Portland Christian Schools invited Mr. Coughlin to come to our school on September 20 to meet with our students (grades 6-12) during a morning assembly, PCS teachers after school, and parents and community members in the evening. His presentations explained the pivotal role bystanders play in reducing bullying and explained how parents can help their children avoid being targets.
We invite you to watch this video to get a glimpse into what this event brought to our school.
According to Mr. Coughlin, the most prevalent myth that surrounds bullying is that it is really about conflict, misunderstanding, and the inability for some to manage their anger or impulse control. “That’s not bullying,” he says. “Bullying is really about disdain and contempt for others, which is both the language and behavior of superiority. Most bullies do not possess low self-esteem. They possess average to excessive self-esteem. Many feel great about themselves and are motivated by a sense of entitlement and sometimes narcissistic tendencies.” Statistically, he says, a person identified as a serial bully is five times more likely to commit a felony by his or her mid 20s, and four times more likely to abuse his or her future spouse and children. “Statistically, bullies are tomorrow’s prison population. No one wants this for them, even their targets.”
Bystanders play a pivotal role in reducing bullying. “Authority alone cannot solve this problem given the predatory and secretive nature of bullying. Bystanders must stop being intimidated by bullies and become ‘Alongside Standers’ of targets, and give authority the information it needs in order to bring justice and compassion to targets, who often suffer in great silence and torment. Many adults look back on their high school years with regret that they didn’t help targets. They often feel great shame for their lack of courage. “Parents can help their children avoid this deep regret, and The Protectors will show them how.”
Parents must teach their children to exercise courage and do the right thing even when afraid, he says. “Otherwise this problem won’t change since most bullying is done in front of peers but not in front of authority.” And when students learn how to exercise courage, they grow their capacity for this foundational virtue, giving them more character and leadership capacity later in life. “Many believe that courage is the virtue that underpins all other virtues. So the sooner we learn how to flex it, the better our lives become.”
Paul Coughlin is the Founder & President of The Protectors, an international, freedom-from-bullying organization that partners with both faith-based and values-based groups to combat what is now the #1 form of child abuse in the nation, and the #1 concern of both parents and students. His freedom-from-bullying program is used by hundreds of faith-based organizations throughout North America as well as in England, Australia, Uganda, New Zealand, Brazil, Tanzania, and South Africa, among other nations.
The Protectors partners with churches across the country, including Saddleback Church’s Justice & Trafficking Initiative in creating the first-ever Justice Begins on the Playground conference, which helps both faith-based and values-based organizations diminish bullying throughout their community.
He writes for FoxNews Headquarters about bullying, and is an expert witness regarding bullying and the law. He also helps professional athletes and teams, such as the Baltimore Ravens, combat the effects of bullying.
He is a former newspaper editor and is the author of numerous books, including Raising Bully-Proof Kids and No More Christian Nice Guy. He is also a men’s conference speaker who has appeared on Good Morning America, Nightline, 700 Club, Focus on the Family, C-SPAN, TheLA Times, FamilyLife Radio, HomeWord with Jim Burns, The New York Times, Newsweek and other media outlets.
He is a former boys varsity soccer coach, where he was voted Coach of the Year twice, and also served on the board of directors of a private school. He and his wife Sandy have three children and live in central Oregon.