Bullies are not a new problem. Most parents can relate to their kids as they confront those who are making them feel small and tearing away at their confidence. Bullies are people who exhibit "unwanted aggressive behavior; observed or perceived power imbalance; and repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Education.
Parents catch wind of a bully from their kids and have flashbacks to getting their head stuck in a toilet by the captain of the football team or the mean girls shunning them from the cool table at lunch. On rarer occasions, the parents were the ones doing the bullying and now they feel badly about their behavior (or at least they should).
Rather than stewing in the past, parents turn their attention to the problems their children are facing in the present. What they quickly learn is that bullying has become more of a problem because some kids can not escape the aggression at home. Cyberbullying and text bullying has these aggressive behaviors seeping into home life beyond the playground and school hallways.
Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school, and many fewer have been cyberbullied, according to Stopbullying.gov. Research on the complex issue of bullying and social media have put the spotlight on this aggressive behavior, but studies show it might actually be declining.
Yet, some high profile cases of bullying, in which victims committed suicide, have put the issue front and center. No matter what the data shows, when parents hear about their own child getting abused, they could care less about overarching statistics.
That's when the issue becomes personal, and most parents want to take action to stop it. Some of them get creative. The following are instances of parents who hilariously used ingenuity to stop a bully:
15 Throwing The Bully In Jail (Sort Of)
Someone on Reddit, oneeyeddachshund, shares the story of a friend's son, who had long been accused of bullying, including an incident in which he may have broken another child's arm.
For a long time, writes oneeyed, his parents made excuses and did not want to believe the truth. But when they saw him verbally and physically abusing a cousin, they decided to take action. First, they apologized to all the previous accusers. Then, they cleared his bedroom of everything except the bed and dresser.
The writer of the post describes it as being "almost like a jail cell" for a year. His behavior improved, but oneeyed wasn't sure it would last. The point of this kind of punishment is to show that bad behavior doesn't get rewarded and that you have to sacrifice when you hurt others.
Some Reddit members suggested that the bully needed therapy and that this would only work if parents backed up these actions with communication about why they punished him.
14 Go Viral
Single mom Terry Evans shamed her 12-year-old son after he stomped on a girl's feet and broke her new shoes, according to the Sun (and many other publications in the United Kingdom).
She posted a message on Facebook, which included the following: "I’ll tell you something Jacob if you so much as breath in her or anyone’s direction in a bullying manner I will personally hand you over to their parents for every demeaning chore they see fit for as long as they do…kiss goodbye to your birthday money as you will be buying the girl a new pair of shoes and a bunch of flowers! #iwillnothaveabullyinmyhouse"
The post is amazing because the mom of the bully is the one standing up to him. Far too often nowadays, the bully's parents aid and abet. This method sends the message that there are consequences for bad behavior and that grown ups can not and should not ignore bullying.
13 Dad In A Dress
Nils Pickert, a father in Germany, wore dresses to show support for his then 5-year-old son, who regularly sported skirts and nail polish. After a German publication shared his story, it began making the rounds on social media. The Huffington Post published a story in which it explained that this dad felt the people in their small town were judging his son, and he wanted to show solidarity and make his boy feel better about himself.
In this case, dad was being proactive as soon as the whispers of disapproval and shaming began. He wanted his child to know he loved him no matter what. More importantly, he wanted him to recognize that he wasn't alone in the world.
He has someone on whom he can count. And it tells the other kids at school - not to mention their parents and teachers, who may be judgmental, too - that there is someone in this child's corner. So, back off.
12 Caught On Tape
A mom, who calls herself Tired2222, sought advice on Reddit when she found tapes her son had been making of bullies harassing a disabled boy in their school. When her son explained that he filmed the incidents in the hopes that he could bring the evidence to the authorities, mom wondered what she should do.
In the end, she supported him and expressed pride. The three bullies, who had knocked down the student and pelted him with rocks, were expelled from school. In late summer 2016, Tired2222's son was bringing the tapes to the police, too, she wrote. In this case, a peer took on the bullies, and mom, fearing retribution for her son, took to the Internet to see what steps she should take.
Ultimately, she stepped aside and then just supported her son's decision to go to the authorities. But she was smart to use social media to seek counsel, worry about the reaction of the clearly violent bullies, and finally decide to embrace the morals and decisive action of her son.
11 A Legal Threat
Many parents have threatened legal action in letters to school administrators or the bully's parents. In fact, many schools tell parents that putting their complaints in writing is the impetus for them to take action. Most parents think they have to make a full-throttled threat that they are willing to make good on.
But, alas, it isn't so. Moms and dads can just make the threat, and the school at least will usually respond.
"My son is small for his age, and was a victim of a kid who was transferred from another school (for aggressive behavior I later was told by the school) by repeated tripping, laughing at and made to flinch, then vulgarities shouted at him," said a dad in California, according to GreatSchools.org.
"Two of my son's friends were victims, too. Once my son told me, I wrote a letter and signed it, placed it in an envelope, and told my son to give this to his teacher at the start of the day." The father got a response and the problem was addressed shortly thereafter.
10 Taking To The Media
Some people skip over the school and teachers or even other authorities. Maybe it's because previous efforts have been fruitless. Or maybe they just want to help others understand what bullying is like, what their kid is going through.
There are a number of blogs and essays by parents of the bullied. One, "An open letter to the kids bullying my daughter," written by Shandley McMurray and published on Todaysparent.com stands out for its detail about the emotional turmoil brought on by bullying.
Mom asks the bullies why they can't see the good in her daughter. She points out that her daughter considers them friends and would help them in their hours of need despite the grief and disappointment they have imparted on her.
She also implores the bullies to put themselves in her daughter's shoes and describes what it would be like.
Finally, she asks them to reconsider their relationship. "I wish you would open your heart to her even for your own sake—to let yourself enjoy the fun that can come from being silly and joyful along with her," writes McMurray. "Maybe then you’ll be able to appreciate—even like—the awesome little girl who’s been standing in front of you all along. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll ask her to join your group for a game of tag. I’m certain you’ll be happy you did."
9 Make Them March
Advertising children's bad behavior online isn't the only way to shame them. Some parents have had their kids take to the streets wearing signs telling the world of their bad deeds. In 2013, the Huffington Post reported on Tarvon Young, then a fifth grader, who spent 90 minutes each morning outside his school wearing a sandwich board that read, "I was sent to school to get an education. Not to be a bully... I was not raised this way!"
Many fellow parents have applauded these efforts and believe humiliation works. Parenting experts, on the other hand, disagree wholeheartedly.
"'Doing to' strategies — as opposed to those that might be described as 'working with' — can never achieve any result beyond temporary compliance, and it does so at a disturbing cost," warns Alfie Kohn, author of Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (Atria Books, 2006) in the Huffington Post article.
8 Sending In Big Brother
Some parents find it is better to hang back and let other family members step in. More than 20 years ago in northern New Jersey, when a classmate was stuffing dandelions up a young boy's nose, his mother sent in his cousin, who was in high school at the time and was like a big brother.
The cousin showed up at lunch time, when the bullying usually occurred, and just chatted with the young boy being bullied every day for a week. He sent the message that an older, bigger person cared about this boy and would protect him if necessary. That was all it took for the bully to back off. In fact, the bullied and the bully eventually became friends.
In another instance, little brother saved the day. In Long Island, in the early 2000s, a young boy was demanding another child's milk money everyday. After coming home and griping about the situation, the parents pondered what to do.
They didn't even have a chance to react because the next day on the bus, the little brother of the boy being bullied jumped up and shouted, "No more pennies from Alex," and pushed the bully to the floor of the bus. He never bothered the brothers again. Sometimes letting other kids take action is most effective, and the bonus is that it sometimes produces the best outcome.
7 Busting The Bully Teacher
What happens when mom, known as A_Haert on Reddit, asks for help from the teacher and she shirks her responsibility? Or becomes the bully herself?
When a kindergartner was misbehaving at school and being mean to his classmates, the teacher regularly complained to mom, who was failing to inform the teacher about the student's post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis, a result of having suffered through four hurricanes before moving to this new district in a different state, according to the Reddit discussion.
The teacher seemed to dislike this boy, mom writes. Finally, mom wrote a multi-page letter expressing her concern and heartache about her son's behavior. She poured out her heart and shared the diagnosis and asked for a helping hand because she wanted her boy to fit in and do better academically.
The teacher never responded to the letter but did tell mom she could no longer bring her son to school for the breakfast club and that he would have to arrive five minutes before the bell, which made mom's life more inconvenient because he could no longer carpool with neighbors and their car had been totaled in a wreck that injured her husband.
The letter somehow made its way to a counselor, who reached out to mom and welcomed the boy to the school with open arms. He helped mom learn new methods for helping her son, got him on track academically, and punished the teacher for telling the boy he couldn't come during normal school hours. Apparently, that was against the law.
What's hilarious about this case is that the teacher, who ended up being the biggest bully here, got in trouble for shunning the child.
6 Baby Proofing Bullies
Parents and teachers alike are learning that babies can teach lessons on feelings and caring that can curb and preempt bullying. So, they are bringing them into the classroom, thanks to a program out of Toronto, Canada known as Roots of Empathy, according to The New York Times.
Any program that can get too-cool-for-that tweens to sing nursery rhymes and coo at a baby is worthy of this list. The program works by periodically bringing a small baby into a classroom with a parent (usually mom) and giving students the chance to try and understand his or her emotions.
"I have visited several public schools in low-income neighborhoods in Toronto to observe Roots of Empathy’s work. What I find most fascinating is how the baby actually changes the children’s behavior. Teachers have confirmed my impressions: tough kids smile, disruptive kids focus, shy kids open up," writes David Bornstein in The New York Times.
Guess, babies can do more than eat, poop, and sleep!
5 Condoning Violence
This is humorous for being wrong, absolutely wrong and yet working anyway. Nowadays, most--if not all schools, have a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of violence, even if one is defending himself. Still, some parents advise their children to fight back when bullied.
On Reddit, someone who goes by the user name FrankMcDank, recounted the advice his father gave him when he was getting physically and verbally tormented on the bus back in third grade.
"I told my dad what was going on, and he said 'Well, if you can't get him to stop and the driver isn't helping, just fight back.'" And so FrankMcDank punched the kid in the stomach, and never got picked on again, according to his post.
It is unclear how long ago this happened, but physical assault in a school bus or on campus can get kids in lots of trouble with educators and authorities, such as the police. So, it's probably not the best approach.
4 Mom Channeling Inner P.I.
One mom, Phyllis, reported overhearing kids discussing burning her 8-year-old son with cigarettes, according to comments on a New York Times story. So, she picked up a camera with no film in it (this was a long time ago) and showed up at the bus stop snapping pictures of the kids in question.
The parents of those kids showed up on her lawn demanding to know why she was photographing them. She never told the parents there was no actual film. Instead, she explained that she was going to have her son identify the boys, who had been bullying him. The parents left and no one bothered her son at that bus stop again, she wrote.
While this was an empty threat, no one can argue with its effectiveness. Sometimes, just letting the kids - and their parents - believe someone has practically caught them in the act is enough to put an end to it.
3 Making Kids The Anti-Bully
Dee, another mother who commented on The New York Times story, explained that her kids were never bullied. But she always taught them about the damage bullies do and how to resist the temptation to be a bystander.
Her son, a high school junior, she explains, stepped in front of another kid getting bullied, which gave the victim a chance to get away. When the bully asked why he was helping this other student, who he called a loser, Dee's son said the only loser was the bully. They stared each other down, and the bully reluctantly apologized.
This is funny because a popular kid - often stereotyped as being one of the bullies - took a stand and defended a survivor of this aggressive behavior. Kudos to mom for teaching her kids about bullying even if this was not a challenge directly facing her children.
2 Sending The Bully To Take A Few Laps
A parent, who was a volunteer football coach for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, told the team that he would never tolerate bullying. One of the kids continued to torment a younger member of the team. So, he made the bully run a few laps. He told the child he was proud of him for taking the punishment without complaining and following through and hoped that would be the end of the bullying.
Instead, the coach got dismissed after the bully's parents complained, according to the Washington Post. Of course, this parent volunteer pulled his own sons off the team, which would have been enough to get on this list. Dad gets the last laugh, right? But at least one other mom pulled her son off the team in defense of the coach and in a stance against bullies.
Now, thousands of people are weighing in with comments on the article page, and most are siding with the volunteer coach.
1 Dance Off To Stop Bullies
Angelique Martinez, mother of 15-year-old Victoria Gonzalez, came up with a creative solution to the taunts that led to her daughter to attempt suicide twice, according to the Orlando Sentinel. She opened a nonprofit, Dance Out Bullying, that has kids kicking up their feet to stomp out aggressive physical and verbal behavior.
Participants include children, teens, college students, and adults, and they perform ballroom, ballet, hip-hop, jazz, line-dance and contemporary dance. Martinez, who is a professional dancer at Walt Disney World, organized a performance in which different troupes performed dances that told stories of rising up when confronted by a bully.
One dance decried violence in the black community and another told the story of a girl who was bullied in cyberspace. The children in the audience interacted with the dancers afterward and talked about ways to deal with a bully.
Kylie McClusky, 9, a fourth-grader said, according to the article, she learned it's important to "stop bullying other people and be nice to people and don't worry about what other people say."