Two teenagers ages 13 & 14 were arrested when Sumter County Florida Sheriff Deputies executed search warrants both homes and found weapons.  They were charged for conspiracy to commit murder.  Teen friends were told not to go to school that day or yell “Eugene” to signal the shooters not to kill them.  Students reported that the two students planned to drop a pencil in their gym class as a signal to the others to begin shooting.  Brave students were praised by the Sheriff’s department and they are the heroes in this case, as they did a difficult thing by reporting their concerns to school officials.  Their reports lead the Sheriffs department to thwart their alleged plans.  The two teenagers who planned this shooting, admitted to their plan to the police and both mentioned Columbine when questioned.  Ignacio Liunoras, who has 2 children at this school praised the students that stepped forward by saying “I praise not only the students that reported it, but the parents that taught them to be aware of their surroundings and be aware of any dangers or unusual activity in the school.”

Several Questions:

Many people ask why kids get to the point of wanting to kill their classmates?  How can it get this bad?  How can we educate our kids to be aware of their surroundings?

8 Anti Bullying Prevention Tips!

  1. Kids were excluded: In most of the previous school shootings bullying was involved and in this case it was reported these boys were bullied and teased because they helped the school maintain the school computer servers and were involved in other “not cool activities!”  We need to teach kids that everyone is important and treat people the same as others.  Teach our kids to stand up for kids that are bullied and to be accepting.
  2. Poor social skills: Kids that may stick out socially or not interested in what most of their peers are interested in have trouble interjecting into conversations.  They may have trouble getting into conversations or knowing what to say.  Social skills groups, and Social Skills Camps are a great way to close the gap socially.
  3. Parents disengaged or afraid to ask for help: In a high percentage of school shootings the parents are not in tune to their kids and do not even go into their bedrooms?  In the columbine shooting when the parents went into their rooms they saw a lot of dark things that would make any parent worry about their kids.  We need to face time with our kids daily and be emotionally safe to talk about the things that are bothering them.  Parents need to be open to asking for help if their kids do not fit in and build their social skills so they can feel accepted even if it’s a small peer group for support and to hang out!
  4. Video games are not bad in and of themselves, but games like Grand Theft Auto desensitizes them to violence.  There are so many kids with Grand Theft Auto and it’s an Mature rated game that has pornography (topless women giving lap dances).  Additionally, the only way to get a nice car or home in the game is to rob banks, run over prostitutes, car jacking, steal from drug dealers and deliver drugs, etc.  Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that middle school kids should have 30 – 60 minutes of video game time after they have 3 times that time in socialization and then turn off 1 hour electronics before bed!  Often children and teens are isolating and addicted to video games playing for several hours instead of socializing.  So they get behind more socially even though they say they “have friends online.”  Friends are considered people we do things with outside of school and are reciprocal with invitations to hangout! There are entire neighborhoods where kids do not go out and play. The students “reward circuitry (dopamine)” in their brain has been changed to think their brain can only be rewarded (or have fun) with gaming rather than playing outside.
  5. Parents that Bully Indirectly: Often times kids hear their parents criticize someones outfit in person or on the phone.  They may talk about a parent or another child that does not fit in possibly in their neighborhood and exclude parents from their peer groups as well.  Stanford did a study that found 89% of what we learn is by what we see and 10% what they hear!  If the kids or teens see loving and accepting parents that say positive things about their adult peers or other kids then the kids will more than likely model that behavior.  Often parents that bully indirectly are insecure and most likely they were victims of bullying at one time.  Often they are so insecure they are afraid to look weak by asking for help.  Asking for help shows strength and that you do not care what other people think!
  6. Parents and Social Media: Cyberbullying has caused bullying to triple as now kids go to school and are bullied and then go home and they are bullied online!  Before social media, bullying victims could at least get away from it when they went home. Public schools are only able to monitor social media during school hours, so we need cyberbullying laws where we can monitor social media 24/7 and we need Facebook and Twitters help! Parents also need to insist on having their students passwords for their phones and social media accounts and need to be a friend on all of these accounts!  Parents also need better tools to monitor social media!
  7. Get help for the Bully and the Victim: Over the last 20+ years of helping bullying victims it is so rare that the bully gets help!  Bullies are more likely to be incarcerated by the age of 24, not the victims.  Also, 66% of bullies were bully victims at one point.  So we need to help both the victims and the bully.  It’s so sad as well that the victims have to change schools because the schools are not equipped or the students are afraid to report the bully!  If anyone should leave, wouldn’t that be the bully?
  8. Bullying programs that make the bullying repair the relationship with the victims: What if bullies went beyond being forced to say “sorry” and get a suspension while thinking of another way to get the victim and not get caught.  What if they had to get the victims trash at lunch for a week (middle school and high schools) or carried their backpack from pick up and to drop off (elementary schools).  I’ve done this for many schools and it actually makes the bullies and victim friends or at least they are respectful acquaintances.  Then the victim knows that if it happens again they will have to get their trash for 2 weeks and be suspended.  I remember a father, whose child was bullying a victim, told me after implementing this plan at their school that the victim had been to their house twice in the past 6 months.  They were enemies for 4 years prior to this.  Check out the program here or watch a clip of this program at Colonial High School in Orlando below!

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Author: Bullying Expert Jim West, MA, LMHC, NCC | Author, International Communicator & Life Coach | Serving Orlando, Lake Mary, Winter Park, Southwest Orlando Florida | For bullying help call Jim at (407) 248-0030 for help for students who bully or victims of bullying.