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Reducing Bullying April 10, 2014 Denyse Perry. Afternoon Agenda 1.Understand the problem of “bullying”  Look at the broader system in which aggressive.

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Presentation on theme: "Reducing Bullying April 10, 2014 Denyse Perry. Afternoon Agenda 1.Understand the problem of “bullying”  Look at the broader system in which aggressive."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reducing Bullying April 10, 2014 Denyse Perry

2 Afternoon Agenda 1.Understand the problem of “bullying”  Look at the broader system in which aggressive behavior is one outcome  Expose the brain’s (subversive) role in the system  See aggressive behavior as a result of environmental influences 2.Use this understanding to develop new strategies  Create an intention for what needs to be done  Empathic connection  Practice new tools and skills to support the intention

3 Conflict occurs when  We think there is only one way or one person to meet a need  When the strategy chosen to meet a need means that some other important need will not be met  We need to find ways to meet everyone’s needs

4 Understanding aggressive behavior  What makes this problem so important?  What is the problem about?  What is the best approach for addressing it?

5 Key Concepts  Seeing the “bully” through a new lens  A product of his/her environment (biological, relational, cultural)  More than likely acting subconsciously – instinctively, impulsively  A result of chronic stress, adolescent brain adaptation and other non-intentional factors  Treating the real problem by providing empathic connection, and support  Replacing punishment and zero tolerance with a desire to understand, be curious and approach safety as a “protective use of force”  To make every interaction a nano-shift in this direction


7 EMPATHY & COMPASSION Empathy is the ability to see the world as another person, to share and understand another person’s feelings, needs, concerns and/or emotional state. Empathy is not agreeing. Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is actually feeling their pain. Compassion is empathy with the added desire to help.

8 The most important change we can make to reduce bullying Empathic connection This afternoon, we learn why …

9 Kids do well if they can. Ross Greene Ross Greene YouTube

10 The Solution To address the cause and reduce the problem is in a broad sense to:  Adopt a compassionate attitude when we work with the child  Create an empathic and authentic connection with the child  Ideally facilitate the attachment of the child with a caring and competent adult  As mentors, develop skills and tools to model healthy and calming interactions  Communication (verbal, nonverbal), word choice  Setting an intention of who we want to “be” in any interaction, even difficult ones  Pausing, breathing  Encouraging release of calming hormone, oxytocin to interrupt or offset flow on stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.  Replacing certainty, assumption and judgment with curiosity

11 What % of your day is dealing with aggressive behavior?  0-20%  20-40%  40-50%  50-60%  60-70%  70-80%  80-90%  % What is the physical, emotional and financial cost?

12 The physical and emotional cost  How would you rate the stress levels of dealing with this type of problem on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest stress?  How would you rate the stress of your job overall?  APA finds about 25% of the population experiencing high levels of stress (8 or >) while another 50% experience moderate levels (4-7)  This is over and about the 26% of the population that is already diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

13 The cost of stress  Chronic mild stress can mean more susceptibility to sickness, being overweight, difficult sleeping, less sex drive, and increased risk of more stress  Additional stress is created because access to problem solving, decision making and social/relational skills is impeded which creates a cycle of social emotional issues  It’s harder to relate, manage difficulty, focus and sleep  If stress levels are high and chronic, the health risks become significant …

14 The cost of high levels of chronic stress  Obesity  Heart disease  Cancer  Diabetes  aggression  Depression  Anxiety  Other mental illness  Loneliness  Estrangement  Discomfort  Separateness

15 Law Enforcement Marriage “We all know that the divorce rate for the nation sits right at about 50%, but did you know that the rate for officers is 60-75%? Staggering numbers when you really consider it. Approximately one quarter of the officers who are married will still be married to that same spouse at the end of their careers. One quarter.” November 3, 2013 LAW ENFORCEMENT TODAY

16 The effects are far reaching

17 It is a serious problem to us What about our kids: Effect on the child at the other end of the behavior Effect on the witnesses – very high Effect on the child who is behaving in a bullying way









26 What happened? What can be done?

27 What makes the problem so important?

28 Characteristics of the Bully  Impulsive  Dominant  Aggressive  Easily make friends (are not loners)  Popular  Comfortable with violence  Socially adept (may be cold and subtly manipulative)  Hold in-group/out-group mentality  A form of control and attention  Lacking skills & tools;  Asking for love, attention and support,  To family members and peers  Anger management  Lack of adult modeling  Lack of understanding of behavior 2013 copyright Sarah Peyton 28

29 Family Characteristics of Bullies  Lack of warmth and emotional support  Lack of parental and family support  Rigid enforcement of rules  Use of threats and bribes  Uninvolved parents  Lack of supervision  Inconsistent and corporal punishment  Poor moods  Bullying of siblings  Maltreatment by a parent  Use of humiliation  Violence – nearly twice as likely to have been exposed to domestic violence  Negative family functioning 2013 copyright Sarah Peyton 29

30 Bullying Video  Bully Richard Gale Interview (Bully of Casey Heynes)  /watch?v=__IjcLVBBYc

31 Causes of Bullying  Negative family function  Too much control by parents  Abuse  Neglect  Sibling bullying  Being bullied  On rare occasion a genetic predisposition

32 Kids don’t believe they’ll get help  In a survey of American middle and high school students, “66 percent of victims of bullying believed school professionals responded poorly to the bullying problems that they observed.”  Other reasons the kids gave for not telling include:  Feeling shame at not being able to stand up for themselves  Fearing they would not be believed  Not wanting to worry their parents  Having no confidence that anything would change as a result  Thinking their parents’ or teacher’s advice would make the problem worse  Heartbreaking that children are not only experiencing bullying, but don’t trust the reaction of the adults around them enough to get help

33 Help for the aggressive child  Children who are bullied are not finding the reactions from their parents. Children who bully are also not finding help.  Some schools have zero tolerance for bullying. Children get sent home for bullying, but no support to change the behavior.  Other times when children bully, adults around them don’t know what to do.  In attempt to name the behavior as wrong, the child may perceive themselves as also wrong.  Children are labeled “the bully” and those around them have a static impressions of whether or not the child can truly change behavior.  A focus only on the harm experienced by child who was bullied does not create space for the child who is bullying to hope that their needs will be acknowledged.

34 1. Where it all began – the lizard brain

35 The brain evolved from the stem of the spine out and up. The amygdala is the control center for the primitive, and still dominant, fight/flight impulse. The newest, most sophisticated, executive functioning part of the human brain is the prefrontal cortex ( PFC ) behind the forehead. The Evolution of the Brain

36 Primitive brain = Survival Instinct  Amygdala constantly seeks threat  primary function is survival  Fight/flight/freeze response activated when “triggered”  Stress hormones cortisol & adrenaline are released preparing body for action  responds to physical or emotional threat or an important unmet need  Doesn’t distinguish between fantasy or reality  Activation of the F/F/F cuts off access to the PFC and with this the ability to problem solve, make decisions, regulate emotions and perform other executive functions.

37 Prefrontal Cortex  Integrates:  Me - self  You – empathy  We - relational  The purpose of adolescent brain development is to integrate the brain  To link different areas of the brain to allow more sophisticated functions to emerge (so the whole is better than the sum of its parts)  How? During adolescence the brain is remodeling  Pruning (what you don’t use) so it can specialize  Myelination for efficiency – also disciplined practice

38 Limbic region  Where emotions come from  Motivation – should I bother doing this thing?  Evaluation – how to get this process turned on so the student will pay attention  Memory  Attachment – our mammalian capacity to have a child dependent on the parent for survival  Adolescents have emotional spark

39 Effect of stress on behavior Stress hormones Amygdala Executive Functioning PFC

40 The 2 basic states of the brain  Reactive or receptive  NO or yes  Can’t learn or communicate optimally if you are threatened  Can’t engage in a supporting, connecting  Fight, flight, freeze or faint (vasil vagal response)  Temperate (genetic) or attachment (experiential) determines the response

41 We are in Social-Engagement when we  Make eye contact  Vocalize with an appealing inflection and rhythm  Display contingent facial expressions  Modulate the middle-ear muscles to distinguish the human voice from background sounds more efficiently 41

42 We are in Fight or Flight when  We are afraid or angry  We have an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, muscle tone  We want to take action to protect, defend or get away 2013 copyright Sarah Peyton 42

43 We are in Freeze when  We no longer want to move (fall in energy)  Our heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and muscle tone decrease  Eyelids droop (not in sleepiness)  Voice loses inflection  Positive facial expressions dwindle  Awareness of the sound of the human voice becomes less acute  Sensitivity to other ’ s social engagement behaviors decreases 2013 copyright Sarah Peyton 43

44 The impact of chronic activation of stress hormones  Biologically the threat response is meant for occasional activation. Physical exertion balances the physiological changes and normal functioning is maintained.  Most threat is emotional with no physical exertion which is not considered normal by the body and results in:  High blood pressure, digestive problems, sleep problems, weight problems  Anxiety, depression, memory & concentration impairment, aggression, fatigue Impact of long term stress on Children (video URL

45 Rewiring the brain - Neuroplasticity  Neuroscientists now know that our brains are plastic and changing throughout our lives.  They also know that we humans, by virtue of having a cortex, have the ability to influence neural structure, thinking, choices, habits and behavior.  This is called neuroplasticity and it has been proven true in altering conditions from depression, anxiety, aggression, stress and conflict management.  There is an interpersonal component as well with evidence the brain is wired to interact socially and attune to one another.  Stroking premature babies for 10 minutes a day promotes brain development. The brain responds to touch, attachment, connection.

46 What % of decisions are conscious?  0-20%  20-40%  40-60%  60-80%  80-90%  %

47 We create our own reality Stories Judgment, Assumptions, Labels Habits Brain prioritizes efficiency: -Habits -Judgment -Assumptions -Labels Our brains create our stories subconsciously and retells them over and over again, tweaking as convenient, without our approval.

48 We have two Hemispheres 48

49 Right prefrontal cortex qualities: (and qualities that counteract bullying)  Regulation of body systems  Attuned communication  Emotional balance  Calming the amygdala (modulating fear)  Response flexibility  Empathy  Intuition  Morality 2013 copyright Sarah Peyton 49

50 The Hemispheres Have Different Tasks: Left: Narrow focus, the known Is in charge of approach and speaking in conversation Other people are tools Tracks details Builds categories Can discern and differentiate Makes patterns from the specific Right: Uncertainty, newness, broad scope Is in charge of listening and the non-verbal, making space for the other Understands emotion and the soul, the individual The new, the novel, the specific Attends to the big picture Metaphor and poetry 50

51 Divided brain  Left narrow focus to detail (finding seeds, known), right is broad (unknown, change, connection)  Frontal lobe is to stop immediacy, stand back, outwitting the other party (Machiavellian) and also to empathize and make bonds, is uniquely human  Right hemisphere is newer, understanding, disposition for living,  Not reason or imagination, need both hemispheres  Started long ago to drift to left hemisphere, very convincing, controlling  The right hemisphere does not have a voice  Knowledge of parts and wisdom of whole  Rationality grounded in intuition  Need to return to right hemisphere, the intuitive mind is sacred “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

52 Your brain is just another organ. It is not you. Build skills in becoming aware of the thinking that is not working for you. 52

53 Brain effects of bullying 53

54 Effects of Bullying  Reduces volume in the PFC where we:  Interpret our social world, process our emotional responses, perceive meaning and language and where we self-express  Teens – being ostracized by one’s peers can throw adolescent hormones even further out of whack, lead to reduced connectivity in the brain, and even sabotage the growth of new neurons.  Limbic region – memory is compromised  Corpus callosum damage  The researchers found that the more exposure to peer verbal abuse subjects reported, the more likely they were to be experiencing anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, dissociation, or drug use – effects that can be linked to damage to the corpus callosum.  PTSD

55 PTSD  In the short-term, bullied children show cognitive damage and a tendency toward poor school performance. In the long term, cumulative brain trauma can lead, some psychiatrists to diagnose Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in adults, depending on the severity and duration of the childhood bullying. This is a crucial insight–just as we know physical abuse by adults creates lasting damage in children, it ’ s becoming clearer that verbal or emotional abuse by a child ’ s peers is enough to create lasting, measurable damage in a child even as she or he grows older.some psychiatrists to diagnose Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in adults, 2013 copyright Sarah Peyton 55

56 Cortisol - Quote  cortisol may, in fact, underlie many of the adverse effects of bullying: It can weaken the functioning of the immune system, and at high levels can damage and even kill neurons in the hippocampus, potentially leading to memory problems that could make academics more difficult. Indeed, Vaillancourt has already found that teens who are bullied perform worse on tests of verbal memory than their peers. One of her next studies involves trying to get at this question directly: She will be putting some of her subjects, now ages 16 and 17, into an MRI machine to look for evidence of damage to the hippocampus. 56

57 Effects of corpus callosum damage  The researchers found that the more exposure to peer verbal abuse subjects reported, the more likely they were to be experiencing anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, dissociation, or drug use – effects that can be linked to damage to the corpus callosum copyright Sarah Peyton 57

58 Things adults should know about the brain  The idea that “it’s genetic” and brain function is permanent is untrue:  Temperament and outlook is genetic – and alterable  Most of what we do is habit  The brain is able to change throughout our lives with intention and practice (neuroplasticity)  The brain has 2 states; reactive or receptive  Interact from a “yes” if you want to be received

59 Rewiring the brain - Neuroplasticity  Neuroscientists now know that our brains are plastic and changing throughout our lives.  They also know that we humans, by virtue of having a cortex, have the ability to influence neural structure, thinking, choices, habits and behavior.  This is called neuroplasticity and it has been proven true in altering conditions from depression, anxiety, aggression, stress and conflict management.  There is an interpersonal component as well with evidence the brain is wired to interact socially and attune to one another.  Stroking premature babies for 10 minutes a day promotes brain development. The brain responds to touch, attachment, connection.

60 What to expect from our kids courtesy of the adolescent brain  Sensitive – over-reactive  Bored one minute – taking risks the next  Hyper rational thinking means they really do know the risks  Extremely drawn to peers and fitting in

61 The adolescent brain  Emotional spark from active limbic region  Trigger quickly but recover in 90 seconds  Impulsivity in early teens  Social engagement for peer connection  Peer pressure and influence is enormous  But primed for collaboration (more important than IQ in life)  Novelty for preparation of independence  Dopamine draws to pleasure  2 things happen with dopamine  base line is much lower which means more prone to boredom  Release level is higher which encourages risk taking  Hyper rational thinking - imbalanced

62 Hyper Rational thinking - Risk Taking: What to do about it  “I’m trying to be like everyone else whose trying not to be like anyone else”.  To access Neural networks around the heart and the intestines/gut (through the vassal nerve)  Heart-felt sense and gut-feeling are real - this allows self awareness  This is important because it gives access to internal compass – to positive values that draws on intuition  When emotions say “I think I’ll drive 90 mph through town.” Don’t say don’t do it, it’s dangerous”. They’ll do opposite.  Get them to ask themselves “what am I looking for here?” emotions say “this is so exciting, low risk of death. Let’s do it!”  Pause, build the skill to say “I am aware of a feeling in my heart that tells me this doesn’t feel right - an intuition. My emotions say it’s good, my gut says it’s not right.

63 Mental Illness begins at early adolescence  Major psychiatric disorders have onset at adolescence  Because of pruning process  if you are genetically vulnerable or if you have had trauma your brain is set up with an insufficient number of neurons  Pruning process means half neurons are lost

64 Brain Function Summary  Subconscious impulse and instinct drive thinking and behavior:  The brain is on alert and under stress far more than is normal with significant negative, immediate and long term physiological and emotional health impact  Habit and automation dominate decision making  We are biologically driven to assume, judge, blame, evaluate, and label. We look for difference and we see the problem.  Objectivity, conscious thought and the ability to manage behavior is only possible with purposeful activation of the PFC.  Where is the control? Where is the intention?

65 What just happened? What is the truth?  Basketball video  Number of throws?  Did you see the lady?  Video url: 

66 Dan Siegel – the Adolescent Brain  YouTube url:   Please listen from 1:00 on  Gut feeling and intuition …

67 Bullying is a complex system of interdependent factors Aggressive Behavior Societal/CulturalBiologyRelationships

68 Focus of change Factor  Stress  Lack of attachment  Communication/conflict skills  Parental aggression/abuse  Nourishment  The teen brain  School climate Actions  Managing stress  Reattaching  Building communication and conflict skills  Providing food  Embracing teen brain  Engaging in climate efforts

69 Afternoon Agenda Part 1:  A deeper understanding of the system contributing to aggression  brain biology  Relationships  Societal/cultural influences  An understanding of unmet needs Part 2:  Creating compassionate connection and understanding by:  Creating an intention of how to interact with every child  Interrupting the trigger within the adult and the child  Listening and acknowledging objectively and empathically  Identifying unmet needs  Requesting present positive action

70 Every action is an attempt to meet a need. Marshall Rosenberg Marshall Rosenberg Youtube

71 The Summary – The root of Bullying Behavior The root of the cause likely has to do with one or all of the following:  Ineffective anger/stress management skills  Environmental factors (relational, social, cultural) that have impacted the biology of the child  Relational factors include familial experiences (abuse, neglect, poor modeling, sibling bullying), peers or experiences with people in the community (police)  Social or cultural factors including media influences  Biological factors tracing to natural brain function (threat response) as well as neurological damage/alterations from chronic stress due to the factors listed above  Lack of “attachment” with a caring and competent adult resulting in a defendedness against adult trust, counter-will, peer orientation The cause may seem to be intentional bad behavior but science and research indicate the more likely explanation is defensive instinct and impulse due to chronic emotional stress and lack of skills and tools

72 Unmet Needs are at the center of Relational Conflict -Safety, financial security -Attachment -Love & belonging -Food, Rest -Self-worth, meaning -Being valued -Connection to others -Autonomy, independence, -Having choices -Having control -Trust, respect -Understanding -Validation -Individuality -Solitude …

73 Attachment  Attachment is our mammalian capacity to have a child dependent on the parent for survival  We need attachment until the day we die  Limbic region genetically programmed to push away at adolescence to prepare for independence  We attach to peers instead; we need them to survive; we feel being and

74 The importance of attachment  Its not about earning – every child needs to be attached to at least one caring and competent adult  Kids need a home base – someone to provide a place of retreat – just knowing –  Evokes the desire to be good for those attached to  Children have instincts to be good and bad, threat or reward – just like us

75 What is your intention? Are you ready to give empathy in every situation? Isolate the behaviors that may not have been as intentional as they seem? Unconditional positive regard? Dignity? Respect? Compassion?

76 Summary  Address the problem in order to stop it:  Create adult connections for kids who have none  Replace punishment and judgment with empathy, support and compassionate guidance  Replace zero tolerance with “the protective use of force” (a nonviolent communication expression)  Model compassionate communication and conflict resolution  Use natural tools available to each of us at any time:  Release oxytocin, say “yes”, be curious

77 Compassionate Communication in Difficult Situations The Tools

78 What is your intention?  I will hold this as my intention in any interaction, particularly with any child, regardless of circumstance:

79 Tools  Use “yes” as much as possible  Make a no, a “yes, no, yes”. Yes to something important, no to the request (“and I can’t let you do this”), yes to something else.  Curiosity helps understanding much better than assumption, judgment and labeling

80 Achieving Connection through Empathic Understanding Goal = Make a Connection. Always connect first. Phase 1 – Preparation  1) Set an Intention – how do you want to “be” in the world?  2) Become self-aware – notice the thinking and events that cause you to trigger  3) Practice pausing – as a first response to the “trigger” (breathe, smile, yawn, touch)

81 Connect Phase 2 – Connecting  1) Remember your intention – expect it will be forgotten when you need it most  2) Invite your connection – smile, say name, greet  In person  Electronically as well –

82 Empathic Support Phase 3 – Giving Empathic Support  1) Listen with full presence – listening is not waiting to speak  2) Acknowledge with empathy – reflect back what you heard, with a feeling if possible  3) Help identify the unmet need – help discover the source of their feelings or discomfort  4) Request the opportunity to provide support – ask how you can help

83 Requests Phase 4 – Making requests  1) Share an observation – a neutral expression of what is affecting you  2) Share your feeling – if this is appropriate. If not, simply name it to yourself  3) State your need – share what this is about for you (value, wish, dream, want)  4) Make a request – say what you are hoping for in a doable, concrete and present form

84 Interrupting a Trigger  be curious  remember your intention  slow your speech  breathe  ask for a pause

85 Activity: Know thy “trigger”  What does the trigger signal? ____________________________________________________  Why is that important? ____________________________________________________  What does your trigger feel like in you? ____________________________________________________  How can you use the trigger to your advantage? ____________________________________________________

86 Resources  Kids do well if they can – Ross Greene, child psychologist, author of “Lost at School”  Every action is an attempt to fulfill a need – Marshall Rosenberg, author/founder of “Nonviolent communication” (NVC)  Hold on to your kids – Gordon Neufeld, adolescent development specialist, author of “Hold on to your Kids”

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