The Three-Part Message That Is A Powerful And Effective Antidote For Bullying

Bearing in mind, not all bullying leaves physical scars.

Young black man staring at camera, legs folded under him
Photo by Raphael Nast on Unsplash

There was a lot of bullying in one particular school where I was employed, and it was not all to do with kids.

Some of it emanated from the two tallest women on the staff. At close to six feet tall, they substantially lorded over many of us.

They were also equipped with louder voices than most, the two, a lethal combination.

At one stage it had hit crisis point. Complaints abounded, but as we were about to participate in some intensive staff training, dealing with the said issue was cleverly factored in.

Bullying is intentional

That’s a harsh reality.

When someone repeatedly puts another person down, or uses physical strength against another, that’s bullying.

When someone uses their status, to deliberately blame another person regarding an incident (that they were personally to blame for) that’s bullying.

When someone deliberately excludes another from their group, or shames them within the group, that’s bullying.

Talking behind a person’s back, making snide remarks, mocking, teasing, and telling lies about someone, are all aspects of bullying.

Bullying happens in all sorts of places

The ultimate in bullying happens online these days, sad to say. It’s referred to as cyberbullying. I say ultimate because the perpetrator can hide behind his actions, and spread the effects of his bullying far and wide. The bully’s power knows no bounds, so that the bullying spirals out of control, which is worrying.

Arresting that kind of bullying is hugely difficult, which is frightening, to say the least.

Repairing the damage is also hugely difficult, the pain, even with appropriate therapy, often not quite going away.

In my family, the pain inflicted was unforgivable, the effects so far reaching, that I was ever on the alert. I can tell you, that pain affected all of us.

It also impacted well-cemented friendship groups in incredible ways. Watching the downward spiral of a child is quite distressing.

When you watch your child go from quietly-confident, to the absolute reverse, the way forward is clouded with doubt.

Teacher bullying — it happened

The thing is, whether students know this or not, when a teacher bullies a child, and the students know and understand it but do nothing, they become two things — victims of the bullying, and cowards as a result.

A child simply does not have the power, or the life experience, to tackle such a sensitive situation, so they too are on tenterhooks. They are on the horns of a dilemma.

They can’t befriend the bullied child because they too will suffer.

Even their parents, if they are aware, are afraid to take action, so in protecting their children, they too are being bullied.

Why bullying? What is in it for the bully?

Personal aggrandizement is often the root cause, but not always so.

Sometimes it’s payback for a perceived transgression, through the child.

Often because they are bullied at home. When a child lives in fear, they often play out a different story at school.

Should bullying be considered illegal?

If lives are at risk (and they often are) if suicide is considered (and it often is) if mental pain erases all confidence (and it does) then surely this is a crime.

So bullying is something we don’t always have a way to stamp out.

But what we can do, is embolden the victim.

The Three-Part Message

Incredibly simple in its scope, the 3-part message works in situations where you need to get a message across succinctly, and leave the situation immediately. You , the victim, don’t hang around waiting for a reply…let alone a punch!

It works like this.

  1. First of all the victim must describe the behavior that has disturbed him.

For instance, a child might say to his bully — when you laughed at my football boots because you knew they were not a brand name, you did it deliberately in front of the whole team.

2. Describe how the behavior made you feel.

For instance, the victim might say: I’m one of six children. My mother can’t afford brand name shoes, but you made me feel ashamed of my shoes, and of my mom not being able to afford better ones.

3. Describe the wider implications.

For instance, he might add: So thanks for nothing. Now I’ll go home in a bad mood because you thought it was fun to put me down. My family has to suffer because you are a bully.

At that point, the message has been clearly delivered and the victim walks away. There is no time for the bully to respond, and even if he were to, there is nobody hanging around to listen.

This works. I taught my students how to use it, and I have personally used it effectively.

Worth a try?

“I’m proud of you, son. I guess it has finally sunk in that it’s important to stand up for yourself in this world.”
Rocky shook his head. “
It’s more important to stand up for someone who can’t stand up for herself,”



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Maria Rattray

Maria Rattray

Striving to make the world a better place, especially for our children. My extensive teaching background can help. Just ask at