How To Help Kids Overcome The Emotional Impact Of Bullying With Bradley Davis

How To Help Kids Overcome The Emotional Impact Of Bullying With Bradley Davis

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Bullying is an issue that affects many pupils. But once the immediate issue of bullying has been dealt with, how do you help victims overcome the emotional impact of what has happened to them?

Bradley Davis, who is dedicated to supporting pupils with emotional and mental health issues, talks about his own experiences of bullying as a student - and shares practical strategies for helping (and healing) pupils who have experienced bullying in school.

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Show notes / transcription

Bradley Davis  0:00  

We always look for answers and explanations for everything going on in our lives to the best of our ability. And when we don't have a concrete reason why the easiest thing to do is point blame at yourself because you're part of it. And you know you are so I think that's exactly what I did in that situation.

Simon Currigan  0:17  

Hi there. My name is Simon Currigan. And welcome to Episode 40 of school behaviour secrets out of the two potential boyfriends you've introduced to your mum, we'd be the one she doesn't want you to date. I'm here as ever with my co host, Emma Shackleton. Hi, Emma. 

Emma Shackleton  1:12  

Hi, Simon. 

Emma I've got a question for you. Who do you go to if you've got a problem or need to talk something over?

I guess it really depends what the issue is, I'm lucky to have a good network of people around me. So I will choose who to talk to depending on the problem that needed solving. Sometimes I've even talked to a couple of different people to get their perspectives on things as well, especially if there's a decision to be made. My husband is really grounded. And he's also editing this podcast. So I feel like I do have to mention him.

Simon Currigan  1:44  

Having that network of people around you who you trust to support you and not judge you is really important. And it's actually a protective factor for all sorts of problems in life. But sometimes children, especially teenagers have a problem and they don't feel like they can go to adults for help. And then they just sink.

Emma Shackleton  2:04  

And that's the subject of today's interview?

Simon Currigan  2:06  

Yeah, in today's interview, I talked to Bradley Davis, who works supporting children with mental health and issues around emotional well being. He experienced severe bullying as a young teenager, but didn't feel like he could go to the adults to get the support he needed, which is very common. Today we talk about his experiences and what he's learned from them, and how he's using that knowledge to support children who are experiencing bullying and emotional challenges in schools today. There are some great insights in this interview about how we, as adults in school can make ourselves approachable. So kids will be able to come to us and trust us when they really need us. And the sorts of things we need to tell them, so they don't feel responsible when they become victims of bullying.

Emma Shackleton  2:52  

This is a really important issue. But before we start that interview, I've got a quick request to make. Please could you forward this episode of the podcast to three colleagues or friends who you think would benefit to help share this information to make lives better in their classrooms and their schools. All you need to do is tap the share button in your podcast app. It's like sharing a post on Facebook. It's super easy, and it only takes 10 seconds. And now here's Simon's interview with Bradley Davis.

Simon Currigan  3:23  

I'd like to welcome our guest today Bradley Davis to the show. Bradley is a 28 year old entrepreneur, a mental health advocate who experienced a range of traumatic experiences in his early life. He's now dedicated to using his life experience and love for helping kids to normalise conversations about mental health and mental illness throughout our everyday lives while also trying to help those struggling with these issues not feel so alone. He's also the host of his own podcast called a grown man's diary, where he shares his personal experiences as well as interviews with other everyday people on their experiences, managing their own mental health issues. And he's also the founder and CEO of the BKYND company that aims to help children manage their emotions and be successful in schools. Bradley, welcome to the show. 

Bradley Davis  4:11  

Hi, Simon, thank you so much for having me. Appreciate it. 

Simon Currigan  4:13  

Bradley, Can you start by telling us about your early experiences in middle school that's going to form the focus of this interview?

Bradley Davis  4:20  

Yeah, absolutely. So though it was a little while ago, when I was in middle school, like you said, I was very badly bullied physically, primarily in seventh grade. I was beat up every day for months on end. I was thrown into lockers, I was punched, kicked, thrown downstairs. It was pretty brutal. And so of course, that was the physical aspect of it. But along with any physical torment or bullying comes the emotional toll as well. So it really, you know, middle school is a very fragile time to begin with. And it really led to me questioning my worth and really started my battle with mental health and depression and anxiety.

Simon Currigan  4:58  

How did this affect The way you felt about going to school?

Bradley Davis  5:02  

I would say, to sum it up, it was terrifying. I knew pretty much after experiencing this type of torment and physical assault every day, I started to know what to expect. And just like anybody would you want to avoid those types of situations, so I was scared to go to school. And in so doing to avoid having to go, you know, I would act out I would be a disturbing force in the classroom, I would fight with my parents every morning, I was just very, some would call it rebellious, if you don't know kind of what's going on just kind of looking at my behaviour. But it really was a self preservation in a way of trying to do anything in my power to avoid being sent to school, it sucked. It really did, it was scary

Simon Currigan  5:44  

To the adults in the classroom who didn't dig down is this problem to them, it might have looked like you were the problem, rather than what was going on in the background.

Bradley Davis  5:52  

Absolutely. And again, I think that speaks to what I just mentioned about like the rebellious, you know, outsider looking in kind of thing. That's one thing that I think a lot of kids struggle with, is actually talking to adults about what's going on kind of behind the scenes behind the curtain in the children only area because for the longest time, nobody knew what was going on, I figured I would just you know, put my head down. And this too shall pass kind of thing. And never really did until again, I was in seventh grade. And there was an eighth grader that was the older brother, a friend of mine who kind of stepped up and the big, strong eighth grader, he put it into it, eventually, by being physical himself to my bully, which I appreciate at the time. You know, it's never great to meet violence with violence. But in this particular situation, that's what it took to bring an end to everything. But yeah, it was hard to talk about. And for the longest time, I didn't tell any adults, it wasn't anything that anybody could actually respond to.

Simon Currigan  6:46  

This is a situation that many kids find themselves in, especially as you reach early teenage years, you're looking at more independence, you become much more sensitive to the way you perceived by other people. So what held you back from talking to the adults rather than getting support from the other kids?

Bradley Davis  7:02  

So you're absolutely spot on in terms of you know, the older you get within reason that the more you care about others point of view, especially your peers, and for me, I was worried that by me going to an adult going to a teacher in this specific example, it was going to make matters worse, because you know, once you go to the adult, they then go and find the accused kid, and that kid now knows you tattled on them, and they could make things worse for you potentially. And that's really what it comes down to is the fear and the risk of making things worse, when usually, you know, going to an authority figure for help, should make things better. It doesn't always end up that way. A lot of the times it does. Again, this is back in the early 2000s. We're now in a world where I think things are getting much better in terms of bullying, it's much more of a conversation, which is fantastic. But at the time, you know, guys were told to toughen up. And it was definitely a much less supportive environment in terms of bullying and combating bullying from the victim standpoint,

Simon Currigan  7:59  

Did you later ever confide in any of the adults either your parents or teachers at school?

Bradley Davis  8:04  

I brought it up eventually with one of the counsellors in school because I got to a point of basically just breaking I just couldn't handle the pressure of going to school every day knowing what was coming my way, walking down the hallways and being scared of you know, taking a right hand turn and the person being right in front of me kind of thing. I was walking on eggshells all day every day. And and enough was enough. So yeah, I basically broke down, I got very depressed. I was in seventh grade. And I was thinking about suicide because I was like, there's no way out of this to the point where the counsellors were actually very concerned for my well being and over a few sessions after the counsellor gained my trust, because again, it took a while to confide in an adult, I revealed what was going on. And things definitely turned around, as you'd expect. But yeah, it took a while because I just had a very difficult time finding the confidence and the strength to go to somebody for help,

Simon Currigan  8:54  

What sort of things did the counsellor do to build your trust to help you get over this barrier?

Bradley Davis  8:59  

I think to the best of my knowledge, and throughout my experience of talking to professional counsellors and therapists in my adult life, and since is just taking the time and not necessarily poking and prodding at the information that they're necessarily trying to get out of right away. But really just forming a relationship with the child, you know, getting to know them all the ins and outs of the background, their family, what they like to do and so forth. And over time, what happens is, you know, that trust, excuse me, is just naturally created. And that creates space for the individual, the child in this case to start slowly opening up at their own pace, you can't force them, you can't rush them. You really have to be hand holding and patient and letting the kid kind of come to you, within reason.

Simon Currigan  9:49  

Just like to take a pause for a moment and say that if you're finding this podcast useful, then you're going to love what we've got waiting for you in that inner circle programme. The inner circle is your one stop shop for all things behaviour. It's a comprehensive platform filled with videos resources from behaviour inspiration to get you unstuck with classroom behaviour. We've got training resources on de escalation, supporting kids with anxiety support strategies for conditions like autism, ADHD, and PDA. practical ways of helping pupils deal with strong emotions, assertive behaviour management techniques for managing the whole classroom, setting out your classroom environment for success, resetting behaviour with tricky classes, and more. Our online videos walk you through practical solutions, step by step, just like Netflix, you can turn an inner circle subscription on or off whenever you need to, with no minimum contract, plus, you can now get your first seven days of inner circle for just one pound. Get the behaviour answers, and you've been looking forward today with inner circle, visit And click on the inner circle picture near the top of the homepage for more information. 

How did that experience affect the way you formed relationships with your peers sort of moving on from that, but it has a long term impact?

Bradley Davis  11:12  

You know, I would say that it made me closer with certain people, because it made me realise that, you know, you can't get through life alone. So it definitely made me closer to certain friends that I knew I could trust. However, on the other hand, it also made me wary of trusting other people that I didn't already have a relationship with like this bully, he kind of came out of nowhere. And in all honesty, it's still to this day. And trust me, I've put a lot of thought into this, trying to figure it out of how this all started in the first place, and how it got to being so extreme as it ended up being. And I really can't. And because of that I had to kind of put some walls around me and really try to protect myself. And in terms of the types of relationships that I was building and who I would kind of let in

Simon Currigan  11:58  

It sounds a bit like because this other person was doing something to you, you felt that there was some level of blame and you're ended like you may have done something or did something a certain way that made you think, have I att racted  his attention, when in reality, it was more probably without having met them more about issues that the body was going through themselves.

Bradley Davis  12:18  

Yeah, absolutely. You know, that speaks to the fact that I don't know how this all started in the first place. Regardless of how much time and attention I put on to this situation of trying to figure it all out. Because I really just wanted to know, I would love to know, but it might be trapped somewhere in my memory. But in all honesty, yeah, it definitely had an impact with the feeling that it came out of nowhere. I couldn't help but blame myself partially being like, Okay, well, I clearly must have done something because people don't just act out this way to strangers and beat them up every day. And you know, torment them and humiliate them, and so on, so forth. So I absolutely blame myself and I don't anymore, but at the time I definitely did. And I wish I knew why. But I think it's just because I don't have answers, we always look for answers and explanations for everything going on in our lives to the best of our ability. And when we don't have a concrete reason why it's usually the easiest thing to do is point limit yourself, because you're part of it. And you know you are so I think that's exactly what I did. And that situation,

Simon Currigan  13:21  

looking back, what would have made the biggest difference to you both in terms of managing the immediate situation and your longer term emotional well being in terms of what the adults could have done more proactively to support you?

Bradley Davis  13:34  

 Again, you know, I took a very long time to actually tell adults. So you know, there's certainly no blame to go around with any of the teachers. I've been very fortunate throughout my academic career to be surrounded by very loving, caring, supportive teachers. With that said, I think, you know, from a teacher's perspective, or adults perspective, I think it's super important when speaking to a child that has come to them in confidence and said, Hey, I'm being bullied, this is going on, I'm being tormented is, first off letting the child know that they're not to blame, regardless of what might be going on. It's not their fault. Now, obviously, there are exceptions to everything in the sense of, you know, maybe it's a two way street, and so forth. But generally speaking, letting the kid know, like, it's not your fault, and then going into letting them know that usually when bullies act out and actually start bullying people, it's because they are going through something themselves, and they're just projecting and taking their insecurities or their troubles at home, or whatever it might be out on you. And a lot of times, it's for no real particular reason, you know, maybe they don't get along with their cousin, and you remind them of their cousin. So that's why you were selected. You know, it can be something as simple and rudimentary as that. I think what's super important when working with kids or speaking with kids that are going through anything like this is just to remind them that you know, it's not your fault, and there's much bigger things at play that are causing this to actually happen than anything that you could have done.

Simon Currigan  14:58  

It sounds like if someone had given you that message When you were younger, it would have saved you a lot of self blaming and soul searching moving on into your teens.

Bradley Davis  15:06  

Yeah, absolutely. And it would have taught me earlier on in life, a valuable lesson to apply down the road to both my personal professional and romantic relationships and multiple capacities, because every relationship within one way or another as a two way street, but knowing that there are a lot of things out of your control, and people are who they are, and they're going to act out at certain times, maybe at you, but having nothing to do with you is an important lesson for all of us to know and to learn at some point or another. So the earlier you can learn something like that, the better. I'd say,

Simon Currigan  15:39  

you can't control everything in life, and sometimes you just get unlucky. 

Bradley Davis  15:42  

That's true. Absolutely. 

Simon Currigan  15:43  

And it's how you deal without any of those protective behaviours that you've built up over time is that that helps you deal with that and cope with those situations. What do you think the best schools do well to support children affected by bullying?

Bradley Davis  15:55  

I think the most important thing to do is just really let them be heard, I think what's super important with the education system, and the direction it needs to go, is the importance of emphasising emotional intelligence, mental health and support as well as physical well being. So that's nutrition, as well as physical fitness and exercise. You know, all those aspects of every individual are critical tools that every student can use to build their own self worth, and self love and self confidence, which only then snowballs into being happier, healthier, Kinder individuals, that would really just create a ripple effect throughout the individual school.

Simon Currigan  16:36  

And I think he make an interesting point there, because earlier, you said that your behaviour suddenly changed when you were being affected by the bullying and the bullying came and found you and started this physical violence against you. And often when there's a certain change in children's behaviour, that indicates there's something external happened as a problem at home, or maybe bullying has started. And that could be a trigger point for schools to start using these I know, it's important for them to be used more generally. But actually, that could be a trigger point for a teacher to say, there's something different going on here. This child needs some help. And we need to start probing more deeply.

Bradley Davis  17:09  

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that really speaks to the importance of all adults that interact with children on a consistent and regular basis. So whether it be a coach, school administrator, a parent or a teacher, to really be aware and mindful of how their kids you know, act on a good day, and kind of what their baseline is, from a personality standpoint. And therefore, we'll be able to judge if a individual starts deviating from that baseline, if they are usually very happy, energetic, outgoing, young man, and then suddenly, they're removed from the class, they don't want to talk to people, they have a shorter fuse, and they're more prone to outbursts, I think, would be a very critical measuring tool for every adult that works with kids. If you're a teacher or a parent, and a child comes to them and says, they're being bullied, what do you feel is the best way we should react as an adult? What sort of things should we be saying and doing to support the child in that moment of disclosure, I would really emphasise the importance of letting the kid know that they are not to blame, and just be open to hearing them out. Let them kind of tell you their side of the story, what they think the root of the problem may or may not be, and just always be there to lend a supportive ear and you know, a few words of encouragement, let them know that, you know, again, this isn't your fault. And at the end of the day, the kid that's bullying them, the bully in the sense is really hurting in their own way. And so again, instilling emotional intelligence and empathy in the kid that actually comes to you saying, Hey, I'm being bullied, can really actually help defuse the situation. Because if they then go to that bully and be like, Look, I feel like you're hurting. I feel like something's going on with you. That right then and there could defuse the situation potentially, because again, you know, the bully is likely crying out for help in their own way. And so if they're met with love and comfort and concern, whether it be from a peer or from another adult, I think it really makes a huge difference.

Simon Currigan  19:19  

If you could go back through time and talk to your earliest self, what message would you give that earlier year, he was going through all that strife and all those difficulties?

Bradley Davis  19:28  

I would have to say two things. I think one, the importance of I would have to tell myself, it's not my fault. And so don't spend too much time trying to figure out the why behind it. As well, as you know, understanding that all of this stuff going on right now is just a blip on the radar. And I know it feels as though it's never going to end and it's going to last forever. That's not at all the case and life will get better and it always does get better. And just to kind of keep Your head up and keep going and do everything you can to help people and not potentially even pass off the buck of bullying to somebody else, you know, don't walk around angry and confused and upset because of something that's happened to you, but rather end the cycle by just being nice to everybody that you encounter.

Simon Currigan  20:19  

Bradley, we mentioned earlier that you're the founder and CEO of the B kind company, and you help kids going through these issues like bullying and mental health issues. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do and how you support those kids?

Bradley Davis  20:31  

So the bkind company, I like to think of it as a life enrichment company. So we focus on three main pillars of the human experience, which are mental health, emotional intelligence and physical well being. What we do is we provide support services and coaching that focuses on all three of those categories for students 3 through 12, to really provide them to proper tools, and resources necessary to become the happiest healthiest versions of themselves. So if your child came to us, and they want to lose weight, we have personal training and nutrition courses and services for them. But then again, if a kid comes to us and wants to just kind of work on their confidence, we can help them in that sense as well. So we're really looking to try to be a one stop shop for all things that kids will need in terms of acquiring individual skills necessary to take on life and be ready for whatever life throws at them. Because as great as the school systems may be, they don't teach you the necessary life skills required to find yourself and love yourself and be the best version of yourself. So that's what we're aiming to do at the beacon company.

Simon Currigan  21:42  

how can listeners find out more about your work and your podcast a grown man's diary?

Bradley Davis  21:47  

Yeah, so a grown man's diary is available on any platform where you listen to your podcasts, I will provide you the link for all that. So you can drop that below as well as the be kind company, it's the It's a unique spelling be kind is actually one word, it's BKYND. And again, I'll provide the links, your viewers can check out our website and see all the fun stuff we got going on.

Simon Currigan  22:11  

Brilliant, I'll make sure those dropped in the episode description so our readers can click through easily. And finally, Bradley, we asked this of all our guests who is the key figure that's influenced you, or what's the key book that you've read that's had the biggest impact on your approach to working with kids,

Bradley Davis  22:26  

I would have to say my mother. Reason being is she has been a teacher for over 25 years, I definitely have inherited her love for children. And you know, her overwhelming sense of love and compassion and empathy for both my brother and I, as well as every child that she teaches, is just infectious. And it's really very early on in life, it showed me the impact a good teacher and a good supportive adult can have on a child's life, and how you know, a good adult, a caring, empathetic adult, can really completely change the trajectory of a child's life. And so I think I now see it as my responsibility to continue taking care of the next generation and doing everything I can to pass off all the lessons that I've learned throughout my time growing up, and hopefully help some kids down the road, avoid mistakes that I made, and also make sure that they don't go through the painstaking journey of self discovery, like I did, because nobody was helping me figure out a lot of what I now know all the practices that I now implement. And that's exactly why I started the big kind company to take all that I've learned throughout my life and put into a very clear cut and easy and accessible and affordable means for kids around the world.

Simon Currigan  23:48  

Bradley, thank you for being on the school behaviour secrets podcast. 

Bradley Davis  23:52  

Yes, thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Emma Shackleton  23:54  

Wow, powerful stuff, and some strategies and ideas that we can all take away to support the pupils in our schools.

Simon Currigan  24:02  

And if you want to know more about Bradley's podcast or the services of his company that bkynd company, you'll find direct links in the episode description.

Emma Shackleton  24:11  

And if you want to have a whole school impact on how adults make relationships and support kids with their emotions without breaking your school's training budget, did you know that you can get our inner circle for schools programme for only ÃÃ23.99 per month. That means you get unlimited access to all of our inner circle materials for all of your staff on subjects like de escalation, anxiety, classroom management, and much more. And that's just ÃÃ23.99 per month per school.

Simon Currigan  24:43  

We often say that behaviour management is a skill, not a topic you learn overnight, and I believe what inner circle does is it gives you training that's affordable. So you can benefit from the drip drip drip approach month after month with your staff so people could learn and increase their skills. Over time, rather than struggling to remember an information dump, delivered during a traditional one hour training session.

Emma Shackleton  25:06  

If that sounds good to you, head over to our website click the Buy Now button to see all of our products and click on the inner circle for schools option. We'll also put a link in the show notes. Next week, we're going to be asking the question, does mindfulness really help kids manage their emotions? And to find out we're digging into the research and the evidence to discover the answers.

Simon Currigan  25:34  

If you don't want to miss this, open your podcast app now and press the subscribe button or the Follow button as it's called in Apple podcasts. And that will tell your app to automatically download every single episode so you don't miss a thing.

Emma Shackleton  25:46  

Is that it? Nothing silly to say about squirrels or rain clouds or pigeons.

Simon Currigan  25:51  

Nope, that's it. Or you could train a swarm of bees to sense the vibrations in the internet when the new episode is released with that tiny antenna. And then waggle dance the subtitles in British Sign Language which they extracted from the metadata that accompanies the mp3. One involves pressing a button on your app. The other involves a lot of be wrangling, do what works for you.

Emma Shackleton  26:11  

Okay, thanks for listening today. We hope you have a brilliant week and we'll see you next time on school behaviour secrets. Bye 

Simon Currigan  26:18  


(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)