Cyberbulling & How to Stop Help Stop All Bullying

This week I’ve been tackling the thorny topic of BULLYING.  In the last few years a brand-new form of bullying has cropped up—cyber-bulling.


Due to mobile technology, bullying is no longer limited to a particular space and time, such as on the playground or the school bus.  A child can be taunted or threatened anytime, anywhere…even in the middle of the night in their own bedroom!


That’s why parents need to closely monitor their child’s use of electronic communication.  Before allowing your child to have a smartphone or engage in social networking, let him know the ground rules up front.  Explain that you will be monitoring texts and posts, and that as a parent, you will do whatever is necessary to keep your kids safe and provide them with moral guidance.


On a different note, what should your child do if she witnesses another child being bullied?


As followers of Christ, we should be teaching our kids that every human being has worth and value, and that we will not stand by and allow a child to be victimized by a bully.


Paul Coughlin is one of the foremost Christian experts on bullying.  He stresses that when it comes to bullying, kids need to be encouraged to move from being “bystanders” to being “alongside-standers.”


Paul cites research that found that if just one bystander assertively tells a bully to “stop,” in many cases the bullying will often cease within 6 to 8 seconds.


There is also power in numbers.  If 2-3 kids band together and tell the bully to stop, the bullying will cease almost immediately, and often the victim will not be bullied again.


Challenge your children to join with other friends at their school and become “alongside-standers”—courageous kids who have the ability to stop bullying in its tracks.


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

What To Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied

What should you do if you learn your child is being bullied at school?


With the new school year starting up, many parents may fear that their child will become a victim of bullying.  This week I’ve been tackling that topic, and today let’s look at what you should do if YOUR child has been bullied.


The first thing you want to do is start keeping records.  Ask your child where the bullying occurred, when it occurred, what exactly happened.  Keep a written log of what they tell you.


If you don’t, you may find yourself in a “he said/she said” situation when you report the bullying.  Sometimes a child’s memory will be fuzzy and say “I think it was on the playground” or “I think it was on Thursday.”


Because of that, it’s critical to have them report what happened that day, and document the details.


The most effective way to stop bullying is through direct adult intervention. Make an after school appointment with your child’s teacher, tell her what occurred, and enlist her help.  If you don’t receive a positive response, report the bullying to the school principal.


If the teacher or principal fail to take any action, you may need to take up the issue with school district administration or even the school board.


The good news is that most public school districts are on “heightened alert” over bullying these days.  They are very aware of the problem and want to nip it in the bud.


The US Department of Health and Human Services has a website dedicated to the topic of bullying.  You can find helpful information at


Tomorrow I’ll address cyberbullying and we’ll discuss why Christian kids should be the first to stand up when they see another child being bullied.


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Red Flags of Bullying

Has your child ever been BULLIED? If so, what should you do?


This week I’m responding to some common questions that parents ask about bullying. Here’s one:


“Dr. Dr. Bill, I’ve heard that some kids won’t tell their parents or a teacher that they are being bullied.   Is that true?”


Yes, many kids won’t disclose they are being bullied because they are embarrassed or ashamed. Also, some bullies warn their victims that if they tell anyone about the bullying, they will face even worse consequences.


Because of this, it’s important for parents to be aware of certain “red flags.” Those may include unexplained physical symptoms like stomachaches or a sore throat—often these seem to materialize just before leaving for school or getting on the school bus.


Another warning sign is nightmares. Pay attention if your child is having recurring nightmares but there are no apparent stresses in their life that would explain them. It could be because they are being bullied at school.


So how can you get your child to open up and tell you what’s happening?


Kids will often share what’s going on at school while snuggling at bedtime, while on a walk with mom or dad, or even while driving in the car. If you suspect your child might be being bullied, one of the best ways to get them to confide in you is to “normalize” the experience by sharing about your own childhood.


For example you might say, “I remember when I was a kid, there was this kid in my school who used to pick on me (or pick on another child). I’m wondering if that might be happening to you.”


If your child shares that they are being bullied, it’s critical not to make them feel embarrassed or ashamed.


I’ll have more on bullying tomorrow.


I’m Dr. Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Causes of Being a Bully & Being Bullied


With school starting up again, one of the things that may on some parents’ minds is the incidence of bullying in the public schools (and even in some Christian schools!). Given that, I thought I’d respond to a few common questions about bullying.

I’m often asked “what causes a child to bully other kids?

We used to think bullies were kids who had low self-esteem. In fact, when you were growing up you might have heard a teacher say “The reason bullies pick on other kids is that they don’t feel good about themselves. Because of this, they want to make other kids feel bad.”

Interestingly, the latest research shows that in many cases, just the opposite is true. Many bullies actually have an overly inflated sense of self-esteem—in other words, they’re narcissistic. They feel so highly about themselves that they feel they have a right to do whatever they want. And oftentimes they derive pleasure out of victimizing other children.

So, are some children more likely to be victimized by a bully?

The research shows that bullies often target children with certain characteristics. They tend to pick on kids who are perceived as “different” from their peers in some way—for example a child is overweight or underweight, a child who wears glasses, who dresses in an odd way, etc.

Bullies also zero in on kids who are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves, those who are depressed, anxious, or who have low self-esteem.

Something else parents should know—bullies will often target kids who do not get along well with others. Children who are viewed as annoying or irritating by their peers are more likely to be bullied.

I’ll have more on bullying in tomorrow’s report.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Sleep Trouble

Why do many older people have trouble sleeping? It could be due to a loss of brain cells.

New research suggests that the loss of brain cells that act as a “sleep switch” may help explain why many seniors have trouble falling and staying asleep.

In fact, in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, sleep disruption can be especially severe. It can cause nighttime confusion and lead to patients wandering off.

According to HeathDay News, scientists analyzed data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, which includes nearly 1,000 people. These people enrolled in the project at age 65 and are being followed until they die. When they die, they’ve agreed to donate their brains to help the researchers.

The study found that elderly people and Alzheimer’s patients have a decrease in a particular type of neuron, and the loss of these brain cells is associated with sleep problems.

Senior author Clifford Saper says “On average, a person in his 70s has about one hour less sleep per night than a person in his 20s.”

Sleep loss and fragmented sleep are associated with a number of health issues, including thinking and memory problems, increased blood pressure and heart disease, and a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes,

Dr. Saper says it now appears that loss of these neurons may be contributing to these disorders as people age.

The researchers believe the findings may lead to new methods to help elderly people sleep better, and perhaps prevent further mental decline in people with Alzheimer’s.

To learn more about improving your “sleep health,” go to

I’m Dr. Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Don’t Cuddle With Your Smart Phone

Have you ever fallen asleep while Insta-scrolling on your smartphone—or have you purposely left it on your bed during the night?

You’re not alone: 44 percent of cell phone owners have snoozed with their phone next to their bed to make sure they didn’t miss any crucial calls or texts,

But Camille Chatterjee, an editor for, found that snuggling up to your phone could be hazardous to your health. Here’s why:

First, you could set your pillow on fire. A Texas teen recently woke up to a burning smell.  It turned out that her Samsung Galaxy S4, which was under her pillow, had partially melted.  It scorched her sheets and mattress, too.

It seems that a non-Samsung replacement phone battery was to blame: the phone’s instruction manual warns that hat there’s a risk of a fire if the gadget is covered by bedding or other thick material. Bottom line: Stick to phone accessories from the original manufacturer, and don’t leave your cell on your bed.

Camille also points out that your phone could keep you awake.

Cell phones (and tablets, TVs, and other gadgets with LED screens) give off what’s known as blue light—a type of light that can inhibit the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and disrupt our circadian rhythms.

This may be because blue light emits wavelengths similar to daylight, which can make our bodies think it’s daytime.

I’ve mentioned this before—to get a good night’s sleep, power down all electronics two hours before bedtime. Better yet, keep your phone and laptop in another room while you snooze.

To read Camille’s entire article on this topic, go to

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Key to Happiness

The key to happiness could be low expectations.  And research backs it up.

NBC News is reporting on a new study done at the University College in London, Researchers there found that it didn’t matter so much whether things were going well. It mattered whether they were going better than you expected.

Dr. Robb Rutledge of University College says “It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower.  We find that there is some truth to this: Lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.”

Dr. Rutledge says that DOESN’T mean you should walk around gloomy all of the time. Having expectations at all — for example, a lunch date with a friend — can lift your spirits as soon as you make the plan.

But if you are looking forward to greatest meal of your life, that could result in feeling pretty disappointed.

In the study, subjects made decisions that led to financial gains or losses, while their brain activity was being monitored by an MRI machine.

The researchers found that it was not the amount of total money won that mattered — it was how winning or losing stacked up to expectations you had already formed.

Eventually these findings might be able to help doctors predict how people with mood disorders might react to the small wins and losses of everyday life.

When I read about this study it reminded me of what the apostle Paul had to say about contentment.


“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”


You can read more about that in Philippians, chapter 4.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana

Grieving parents are speaking out about the dangers of synthetic marijuana.


United Press International shares the story about the parents of Connor Eckhardt — a California teenager who died shortly after a hit of synthetic marijuana put him in a coma.  Connor’s parents are now trying to raise awareness about the dangers of the sometimes legal drug.

Connor’s dad, Devin Eckhardt says “In a moment of peer pressure, he gave into that, thinking that was OK, it was somehow safe, and one hit later, he goes to sleep and never wakes up.”

Nineteen-year-old Connor died a month ago, after inhaling the fumes of dried herbs sprayed with a mixture of synthetic chemicals that were supposed to duplicate the high of real pot.

Because state laws change based on the latest synthetic drugs being manufactured, synthetic marijuana makers are constantly mixing up new concoctions to spray on herbs and stay one step ahead of the authorities.

Despite increasingly comprehensive laws that forbid the sale of synthetic marijana, new versions are constantly making their way to market.  Authorities say the drug makers are exploiting the tiniest loopholes in the laws.

And wherever synthetic pot brands have hit the market, spikes in emergency room visits have followed. Several studieshave linked synthetic marijuana and other designer drugs to stroke, brain damage and in some cases — like Connor’s, coma and death.

You can read more about synthetic marijuana and its dangers by going to

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

What Does Your Facebook Say About You?

Did you know that your Facebook profile may reveal a lot about your personality?

It’s true— is reporting on an interesting study which found that extroverts and socially anxious people both upload significant numbers of photos to their Facebook pages.

But here’s the difference–extroverts tend to change their profile cover photos, while those who are more prone to stress and anxiety upload more photos per album.

It makes sense that extroverted people would have a tendency to upload lots of photos.  But how can that same thing be explained in people who are more socially anxious, a term that psychiatrists call “neurotic.”

Researcher Azar Eftekhar says “Neurotics strongly desire approval,” but they may not be good communicators and they lack social skills.

“As socially anxious individuals, they see Facebook [as] a safe place for self-expression and to compensate for their offline deficiencies.”

Azar says the findings suggest that people are socially anxious may seek acceptance implicitly through intensive photo uploads.  They feel that will make them look more attractive and popular online.

The researchers said that the study results point to certain similarities between how human relationships operate on Facebook and in real life.

For instance, the people in the study who were more “agreeable” and friendly in real life, tended to attract more comments and “likes” to their posts.

I wonder what the researchers discovered about the GRUMPY people?  I don’t think I even want to visit their Facebook pages!

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Death Can Save A Life

It’s been one week since we learned of the tragic death of Robin Williams.  His death left millions of American’s grieving and asking “why.”


When something like this happens, it can also remind us of how important is to care about and really LISTEN to the people that God has placed in our life.


Is it possible that YOU might have a friend or loved one who is struggling with depression—or who may even be contemplating suicide?


Here are some warning signs that you should be aware of:


  • Has your friend told you they feel hopeless or have no reason to live?  Do they feel as if they are a burden to others?


  • Have they described feeling “trapped” or shared that they are in unbearable pain?


  • Are they isolating themselves, or showing extreme mood swings?


  • Have they actually talked about wanting to die?


You might feel anxious about bringing up the topic, but if you’ve noticed these signs in a friend or relative, gently ask them if they’ve thought about taking their own life.


If the answer is “yes,” get help by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.


If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, remember that the bible tells us to “encourage one another” and to “carry each other’s burdens.”


And if YOU are struggling with depression or feeling hopeless, please reach out to someone and let them know what you’re going through.


I’d also encourage you to put into practice this advice from 1st Peter 5:7:  “cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you.”


I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.