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Batman, Robin and Strength in Numbers Against Bullying

Stop Bullying by Being StrongI just got back home from home – and it reminded me of an invaluable tool that I used to overcome the bullies in my life. It is such a powerful tool that I said to myself, "Self, you have an obligation to share this with everyone who is struggling, feeling alone when dealing with bullying and life."

Home for me now is Southern California, where I have been since 1988, when Uncle Sam shipped me out here while serving in the U.S. Marines. My hometown is Boynton Beach, Florida, a used-to-be-sleepy town of about 26,000 back in the 1970's, about twenty minutes south of Palm Beach.

I went back home because Michael Kane – one of the finest (and toughest) men I know – had his son Paulie graduating high school and there was no way I could miss it.

I couldn't miss it for many reasons. One is I was the fun uncle for Paulie who taught him how to dunk his toy basketball when he was three years old. I was the fun Uncle who would come into town once or twice a year, rent a convertible, stick him in the back with the top down and drive him around town like he was royalty. We would be on the road and I would be waving at girls in other cars to get their attention; when we would get to a stoplight, I would get them to introduce themselves to Paulie and try to get him to talk.

I was the uncle that Paulie would ask to go to Target – for what I thought was no apparent reason – and then end up in the toy section, Paulie with armful of Hot Wheels and that look on his face as he tried to stammer out, "Uncle Bill, will you buy me these Hot Wheels?" 

I was also the only uncle that ever got Paulie to eat vegetables, or any other food he didn't like. Once, when he came out for a summer to stay with my wife and I, we even made him try some sushi. He gagged, but didn't barf all over the sushi counter, so we considered it a successful trip. Paulie has grown into a fine young man; tall, dark, handsome and quiet (where he got the quiet part from is still a mystery.)

That wasn't the main reason I went back.

The main reason I went back is because Mike – along with his older brother Thomas, another friend named Tom and several others – literally saved and changed the direction of my life.

I say this because Mike and Thomas have been friends since sixth grade, when I was ten years old; the rest of the gang since freshmen year in high school. Like many, I had my share of traumatic events happen as I was growing up – some on the very traumatic scale, others run-of-the-mill. Broken hearts from first loves, family fights or divorces, car accidents, someone stealing the person we wanted to date, being bullied and so on – we were always there for each other. Through it all, one of the things that helped me survive was my group of close friends.

The day I finally stood up to the bully in high school was terrifying. I did what I had to do – then ran – and thought for sure that I was either going to get suspended for what I had done, or the bully was going to catch me and whup my butt. Turns out, neither happened.

When I ran, I ran to where my close group of friends where hanging out. I knew I would be safe with them. Once I made it to them and told them what was happening, they circled the wagons, told me not to worry and that we would all handle it together. While the bully didn't show up and never bothered me again, I got as much comfort from knowing there was someone who had my back as I did from standing up for myself. This brings me to a girl named Angela and the idea of Strength in Numbers when it comes to bullying.

Angela – who reached out to me via e-mail – is a young girl who is having problems being bullied by kids in her school. She has told her parents, who said to laugh it off. She has told her teachers, who do what they can during classes but can't help before or after classes. Like many kids, she feels as if she is powerless and has nowhere to turn. In her last e-mail to me, she said that there are a group of kids who are getting picked on and they are starting to bang together to support each other. She even said that during one incident of bullying, she was the one yelling at the bully to give her friend some peace.

There is strength in numbers. Angela and her friends are dead-on with the idea of banding together to help each other. While banding together and hanging out happens all the time in social groups – clubs at school, sporting activities and so on – the true power of being in a group is not only when the group is together for their main purpose (like playing hockey, for example), but having someone to turn to that you trust and have a common bond when you need support.

That was Mike, Thomas and Tom for me. It was other members of high school band. As I grew up, it was my fellow Marines, martial artists and mentors. Now, it is a collection of all of these people, including "The Rock" – my lovely wife.

This support system is critical for my ongoing success and maturation process. It is my safety net in the dark times and my cheering section in the good times. Every single one of us needs, at a primal level, a support system.

If you are an adult struggling with bullies in your life – a bully boss, relationship, addiction, money problems, health, etc… – or the parent of a child being bullied, check out your support systems. Make sure you use them.

While you are the answer to standing up to the bullies in your life and taking back your power, it doesn't mean you have to do it alone.

Stay strong,


P.S. –  How I stood up to one of the bullies in my life is covered in the book, "Bullies Suck". One of the most important chapters is, "Birds of a Feather Get Shot Together"; it's about who you spend your time with and how it helps or hurts you. That chapter alone could make a huge difference for someone dealing with bullying. You can get the book by CLICKING HERE…

P.P.S. – Congratulations to Paulie and to Mike. I love you both and am very proud of you…




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