“Parents May be Teaching Teens to be Bullies” – CyberBully Hotline Contributor Featured in Article

By Paul Langhorst                     October 15, 2012

US News Education featured a prominent article “Parents May be Teaching Teens to be Bullies” in their October 10th issue. This article echos a post made here in which I used the trashing of Braves stadium during Cards-Braves wild card game playoff to show how bad behavior by adults is transmitted to young people.

This article also featured comments by Dr. Nicole Yetter, who is a consultant and adviser to the CyberBully Hotline. We are pleased to see Dr. Yetter being sought out and recognized for her bullying insights.

Key points from the the article: Parent Fighting Can Teach Teens Bullying

  • Students pick up on how parents talk about others, but they are also tuned into how their parents treat one another.
  • Bullying between parents can take the form of overt verbal abuse, but it can also be a more subtle over-extension of power.
  • Fostering a sense of entitlement in teens who excel academically or athletically is another way well-intentioned parents may inadvertently breed bullies.
  • Kids that never hear no, or have few rules and guidelines can contribute to bullying behavior.

Great article and support of the concept that bullying behavior is learned by kids through their parents, peers and environment.


$100,000 Cyberbully Prevention & Response Grant Announced

By Paul Langhorst      July 17, 2012

The CyberBully Hotline team is pleased to announce the kick-off of a $100,000 bully prevention and response grant program designed to help low-income, high-poverty schools implement the CyberBully Hotline to provide students with improved means to report bullying.

We have heard from many schools and districts that are interested in implementing the CyberBully Hotline program, while the program costs just pennies per student per year, with tight budgets and finances many are looking for help in funding the program.

The CyberBully Hotline Grant Program is just one option to help with bully prevention and response funding. We encourage interested schools and districts to review the program and submit an application if you meet the main criteria – which is a High (31%-50%) or Very High (50%+) Free & Reduced Lunch federal classification. The application is posted online and can be found at http://www.cyberbullyhotline.com/grant-application.html.

Here are some additional ideas for bully prevention and response funding:

  • Utilization of federal “safe schools” funding
  • Commercial sponsorship – CyberBully Hotline materials can be imprinted with the name or logo of a commercial sponsor. Most schools and districts have a relationship with local psychological agency to which they refer parents and students – ask them for a sponsorship.
  • Local law enforcement agencies – we have seen instances where the local police department may have funds earmarked for bully prevention and awareness – ask your local police chief to get involved.
  • PTA/PTO & Student Fundraiser:
    • Create a “Pennies for Prevention” campaign and ask students to bring in their lose change for a week or two and you will easily cover the cost of the CyberBully Hotline.
    • Do Something About It” wristband campaign.  As part of your kick-off campaign hold a “bullying awareness day.”  You can order “Do Something About It.” wrist bands from the CyberBully Hotline. Add a small mark-up to the cost of the wristband to cover the cost of the CyberBully Hotline. For information on ordering, contact AJ Morgan at amorgan@schoolreach.com.

Where there is a will there is way as the saying goes. The CyberBully Hotline team is ready to help your school or district find the funds to help implement our program.



CyberBully Hotline Speaks at CharacterPlus Confernce

By Paul Langhorst                      June 28, 2012

The CyberBully Holtine team of Vikki Burton and Paul Langhorst exhibited and presented at the annual CHARACTERplus® conference held at the St. Charles, MO Convention Center this past week.

CHARACTERplus is a LEA (local education authority) and is a project of the Cooperating School District of MO (CSD) and is a fabulous bully prevention resource, working to advance the cause of character education and sustain its impact on the lives of educators and students by:

  • designing, promoting and facilitating processes and best practices;
  • serving educators and enhancing their commitment to character education;
  • actively recruiting and developing community support; and
  • continually evaluating the impact of our programs and services.

Started in 1988 by a concerned group of educators, parents and business leaders who decided that something had to be done about the deterioration of basic values, CHARACTERplus now reaches more than 600 schools in over 100 districts, 25,000 teachers and more than 300,000 students throughout Missouri and Illinois.

CHARACTERplus helps schools build consensus about what values or character traits to teach and which programs to use. Using the CHARACTERplus Process, each school develops a character education curriculum and program that meets its community’s unique needs.

The CyberBully Hotline was pleased to take part in this event and enjoyed the opportunity to network with CHARACTERplus users and show attendees.


Internet Safety Month – June 2012

By Paul Langhorst  June 6, 2012

D-Day Invastion Photo

Thank you to all those that have served and have given so much to our great Nation!

Today marks the 68th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944 when Allied troops landed at Normandy to start the European ground war in WWII.  Thank you to all those who gave their lives and have served in the armed forces that day, and since, to protect the US and democracy.

We are engaged in another war, a war that also must be won, which is the war against online harassment, crimes, cyber-bullying, cyber-stalking, and other malicious acts against others by those who use the Internet to project harm, terror, pain and suffering in their victims.

June has been designated as Internet Safety Month by an Act of Congress. Unfortunately the Act is mere words on paper with no funding or other programs being generated as a result. However, such proclamations do have an affect, and over time can build into significant awareness efforts. This is just the second year that June has been designated Internet Safety Month so it is too early to tell. However, a quick search under the term “Internet Safety Month” will lead you to several companies and organizations that are building upon the proclamation.

The CyberBully Hotline is one such organization that is using Internet Safety Month to help draw attention to online safety issues and to provide parents and educators with simple tips and ideas on how to increase online safety.

Please check out our Internet Safety Month Tips here.

And, as announced yesterday, our own subject matter expert, Janet M. Irvine had a great article published on Tech & Learning Journal sharing 6-Steps to Prevent Cyberbullying.

Please check out these resources and feel free to suggest ideas for new areas of discussion!




Psychological Impact of Bully Reporting by Victims

By Paul Langhorst   May 22, 2012

Late last week I co-presented on a webinar with Dr. Nicole Yetter entitled Encouraging Bullying in the Online Age. (We will post a link to the archive of the webinar shortly.)

One thing I love about working in education is the opportunity to learn something new everyday and my experience on this webinar was no exception. As we have rolled out the CyberBully Hotline our information and promotional efforts have mainly focused on the benefits to the school that anonymous reporting can deliver when added to the overall bully prevention program. During the webinar Dr. Yetter presented brief, but powerful information on the positive, psychological impact on the victim or witness when they report on a bullying or harassment incident. Dr. Yetter summarized work by Dr. Peter Sheras and Sherill Tippins and their book: Your Child: Bully or Victim, Understanding and Ending School Yard Tyranny (Library Journal, 2002).

In summary, Dr. Yetter shared that:

  • Students, who voice their concerns and successfully intervene, build courage to do the right thing.
  • Children learn and feel satisfaction in knowing that they are saving others from future harm.
  • When a child does a good deed, it helps to build and strengthen their self- esteem.
  • Provide students with the opportunity to develop a sense of pride.

When implementing a bully prevention program, and specifically discussing with students the need to come forward and report on things that that are happening to them or that they see, educators should consider including discussion on the above points. It’s common sense that when a person shares their troubles or concerns with others, that it creates relief and an uplifting feeling. The fact that they are not the “only one to know what’s going on” is relief in itself.

The challenge for educators, administrators and counselors is to take action to resolve the situation. There is nothing more disheartening than to bare your soul to another and than have negative or no results as a consequence.  Research also indicates (Olweus) that students often don’t report bullying because they feel that nothing will get done. It is important that the trust a student shares when making a report, be returned with positive action and results.


The Secret to Motivating Students – Supersoakers and Mini Balls?

By Paul Langhorst, April 20, 2012

Loud hip-hop music pounds off the gym walls. 7th graders are filing in from both sides of the gym. A fit, young-looking, man wearing a softball jersey and bright orange tennis shoes is running back and forth saying “wassss up” and hand-slapping and fist-bumping kids as they walk past.

Bombs away! Suddenly, the man starts tossing orange mini balls and squeeze bottles into the pulsating bleachers. Kids reach for the items and their screams fill the air. The man grabs kids and teachers to form a cha-cha line to the beat of the music. The room is still filling. The atmosphere is electric. Just when you thought it could not get any higher – the man pulls out a Supersoaker and starts hosing down the kids.

Its wild, 350 kids now pack the bleachers, and the kids are loving it.

Welcome to an Aric Bostick “You are Awesome” youth rally.

Today’s location is Miller Intermediate Middle School, part of the Pasadena, TX school district. Principal Kimberly Kelly engaged Aric to speak to the students to motivate them to do their best prior to the important STAR test the following week. After the 7th graders are sufficiently wound up and hear Aric’s message, the whole process starts again with the 8th grade class, followed by a 1-hour staff session and 1-hour parent session that began at 6:30 PM. (The parents were spared the Supersoaker treatment.) What a day!

Aric is a contributor to the CyberBully Hotline. He as spoken to over half a million students in his 12-year motivational speaking career. Starting out as a teacher, Aric quickly learned that he needed to be different to reach his class. Incorporating music, fist-bumps, hand slaps and other antics into his teaching style made kids want to be in his room and the learning naturally followed. Building on this, Aric started an after-hours goal setting class for students which grew and grew in popularity. An invite by one of the student’s parents to speak at their small Baptist church put Aric on the path to his new motivational speaking career. I call him the “Tony Robbins of K-12.”

It didn’t happen over night and Aric had to change to get there. And that’s Aric’s message – to do great things:

  • you can’t let your past define you
  • you need to let go and not confine yourself with preconceptions
  • you need to write down your goals; and
  • you need to work hard to achieve goals.

Simple ideas, but unfortunately many of the kids in the audience don’t hear this type of encouragement from their parents, families, guardians, or teachers.

Coming from a low-income, broken home, (and of small stature) Aric had to overcome a lot to get where he is today. He didn’t even have a name when he was born. His parents, thinking they were having a girl, left naming Aric up to his 10-year old brother, asking the brother to pick a name out of name book. As Aric says, “my brother evidently did not get out of the A’s in the book.”

Aric learned that he had to change himself because he could not change others and he could not change the world around him. But by changing himself, others around him and his world began to change.

Aric consults with the CyberBully Hotline and is a content contributor to our Resource Center. We can’t begin to tell you how excited we are to have Aric on our team. If you ever have the opportunity, have Aric come to your school. It will be a school-life changing event. Oh, and bring a towel!

Learn more about Aric, by visiting www.aricbostick.com.



“Bully” Movie Review – Wow!

By Paul Langhorst  April 12, 2012

SchoolReach was extended a special invitation to attend the press screening of “Bully,” which opens here in St. Louis on Friday at Plaza Frontenac, Ronnies and select AMC theaters.  We were able to expand the invitation and eventually ended up bringing about 30 customers, partners and special guests to a reception and the screening.

It was a very moving and emotional night. The fun and excitement of mingling with our customers and friends before the movie was offset by the stark reality and pain presented by Bully.

The movie follows the lives of 5 teens and their families who are victims of bullying. Including the families as “victims” was not a typo. It is clear in these cases that the families are also victims of bullying; their lives are completely consumed by the consequences of bullying whether in the tragic aftermath of two suicides or the daily ritual of dealing with a child who comes home tormented, torn and disrupted from being bullied, harassed or intimidated.

It was hard for me to believe that any school administrator would allow filming to take place on their campus and buses, especially when that school was doing such a horrible job of preventing or responding to bullying reports. In an interview on KMOX, a top AM station here in St. Louis, director Lee Hirsch said they sent letters to hundreds of schools seeking volunteers to allow such a movie to be filmed. While I am surprised it was allowed, I am glad that such access was granted, because Bully would not have been the same without it.

The on-campus and on-bus settings made the movie life-like and exposed the environment in which bullying takes place. I imagine that many parents never really see the inside of a school when its in session and Bully gives the viewer a sense of what its like to be “in the trenches” with the bully, the bullied and the bystanders as these situations take place.

One of our guests, Paul Fennewald, who is the director of the Missouri Center for Education Safety, had this to say:

“‘Bully’ is a powerful movie that lays bare the effects of bullying on victims, families and communities. Anyone that is in K-12 education, administration or involved with counseling and safety efforts at schools, would benefit greatly from seeing this movie.”

-Paul Fennewald, Director

Missouri Center for Education Safety

Alex, one on the bully victims and the one most documented, is tormented daily because of his awkward looks, which stem from a premature birth at 26 weeks. Alex is a survivor. To survive birth at 26 weeks and to be healthy and high functioning is a testament to the love and care he received from his family. Yet, while his family brought him into this world and nursed him from a 1-pound baby to adolescence, they seem helpless against the bullying that Alex endures on a daily basis with their pleas for help to the school officials seeming to go unheeded. Ultimately, the school begins to take action, but apparently not because of Alex’s parent requests, but due to the evidence compiled by the filmmakers. Alex is probably somewhat of a celebrity now and I hope is more-than-15-minutes of fame prevents further bullying and that he continues to survive and grow into successful and productive adulthood.

The other amazing point, was the portrayal of the transformation in the lives of the parents of children who committed suicide. These parents did not shrink and collapse from the pain and suffering from the loss of a child, they became stout and resolute to make a difference. I’m not sure I could do the same, but hope and pray that I am never put to such a test. Starting organizations to bring awareness to bullying they became marketers, organizers, public speakers, and lobbyists so that their children did not die in vain and that their memory would live on. As the father of one child said, he was doing this because his son “will be forever 11 years old.”

I encourage anyone who is involved in education to go see Bully. Take your class to it as a field trip if at all possible. Its message to bystanders that they have the power to stop bullying should not be lost.




The Bully Project – A New Bullying Resource

By: Paul Langhorst

The soon-to-be released movie, ‘The Bully Project’ directed by Lee Hirsch, and released by The Weinstein Company (of Academy Award winning ‘The Artist’ fame), is stirring national interest and debate. Students across the country are petitioning to have the R-rating changed to PG-13 so that they can see it as part of class discussions.

The movie follows the lives of several students who are bullied and tormented and focuses on the family of Tyler Long, a 17-year-old boy who hanged himself due to bullying and harassment. After only having having seen the The Bully Project trailers at this point, it is clear that this is a powerful movie. It should be seen by those impacted the most – the bullies, their victims and the bystanders.

Regardless of whether the rating is changed (which I think it should), the “silver lining” here is that any light that can be shed on the problem of bullying by raising awareness of the seriousness of the matter, whether caused by the movie itself or the fight over the rating, will be positive in the end.