If you suspect your child is being bullied, Mr. Glenn Sutton reminds parents, “Do not take matters in your own hands, and do not encourage your kids to get the bully back.”
Glenn Sutton enjoys working and performing at one of the last places that he would ever have thought that he would re-enter… a high school.
This anti-bullying extraordinaire still feels the sting of bullying though it was more than three decades ago when it was repeatedly thrust upon him by cruelly behaving kids when he was a young student in Washington, D.C.
“You see, at that time, I was not reading on grade level. In the D.C. public schools, if you weren’t reading on grade level, they would put you in the grade level that you were reading on. Oh, man, those kids picked at me and laughed at me,” says Glenn. He remembered those days with great clarity as if it was yesterday. “I remember them laughing and calling me names like stupid,” he recalls. The other kids, or bystanders, would laugh, and the bully became empowered until his teacher, Mrs. Anderson, came along and put a stop to the laughs and turned young Glenn’s world around to the point that today he can inform as well as entertain thousands across the nation about the dangers and negative ramifications of bullying.
The show called “Lost Dreams” opens with an impromptu group of crowd participants peering into a trash can at the dreams they lost and threw away when bullying entered their lives. Just as impromptu as the opening is, like clockwork, Glenn says, “It never fails. The show closes with kids and adults alike that run up to me talking about how they remember their scars from bullying as if they were yesterday; although, they were so long ago.”
Those that have seen his show and some that have not yet seen it but have been affected by bullying take to social media to vent as well. “I get over 300-400 Facebook posts daily with stories of kids and adults alike that were victims of bullies, and the scars are still there,” says Glenn.
As a presenter at the 2017 Innovative Schools Summit in Las Vegas, Glenn is employed within the Public Schools of Robeson County. He has worked with children for close to 30 years. 17 of those years have been with at-risk populations. A significant amount of the at-risk population is a potential drop-out, or they are returning drop-outs who have been bullied to the point of wishing to be anyplace else but school.
The scars of bullying will forever be in the process of healing, but they may never fully heal. The passionate hurt from those experiences can be heard in Glenn’s voice as he reflects on how it feels to have people laughing at you. “My mom would tell me not to worry about it. She would say, ‘You don’t need them.’ In actuality, I knew what my mom was saying, but you do need friends.”
Although some of his scars from having been bullied are still there, he still remembers when his teacher, Mrs. Anderson, stepped in. “She encouraged me; she lives inside of me. I can still hear her words, ‘You’re going to be on the stage one day, Glenn; you’re going to be something,’ is what she told me. She paved the way, and she was so supportive.”
Adults’ Responsibilities Regarding Bullying
Bullying is everyone’s responsibility. Oftentimes, bullying may be taking place unbeknownst to the most observant of adults. Glenn Sutton admonishes parents, guardians, and all those affiliated with children to be cognizant of their responsibilities to thwart bullying. He encourages adults to, “Have a good relationship with your child. Talk to them daily. Keep lines of communication open.” He also adds, “After asking them about their day, be sure to ask obvious questions like, ‘Is anybody bothering you at that school?’”
Glenn cautions parents to watch for the warning signs of bullying such as your child’s loss of interest in certain activities, unexplained bodily injuries, and/or not wanting to attend school. These are classic signs associated with potential victims of bullies.
On the other hand, parents, guardians, and/or teachers must watch for signs of their child(ren) being potential bullies and/or bystanders.
Glenn reflected on a former female bully who approached him after a show. She said, “Your show was good, but the stuff you said is not gonna last.” He asked her what she meant. She said, “They’ll forget about everything you said today, and they will start bullying again because you can’t be here every day to remind them.”
Heeding this former female bully’s advice, it was then that Glenn decided to keep the anti-bullying message alive by wearing clothing daily with anti-bullying messages. He said, “I’d wear it to work, church, grocery shopping, and just everywhere I went to keep the message of anti-bullying alive.” Having a constant visual message helps burn an impression in the minds of every level in the cycle of bullying: the victim, the bully, and the bystander.
Regarding the bystanders, Glenn explained, “The bystanders are the worst ones. They give the bully energy and fuel by encouraging the bully. The bystanders are the ones who videotape the bullying and put in on social media.”
Steps to Take If Your Child Is Being Bullied
If you suspect your child is involved with bullying, Glenn reminds parents to, “Go to the teacher, followed by the principal. Follow the school’s chain of command first. Do not take matters in your own hands, and do not encourage your kids to get the bully back.”
Per the anti-bullying legislation signed into effect April 20, 2012, school systems are required to have anti-bullying policies in place.
If bullying is occurring outside of the school, it is important that parents, guardians, and/or community leaders keep as much documentation as possible be it text messages, emails, social media posts, phone logs, recorded phone messages, etc. It is just as imperative to notify local law enforcement.
Never dismiss bullying as “boys being boys, girls being girls, and/or kids being kids.” Bullying is not kids play; it is illegal and must be addressed.
An interesting note from Mr. Glenn Sutton is, “I tend to get the most outreach for bookings following a tragedy. I would like to see us be more proactive with getting the anti-bullying message across.”
Written by Johnnerlyn Johnson