Bullying expert tells children how to stand up


May 10, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.
Updated May 11, 2010 at 12:11 a.m.

Children don't have to believe the bad things bullies tell them, said Eric Cupp, a Texas education and business consultant.

Instead, they can build boundaries and confidence to stand up to bullies, said Cupp, who has worked with children for 28 years.

"The bullies want you to feel fear, distress or harm," Cupp told a small crowd at Citizens Medical Center on Monday. "You don't have to feel that. You don't have to believe you have to be a cheerleader or athlete or rich to matter."

Cupp, of Midlothian, travels the state speaking to children and schools districts about the signs of bullying, and how parents and administrators can intervene. His trip to Victoria comes amid high-profile cases of national bullying and documented cases at the local level.

About 168,000 children nationally are out of school because they were bullied and don't want to return, Cupp said.

To defeat a bully, children must take the bully's goal of fear, distress or harm away from them, he said.

When a bully says something mean, children could deflect the comment with a quick comeback.

"You dress funny," a bully might say.

"All the time," a child could sarcastically reply.

The worst of bullying occurs during the middle school years - sixth, seventh and eighth-grade, Cupp said.

"They don't know who they are. They're trying to figure out where they belong. Am I an athlete? An artist? It's very tough years of defining themselves."

Most bullies also tend to run in packs, he said. In packs, they try and hide their low self-esteems.

"Boy bullies surround themselves with wimps, with guys scared of their own shadow," he said. "They want to be tough, want to have what they call respect, but it's not really respect. It's fear."

About 60 percent of bullies will have a criminal conviction by age 24, Cupp said. Bullies also have a higher risk of dropping out of school, mental disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, he said.

"They go through multiple marriages more than any other group because they don't know how to form relationships," he said. "They dominate you."

And among school shooters, 75 percent were bullied, he said.

A loving family at home can help bullies and strengthen those who are bullied, he said.

"Ask them what's going on. Be in their business. They may think they don't want us to, but they do. Let them know you care about what's going on with them."

Parents who have good relationships with their children have children with the confidence to dismiss what bullies tell them, Cupp said.

Evan Murphy, a 12-year-old who attended the seminar, said Cupp understands what it's like for children to experience bullying.

"I thought it really pointed out from the kids' point-of-view," Evan said. "I haven't been bullied that much yet, but there are some kids who are getting bullied a lot. I think this program was really helpful to having adults realize what a big problem it is."



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