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The Truth About Bullying

Joe Van Deuren

Joe Van Deuren

First I have to say that I, like many of you, probably do not like the use of the words BULLY or VICTIM.   I prefer the terms – Aggressor and Target.  There are a number of reasons, not the least of which is, that it is very easy for a child or even an adult to be labeled and have it stick for a very long time, and even learn to be that person.

The other part of the whole bullying discussion that always gets to me is that the word has been used so many times that it has lost some of its impact – in fact it is misused and applied to situations that should either be labeled ‘bad behavior’ or ‘assault’.    I have seen both.

There are times when parents are over reacting due to the emotional connection with their child, which is understandable.  There are others times that I have seen a parent or teacher believe that the situation should just be overlooked and the target just needs to “toughen up”.

The definition of bullying revolves around 3 basic rules:

  1. The acts must be deliberate with the intention to hurt someone
  2. Acts of aggression must be repeated targeting the same person over and over again
  3. There is a imbalance of power between the parties involved

These are fairly common, well accepted rules that most school systems and the public have agreed upon as the definition for bullying.  When the act or acts do not meet all 3 of these rules, it is likely that bullying may not be the correct word for the situation, even though the acts of aggression are still rather uncomfortable or even dangerous for those targeted.

parenting-talking-to-childThis does not mean that aggression should be ignored when the acts do not meet the rules listed.  Any behavior that is aggressive either in a physical, emotional or social manner needs to be addressed.  Addressing those behaviors help us to create a culture in the society that says, “this kind of behavior will not be tolerated by the social group.”

How we address the ‘culture we are trying to build’, either in a proactive or reactive manner, says a lot about the our own beliefs of what is important to us as parents and teachers.  One of my goals is to help our community become aware of and build a culture of kindness, peace and compassion in our families, schools and communities.

On September 27 at 10 AM I will be addressing the issue of bullying in a class titled, The Truth About Bullying.  This one hour class for parents will discuss the definition and effects of bullying on children, and why children wait so long to tell authorities including their parents along with the six skills every child needs in our efforts to build a culture of kindness in our schools and community.  These skills are meant to help a child from becoming the target of bullying and to help those inclined to be aggressive.

This link below will give further details on this class as well as the follow up classes aimed at helping every parent.

The Truth About Bullying


Three Arts… One Dojo

The mission of Balanced Life Skills is to cultivate awareness, compassion and respect in all of our students.  We do this by helping them be aware of the negative messages that they hear and then be compassionate with themselves by replacing them with positive messages.  Replacing the negative thoughts we have with positive ones will help them to be willing to put forth greater effort in studying for school, trying new things, even standing up for themselves.  When this happens they can respect themselves.

never-good-enoughDid you ever have these challenges as a young person?  Most of us have.  In fact most adults still struggle with the negative movies running in their heads.  I certainly have had the struggle with messages that I still remember from a very young age, that I was not “smart enough”.  In fact I still hear the words in my ears of being called “stupid”.

As I looked for a solution I first realized that the number one fear of all people is the fear of not being “enough”.  Enough of many different things – mine was not smart enough.  What I learned through practice is that the practice of the martial arts was very helpful in growing my confidence.  After training in the martial arts I soon realized that this could be a great tool in building confidence in students.  But not all students are open to the physical approach, they prefer to do something in the visual arts or performing arts.

That is why our – Three Arts…One Dojo – approach is so effective for students of all ages.  The first thing you can do is come and try a class with Balanced Life Skills.  Try it for free, stick with it for a while and you will see the results for yourself.



Balanced Life Skills enjoyed their first week of martial, visual, and performing arts this past week. SSUMMER THEATER (2)tudents learned focus and respect and collaborated creatively in order to depict the fairies from William Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Although they may have been depicting confusion and conflict among the fairy kingdom, these students worked together in order to create a beautiful set and make interesting staging and character choices to tell this story.

The older students, playing Titania and Oberon displayed strong leadership skills by helping the younger students and overcome stage fright. Everyone cheered on their fellow actors and reached deep within themselves in order to tap into the creative energy required for this kind of production.

Peaseblossom demonstrated an impressive amount of innovation by leading the charge to write an original story about deforestation so that the animal (and fairy) kingdom will always have a home!

Registration is open for Theater Classes!
FALL SESSION 9/2 -11/15
Strong Performers (Ages 5+) T/TH 5pm -7pm
Ensemble Workshop (Ages 9 – 18) M/W 5:30-7pm


BLS Theater Sees The Light!

That is right… The Performing Arts Department has lighting equipment and we are not afraid to use it! It is a very exciting time! We purchased four Par 56 lighting instruments, 1 Dimmer, Two stands, a control board, and a whole bunch of gels. Here is a little information about lighting design…

Untitled design (2)

CONTROL BOARD: The control board controls the dimmers. You will adjust the control board in order to vary the intensity of the lights.

INSTRUMENTS: (A.K.A Fixture, Luminaire, or Unit) These are the actual lights; the lamp/bulb and the metal around it. We are using Par 56 Instruments. Par 56 instruments provide a wide range of lights and are great instruments for learning the basics of lighting design.

DIMMERS: Each instrument is plugged into a dimmer or dimmer rack. The dimmer rack varies the brightness of the light. The same way that a dimmer in your home does, except the voltage here is a little bit different.

GELS: Give the light color

GOBOS: Give the light shape; think of it as a stencil for the light.

HANGING LIGHTS: This is an activity for which the tech crew is responsible, prior to the actors coming in for tech week. Lights are hung at specific angles to give the light direction. It sets the overall tone for each scene. Then, when the actors come in during Tech Week, the direction may be adjusted slightly based on the height and position of actors.

Contact Ms. Ellen if you would like to learn more about Lighting Design!


“Creating original work to improve ourselves and the world around us.”


Balanced Life Skills is rolling out an exciting new theater program that will give students the opportunity to change the world. This program will teach students valuable life skills such as diction, movement, research and public speaking while harnessing their imaginations in order to tell compelling stories. They will also be exploring issues that are important to them and taking ownership of all aspects of production for  piece that will engage the community and inspire people to become a part of the solution. Here is a look at what we have planned for the coming year. If you have questions about any of these programs, please contact

Summer 2014

  • Summer Campers will explore the world of Shakespeare, Comedia Dell’Arte, and Kabuki
  • Students will explore Deforestation, Equality and War and make a presentation on these important issues at the end of each week
  • Kick It! girls perform at First Sunday Arts Festival
  • Click here to register for our summer camp!

Fall 2014

  • First 10 Week Theater Sessions begin
  • Participation in the Annapolis Fringe Festival
  • One – Two Day workshops offered that will include Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Fall Showcase for Performing Arts, Visual Arts, and Performing Arts
  • Click here to visit the performing arts page and learn more about our program offerings

Stay tuned to find out how else our students will change the world!