What does prevention mean in the bullying world?  Is it that we try to stop people from being mean to each other or is it that we help shield children and adults from the pain it causes.

It’s a trick question.  I think it’s both.

I was in a situation recently that made me think about the importance of blunting that long tail of pain.  How do we help people who’ve been belittled feel better?  How do we stop that horrible spiral that leaves you emotionally spent and feeling worthless?  (That’s what skilled bullies do.  They’re really good at it.  They know just the button and they go for it.)

No one is completely immune.

When it happened to me recently, it caused a horrible domino effect of bad.  No matter how I tried to push it out of my brain, it still caused heartache and doubt.  I wondered, ‘How can kids put up with this?  How do they survive it?’  (Some kids don’t.)

It sucked the joy out of my life — temporarily.

It had a hold on me until I remembered something.  I’m awesome!

If we can get kids and even some grown up kids to remember those things about themselves that leave no doubt of their worth, if we can get them to write it down before some cruel person robs them of their joy, that’s prevention.

This is what I said to the person who made me feel small:

Hold on a minute.  Do you realize that in my entire life, I’ve never set out to make anyone feel bad about anything?  I’ve raised four kids who make it a point to be nice to people.  Along the way, I’ve worked hard, done some good things and have left a good trail.  I deserve to be treated nicely.  

Phew.  I’m glad I remembered that before I got sucked into the mean vortex.

Now the trick is to get kids to write down why they’re so great so when they’re in a bullying emergency, they can get to that list and read it over and over.  Let’s raise strong kids who never forget why they shouldn’t be made to feel like the scum on the bottom of a shoe.

It’s ok to say you expect to be treated well.