Article: Jefferson officer, resident take talk of bullies to TV
Both discuss ways to combat threats, boost victims' self-esteem
BY MATT MANOCHIO
November 18, 2007
JEFFERSON -- Janet Pfeiffer knows that school bullying has transformed over the years from children picking on others at the playground to sending death threats online.
Pfeiffer, an Oak Ridge resident who is a motivational and inspirational speaker who runs Pfeiffer Power Seminars, contacted the Fox affiliate in New York back in July with the idea of trying to get the word out about different strategies that students and parents might consider to combat the persistent bullying threat.
"I had sent the producer a proposal to do a show on bullying because I felt that this is a problem that is too widespread," she said during a phone interview. "It affects every school probably in the country."
Eventually Pfeiffer appeared on "Good Day Street Talk" on Nov. 6 at 6 a.m. to discuss bullying on a panel that consisted of Jefferson Police Officer Tim McBride and Julie Ramirez from the Girls and Boys Project in New York.
Ron Corning, the host, asked the three guests for tips and each had an eight-minute segment to opine.
"One of the things to teach children to protect themselves is to really target their self-esteem," she said. "Bullies target kids who are insecure and timid. ... A child really has to work on feeling good about themselves and really projecting that kind of image. Shoulders up, direct eye contact -- those are physical behaviors that can display confidence."
She said a bullied child tends to get emotional.
"When a bully is picking on you ... it's not about you," she said. "They're trying to get a response out of you. That's why kids tease. They want to feel powerful and try to elicit a response."
She said children should not take it personally, but should maintain composure and remember that they can handle the situation, and that they don't need to react to what the bully is doing.
"That comment isn't worth a response," she gave as an example. She said a one-word answer sometimes is good, too: "OK."
"That's it," she said. "I've responded with one word. ... And people will look at you and say what do you mean? A bully can't take that and run with it. It's a response to cut the bully off."
McBride, who is the school resource officer at the high school and middle school complex on Weldon Road, said that a lot of children these days go home only to hop online, which also subjects them to personal attacks.
"A lot of times what you'll see is people sign on as someone else," he said. McBride said a bully could create a screen name similar to someone else's and then hide behind that identity to attack someone they don't like.
"What you'll find is that the cyber bully finds courage when he's hiding behind that computer screen," he said. "They think that they're not going to get caught. Every time you jump on there, you're leaving a cyber trail."
He said that cyber bullying scenario actually involves two victims. There's the person being attacked, and the person who's identity was impersonated who winds up receiving a lot of the blame even though he or she had nothing to do with it.
McBride said it's wise not to attack back, but save the transcripts or chats. He said the victim can try defusing the situation on his or her own by demanding that the harassment stop. If it doesn't, the police can be contacted.
"You have to let somebody know," he said.
"If you feel you can't resolve it on your own, or don't know who it is, by all means go to the police," he said.
He said those cases sometimes end up with harassment complaints signed against the bully.
"We've resolved quite a few of those situations," he said.
Matt Manochio can be reached at (973) 428-6627 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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