Anti-Bully Program

Anti-Bully Program

In 2008, a small group of Sappo School’s 11th and 12th graders submitted a proposal which would allow the formation of a new committee that was to be called “Sappo’s Anti-Bully Committee”.  The passionate plea identified the need for legislative intervention in an area that had long been neglected.  The proposal stated, “…other states have laws against bullying, but, not New York.”  These students were once victimized by bullies, or had been paralyzed by fear to become guilt-ridden bystanders.  Now, nurtured and strengthened within a safe educative environment, these students believed for the first time that they could fight back the best way possible, that is, through the legal system.  With Government teacher, Mr. Sauer, this newly formed Committee set out to see to it that an adequate law was finally passed.   Sappo’s Anti-Bully Committee gained support of the entire school and from many in the community.

Sappo students become well-trained Anti-Bullyists through an in-depth lesson plan that includes valuable self-preserving strategies. Students are taught to identify bullying in all identifiable forms, while gaining skills needed to promote healthy and appropriate responses.  Bullies have no voice at Sappo School.  Rather, the kind and considerate student has everything to say and they are empowered to take control of his or her own life both in and out of school.

Bullying Defined

Bullying is a serious form of abuse that involves attempts to exert power over another person or group.  The bully lacks empathy for the victim, or target.  Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse, emotional, verbal, and physical.  Researcher Dan Olweus defines bullying as when a person is “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons.” He defines negative action as “when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways”.  Bullies may feel the need to be perceived as popular or tough or may be attention seeking. They may bully out of jealousy or as a reaction to their own victimization by bullies.

The USA National Center for Education Statistics identifies two types of bullying, direct or physical bullying, and indirect or social bullying.  Direct bullying involves “physical aggression such as shoving and poking, throwing things, slapping, choking, punching and kicking, beating, stabbing, pulling hair, scratching, biting, scraping and pinching.   Social aggression or indirect bullying is characterized by threatening or forcing the victim into social isolation, which can include giving the victim the silent treatment. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety of techniques, including spreading gossip, refusing to socialize with the victim, bullying other people who wish to socialize with the victim, and criticizing the victim’s manner of dress, etc.  (Ross, 1998).  Emotional bullying involves any purposeful act that causes another person emotional pain.  For a child attending school, the most common forms of emotional bullying may be difficult to detect.  These more subtle forms of bullying can erroneously seem benign in comparison to direct bullying, often preventing the victim from getting the help he or she needs to feel safe.  Psychological manipulation is also common among school age children.

There are numerous manipulative techniques that fall into the emotional bullying category.  The bully, acting out as a manipulator, most often refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.  This may disorient the target or victim, causing them to doubt their own reality, even wondering if they may be the cause in some way of their own victimization.  If the bully identifies the victim as the one at fault, and the professionals are not saying otherwise, a sense of lowered self-worth and guilt, along with the confusion and frustration borne along by the disorientation, can lead a victim toward desperate measures. Avoidance can lead to isolation, and in more serious cases, to suicide.


Cyberbullying is on the rise and this form of social bullying can be as life threatening as physical bullying, as seen in the case of Rutgers’ freshman, Tyler Clementi.  The National Crime Prevention Council reports that cyberbullying affects half of all American teens.  The effects of cyberbullying can have an extreme and negative impact on victims, because of these several factors:

  •  It occurs in the child’s home, removing the place where a child often feels the safest.
  • It can be harsher because the bully is emboldened by the impersonal aspect of technology, saying things online that they would not say in person.
  • The bully does not witness the victim’s emotional pain.
  • It can be far reaching since bullies are now targeting entire classes or groups with little effort or forethought.
  • The bully effect is broader since the audience can be global.
  • It can be anonymous.  Not knowing who is responsible for bullying messages can add to a victim’s insecurity.

It is perceived as inescapable as long as children are using computers.  You can avoid a bully you may meet in person, but it is harder to avoid the cyber-bully.

The Making of the Bystander

  • The bully is also guilty of rationalizing away the abusive behaviors by making excuses for the actions.  The bully also engages in minimalizing his or her actions.  Dangerously, this self- protecting and manipulative strategy often convinces those who should know better that perhaps the abuse is not really so serious, after all.  The teachers who are thought to be among the guardians of society, are lured instead into taking the hateful position of a bystander.  The list continues with shaming, sarcastic cruelties, the casting of fear and self-doubts.  The bully is a master of vilifying the victim by masking his own brutal intent by pointing to the defensive actions of the victim.  How often have we seen the victim disciplined along with the bully?  Many schools have a policy that states both persons involved in a fight are to be equally disciplined.  There is no consideration given to the one who may be fighting for his life.   Such action, or lack of action is a form a grievous injustice toward the victim and gives power to the bully.

Sappo’s Anti-Bully program removes the power from the bully and un-victimizes the victim.

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