Friday, September 23, 2016

TOP STORY >> Bully prevention in Cabot

Leader staff writer

Motivational youth speaker Tom Thelen of Michigan brought his bullying-prevention program to Cabot’s students in fifth through 12th grades and their parents on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Thelen is the author of “Victimproof,” a book about bullying in school and how to try and prevent it.

As a student, Thelen was bullied and he spoke about his experience. He speaks about overcoming the victim mindset and how to respond to bullying.

One of Thelen’s stops was at Cabot Middle School North.

“Bullying is intentional. It is a power grab, and it is repeated,” Thelen said.

Three types of bullying are physical, verbal and social.

“The kid who was bullied and felt hurt tries to get back and settle the score. Sometimes, they hurt other people, not with their fists but with words. It is important to not give someone who is bullying you a negative reaction. That is what they are looking for. You give it to them and you’re giving them power,” Thelen said.

Thelen said when he was a student he kept his anger and hurt inside and carried it around like a backpack, and it became heavy.

“I was the class clown. I was covering it up pretending I was fine. The biggest bully in all my life during those school years was my dad. I should have talked to a trusted adult,” Thelen said.

He said things got worse and he was almost kicked out of school, until he had a teacher who believed in him, when he didn’t believe in himself. She found help with a three-week counseling program that worked on character.

“Character is who you are in your heart. Character starts with the way you feel. Then it moves to things that you think about. It turns into the words that you say, then into the things you do. It then becomes a pattern and those habits become your character,” Thelen said.

“When you give up revenge, you break free from bullying. You might be bullied, but you don’t have to be a victim. Create a healthy boundary. When you learn to be the change inside yourself you can make change in others,” he said.

After the program, sixth-grader Alyssa De La Paz said the program inspired her to talk more about bullying and not to do it, because it could affect people later in life.

Sixth-grader Carson Mun-day said Thelen’s program inspired him to tell an adult if he is bullied and for them to tell the bully to stop.

Nicholas Hazeslip, also a sixth grader, said it inspired him to make a change.

“I’ve overheard kids saying they are going to bully someone, but not physically because they don’t want to get caught,” Hazeslip said.

“And they think it is alright,” sixth-grader Moira Haslip said.

“Words are more powerful than actual actions,” De La Paz said.

The Junior Auxiliary of Cabot helped bring Thelen to the Cabot School District.