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Thursday, June 19, 2014


A couple of days ago, we had a guest post by Catherine DePino. She wrote a novel about a boy who's been bullied at school. An interesting topic, especially when you are a teacher and come into contact with bullying on a daily basis.

In my long career as a teacher - and I make excuses in advance if anyone thinks differently - I've often noticed that kids who are bullied often have parents who make their child more vulnerable than it should be. Parents want to protect their children, I understand that, but you don't do it by making your kid afraid to come to school.

In my opinion, there is only one way to prevent bullying. You have to make your kid aware of what he or she is worth. Self-consciousness is the key to getting respect of others.

I can take myself and my sister as examples. I have an eye that despite an operation (by the best doctor available at that time) still isn't quite right. My sister, on the other hand, is quite sturdy. So there were reasons galore to be bullied - only we never were.

Our parents and grandparents taught us from a very young age (I guess we were not older than 1,5) that we were what we thought of ourselves. We learned what our strenghts and weaknesses were. Somehow that radiates out to others. Nobody at primary school ever said anything bad about my eye as they were well aware I would not let them. The same with my sister.

As a teacher, I only once had a student who made a remark (because he was mad because he had a bad test). I never said anything in class, but later on I took him aside and asked him if he would like to be called Rabbit every time I addressed him - he had the biggest rabbits teeth I've ever seen. Of course he said no, and I told him if he did not like that, he could restrain of calling me names. He made his excuses immediately, and that was it.

Because you must know that everyone has a fault. It's obvious, or less obvious. It can be in looks, but also in character, or behavior.

Those who bully are very unsure of themselves. They bully because they don't want to be bullied.  Most of the times you can make them shrink away when they see they can't hurt you.

What's your take on this?


  1. Hi, Nicki, I read your post with interest. I agree that having a strong self-concept can go a long way in preventing bullying. You handled that bully the right way. The trouble with handling bullies is that there's a different method of handling every bully, and it's not always easy to figure it out. I go into that topic in my book for parents, Who Says Bullies Rule. I've seen that there are some bullies kids just can't deal with alone because they are dangerous physically and psychologically. In this case, they'll need help from trusted adults. It's also important for parents to build an atmosphere in which children can feel free to talk to them about any topic, no matter how traumatic it is. Thanks for speaking out on this very important topic. I believe you handled your situation beautifully and you make a great point about the importance of parents building confidence in their children. Thanks again for hosting me. It was a real pleasure!

    1. Thank you for responding, Catherine. Perhaps I could also share I've also been raised to be not afraid and to rightly adjust each situation. My years teaching army kids in Germany (1978-1982) and my relationship with a man who worked for secret services also taught me some (dirty) tricks. Being a teacher who goes from one job to another (alas) I sometimes come in neighborhoods that are not the safest. A couple of years ago, I worked in Vilvoorde and I was rather late because of a meeting with other teachers. I had to go to the station, but in one of the streets surrounding it I was neared by a group of three Moroccans (we have lots ot them in Belgium). They clearly had dark motives. So I reached for my bunch of keys, as JP had taught me, and put them between my fingers. When the head guy stood eye to eye with me, I took my hand out of my pocket and asked him what he wanted. A torn jaw, one eye less, he could chose. He immediately turned around and went to the other side of the street. And whenever I happened to chance upon that group again, they made way.
      During my army years I even knocked a guy two black eyes and broke his nose, because he attempted to rape me.
      So you see, I always was a tough kid. We played a lot with boys and we can fight like them.
      When you like to talk further, you're always welcome to mail me. My mail address is

    2. Thanks, Nickie, for telling about your background. You are one strong formidable woman. You handled things beautifully! Many bully prevention experts could take a lesson from you and how you handled these experiences. The most important thing is "Be not afraid," as the Good Book says, and "Act as if you are invincible even if you may not always feel that way. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I admire your courage and strength.