'There Are No Bullies, Only People' Says Facilitator At Hidden Valley Elementary

A parent's night workshop this week by facilitator Amy MacClain gave parents insight into ways bullying behavior can be countered.

“There are no bullies, only people.”

That’s the way educator and facilitator Amy MacClain of Soul Shoppe began her 90 minute presentation on bullies this week at to a room of 30 parents.

She defined bullying as “the consistent and repetitive hurt from a stronger party to a weaker one,” but again emphasized that in her view, bullies are “people who don’t know how to deal with feelings and who take it out on others. There are bullying behaviors, but there are no bullies.”

MacClain was offering the workshop as part of a series Hidden Valley School is presenting to students and parents by Soul Shoppe. Hidden Valley Principal Sandy Bruketta has nothing but praise for the program.

“Soul Shoppe has made a significant impact on our learning community,” she said in a statement to parents. “Student involvement has increased by providing words and phrases they are using to practice skills of resolution. We are moving from directions and corrections given by adults to initiating conversations where students offer apologies, agreements and support. We are hearing students speak to each other.”

MacClain told parents that that a child in the throws of anger, sadness or other kinds of emotional turmoil is not able to process thoughts at that moment.

“Connection is the solution to off-track behavior,” she said. “When you allow a child to release anger or sadness, it allows for thinking.”

She suggested when intervening in a situation where one child is being aggressive toward another, to turn the aggressive child away from the other child and toward the adult.

“Then get them to turn their attention toward you,” she said. “Then reflect something they’re feeling.”

She suggested getting on one knee, down to the child’s eye level, rather than speaking to them from above.

“Offer eye contact and warmth,” she said. “Reflect what’s happening to them. Reflect your belief in their goodness, worthiness and smarts. Don’t try to reason with them. Stay listening; say things like ‘I know it’s hard,’ or ‘you can learn this, I know you can.’”

A bully, she said, is replaying a trauma they’ve experienced.

“Getting angry at bullying behavior reinforces the behavior,” MacClain said. “There need to be positive limits to release the tension and let the healing begin. Let them release the stored up feelings, then ask them what they think might work.”

A student assembly presented by Soul Shoppe is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17. The presentation is called “You Are Amazing.”

Mike Weakley January 07, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Bullying is a serious problem affecting millions of children every year. It can interfere with their social and emotional development, as well as their school performance. 19,000 children attempt to commit suicide every year as a direct result of being bullied. To help combat this, I have put together a bully prevention show for elementary schools & libraries called "The STOP Bullying Show". Based out of Orlando, Florida, the show raises the awareness of bullying in a fun & engaging way; while teaching kids what they can do to put a stop to it. Highlights of the show can be seen here... http://youtu.be/2qAvD01RD9E http://www.StopBullyingShow.com
Celeste Altus February 18, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Thank you for covering this, Jim!


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