistic

people as you can. Research by social scientists Nicholas Christakis

and James Fowler revealed that each additional happy person you have

in your life boosts your sense of happiness by 9 percent. (For the

full article go to:

- CREATE LOTS OF SOCIAL CONTACTS. Doing so not only makes us happier,

it also improves our health and brain function. The more connected we

are to friends and social contacts the better we feel. University of

North Carolina sociology professor, Rebecca G. Adams says friendship

has a huge impact on our psychological well-being. Even if the

friendships aren't all deep, having those connections increases our

sense of well-being. (see New York Times article: "What Are Friends

For? A Happy Life?" 4/20/09).

SPECIAL BONUS: For a daily reminder of what it takes to be happy,

listen to, believe it or not, "The How of Happiness Song:" The tune alone made me

feel happy when I heard it. Hope it makes you feel happy too!

Why Media Violence Is Bad for Your Child

Each day we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.

- Charles Swindoll

Each day not only do we make deposits in the memory banks of our children, but so does life. And now, in our post-millenial world, many deposits in the minds and memories of our kids come from electronic media such as TV, video games, social networking sites, text messages and more. Did you know that the average American child spends one third of each day with some form of electronic media? And approximately 90 % of kids in the U.S. from eight to eighteen play video games regularly, with boys averaging about 19 hours a week.

These statistics and others you are about to read are from the research journal, Children and Electronic Media, put out the highly respected Princeton-Brookings Institute. The findings revealed here shed light on the enormous influence media have on our children’s development, behavior, and well-being. Particularly disturbing were the findings on how media violence affects kids:

- “Research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts” -- the conclusion of an expert panel convened by the U.S. Surgeon General

- “Exposure to media violence can increase aggressive thinking, aggressive emotions, and tolerance for aggression, all known risk factors for later aggressive and violent behavior.”

- Frequent exposure to medial violence causes “increased feelings of anger and revenge motives, decreased sensitivity to scenes and images of real violence, and changes in brain function associated with lower executive control and heightened emotion.” Diminished executive control in the brain causes decrease in the ability to control impulses.

- “Media violence exposure has a larger effect on later violent behavior than does substance use, abusive parents, or poverty.”

There are so many things we can’t control in life, but we DO have the power to control shows our kids watch and video games they play. Read on to find out five things you can do right now.

( To read the entire report quoted here, go to:

For a list of the 10 most violent video games scroll down.



- Carefully monitor TV shows your kids watch and video games they play. This includes what’s being consumed at friend’s houses. Check in with parents of your kids’ friends and share this information with them.

- Help your kids understand that violent videos and TV shows are harmful to them (even if they like watching or playing them). Let them know that steady consumption of violent media not only causes aggression, it also hampers healthy brain development.

- Don’t try to be the good guy. If your child says Grand Theft Auto is his favorite video, resist the urge buy it for him in spite of what you know. See below for positive alternatives that your kids can enjoy.

- Know what’s in the videos and TV shows your kids are watching. Watch things with them if you’re not sure, and press the stop button if there’s too much violence. Discuss what you saw, and use this as an opportunity to help them understand the negative impact of media violence.

- Check out ratings and content at, an excellent watchdog group that monitors all things media.

The 10 Most Violent Video Games of 2009: From Common Sense Media

(Each title is followed by a description and an acceptable alternative):

1. Manhunt. Players advance by stalking and killing victims, all for the delight of a "director" who urges you to make the killings bloodier, more cunning, and ever more horrific. Manhunt 2 is more of the same, but now you've been injected with a drug to bring out your "homicidal tendencies."
 Alternative: Mirror's Edge

2. Resident Evil 5. Using guns, swords, or a chainsaw, you shoot, hack, and slash oncoming enemies, producing copious amounts of blood. And the game's racial undertones are hard to ignore, as the white hero (accompanied by a light-skinned African American) has to kill mostly black victims infected by the zombie-causing virus.
Alternative: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

3. Dead Rising. Based on the 1978 Dawn of the Dead zombie splatter flick, this game combines gory imagery -- like shotgun blasts, chainsaw dismemberment, and hand-to-hand combat -- with images of nude women on various objects.
Alternative: Prince of Persia

4. Resident Evil 4. Players must stab, shoot, and bomb their way through hundreds of realistic-looking humans and monsters. Cursing and sexual dialogue round out the mix.
Alternative: Ghostbusters: The Video Game

5. Grand Theft Auto. (specifically Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas) Players can kill other humans, including police officers, or drive into pedestrians on sidewalks and in parks. Gang warfare, beatings, drive-by shootings, and bloody deaths are all shown in gory detail.
Alternative: InFAMOUS

6. God of War II. Players can do everything from ripping the eye out of a Cyclops to twisting the head off of Medusa to slicing off enemies' arms with chains strapped to their wrists. There's also a sex mini-game.
Alternative: Batman: Arkham Asylum

7. Mortal Kombat: Deception. The goal of this game is the same as other Mortal Kombats: Kill or be killed, and make it as horrific as you can.
Alternative: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

8. MadWorld. With the Wii remote and Nunchuk in your hands, you simulate the motions used to split someone open with a chainsaw, punch opponents with your fists, or pick up and use assorted objects scattered throughout the levels to dismember, bludgeon, and impale your foes.
Alternative: Punchout

9. Gears of War. You can use a chainsaw to rip apart enemies or machine guns to spray them down. Characters and world are photorealistic, making bloody battles seem even gorier.
Alternative: Halo Wars

10. Saints Row 2. The protagonist never shows hesitation or remorse, often deliberately choosing the most violent means possible of carrying out missions -- declaring such methods "more fun" at least once -- and taking pleasure in homicide.
Alternative: Battlefield Heroes

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My first post!!

Yay, I'm blogging! Now I only hope I can find my blog once I close this page! Don't laugh -- I have never done this before. But since my new book is coming out next week (hopefully!) I'm figuring this whole thing out. I feel a little behind the eight-ball because I know people have been doing this for years. I mean Julie of Julie and Julia figured this out years ago and ended up writing a book and having a movie made of it (with Meryl Streep, no less!). Not that I ever expect a movie to be made of No Kidding About Bullying. Maybe my book will help a few teachers and kids along the way. And if it does, that'll be better than a movie. Anyway, now my biggest concern is just finding my blog again after I close this window. And who knows, maybe a few of my readers will find my blog too. Wouldn't that be wonderful. Somehow I'm going to figure this whole thing out!!