Friday, April 27, 2012

Why Anti-Bully Policies Will Never Work: What Aristotle Could Have Told Us

"The only place where everyone is always nice to each other is Heaven".
-Dr. Izzy Kalman, school psychologist and psychotherapist, creator of educational resource.

Bully Teachers
According to Dr.Kalman's Bullying Survey, more than half of mental health professionals and educators are currently feeling victimized and they don't know how to make the bullying stop.
The survey involved about 1,000 mental health professionals and educators. 
To the item, "There is at least one person in my life that I get angry with fairly regularly," 57% answered Yes. Furthermore the academic bullying experts define anger as an act of bullying. So by getting angry, these same 57% are simultaneously being bullies. That's because when you get angry, you feel like a victim, but you look like a bully!
6% of respondents answered affirmatively to, "I have a child who gets hit by other kids in school at least once a day."
21% answered Yes to, "My children hit each other at least once a day."
This means that children of mental health professionals and educators are three-and-a-half times more likely to be hit by a sibling at home than by a kid in school. 
If experts at human relations do such a lousy job of protecting a couple of their own kids from each other at home, how in the world can they expect one teacher to protect thirty kids from each other in school? The answer is that they shouldn't expect it, but they do anyway.

Bully Parents
Anti-bully programs are based on the idea that bullying is a learned behavior. Just as kids have learned to be bullies, they now need to be taught how to be saints. Who, exactly, is going to teach our kids to be saints? You and I? Who do you think they could have learned bullying from in the first place?!
A review of national and international research about bullying, that was published in August 2008, has found increasing evidence of a family connection with bullying. Elizabeth Sweeney, a University of Cincinnati master's degree student in sociology presented her findings to the 103rd annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Sweeney reviewed research out of England, Germany, Norway, Japan, South Africa and the United States, and the majority of the research that she examined involved children between the ages of 9 and 16. She found that children raised by authoritarian parents - parents who are demanding, directive and unresponsive - are the most prone to act out bullying behavior.

"Children who experience hostility, abuse, physical discipline and other aggressive behaviors by their parents are more likely to model that behavior in their peer relationships," Sweeney wrote. "Children learn from their parents how to behave and interact with others. So if they're learning about aggression and angry words at home, they will tend to use these behaviors as coping mechanisms when they interact with their peers."

What Aristotle Could Have Told Us
In case you are curious, would you like to know why anti-bully policies don't work? 
It's because they can't - never have, never will. Aristotle figured that out 2400 years ago.
Aristotle, the most influential thinker in the history of the Western world, advocated for good government and for providing maximum rights to people. Yet even he knew, "The one thing that no state or government can do, no matter how good it is, is to make its citizens morally virtuous." (Mortimer Adler, in "Aristotle for Everybody"; McMillan Publishing Company, 1978).
But this is precisely what the anti-bully movement is trying to do - guarantee our children a life surrounded by morally virtuous people. In other words - saints. Strange as this may sound, if you carefully inspect the academic definition of bullying, you'll realize that anyone who doesn't meet the criteria of sainthood is a "bully".

The Answer: Golden Rule
You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:43-44)
Anti-bully activists have been trying to promote the Golden Rule. However, the activists don't truly understand the Golden Rule. They believe it means, Don't act like a bully. They are really promoting reciprocity: We will be nice to you if you are nice to us, but if you bully us, we will have no tolerance for you and we will get you punished ("administered consequences," in current jargon). What the anti-bully activists don't realize is that the Golden Rule really means, Don't act like a victim! 
If I live by reciprocity, I have very little control of my relationships. If you are nice to me, I will be nice in return and we will be friends. However, if you are mean to me, I will be mean in return and we will be enemies. The GR puts me in control. I will be nice to you even when you are mean to me. Why? Because how long can you continue being mean to me when I am always nice to you? Before long, you are going to start being nice to me because you are biologically programmed to treat me the way I treat you. 
f we were to replace our zero-tolerance-for-bullying policies with this simple expression of the GR–Love your enemy (bully); be nice to people even when they are mean to you–bullying would disappear. And if we were to teach it on an international level, we might achieve peace on earth.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Self-Bullying: Fight a Bully Within

Psychology Today: "Bullies couldn't exist without victims, and they don't pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear long before they ever encounter a bully. No one likes a bully, but no one likes a victim either..."
You know how bad it feels when another person negatively judges you. It's awful. 
How does negative self-judgment make you feel? Each time you call yourself stupid, ugly, not good enough, etc you are taking positive energy from yourself.  
Have you ever negatively judged yourself? Ever compare yourself to others? 
This is self-bullying.

How to Cancel Out All the Negative Judgments

"Take your index finger and press it to your thumb like you were squishing a piece of dirt between those fingers. Now, each time you make a negative judgement about others or yourself, press those fingers together and squish out that negativity. Immediately  replace the negative judgement with a positive statement. The more you do this the easier it will be to not make negative judgments at all. Practice, practice, practice and it's ll get easier over time..."

-Hey U.G.L.Y, non-profit organization founded in response to the daily headlines describing the increase in teen suicide, gun violence in schools, bullying, drug abuse, eating disorders, and the obesity epidemic facing American youth. 

Building Confidence Thru Play

The Goddard School, Gilbertsville. Playful learning activities are teacher-planned and child-directed, and designed to nurture each child’s self confidence. This approach to learning, which helps introduce children to new skills in a playful and engaging way, is supported by a growing body of research from Play for Tomorrow, the consortium behind the respected “playful learning” movement.

“We make learning enjoyable and we build in lots of opportunity for each child to experience the satisfaction of success. A key benefit of this approach to learning is its emphasis on building self-esteem and confidence as children try, and succeed at, new challenges,” said Salvatore Boccella, the owner. “A   confident child is much less likely to develop into a bully or to accept bullying from another child.”

Read More on Confidence is Best Defense Against Bullying

Face Bullying With Confidence

Walk With Awareness, Calm, Respect, and Confidence

People are less likely to be picked on and more likely to be listened to if they walk, sit, and act with awareness, calm, respect, and confidence. This means keeping one's head up, back straight, taking brisk steps, looking around, having a peaceful face and body, noticing what is happening around you, and moving away from people who might cause trouble.
Show your kid the differences between acting passive, aggressive and assertive in body language, tone of voice, and choice of words. Coach your child to walk across the floor, coaching her or him to be successful, by saying for example; "That's great!" "Now take bigger steps", "Look around you" "Straighten your back." etc.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How Bullying Impacts Career Choice

A study published in Canadian Journal of Career Development, examined the childhood environmental conditions of ten adult participants whose ages ranged from 26 years to 42 years.
Seven were female, and three were male participants. All were victims of bullying at some point in their youth.
An attempt was made to determine how these conditions, in combination with childhood victimization in the form of peer aggressions, impacted the selections made by the participants in regards to their employment and post-secondary educational choices.

"When children started teasing me, I probably only weighed five pounds more than I should have for my height. But kids seize on small differences. The tall child is a beanstalk, the short kid is a shrimp. By the time my weight became a problem — when I really was the fattest person (adults included) in school — I had long since given up weighing myself or caring. Making it through each brutal day became the only goal".
-Rebecca Golden, author of "Butterbabe: The True Adventures of a 40-Stone  Outsider" (Random House UK), lives and writes in Toledo, Ohio.

 Read More on Fat Girl Story
According to the research most of the participants who were bullied chose their occupations, because of an interest in their field or a desire to assist others, rather than making their choices for financial reasons, or for reasons of familial pressure.

All but one of the participants of the study pursued post-secondary education, and eight even completed more than one degree or diploma in more than one area of study. In addition, all participants were currently employed.

"For me starting the blog was both a cathartic experience and also one I wanted to do to show that adults still feel the effects of the bullying. By sharing my stories from an adult perspective, I felt I could help others that felt the same way".

-Alan Eisenberg, now an adult and video producer and director in Fairfax, Va., is still affected by the bullying that took place decades ago. Both physically and mentally, he was attacked for his Jewish heritage, his last name and the emotional way he reacted to being bullied. He is now working on a documentary to tell his story and get the perspective of the people who bullied him with the goal of showing the long-term effects of bullying has on adults.

Read More on Bullying Victims Use Stories for Advocacy

In addition, participants who had an elevated number of conditions that foster resiliency in their environment had diminished manifestations of the bullying on their future educational and occupational selections. In fact, all of the participants had elevated resiliency levels, all were employed, and most were currently pursuing a profession or educational endeavor for which they were passionate.

"Growing up in Mexico, I was bullied for being poor, short and "el perrero"—the dirty dog boy. I wanted to create this video for the It Gets Better Project to let kids know that it really does get better. I encourage you to please share it with anyone you think it could help. Thank you".

-Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer

P.S. For those who bully others...

  • One researcher to address this question is Dan Olweus who followed a small group of his Norwegian sample (15 victims, 56 non-victims, all males; 1993) and found that being victimized in grades 6 and 9 could be linked to greater depression and lower self-esteem at 23 years of age.
  • Olweus also documented a connection between bullying and later criminality showing that 60% of those who bullied in grades 6 and/or 9 had at least one criminal conviction by age 24; 35-40% had three or more convictions (as compared to a group of non-bullying boys).
  • Another research group in England asked boys about whether they were bullies at age 14, then 18, and then again at age 32 (18 year span) (25). The findings showed that about one in every five boys (18%) who saw himself as “a bit of a bully” at age 14 continued to report being a bully at age 32. A noticeable proportion of these adult bullies at 32 years of age was highly aggressive (61%) and had been convicted of violence (20%).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How Do We Prevent Bullying?

Who would have known that cyber-bullying could be just as deadly as any other type of bullying? When most people think of a bully, they imagine a large overpowering figure with dominating force. We do not think of 12-year-old girls who live in the suburbs. Statistics show that teenage girls who live in the suburbs are one of the largest demographics associated with cyber bullying. Individuals who live in the suburbs generally have more access to technology and the means to engage in cyber bullying.

Grace McComas, a 15-year-old Howard County, Baltimore student recently committed suicide as a result of the cyber bullying she experienced. Her death grabbed the attention of celebrity figures around the nation, including Baltimore Ravens player, Ray Rice, who will be discussing national bullying concerns at a town hall meeting.

Children like Grace are becoming far too common. They are being forced to their breaking points and seeking suicide as a means of escape. This will continue to happen until all types of bullying are treated as the crimes they truly are. Both schools and law enforcement need to become more strict with the ways in which they deal with acts of bullying. Bullying is a crime. The sooner we all accept this fact, the sooner we can begin to solve the problem. In order for an issue to be solved, it must first be addressed.       

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Friday, April 13, 2012

The Real George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman, a Florida man who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to death last February, has recently created a website in which he defends his actions and requests donations for legal support. The website’s title is conveniently, “The Real George Zimmerman”. Zimmerman shows absolutely no remorse for his actions and actually paints himself as the victim. An excerpt from quotes Zimmerman as saying, “I have not received any funds collected, intended to support my family and I through this trying, tragic time.” He also says, “I was involved in a life altering event which led me to become the subject of intense media coverage. As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life.”
Zimmerman took the life of a 17-year-old boy, yet he insists this is a tragic time in his life? He explains how this experience has virtually ruined his life, having to go into hiding after the incident. A mother and father have lost their son. A child’s life has been taken from him. Yet, Zimmerman feels as though his life has been ruined. Zimmerman never once mentions Trayvon Martin or his family. This website is an extremely selfish attempt to gain the support of misguided followers. Zimmerman supports his pleas by decorating his website with famous quotes such as “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion” by Thomas Paine and “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing” by Edmund Burke.
George Zimmerman is a criminal, yet he remains a free man. Justice must be served! Visit Zimmerman’s website (The Real George Zimmerman) by visiting the following link:            

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bullying Is A Crime

Since losing his son to suicide nine years ago, John Halligan has devoted his life to spreading the anti-bullying message. He believes that telling his son’s story will encourage bullies to stop what they are doing. Most bullies bully others because they think it is funny or simply because a person is different. Halligan believes that if they realized that their actions were actually driving people to take their own lives, bullies would be less likely to engage in bullying behavior.

John Halligan’s son, 13-year-old Ryan, was a bully victim for over two years. His tormentors made fun of him, physically assaulted him, and even spread untrue rumors that he was gay. John Halligan says that Ryan often hid in the bathroom to avoid his bullies. Ryan’s family never knew how emotionally damaged he was until they found his lifeless body in his bedroom. Ryan’s father never suspected his son was at any risk of committing suicide. It was not until he read the messages in Ryan’s AOL Instant Messenger Account that he understood what his son was experiencing.

John Halligan’s story is becoming far too common these days. More despondent kids are beginning to use suicide as a means of escaping their tormentors. We can no longer allow this to continue happening. Bullying has become a very serious issue over the last several years. Unless adults take a stand, kids like Ryan will continue being bullied. Both schools and law enforcement need to become stricter with the ways in which they discipline acts of bullying. Bullying is a crime and it should be treated as such!