Bullying Doesn't Protect Against Bullying

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Teen self-esteem expert Debra Beck responds to Bully Mom Daphne Melin’s alleged actions, urges schools to create No Tolerance Anti-Bullying Policies

This week, a Long Island mother whose daughter suffered from online bullying allegedly instigated a schoolyard brawl as an attempt to protect her daughter. But parents encouraging teens to fight won’t solve the bullying problem, says teen self-esteem expert Debra Beck. It is the role of both parents and schools to address bullying, whether in school or online, and to teach kids not to bully each other and never to resort to violence.

Fighting isn’t a way for kids to protect themselves from bullying, it is only a way for them to get hurt and exacerbate the problem. If a child is being bullied, by encouraging her to confront and physically fight the bully, a parent isn’t teaching her child how to resolve conflicts in a mature and effective way. Parents have a responsibility to protect their children; putting them in the line of fire isn’t protecting them. If going to the school authorities doesn’t initially work, parents should remain persistent, and provide the school with printed evidence of the cyber-bullying, while giving their kids the support they needs to feel safe.

Teachers, guidance counselors, school administrators, and school boards have a responsibility to help stop bullying. Kids used to insult each other on the playground, but now, bullying has escalated and moved online. This type of bullying is more insidious because it’s public, and it follows students around even after they have gone home for the day. Studies have shown that kids who are bullied can experience stress, anxiety, fear, depression, physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches, and even thoughts of suicide. If a student is going through all these things, he or she won’t be able to focus on schoolwork during the day.

Beck believes that schools should work to create zero-tolerance anti-bullying policies and actually enforce them. Parents and students could be asked to sign No-Bullying Contracts at the beginning of each school year, and the issue could be raised at an all-school assembly each September, so students know what bullying is and why it’s wrong.

If a teen is being bullied online, she shouldn’t respond to the bullies. Her parents should keep a printed record of all correspondence, and talk to the authorities. If the authorities don’t respond, parents should NOT take things into their own hands by encouraging their teen to physically fight the bully.

Bullies pick on kids who lack self-confidence. Parents should help their daughters (and sons) develop the self-esteem they needs to not be the target of a bully. My Feet Aren’t Ugly, by Debra Beck, is all about self-esteem and provides exercises to help teens learn to love themselves. Giving teens the tools to become empowered will strengthen their self-esteem and will create a safer environment for them.

My Feet Aren’t Ugly (ISBN: 978-0-8253-0602-0), the award-winning comprehensive guide to navigating the rough terrain of the teen years, is now revised and updated with over 60 additional pages. Teens can find advice about current tough topics such as bullying, drug abuse, and internet safety in addition to the myriad topics originally addressed.

Teen and parenting mentor Debra Beck, who has spent over 20 years working with teens and parents, believes that teen girls’ struggles often stem from not loving themselves. Building on this idea, My Feet Aren’t Ugly guides teen girls to treat themselves well by teaching them how to make wise and healthy decisions. Cleverly illustrated and peppered with personal anecdotes and true stories from other teens, My Feet Aren’t Ugly is an interactive guide filled with quizzes, tips, and journaling prompts. My Feet Aren’t Ugly addresses relevant issues such as not succumbing to peer pressure, finding friends who treat you well, being kind to your body, developing healthy habits, personal responsibility, and confidence. My Feet Aren’t Ugly also tackles tough issues such as eating disorders, suicide, and physical intimacy.

The book’s catchy title, My Feet Aren’t Ugly, was born of an incident from Beck’s youth: “When I was fifteen years old, I was standing out in front of my house talking to a guy I was crazy about. It was a hot summer day and I was in shorts and bare feet. All of a sudden I noticed he was staring at my feet. He said, ‘You have the ugliest feet I have ever seen! You should never go barefoot.’ I didn’t go barefoot for a long time. I knew that my feet maybe were a little wide but they didn’t seem ugly to me until then. From then on, I was self-conscious about my ugly feet. When my girlfriends were buying cute, strappy sandals, I was buying sneakers. It took years for me to realize that my feet really aren’t ugly. To me, this is a fitting example of what it is like to be a teen girl.”

Part road map, part mentor-in-a-book, My Feet Aren’t Ugly may be the best friend a teen girl ever had. With expert guide Debra Beck leading the way, teen girls everywhere will learn how to turn those formative years into transformative years.

Debra Beck, the founder of Empowered Teens & Parents, an organization that provides help, support, and encouragement for teen girls and parents, is a devoted mentor, sought-after presenter, and leading expert on the issues facing teen girls and parenting. She lives in Sedona, Arizona. Debra is available for interviews upon request, as well as speaking engagements. http://www.empoweredteensandparents.com

My Feet Aren’t Ugly: A Girl’s Guide to Loving Herself from the Inside Out
Debra Beck                        
ISBN: 978-0-8253-0602-0            
$12.95, 7 x 9, 176 pgs
September 2011

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