Bullying prevention expert speaks to Henry County middle school students

Jeff Veley tells students to never get upset, treat bullies as friends

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

HENRY COUNTY, Va. - Bullying prevention specialist and social skills educator Jeff Veley talked to students at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School on Friday morning about his two-step approach to combating bullying.

"We get emails from kids all the time and private messages on social media of kids saying, 'Hey, I wanted to give up on life but I tried the two things that you teach' -- which I call the peace sign approach -- 'and after a week my enemy isn't being mean to me anymore,'" Veley said.

He told students to not get upset when being bullied because getting upset is what the bully wants.

Then, he told them to treat the bully as their friend.

"If I get mad, if I fight back, if I try to bulk myself up and stand up for myself, I'm only going to look weak. I'm only going to look foolish. But see, if I treat him like a friend, if I'm calm in that moment when things are getting chaotic, I've got a chance at changing the situation," Veley said, speaking to the students.

He practiced these techniques with two students.

Skyler Martin was one of them.

He said he was bullied a lot last year.

"I really enjoyed his speech. It was really amazing and I'm going to have to go check out his YouTube channel," Martin said.

Annie Laine was not one of the two students Veley practiced his techniques with, but she still enjoyed the presentation.

"I thought it was good. I thought it taught us a lot about how to treat mean people and how not to fight back," Laine said.

Veley also spoke to students at Laurel Park Middle School and to teachers and staff at both middle schools.

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