How to Help Your Child with Autism Stop Bullying

Students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are said to targets of bullying much more often than their fellow classmates.  A research study shows that autistic students may be bullied nearly five times as often as their peers.

During the study, around 46% of autistic children in middle and high school reported that they were victimized at school within the previous year, compared with just over 10% of the general population of students.   These alarming statistics have left parents questioning if their child with ASD is safe at school and wondering what's being done to respond to this epidemic.

Children who have autism struggle with perceiving social cues, which can lead to complex misunderstandings and socially awkward behaviors.  Some students with ASD welcome bullying because they fail to understand that others are being mean to them.  Instead, they believe that the attention they are receiving is friendly or harmless.  In addition, students with autism are often hypersensitive to interactions with others and changes in their environment.  For these students, emotional meltdowns are common, drawing attention from others and showing that the child can be easily upset.  

Bullying, by definition, is an imbalance of power where the aggressor seeks to assert power over another individual by making them upset.  These students will use behaviors like name calling, jokes, rumors, social exclusion, and even pushing and shoving to evoke a reaction from their target.  Unfortunately children with autism are often easy targets as the simplest of stimuli can set many into an emotional tailspin.  Since bullying is simply a power game, children that seek to dominate via bullying often target children that they know will give them the maximum reaction.

Parents and educators can help prevent bullying by empowering students with autism with skills and practicing responses.  Many parents and educators believe that it is not possible for children with ASD to recognize and appropriately respond to bullying without adult intervention.  While adult intervention is sometimes needed, especially in the case of students that are low functioning or severely developmentally disabled, there are many things that adults can do to help students with autism increase their resilience and respond appropriately to mean behavior.  Children with Asberger's Syndrome, a higher-functioning form of autism according to the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, are often able to learn the techniques rather easily, with adequate practice and encouragement from caring adults.

Peace Cards were developed by youth treatment specialist and social skills educator Jeff Veley to teach a student with autism what to say when he was bullied at school.  The cards feature three 'magic phrases' that any child can use to respond to mean behavior and de-escalate the situation.  In addition, they remind students of coping skills and provide a crisis hotline and online training video which teaches the "Peace Sign Approach" to a psychological response which empowers students to respond to bullying/social aggression in two simple steps.  Today they are distributed to thousands of students at schools across the country each year.  In addition, they are a key component of Jeff's Private Coaching Program to help students that are being bullied.

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Jeff Veley

Jeff Veley is youth speaker, bullying expert, and social skills educator.

His mission is to equip students with the social and emotional skills that empower them to face adversity, grow in resilience, and solve their own social problems by exercising the Golden Rule.

To date, Jeff's message has reached over one million people.  Jeff and his program have been recognized by the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative of the United Nations and are a recipient of the Golden Rule International Award for effectiveness in teaching conflict resolution.  The United Nations officially recognizes Jeff as a Goodwill Peace Ambassador in over 120 nations of the world.

Bullying - Reporting VS. Empowerment

Why Many Anti-Bullying Programs Make Things Worse


It's a question that administrators ask me every day...

"Will hosting a bullying assembly cause student reporting to increase?"

Let's be honest...
You have enough to deal with. Reports of legitimate safety issues are important but tattling and social squabbles are a waste of your time.

Watch this video to learn how to decrease reports (of social drama) and empower students to solve their own social problems. 


Preview Jeff's Program

Tour Dates

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX - Sept 18-22
Memphis, TN - Sept 27-28
Little Rock, AR - Sept 28-29
Birmingham, AL - Oct 9-10
Grand Rapids, MI - Oct 16-20
St. Louis, MO - Oct 26-27
Denver, CO - Nov 8-9
Gary, IN - Nov 13-17
Tampa, FL (and select cities) - Dec 4-8

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Jeff Veley

Jeff Veley is youth speaker, bullying expert, and social skills educator.

His mission is to equip students with the social and emotional skills that empower them to face adversity, grow in resilience, and solve their own social problems by exercising the Golden Rule.

To date, Jeff's message has reached over one million people.  Jeff and his program have been recognized by the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative of the United Nations and are a recipient of the Golden Rule International Award for effectiveness in teaching conflict resolution.  The United Nations officially recognizes Jeff as a Goodwill Peace Ambassador in over 120 nations of the world.

Ace & Jeff Headed for New Ventures

After two and a half years "Ace & Jeff in the Afternoons" is coming to an end.  The show, which aired on WJQK JQ99.3 in West Michigan, featured an energetic blend of 25-year radio veteran/musician Ace McKay and national youth speaker/entertainer Jeff Veley in a contemporary Christian music format.  The two were known for their crazy humor and unique perspective on how to radiate Christ.

A Look Back

Moving from the morning show, Ace not only jumped into the afternoon seat but also into a leadership role as the station's Program Director and Music Director.  Veley, who hosted a Sunday show and was a frequent co-host on Ignite Radio, left his job working with youth in the social work field to dive deeper into radio.  "One day God told me to leave my day job and trust Him in the meantime," said Veley.  "Thirty minutes after signing my resignation letter, I got an email from Ace asking me to meet at the station.  I had no idea that this meeting would lead to us co-hosting an afternoon show together.  That's how God works!"  

Since then "the boys", as many call them, have shared many memories with West Michigan listeners and have invested back into their community.  Outside of radio, Jeff continued to grow his bullying prevention program, speaking at schools, conferences, and music festivals across the country.  Ace's passion was worship.  After seeing the need at local churches for additional musicians, he brought the Ascension Worship Network, to Grand Rapids.  Ace became the Network Manager and filled in as a bass player and drummer for many churches in the area.  His first recruit was Jeff, who joined as a worship leader and drummer.  

It was a recent visit home to Birmingham, Alabama, that prompted Ace to move back.  His father's health struggles weighed on his heart and Ace knew that it was time to relocate closer to his parents.  "We signed on for our first afternoon show knowing very little about each other.  Two and a half years later I can say that I've gained a brother that I'm going to miss very much," says Veley.  "Ace and I have shared some of the greatest and hardest moments together both on and off-air.  We're great friends and I can guarantee that the shenanigans and support for each other will continue.  We are thankful to God, Lanser Broadcasting, and West Michigan for giving us this opportunity."

"After hearing that Ace was leaving I began praying about what was next for me," says Veley.  "All of a sudden, God opened the floodgates for me to speak in more schools through my bullying prevention program.  I've always seen radio as simply a platform to reach more people with a message and do good.  My calling is to empower youth and families.  As the speaking requests rolled in and more communities requested my help, I knew that it was God's way of telling me that a daily radio show no longer fit the schedule.  Ace and I decided that it was best that we sign off together, one last time."

A New Chapter

Ace swears that he owned this outfit first and "Twinning" was Jeff's idea.  The two joked that they share the same brain and once purchased the same shirt unintentionally..  They rarely wore it for fear that they would show up at church in matching outfits.

Ace swears that he owned this outfit first and "Twinning" was Jeff's idea.  The two joked that they share the same brain and once purchased the same shirt unintentionally..  They rarely wore it for fear that they would show up at church in matching outfits.

Ace is excited to join the team at 93.7 WDJC in Birmingham, joining Stephanie Plumb in the afternoons and taking over hosting duties as she heads out on maternity leave.  “I survived the brutal winters of Indiana and Michigan and am thrilled to be back home in the South in Birmingham where I grew up,” McKay says.  He smiles as he tells Jeff that he's already lined up some church gigs as a drummer.  “I look forward to building relationships with families in the area as we minister to our listeners.  I’m strapping in for this amazing ride." 

Jeff will head out on his "Love Changes It All Tour" this fall reaching schools across the country and returning home to serve schools in West Michigan October 16-22.  He's also partnering with Christian artist 6th Day Made for a unique tour that is set to launch in 2018.  When asked about radio Jeff says, "I'll continue my weekly 'Love Changes It Allradio features and will host station events for JQ99.3 such as concerts and remotes when I'm in town.  I look forward to keeping in touch with our listeners and sharing stories of hope while on the road.  Will I ever host another radio show?  I really can't say.  My headphones are handy if I need them.  I've learned not to make long-term plans.  I'm not the Musician.  I'm the instrument."

Ace and Jeff wrap up their time by sharing that they were thrilled to hear that Marcia Ware Wilder, who hosts the morning news on JQ, will be covering afternoons.  "Marcia will bring the same energy and passion that the afternoons have had over the last two years and we're excited for people to get to know her better" says McKay.  The two passed the baton and blessed their friend Marcia on June 29th's afternoon broadcast.

Saying Farewell

Ace & Jeff will share a farewell show on Friday, June 30 from 2-6 pm EST to share their favorite memories and thank their listeners.  You can listen at 99.3 FM in West Michigan, on the JQ99 App, or streaming online at www.jq99.com.

Stay in Touch with Ace & Jeff


Some of Our Favorite Moments

Feel free to comment below.  We'd love to hear from you and learn how God impacted you through the afternoon show...

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Jeff Veley

Jeff Veley is youth speaker, bullying expert, and social skills educator.

His mission is to equip students with the social and emotional skills that empower them to face adversity, grow in resilience, and solve their own social problems by exercising the Golden Rule.

To date, Jeff's message has reached over one million people.  Jeff and his program have been recognized by the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative of the United Nations and are a recipient of the Golden Rule International Award for effectiveness in teaching conflict resolution.  The United Nations officially recognizes Jeff as a Goodwill Peace Ambassador in over 120 nations of the world.

Community Presentations on Bullying Prevention Now Available in West Michigan

Boys and Girls Club Pic.png

Grand Rapids, MI --- This summer Jeff Veley will be providing special community presentations of his bullying prevention program throughout West Michigan.  Designed for local coalitions, community foundations, business organizations, and ministry luncheons, this program is the perfect way to increase awareness on bullying prevention for those that want to make a difference in their community.  

Attendees will learn the Peace Sign Approach to bullying, recipient of two international awards for effectiveness in conflict resolution.  This approach teaches adults how to empower children effected by bullying in as little as 10 minutes.  In addition, Jeff will share the impact of bullying on our children including it's contribution to suicide, community violence, and how community members can be part of the solution.

Organizations that are interested in hosting Jeff for a community presentation should contact Mandy Geemes at mandy@jeffveley.com.

The cost is $250 and include the live presentation, travel within 30 miles of Grand Rapids, and includes a 30-minute training video and additional resources for all attendees.  Contact us for a travel quote for community presentations outside of West Michigan.


* Community Presentations are designed to give an overview of bullying and the Peace Sign Approach and not suitable for organizations seeking a comprehensive training.  To learn more about Jeff's Professional Development Training, click here.
These Community Presentations are made possible thanks to a partnership with the Campus Peace-Building Initiative.  

Now Accepting Grant Applications

Apply for a Bullying Prevention Grant

We are excited to begin offering grant writing services to schools in need of bullying prevention programming.  Your school can apply for a grant in as little as five minutes by clicking the button below.  Jeff's social and emotional learning program utilizes the "Peace Sign Approach" which uses resilience education and psychological to teach students how to solve their own social problems.  It works beautifully alongside existing initiatives to solve conflict on campus and promote a peaceful and positive educational environment.

How Much Do Schools Spend on Bullying?

It's no surprise that the issue of bullying comes at a cost to school districts.  The evening news is regularly filled with stories which include the testimonies of tearful students, frustrated parents, lawsuits, and student self-harm. Districts attempt to combat this by establishing school policies, implementing anti-bullying programs, and addressing negative behavior.  It's all an effort to decrease incidents and promote a peaceful culture on campus. 

One thing that we don't often talk about is the actual price, per report, that schools pay when an report of bullying is made.  As federal and state requirements increase demands on how districts investigate, document, and respond to bullying, the costs and time spent per incident seems to grow, weighing districts down.

How Much Does Bullying Cost a District?

Typically a student reports bullying by telling their teacher or reporting the problem at the main office.  Other times the report comes from a parent or even an app where students anonymously reports the behavior.  Once this happens the school launches into investigation mode followed by intervention and/or response mode.  This usually involves meeting with two or more students, calling parents, alerting teachers, school counselors, other administrators, and filing a district record of the behavior, which can be accessed later if needed.  All of this uses a vast amount of staff time and resources.

Watch the video below where I reveal how much schools spend, on average, for a single report of bullying.  In addition, I'll share a simple shift in programming that can reduce costs, decrease incidents, and empower students to solve their own social problems.  It's an incredible approach that builds resilience and promotes peace and civility on campus.

    Why Zero-Tolerance Policies Make Bullying Worse

    As I hear from educators and parents about bullying, many of them tell me that schools need to do better by focusing their efforts on "common sense strategies" like Zero Tolerance Policies in their anti-bullying programs which encourage students to report all incidents.  They seem certain that the only way that we can stop the bullies is to "teach them a lesson" by punishing them for their bad behavior.  Surely this will improve the education system, right?

    To date, millions of dollars have been spent on anti-bullying programs that teach students to report each and every bullying incident that they see on their campus to the authorities because their school is a "bully-free zone".  The question is, "Have these programs worked?"  Sadly, the answer is no.  A recent study by the University of Arlington in Texas shows that these anti-bullying programs have actually made the problem worse.

    Unfortunately research and the U.S. Department of Education have shared that one of the worst things that schools can do is establish a Zero Tolerance policy.  It may seem like common sense.  While these policies are all too "common" they simply don't make sense.  


    Zero Tolerance Policies...

    • Create a policy around the lie that adults can maintain a "no-bully" environment. Our schools can become much better but they will never be perfect. We will always have haters because you can't force people to be nice. Aristotle proved that "Government cannot enforce morality".
    • Position principals and teachers as the enforcers, taking a legalistic approach rather than a psychological approach to solving social conflict.
    • Treat acts of bullying as crimes rather than a negative use of freedom of speech.
    • Result in consequences that do not fit the act (i.e. a student suspended from school for simply calling someone an idiot.
    • Create the expectation that it's the job of authority figures to solve student's social problems.
    • Pins parents and school staff against each other as parents hold teachers and administrators responsible for the behavior of other students (which they only have the power to influence, not control). 
    • Causes students to decrease reporting.
    • Drives bullying behavior underground and often online creating new problems with cyberbullying.
    • Punishes those that bully which is proven to increase their feelings of victimization and perpetuate negative behavior. 
    • Fail to equip or empower the victim but rather tries to control the environment around the victim by stopping the "bully".

    Trying to eliminate bullies from our schools and society as a whole is a futile task.  The reality is that our students must learn how to respond to people that are difficult, hateful, and hurtful in order to be successful in life.  While bullying can be very frustrating for students it also presents an opportunity to learn important social skills and build resilience.

    My free video training for parents and educators, school assembly program teaches students proven social skills that empower them to solve their own social problems.  The result is that students grow in the areas of self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence.

    * Information in this article are based on research from the U.S. Department of Education, www.stopbullying.gov, and the University of Arlington.

    Is Sexual Assault Considered Bullying?

    If you have attended any of my presentations or consumed my writings, you likely know that I'm not a fan of the word "bullying".  Today I read a news story that talked about sexual assault (specifically rape), sexual harassment, and bullying as it described the experience of a young boy. It is insane how this word ("bullying") is being thrown around. Most people have no clue what they're talking about.  The media knows that "bullying" is a buzz word and including it in their publications will gain attention.  Even well-intentioned reporters often have little to no education on the definition of bullying.  As a result, their reports incorrectly educate the pubic on the meaning of the word.

    Bullying, put simply, is dominance behavior. Non-criminal behavior that causes subjective harm. It's aimed at hurting someone's feelings. It's further defined as an imbalance of power, where someone gets pleasure inflicting pain, repeated over time.

    Criminal behavior such as stealing, vandalism, destruction of property, and assault cause objective harm.  They harm a person's body or property.  There's no argument of whether or not these acts cause harm.  It's plain and simple, not subjective to what a person thinks, like bullying.

    Sexual assault, to be more specific, is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This is ALWAYS criminal behavior that causes objective harm, as it's aimed at hurting someone's body.

    Calling someone's sexual assault or sexual harassment experience an act of "bullying" is ridiculous and significantly downplays and reduces the criminal act. It is so important that we use the correct language not only in the media but also when talking to our kids.  Parents, educators, and mental health professionals should abandon the word "bullying" and use clearer language to describe behavior.   You can learn more about this topic and how to stop bullying by watching my free video training


    Jeff Veley is a bullying expert and media personality with a decade of working with youth, parents, educators, and mental health professionals.  Jeff's message on bullying has reached over one million people.  He's received the Golden Rule International Award, the World Civility International Award, and is recognized by the United Nations for effectiveness in conflict resolution.  In addition, he's a certified trainer and facilitator of Safe Dates, an evidence-based Adolescent Dating Abuse Prevention Curriculum which covers courses on sexual assault and sexual harassment.  You can learn more about Jeff and his work at www.JeffVeley.com

    Jeff Veley Appointed as World Civility Ambassador in Gary, Indiana

    Gary, Indiana --- Jeff Veley was one of several experts invited to attend World Civility Day, organized by Community Civility Counts,.  Veley shared how to better promote civility and peace within educational institutions by empowering students and improving bullying prevention efforts.

    Throughout the day, attendees had a chance to hear from Gary Chamber Commerce President, Dr. Charles Hughes and Dr. Gordon Bradshaw, Head of the Public Policy Department, who organized World Civility Day in partnership with the NWI Times.  Additional presentations included the Indiana State Police, the National Civility Center, and Lew Bayer of Civility Experts of Canada.  The day closed with an evening gala featuring a special address by World Peace Ambassador and World Civility Spokesperson Dr. Clyde Rivers as well as a keynote speech from Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.

    Jeff Veley meets with Dr. Louise Chickie Wolfe and students who were honored for their community service project and bullying prevention efforts.

    Jeff Veley meets with Dr. Louise Chickie Wolfe and students who were honored for their community service project and bullying prevention efforts.

    "I commend the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the NWI Times for the great work that they are doing to promote civility.  This conversation started in Gary is reaching ears around the world." Veley said,  "Creating dialogue around this topic is key at this time and I'm thankful for the work that these organizations are doing to initiate these conversations."

    Ambassador Veley is the Chief Representative for the Campus Peace-Building Initiative, an initiative focused at promoting peace and harmony in schools through through resilience education for bullying prevention.  He was honored with a World Civility International Award from Ambassador Dr. Clyde Rivers for his efforts in helping schools solve the bullying problem.  

    "It is an honor to receive this award and be commissioned as a World Civility Ambassador.  We can all agree that civility is important but we tend to forget this when we are put down by someone else," says Veley.  Building resilience is one of the best ways that we can keep our emotions in line when we face conflict. It is the first step to seeking a peaceful and civil resolution".

    Jeff Veley is a national speaker, social skills educator, and entertainer specializing in resilience education for bullying prevention.  His mission is to equip students with the social and emotional skills that empower them to face adversity, grow in resilience, and solve their own social problems.  Jeff's message has reached over one million people.  He's received the Golden Rule International Award, the World Civility International Award, recognized by the United Nations for effectiveness in teaching conflict resolution skills.

    The Campus Peace-Building Initiative provides programs and resources for educational institutions, youth development organizations, and individuals that are working to make our schools places of peace and harmony.  The initiative is a non-religious, non-political effort governed by the Golden Rule - the simple yet transformational skill that solves social conflicts, promotes civility, and facilitates peace.  

    Learn more about World Civility Day.

    National Resilience Month

    Unfortunately this month doesn't exist but I wish it did. September is National Suicide Prevention Month but I can't say that I'm a fan. Why?

    The social media posts such as #22Kill, school posters, commercials, and TV ad campaigns often leave us feeling more depressed instead of inspired/encouraged.  Have you ever felt that way?  Where is the hope?  Why do we talk about the problem but don't offer a solution?  We are aware that there is a suicide problem.  We don't need awareness.  We need solutions.

    Renowned therapist, James Lehman, says that "Less than 20% of suicides are caused by depression. The vast majority are caused by a lack of coping skills." In addition, Freakonomics, a group of experts on the issue of suicide say, "We were able to make a direct correlation between suicide stories published in the media and the rate increasing. In other words, every time a story a suicide published, the rate increases."

    So, if sharing tragic stories of suicide causes more suicides, what would make it better? 

    My suggestion is to tell students stories of resilience and teach coping skills... 

    Tell them about the man with no arms and no legs that goes swimming, fishing, and plays golf.
    Meet Nick Vujicic

    Share the story of the boy who opens doors who went from a target of bullying to Prom King.
    Meet "The Doorman"

    Introduce them to the woman called the "Uglilest Girl in the World" and how the experience transformed her life for the better.
    Meet Lizzie Velasquez

    Please SHARE these videos with your student and on your social media.  Lets flip the script and show our kids that they can BE STRONG!

    Raising Resilient Kids & Sharing Hope,
    Jeff Veley
    www.JeffVeley.com

    The Best Mindset to Stop Bullying

    The infograph below is one of the most POWERFUL things that I can share with you when it comes to bullying prevention, intervention, and response.

    When it comes to bullying, there are two mindsets that you can take.  Your effectiveness in helping young people all depends on WHICH mindset you choose. 

    Unfortunately until recently educators have been trained in the Legal Approach.  As you can see, students have suffered because of this.  

    Thankfully the "Social and Emotional Learning" movement has changed this!  Today programs (like mine) train students, parents, and educators in the psychological approach.  This approach empowers students to peacefully respond to mean behavior and teaches them how to solve their own social problems.  

    If we truly want to empower our students, we need to teach them the skills needed to solve social conflict.  When they learn the power of the Golden Rule to change their relationships, it can truly change their life.

    This coming fall I'm traveling the country for teacher in-service training, parent events, and student assembly programs.  Preview the program

    If you would like to add your city to my tour, reply to this email.


    This infograph was created by Golden Rule School, an organization co-founded by Izzy Kalman, NCSP and national social skills educator Brooks Gibbs.  Jeff Veley served as the organizations National Director.  

    Teach Your Teen How to Respond to Cyberbullying

    It’s a fact that 75% of teens are cyberbullied.  Only 1 in 10 tell their parents.

    Since cyberbullying is something that most teens encounter, it’s important that we prepare them to deal with difficult, hurtful, and hateful people online.  

    Here are some tips from youth speaker and bullying expert Jeff Veley on how you can best prepare your child for what they may encounter online.

    1. Ask yourself if it is more/less beneficial for your teen to have a certain social media account. Don't cave because “it's the cool thing to do".  Make sure that your decision is rooted in your child's best interest.

    2. Have a conversation about your expectations online and write a contract together... What's appropriate?  What isn't?  What's an acceptable amount of time online?  Can your child connect with someone they haven't met in person or someone that you don't know?  Writing a social media contract together insures that both you and your teen are clear on expectations. 

    3. Engage in ongoing supervision of these accounts.  Remember that your teen may have accounts that are not visible to you.  They may also add additional accounts/apps on their computer or smart phone over time, so it’s important to check back frequently.  You may find it helpful to use a parental supervision program like “Truth Locker” or “Zabra”  to help you monitor your teens’ online conversations and texts.

    4. Prepare a response to cyberbullying before it happens.  Create some scenarios with your teen and rehearse appropriate responses  with them.  The best way to respond to someone that is being difficult, hurtful, or hateful online is to stay calm and be kind to that person.  The person that is bullying wants your teen to get upset and react like a victim.  If they don’t get upset the bully often loses interest and moves on.  Responding with unkind words or embarrassing the aggressor only fuels their anger and escalates the situation.  Instead of responding with hate, teach your teen to respond in love by staying calm and treating the other person like a friend.  They will quickly see that it takes away the aggressors’ power and makes it more likely that others will step up and tell the bully to stop. 

    5. Use inappropriate posts as conversation starters with your teen about the consequences making poor choices online.  Every post contains a teachable moment.  Most of all, don’t overreact when you see something inappropriate!  Staying calm will help your teen feel more comfortable coming to you in the future.  Cyberbullying is an incredible opportunity for you to teach your teen how to respond to negative people/comments using your family values.  In addition, it presents a unique moment for your teen to practice appropriate social skills and build resiliency.  Help them form their response and coach them through the situation.

    6. While it's best to respond in love (using the Golden Rule) in most situations, there are also times that teens must set a clear boundary and make a report, especially if someone is in danger or being threatened.  Often teens feel guilty if they "unfriend", "block", or "report" someone online because they are afraid of the backlash that could happen when they set a boundary.  Make sure that they understand that it isn't rude to set a boundary with someone that repeatedly mistreats them.  This will help your child know that they have the right to set standards in relationships regarding how they are treated and who they are willing to interact with. 

    The Bullycide Myth... Misleading Teens to Kill Themselves

    Bullying and suicide are two issues that have become all too common for teens living in today's culture. This year alone, 18 million young people will be bullied in America where suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens. With awareness rising, a new term was coined in 2001; "bullycide". "Bullycide" is defined as suicide attributable to the victim having been bullied, either in person or via social media.

    As a bullying prevention specialist, I recently sat down to coach a teen that I'll call Melissa. Melissa shared with me her story of being bullied at school and ended by saying, "If it doesn't stop, I'll have to kill myself!" Her reference to suicide was concerning but what really caught my attention was her use of the words "have to". After all, what would cause a 13-year-old girl to think that she "had to" kill herself? She answered this question by saying, "That's just what kids do when the bullies don't stop."

    As the young girl began to share "bullycide" stories from TV and YouTube, it hit me... Melissa's statement showed me that our verbal engineering of the word "bullycide" had some clear consequences.

    1. Use of the word "bullycide" had created the idea in the minds of teens (and adults) that there was a direct link between bullying and suicide. Bullying was now believed to be a main cause of suicide, although this is untrue.

    2. The media's frequent coverage of "bullycide" stories had caused social-norming. It appeared to teens that committing suicide as a result of being bullied was normal, or at least a common response.

    Although the media often links bullying with suicide, StopBullying.gov reports that "Most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors". While bullied children are identified as being at-risk for suicide, many other contributing factors such as mental health, an unhealthy home environment, and previous trauma should be taken into consideration.

    Furthermore, it's often believed that the root cause of suicide is depression. This certainly seems to make sense, but nationally-known child behavioral therapist James Lehman shares that "Only about 20% of teen suicides are caused by depression. The vast majority are actually caused by a lack of coping skills."

    In talking with Melissa, Mr. Lehman's words really made sense. She described suicide as something a teen might do when they are at their wits end and out of other options. If we truly want to reduce teen suicide, we need to eliminate the term "bullycide" from our vocabulary. Most importantly though, we must equip our young people with healthy coping skills and encourage them to reach out to caring adults.

    If you are a parent or educator, consider bringing a bullying prevention program or youth motivational speaker that teaches coping skills to your community.

    Comment

    Jeff Veley

    Jeff Veley is youth speaker, bullying expert, and social skills educator.

    His mission is to equip students with the social and emotional skills that empower them to face adversity, grow in resilience, and solve their own social problems by exercising the Golden Rule.

    To date, Jeff's message has reached over one million people.  Jeff and his program have been recognized by the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative of the United Nations and are a recipient of the Golden Rule International Award for effectiveness in teaching conflict resolution.  The United Nations officially recognizes Jeff as a Goodwill Peace Ambassador in over 120 nations of the world.

    Dangerous Apps for Teens

    1. KiK Messanger

    Kik is growing in it's popularity with teens.  It allows users to send video and picture messages that cannot be seen by parents.  In addition it is extremely difficult to find the personal identity of a user on Kik, which creates a high sense of security for child predators.  Kik is a preferred app for sexting as it leaves little trail.  Want to know if your child has a Kik account?  You may find a clue by checking their Facebook or Instagram.

    2. SnapChat

    SnapChat seems very "safe" to teens because they think that once a picture (known as a "Snap") is sent, the message "disappears".  Unfortunately Snaps can easily be saved by the reciever (especially by taking a screenshot) and can remain online forever.  SnapChat is known as a common app for sexting as the evidence seems to disappear in a ... snap.

    3. Ask.fm

    Ask.fm allows users all over the world to ask questions on the user's profile and, if they choose, remain anonymous.  The site is known as a platform for crude language, sexually explicit text, and cyberbullying.  In the media, Ask.fm has been widely criticized for it's involvement in a number of teen suicide cases.  

    4. Whisper

    Known as a hub for people to share their confessions, Whisper encourages teens to share secrets.  While users remain anonymous, a GPS feature displays to other users the geographic region that you are posting from.  Online relationships have formed over this app which have led to teens being contacted by adults and sexually assaulted.

    5. Omegle

    Their tagline is "Talk to Strangers" and this happens via text and live webcam video, often containing sexual content and nudity.  Within one click. a user can enter the chatroom.  Once inside they can be exposed to pedophiles who commonly troll the site in search of kids to prey upon.  Many will try to get the underage user to contact them through an app like Kik so that their identity cannot easily be discovered.  Many teens and even younger children use the website regularly.

    6. Tinder

    Tinder, a dating app has quickly grown a reputation for being a "hook-up" or "one night stand" app.  It connects people by suggesting other users nearby.  Each user can then choose whether or not they are interested in the other person by viewing their profile picture and clicking on a green heart or red "X".  The communication is anonymous until both people have shown interest, then both can message each other.  Tinder says that their product is appropriate for "12+ due to Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity; Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor; Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes." This is surely one you will want to block.

    Parental Tools

    You can help keep your kids safe by installing cyber monitoring software on their devices.  Here's one to consider...
    Zabra

    * These tips are brought to you by Jeff Veley.  Neither Jeff Veley nor Where You Going Productions, LLC endorse any website and/or software product referred to in this article.