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Speaker Shows Effective Ways to Respond to Bullying & Conflict

Brooks Gibbs and student

Brooks Gibbs, a nationally known author, speaker, and educator whose anti-bullying videos have been viewed by millions of people, visited all four middle and high schools in 2018 through a partnership between the Ken-Ton School District and the foundation Devin's Message.

Gibbs engaged and energized students through his unique style and personality, using humor and improvisational activities with volunteers from the audience to demonstrate effective ways to respond to bullying and conflict.

One of Gibbs’s central themes is the importance of emotional resilience. Bullying is a power imbalance, he explained, and “the way we fix this power imbalance is to empower the one who’s weak.” This can be done through emotional resilience and humor: not getting upset, being able to take and make a joke about ourselves, and not letting what others say affect us, says Gibbs.

Gibbs’s back-and-forth improvisational activities, captured in videos that have generated millions of views on social media, incorporate student volunteers from the audience who help illustrate how to respond to bullying. Not getting upset and responding with humor and friendliness can be extremely effective in diffusing bullying, Gibbs demonstrated.

“The more upset I get the more fun you have; the more fun you have the meaner you are; the meaner you are the more upset I get,” he said, having the audience repeat his key message: “Don’t get upset.”

Gibbs also demonstrated that the same strategies can be used to resolve conflict with peers. He showed how hard it is to stay angry or be mean to someone who is responding with friendliness and taking responsibility for his or her role in the conflict.

“When I don't get upset, it's effortless,” Gibbs said. “I protect my heart. I don't take what he says personally. This is a wonderful skill, called ‘resilience.’ We have to learn it. We have to guard our heart.”

Gibbs first appeared in Ken-Ton in spring 2018 at Kenmore West High School. He returned on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 to share his message with students of Kenmore East High School as well as Franklin and Hoover Middle Schools. His appearance was made possible in partnership with the Ken-Ton School District and the foundation Devin’s Message, which is named in honor of the late Devin Kurzdorfer and dedicated to helping children overcome bullying and build self-esteem.


Brooks Gibbs