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What does a bully really look like?

Yet teacher and author Melody Arabo told the students bullies often don't always look like "the mean" kids - they look just like everyone else. "And sometimes," she said, "A bully can even be you."
Arabo is the author of a children's book called "Diary of a Real Bully." It takes a whole new perspective on bullying - this time from the bully point of view.
"Anna is a good person. She doesn't look like a bully. She never thought of herself as a bully. But she is one sometimes," said Arabo about her book.
Arabo said everyone has acted like a bully at some time. "A bully is not a person. It is their action," she said. "And it's not just about hitting and kicking. There are a lot of other ways to hurt people without even realizing it sometimes."
She said many students use their words, gestures and even facial expressions to hurt people. Name calling, eye rolling, spreading rumors, excluding others from games or activities, making threats and even saying things that aren't true are all different forms of bullying making others feel bad.
"We've all done it at some time. It's something that makes someone else not feel good. Sometimes we don't even realize we've done it," she said.
Arabo was named the 2014-15 Michigan Teacher of the Year. She is a third grade teacher from Walled Lake Schools and is taking a year off teaching to speak with students across the state about bullying.
As a teacher, Arabo said she witnesses bullying in some form every year in her classroom. "Most people think of bullying happening in middle school and high school, but it starts even earlier than that. Maybe not always in the sense of bullying that a lot of people think of, but in different ways."
That's why she decided to write the book from the bully viewpoint and make everyone realize they may not think of themselves as being a bully, but sometimes their actions speak differently.
"There's not much done in the elementary grades about bullying. I want to help teach them early and help them recognize when they are being a "bully" to someone even if they don't think they are. I want to help them become more aware so maybe they won't continue those actions," she said.
She's also working with the Michigan Department of Education to create educational programs for use in elementary classrooms.
Her lesson on bullying also teaches students how to be problem solvers and deal with bullying situations. It's important, she said, for students to have strategies in place to deal with bullies. "Tell the bully to stop and tell them how the actions make you feel. It's also OK to ask for an apology," said Arabo.
If none of those efforts stop the unwanted action, Arabo said students should always find an adult to tell.
Lee principal Angie Jefferson said at the second and third grade levels she doesn't see a lot of ongoing, targeted malicious bullying, but does see the kind of friendship issues Arabo described.
Jefferson said Lee's playground Buddy Bench is a great tool to help students learn about including others and one measure that's proven successful on the playground. Students see someone sitting at the Buddy Bench and often go and ask them to join in games or play.
"I see it used all the time," said Jefferson. "And kids see someone sitting there and they come up and ask them to come play with them. It works."
Arabo said it's never too early to start talking with children about bullying and behaviors that hurt others. "I think the earlier you can intervene and give tools and the earlier you educate students, the better. Maybe it will stop some of the more aggressive bullying that happens when the students get older."