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Bullying Takes on More Forms

No matter how you slice the numbers, it's likely that you'll have a child who is subjected to bullying at some point. And that bullying can cause stress, a loss of self esteem and dropping grades.

A recent Stanford University survey says 9 out of 10 elementary school students reported being subjected to bullying. Dr. Christopher Lucas, associate professor of psychiatry at New York University's Child Study Center and director of its Early Childhood Service, tells HealthDay that he's skeptical of that number. His research puts that number closer to 50 percent -- still a large number.

Kids bullying each other -- and bullying teachers -- has taken on new meaning in the Internet age. It's not just teasing and pushes on the playground anymore. It now takes the form of cyber-bullying: e-mails, MySpace page takeovers to spread rumors, harassing instant messages and text messages, and cellphone photos edited onto obscene photos and posted online. KARE-TV in Minnesota recently aired a 2-part news segment describing the issues. And provinces in Canada are investigating ways to punish cyber-bullies.

Regardless of what type of bully a child is facing, parents and friends should persuade the child to tell an adult. Kids subjected to cyber-bullying may fear that because they think they'll lose computer privileges, KARE-TV reports. And younger kids may feel like telling an adult is tattling, says the Department of Health and Human Services, which encourages kids that "telling is the right thing to do."

HHS runs a Stop Bullying Now!, a Web site with "Webisodes" and quizzes that teach kids how to handle bullying. Other tips from the National Crime Prevention Council are to not give out personal information or passwords online or to friends and to not open e-mails from strangers or bullies. Instead, save them and give them to the authorities. Finally, teach kids not to give in to pressure to harass others.

Have your kids been targeted by bullies, either in person or online? What have they encountered and how have you dealt with it?

Today's Talkers: Hoax E-mail Details HIV RAtes at Washington Area Schools ... Class Struggle: Why It Is NOT Harder to Get Into Top Colleges ... Truancy: Keeping Kids in the Classroom

By Stacey Garfinkle |  May 2, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Teens , Tweens
Previous: iPods With the Answers | Next: Parents' Eye View of Today's Challenges

Comments


Luckily with my oldest being 2.5 I have not had to deal with this!! Hope it is a while before I do. But I can still remember elementary school when it all starts. Good natured teasing is one thing, but when it turns to bullying it definitely has an effect on a child and needs to be discussed.

Posted by: HappyDad | May 2, 2007 7:34 AM | Report abuse

Luckily with my oldest being 2.5 I have not had to deal with this!! Hope it is a while before I do. But I can still remember elementary school when it all starts. Good natured teasing is one thing, but when it turns to bullying it definitely has an effect on a child and needs to be discussed.

Posted by: HappyDad | May 2, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

It's a pretty safe bet Stacey's 5 year old that sucks his thumb while playing with his private parts 24/7 will be targeted by bullies and picked on in school.

One way to Stop Bullying Now! is to raise a normal kid who won't be the natural target of bullies.

Duh!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 8:17 AM | Report abuse

My kid is to little to be bullied, but when my oldest nephew was in school three or four kids from the bus stop would gang up on him and beat the heck out of him. He didn't tell anyone but we saw the bruises. The school said they couldn't do anything, so I went down there and hid. Then, when they started to fight, I told them to form a line. THey all looked at me not wanting to fight fair. All but one, the ring leader bully. Well, my newphew gave him a bloddy nose, black eye and a busted lip.

Moral of the story: passive kids who don't fight back are going to be bullied. Those kids never bothered my newphew again. They were to afraid. Teach your kids not to be a door mat.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Irish girl

"Teach your kids not to be a door mat."

Excellent! Finally someone with some common sense!

Posted by: Top Cat | May 2, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

In this day and age of whiny children who tattle on each other to get their own way, my husband and I have been raising our daughter to always take the moral high ground. She walks away from insults rather than flinging another back and does not tattle on other children for their bad behaviors.
Unfortunately, the other girls in her class know this and have threatened her with tattling (the teacher does not actually permit them to tattle on each other) to force her to do what they want at recess, etc. This upsets my daughter greatly. Luckily the situation seems to be improving since we spoke with the teacher and she subsequently talked to the girls about this behavior.

Posted by: 21117 | May 2, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

21117

"In this day and age of whiny children who tattle on each other to get their own way, my husband and I have been raising our daughter to always take the moral high ground."

Gotta wonder if little kids have the maturity to always take the "moral high ground" and its consequences.

"This upsets my daughter greatly."

This is known as A BIG RED FLAG.

Teach your daughter to stop being passive (or she'll be a passive adult) and stand up for herself and she won't need your intervention.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 8:38 AM | Report abuse

My son is in 4th grade and has been teased and bullied for the past 2 years. I've spoken at length with his teachers and the principal. They in turn speak to the children, the situation improves for a few weeks and then it starts up again. I've been talking to him about his feelings and how to deflect the teasing and walking away. Kids aren't always capable of just ignoring and walking away, especially when they feel the whole class is against them. Yes, most kids don't want to be seen as tattling, they fear that causes more teasing. I keep trying to reassure my son that he's better than the bully, that the other child feels my son is better in some way and is just trying to bring him down (most of the teasing has been happening around school events when my son is recognized in some way). I am at a loss. I'll check out the website with him and see if it helps.

Posted by: vamommyof2 | May 2, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

My child has been bullied at a local elementary school where bullying is rampant, including male-on-female bullying. The latest incident was last week. A high ranking staff member agreed with me that the only solution really available to my child at this school is to have my child strike back as painfully and effectively as possible (i.e aim for the crotch). Now if I can only convince my child to actually do it. Terrible? Maybe. But if the only way the school provides to deal with the problem is violence, then violence it is going to be, whether it is my child or someone else's finally hitting back.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

vamommyof2

"I am at a loss"

You sure are at loss!!

Bullies aren't jealous, they are COWARDS!!
Don't walk away from cowards, beat 'em at their own game.
Teach your kid to grow himself a spinal cord & stick up for himself!!

Why is this so hard for parents to do?
Do the parents let other adults bully them?

What is going on in this country that is causing so many people to raise cowards (bullies)and weaklings (victims)????

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I am sick and tired of all of this talk about bullying...we did this. We did this with placing self-esteem above actual success and by caring to a sickening level how children feel. We have done away with "playground justice" in favor of no tolerance policies. Little is done about kids who bully and kids who get bullied are never allowed to defend themselves. My kids have strict instructions to use their words or walk away when possible but that if anyone puts their hands on them to defend themselves. They have been told that there are consequences for doing this and tht I will come and pick them up from school and we can spend their suspension together. We are raising kids who think that their feelings count in the rough and tumble of the real world. They don't and they shouldn't. We are raising a generation of kids who think they are owed things and that whining will solve theri problems.

And as for "cyber bullying" being a new kind...baloney...When I was in Junior High--my "best friend" got angry with me--over a boy--and she drew obscene pictures of me and handed them out to everyone in our school. I guess she was cutting edge...

She pushed me down the stairs and stole my books and taunted me for weeks...and one day she and everyone else on my bus got off at my stop and followed me home. For weeks, I told her I wasn't going to fight her. I said so that day too. Then she said something about my mother and the next thing I knew my mother was breaking up the fight and my "best friend" was going home the loser---word to the wise--if you are five feet tall do not pick a fight with someone six feet tall--the difference in reach alone will kill you---we actually did make up and both got in trouble at school but no one picked a fight with me again and she was a little more careful about who she picked on and how she did it. Lessons learned all around.

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 2, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Our daughter was bullied last year in preK3. It was devastating to her and to us. At night she cried if she knew she had to go to school the next day, screamed and cried when we got to school, and faked stomachaches. All clsasic signs of being bullied. What made her more confused was she was in a religious school where the children are taught to love everyone. The bully (we later found out) comes from a problem household. The teacher was not quick to act because she became friends with the bully's mother who held a leadership position in the PTA. The crazy part was this bully was even nastier to other children and the teacher knew about it and did nothing. It was not until we requested a meeting with all involved parties, (and told our daughter that if she bothered her again to knock her teeth out) that everything stopped.

Posted by: JR's mom | May 2, 2007 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I was bullied as a child and remember feeling confused and ashamed. I didn't know how to get them to stop. For me, it was just name-calling, teasing, etc. But it definitely had an impact.

I think if I had stood up for myself, it would have stopped a lot sooner than it did. I remember once kicking some boy in the crotch unexpectedly (for him) and the surprise in his face. I don't think he bothered me again.

I have a young son, and I think I will tell him -- the first time, walk away and tell them to stop it in a firm way. If it keeps happening, punch the kid (and we'll teach him how to do it properly -- I mean safely, for minimal damage to the other child and maximum surprise!)

It's true you have to stand up to bullies. I am a peaceable person and would never want to hurt anyone. But I believe it is true -- only confrontation (strong words or actions) will stop a bully. They prey on weakness.

Posted by: Rebecca | May 2, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

My now 9-year old son has had several very small skirmishes with bullies in his San Francisco public school...including one that turned into a shoving match. At this younger age, the school's advice, "just walk away," still seems to work. But I worry about the day that walking away isn't an option. You can read more about bullying and places to visit on the web for help, on my blog, The Kitchen Think, at:
http://thekitchenthink.viewfromthebay.com/2007/04/bullying.html

Posted by: MJ in SF | May 2, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

To earlier poster, i've been trying to teach him that. He's been enrolled in tae kwon do for almost 2yrs now so he could learn to defen himself and to boost his self esteem. yesterday he finally snapped, after a full day of teasing he beat his bully up. now he's gotten in school suspension. I spoke with his principal, she knows he's a good kid and wouldn't have been in a fight if it wasn't something serious. She's promised to talk to him today and to work with his teachers. I've been trying to get him to speak up and stand up for himself, now he's finally done so and feels that he's being punished for it. He's not being punished at home, I told him that he did the right thing by standing up for himself (even though i really hate that he had to fight) and i really hope the bully's been taught a lesson.

Posted by: vamommyof2 | May 2, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Anonymous and vamommyof2

It will only get worse if your kid lets the other kids pick on them. Give them a good crack back. My nephew was 9 when this happened to him. When my other nephew was 16 they moved to a new school and the "welcome" committee was a kick to the balls. Well, after he recovered from the kick he put the kid on the ground and pummeled him. Guess what? My brother got called to the school because my nephew was violent. Yep, fighting back is violent and all the boys kick the new boys during gym class. The vice principal himself almost got it that day from my brother. In turn, he was forced to apologize to my nephew and tell the other boys no more ball shots. Who knows if they listened, but one thing is for sure, they didn't do it again to my nephew. The boys will be boys or girls club doesn't like people who fight back. Unfortunately, they will find another victim which is why it is important for kids to form friendships and stick together. I would never let one of my friends be bullied. Good Luck.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

By Anonymous @ 8:17 am

"One way to Stop Bullying Now! is to raise a normal kid who won't be the natural target of bullies."

I would have to disagree with this statement. In my experience, and in contrast with the popular image of bullying, anyone can be a victim of bullying. Since bullying changes the behavior of the victim, it is more likely that behavior that is identified as not "normal" is more the result of bullying, not the cause.

Related is the notion that you should "Teach your kids not to be a door mat." Standing up to a bully does not guarantee that the bully will stop harassment, it may even provoke more extreme forms of harassment.

The notion that bullying is somehow the victim's fault is understandable, but misleading. Bullying is an expression of the bully's need to control his/her environment. Not surprisingly, most bullies are actually victims of bullying themselves. If we say to the victim "if only you did _______, this would never have happened to you" this disregards the origins of bullying with the bully.

I should also note that, in my experience, boys are especially vulnerable to bullying because many consider bullying (or surviving being bullied/overcoming bullying) to be an essential part of boyhood. Being "a man" about it often leads to many of the negative results of bullying, not the least of which is becomming a bullying themselves.

Bullying is also not limited to schools, and can be found in adult life as well. I am of the oppinion that only a comprehensive community wide program can really stop the threat the bullying poses. It would be a credit to our society if people did not need to use intimidation to feel secure in their schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

vamommyof2

It is better for your kid to be in one fight with a bully and bear the consequences than to be bullied for years and years.

There's a reason people walk all over doormats; they never fight back!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

David S you criticized everyone else's comments but gave no advice of you own.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

David S

"Not surprisingly, most bullies are actually victims of bullying themselves. "


Yes, kids can be conditioned to be bullies and their potential victims can be conditioned to stand up for themselves.

Bullying can be found in adult life and yes, adults can learn to stand up for themselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I snapped one day and slapped my bully across the face; she promptly announced that we were going to fight when we got off the bus. Because I didn't know how to fight, I walked away while she shouted after me what a coward I was. For those of you who want to teach your children to confront bullies, try to give them the skills they need for the confrontation.

I'm thinking of enrolling my daughter in karate; that would give her the ability to follow through if this ever happened to her. Better yet, hopefully it could prevent her from getting in this situation in the first place.

Posted by: Jen | May 2, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

By Anonymous @ 9:01 am:

"Do the parents let other adults bully them?"

As insane as this sounds, bullying among adults is not at all uncommon.

I can't seem to find a free link to this article, but I remember it very well as being quite comprehensive:

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can break your spirit: bullying in the workplace.(Author Abstract). Gina Vega and Debra R. Comer.
Journal of Business Ethics 58.1-3 (April-May 2005): p101(9).

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Jen

"For those of you who want to teach your children to confront bullies, try to give them the skills they need for the confrontation."

Exactly. Give your kids self-confidence and skills BEFORE any problem starts. Human bullies can sense weakness the same as animals in the wild.

It's called thinning the herd.

Cowards are weaklings and always back down. A lot of cowards end up in prison.

Teach your kid how to be strong, with a moral code.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

*teacher was not quick to act because she became friends with the bully's mother who held a leadership position in the PTA*

Hehehe

Posted by: Rudy | May 2, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

David S

Please give examples of adult bullying.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I think the teacher should have been fired.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"teacher was not quick to act because she became friends with the bully's mother who held a leadership position in the PTA*"

Was the bully's mother a stay at home mom?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Another question: will anyone admit to being a bully's parent? If so, how do you react to your child's behavior. What do you do to stop it.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

To Jen:
enrolling your daughter in a martial arts program is really one of the best things to do. She'll learn discipline, self defense, and as she progresses you'll see her self esteem rise also. It's done wonders for my son, even though he hates to fight, he knows how to defend himself. His self esteem has grown over the course of the time he's been in tae kwon do, but unfortunately the teasing and bullying cuts into it. His tkd master works with the kids to try and teach them to have self respect and to be proud of who they are, and it helps my son most times. I know bullying has grown worse, and I worry about how this will affect our childrens' furture. For my son and me, talking constantly about how he feels and making sure we go over his day to day highs and lows helps him. This we do usually in the car-i'm a working mom-and it helps him unwind and destress before we get to his homework-definitely helps move that along when he's in a good mood :).

Posted by: vamommyof2 | May 2, 2007 9:54 AM | Report abuse

"David S you criticized everyone else's comments but gave no advice of you own."

Apologies, and thanks for pointing this out. I thought my post was getting a bit long already.

Testing has shown that the most effective way to stomp out bullying in schools is a comprehensive program. What I mean by this is both a program that identifies and intervenes in bullying swiftly as well as one that addresses the causes of the bully's agression. All levels of a school, from students all the way up to staff and administrators must be vigilant for both the act of bullying and the symptoms. A culture of "telling" needs to be cultivated so that students feel like adults will take their claims seriously and not punish them by taking away privilages in the name of "safety." Also, required programs for all new students teaching about bullying with it's causes and effects can help (though this is generally aimed at older students). The other part of this is effective intervention on bullies themselves, punishing the act while trying to get at the root causes of the sense of powerlessness that caused the bullying in the first place.

There is a large body of research on effective ways to fight bullying, but almost all of them require some form of the above suggestions. I probably should say that like most remedies to complex problems these programs tend to be time-consuming, disruptive to the status quo and expensive, and hence have only been implemented in relatively few places. There are sucessful case studies out there, I will see if I can find one.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Child and adult bullying CAN be deterred...not eliminated.

Stand-up and fight back...physically if necessary.

Potential bullies then know in advance they'll get a fight and so move on to some other squishy target...who probably has squishy role models for guidance.

Remember how you cheered when Ralphie beat the snot outta Farkus in the Christmas Story? Remember how Farkus deserved it (?)...and his li'le toddy too!

Athletics, physical education, and life lessons from winning and losing are hugely important. So why would any parent chose to (sadly) de-emphasized them just because the profit-driven consuling and medical communities say different?

Posted by: OhioOrrin | May 2, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I was bullied a lot in middle school by some older girls, and since I was already a shy and bookish kid it had negative effects. It probably took me until college to really learn how to have enough confidence to stand up for myself in situations like that. But it wasn't my parents' fault - they were always affirming and they helped me get out of my situation at the worst of it, switching me to a private high school for two years. When I came back to the public high school things had improved a lot. I do think my dad always wanted to put us in karate because he regrets everything couldn't have been fixed earlier.

Anyway, I'm not sure how to encourage fighting back (not against it in principle, certainly) when it's cyber-bullying (or in previous generations, the rumor- and fake picture-spreading type bullying). It's important just to teach your kids to have a thick skin, I suppose, but it takes awhile to get there.

Posted by: KAL | May 2, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

The teacher was not fired. The mother of the bully works outside of the home, the father is retired (about 30 yrs. older than mom). Our child started martial arts and although she still does not want to hit anyone, she knows that she has the skills to do it quite effectively if necessary.

Posted by: JR's mom | May 2, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Re: Adult Bullying

This was taken from this article, itself copied from an Austrailian trade magazine: http://www.cornwalls.com.au/article_wpbullying.htm

It may be direct or indirect, verbal or physical, or some form of negative interaction between one or more persons against another or others. Bullying behaviour can be regarded as undermining an individual's right to indicative work.

The following types of behaviour, where repeated or occurring as part of a pattern of behaviour, could be considered bullying:
• verbal abuse;
• excluding or isolating employees;
• harassment;
• intimidation;
• assigning meaningless tasks unrelated to the job;
• giving employees impossible assignments;
• deliberately changing work rosters to inconvenience particular employees; or
• deliberately withholding information vital for effective work performance.

The statistics on the prevention of workplace bullying are disturbing. In 1998 a Morgan poll found that 46% of Australian employees had been verbally abused or physically assaulted by a co-worker or manager. In October 2003 a survey of Victorian employees found that 14% had experienced bullying at work in the preceding six months. Of those who reported they had been bullied, 71% had been bullied by a manager. WorkCover NSW estimated that the costs of violence-related injuries in NSW in the financial year 1997/1998 was in excess of $13 million. The Victorian Workcover Authority reported that workplace bullying claims totalled in Victoria exceeded $57 million in the financial year 2001/2002.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

JR's mom was the teacher reprimanded at least? Teachers like her do not belong teaching children.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

David S.

"Testing has shown that the most effective way to stomp out bullying in schools is a comprehensive program. "

Do tell. Isn't a comprehensive program the most effective way to deal with most of problems in society?

Even if there was a program in his school, I would still teach my kid how to stand up to bullies.

Doormats don't have much fun (or good sex)in life.

Posted by: Spike | May 2, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

And the case study, this links to the Austrialian University that conducted the work:

http://wachpr.curtin.edu.au/html/projects/project_detail_FSBIP.html

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

By Spike @ 10:08am

"Do tell. Isn't a comprehensive program the most effective way to deal with most of problems in society?"

This is certainly true for complex problems. It is also true that the public is hesitant to support such programs for the reasons I already mentioned.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't a doormat, or a particularly abnormal kid. I was one of the smallest kids in school, and a "brain" who always got top grades and enjoyed reading. I guess that was enough to make me a target, because I was bullied all the way through grade school. Fighting back helped, but in the end it just ensured that they just hunted in packs. One short & skinny girl vs. at least three average-sized girls usually doesn't end well.

Everyone develops there own defense mechanisms. I just kept looking foward to college and hung out with other unpopular girls. We made our own circle of friends, so we didn't "need" the bullies. That made it easier to tolerate. I also reminded myself that I got better grades; they were likely just jealous. In the end it all worked out well. Living well is the best revenge, and when I saw them at the high school reunion.... Let's just say that I felt that I was living very well indeed. Oh, and Spike? My husband and I have a very healthy marriage and the sex is great. They are unhappily divorced. Ah, life's funny that way.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | May 2, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

DC Cubefarm

"My husband and I have a very healthy marriage and the sex is great. They are unhappily divorced. Ah, life's funny that way."

Yes, indeed those mean girl queen bees and dumb jocks from high school sometimes burn out real fast!


Posted by: Spike | May 2, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

On a somewhat personal note, (I do have them) I took up martial arts myself in middle school to deal with a bullying problem.

It definately taught me to stand up for myself, but also taught me to seek non-violent solutions to problems of agression. Not surprisingly, the bullying problem was most effectively dealt with when I found a teacher who took me seriously and arranged for an intervention that involved a large part of the school community (I recall being relieved that I was not the only one being targeted).

I think this was more feasible in my case because the school was small and private with a well knit community.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

David S.

"On a somewhat personal note, (I do have them) I took up martial arts myself in middle school to deal with a bullying problem. "

Okay, but what about the kids who don't have the means or parental consent to take up martial arts?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

To the anon poster at 8:38

Most "little kids" have more maturity than adults give them credit for. They understand right from wrong but will only do the right thing if that is what is expected of them. As for consequences, my daughter also understands what will happen if she goes around hitting other children and calling names. She will get in trouble with mom and dad. Real life is rough, deal with it.

A 6-7 year old being upset by other kids bad behavior is a red flag to you? That makes me sad. My daughter gets upset by violence and meanness. I think this makes her a good person. She is not weak; she is civil. She can articulate on a level much higher than some of her friends. That is her defense. She can talk circles around many of her peers without being mean. These kind of verbal skills will take her much further than calling someone a stupid head.

I am not teaching my daughter to be passive. But I refuse to teach her to be aggressive. She needs to understand that the world outside of our home does not revolve around her. She needs to learn to ignore bad behaviors and hurtful words. Don't whine about what you cannot control. Cope with the negative.

Posted by: 21117 | May 2, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

A couple points in protest here:
There seems to be a recurring acceptance here of the notion that being somehow abnormal justifies bullying. Let's see, what constitutes being abnormal? Unusually smart or intellectually challenged, large nose, thick glasses, Tourette's Syndrome, not having as much money as your fellows... um, how many of these things can a kid help? I mean I don't remember the kids who got bullied diddling themselves in class. They got bullied for stupid often imperceptible reasons.

Furthemore, why should kids who don't like to hit have to be taught to hit? Not liking to hit isn't being a doormat, it's having distaste for ugly behaviour. If an adult hits me, I get to call the police and press charges. Why can't a similar level of enforcement be in place for our children? Why can't they turn to a mediating authority?

Imagine if all you big brave non-doormat adults had to smash someone in the nose to guarantee your freedom to walk home from the bus unmolested. How many of you would be ready to do it?

Posted by: underthetulippoplar | May 2, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

By Anonymous @ 10:30 AM

"Okay, but what about the kids who don't have the means or parental consent to take up martial arts?"

I would like to think that the self-confidence that enables a person to stand up for themselves is not an ability limited to martial arts training. I may not agree with everything that OhioOrrin said, but Athletics of many stripes can also achieve the same ends, especially with high quality coaching.

As for the value of non-violent solutions, I would say that you can learn that from best from other people. Better yet that those people be authority figures (or parents!) in schools who are agressive in combating the bullying as well.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse


underthetulippoplar

"Imagine if all you big brave non-doormat adults had to smash someone in the nose to guarantee your freedom to walk home from the bus unmolested. How many of you would be ready to do it?"


Been there, done that and so have both of my kids.

Better to kick a$s once and get a few knocks, than be a coward for life.

Posted by: Spike | May 2, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

When I heard about this poor kid, it really made my blood run cold. This is what bullying can lead to, even when parents try their best to help:

http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/

Posted by: blahblah | May 2, 2007 10:52 AM | Report abuse

underthetulippoplar,

I see your point, but my dad always told me if you are going to get hit, you might as well hit back. The cops aren't always going to be able to protect you and the teachers are not always going to be around to protect your child. I am not saying turn your child into a fighting machine, I am talking about self defense. As you can see from the above posts, some teachers do nothing to help some children.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

`do not open e-mails from strangers or bullies. Instead, save them and give them to the authorities. `

WHAT? GIVE ALL EMAIL FROM STRANGERS TO `THE AUTHORITIES` WITHOUT EVEN READING IT? ``` faye kane, homeless smartmouth ``` blog.myspace.com/fayekane

Posted by: Faye Kane | May 2, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Irish girl

"The cops aren't always going to be able to protect you and the teachers are not always going to be around to protect your child"

That is why you start teaching kids to be strong when they are little.

It is very difficult for adult cowards to change. See how they argue with you on this blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

David S.

"Athletics of many stripes can also achieve the same ends, especially with high quality coaching."

Probably, but what about the kids who don't have the means or parental consent to take up sports?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Anonymous @ 11:14 AM

"It is very difficult for adult cowards to change. See how they argue with you on this blog?"

What is the difference betweeen cowardice and civility in your oppinion?

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I was a bad victim of bullying from about the 4th grade to 7th grade. Really bad. Missing 20+ days of school bad. We were taught to take the high ground, not to fight with the bullies and to ignore their taunts. This was the mid-1970s and nonviolence was the mode of the day.

First off, I believe there are two kinds of bullies:
1. The lunatics. They come from broken homes, they lash out at people who appear lower on the totem pole than they are to feel power. We often hear about these kinds of bullies, but they are a minority of the bullies I knew.
2. The ultra-confidents. These are bullies but they are NOT losers. They have EXTREMELY HIGH levels of self-confidence and always think they're right and you're wrong. They are the least-understood bullies. I knew a bad bully in my jr high who went on to be a totally obnoxious millionaire lawyer who is on TV every year and showed up at the reunion with a new trophy wife and pictures of the pool he was building in his back yard. I think most of the "mean girls" bullies are like this- I was mentally harassed constantly by the daughter of the owner of a local car dealership chain that you can hum the commercial jingle to.

So anyone who posts here that bullies are usually troubled or come from bad families or have their own problems is WRONG. There are many bullies who are rich and are so self-confident that they'll run over anyone. As adults the loser bullies end up in jail but the confident bullies are CEOs. If you don't take into account bullies with massively high self-esteem then you are doing your children a disservice.

I'm here to say in the most basic language possible so that everyone understands: Ignoring the bullies has zero effect on helping your child and anything but direct confrontation is a failed plan. If you want to teach your kids how to get bullied teach them to not fight back. Not fighting sadists is to give into sadism. There is no such thing as a "moral high ground" with bullies and anyone thinking this is completely wrong and possibly hurting their children by encouraging them to be victims.

In the 8th grade, the first week back at school, people kept saying I lost weight. I realized that I weighed the same amount as in the 7th grade- a portly 140 lbs- but had gained about 3 inches in height, leveling me out. I learned to take a shower every day by that point and I forced my parents to buy me nicer clothes. The high self-esteem bullies seemed to leave me alone- that was nice. But the lunatic bullies kept trying to start trouble, flicking my ear, tripping me, knocking my books out of my hands. I was really fed up with this. I fought back, got into three fights with these creeps and was almost suspended from school with everyone telling me "to ignore them" and to "take the higher ground" but it wasn't until I fought back that the bullying stopped. Suddenly in the 8th grade... people decided they couldn't pick on me without me fighting back and only then did the bullying that lasted about 4 years stopped. I had changed from Neville Chamberlain into FDR.

So my secret to bullying is:
1. Make sure your kids take a bath every single day, bar none. Make sure they brush their teeth several times a day. Get them regular haircuts that are hip. My parents didn't make me take a bath every day because they "were too busy." They only made me brush my teeth at night. This meant I had greasy hair and bad breath until age 12 when a friend told me to shape up!
2. Train them how to determine their own personal style that will not get them beaten up. Dress your kids in designer clothes. There is no avoiding this issue and no substitute for buying good clothes for your kids. If your kids are not asking for brands of clothes that the really hip kids wear you have to ask your kids why not? Many parents are trying to parent too cheaply and you are just going to have to bite the bullet and buy your kids good clothes. Kids who "don't follow the crowd" are in reality "alienated from their friends." Are you teaching your children that other people are successful and they aren't?
3. Get your kids braces. Get them to a dermatologist. If they need help, get it early and this includes therapy or inspirational books and tapes.
4. When the above is done, tell your children to never, under any circumstances, let anyone say anything bad about them without fighting back or threatening to fight back. The minute that I let people get away with talking trash about me, EVERYONE who had bully tendencies piled on and made my life miserable. I flunked two classes in Jr high!! I had what I now know were panic attacks. I developer neuroses that I had to go to therapy over as an adult! Weeks after I fought three bullies- and lost- the bullying basically stopped.

This post is long enough. Being the victim of a bully was a critical moment in my life. My parents dropped the ball because they thought MLK had the right idea. Honorable? Yeah, in real life, but dishonorable in the school yard.

In daycare, my wonderful son started getting bullied at age 3. There's a diplomatic kid and the parents refuse to speak English to him, so he only communicates through bad behavior. I taught my son to "flat hand" him in the face (straight-arm your flat hand into his face so he can't see and his nose hurts), shocking him without injuring him, and the other parents say my son is the only kid not picked on right now.

Posted by: DCer | May 2, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

DCer

There you go, survival of the fittest.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

DCer

There you go, survival of the fittest.
----------

I wouldn't agree with that sentiment, but parents do have to realize that kids are not adults, therefore certain tenets on nonviolence don't work until you're dealing with rational adult minds.

Posted by: DCer | May 2, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"certain tenets on nonviolence don't work until you're dealing with rational adult minds."

Like the million+ adults sitting in prison in America.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

ok I get that I have to send my kid to Tae Kwon Do. I do wash her every day. And I have told her sometimes you have to smack back.

That said, I think we should still question some running assumptions here.
I do not think not hitting back is always cowardice. I am proud of my child's almost defiant insistence on gentleness. At 5 she has the sense of self to declare that that is not true to her personality. (tho no she has not faced any bullying yet)

For the adult who had to smash his way home from his commute: well, most of us do get to rely on the police. So why not even the odds out for our kids by insisting that schools police bullying. Sure, bullying is still going to happen, just like crime happens though we have police, but at least there is a helpful infrastructure in place.
We can fight for this. We don't have to accept a complete lack of civilization here: we do not, in fact, live in the jungle, even if many among us are animals.

Posted by: underthetulippoplar | May 2, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

We can fight for this. We don't have to accept a complete lack of civilization here: we do not, in fact, live in the jungle, even if many among us are animals.

Okay, so the people who fight back are animals? Good luck talking a killer, bully, rapist to death.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

A tangent more on the subject of cyber-bullying specifically. Looking at the linked research, I did not notice research on the anonymity of the bully.

I would be curious to know how many victims of cyber-bullying knew the source of the bullying, especially with a breakdown of the demographics of the victims. This might have some baring on the experience of female bloggers as was featured in an article yesterday.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/29/AR2007042901555.html

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"certain tenets on nonviolence don't work until you're dealing with rational adult minds."

Like the million+ adults sitting in prison in America.
---------

ummm... your responses stopped making sense about 5 minutes ago.

Posted by: DCer | May 2, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

By Anonymous @ 11:43 AM

"Okay, so the people who fight back are animals? Good luck talking a killer, bully, rapist to death."

Underthetulippoplar may correct me on this, but I got the impression that they were advocating for strengthening the ability of police/parents/teachers/administrators to confront and intervene in cases of bullying.

I would like to second that notion if it was, indeed, the intended point. We should not compel anyone to persue a path of violence if it is against their wishes, even if that person is a child. In my oppinion, it should be the adults' responsibility to establish order in school and punish bullying. This is why teachers and administrators who abdicate that responsibility should be seen as inapporopriate.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

clarification: I did not mean the people who fight back are animals. I was referring to the bullies.

Why the resistance to a simple suggestion? That we work together as adults to police bullying. Sure, teach kids to fight back, if that is what is necessary. But give them the same kinds of authority as recourse that we too have as adults.

Posted by: underthetulippoplar | May 2, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

YES, thank you anonymous. Exactly what I was trying to say.

Posted by: underthetulipoplar | May 2, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I am a little shocked at all the advice to fight back. That works great if you're the six foot tall victim and the bully is five feet tall, as in one poster's situation. But not so well if (as in my case) the situation is reversed. If the small person tries to fight they will get beaten to a pulp; they could even be killed. In addition, the idea that bullying should be fought with reciprocal violence is just what leads to situations like the VA Tech shooting.

I also think the poster who advises us to just "raise normal kids" is an idiot. I was bullied for the high crime of being short and having big feet. What were my parents supposed to do about that? Surgically install longer legs? Cut my toes off so my feet would appear smaller?
And the poster who advised that we all buy our children designer clothing is living in la-la land. Can we all afford that? of course not. The attitude that children deserve to be bullied if they are in any way different from the norm is the kind that will lead your children to BECOME bullies. If more parents raised their children to understand that it's obnoxious to blame people for things out of their control, fewer children would be bullied.

In my opinion, bullying that includes physical contact should be treated as the assault that it is. Teachers should call the police and parents should press charges. I agree with the person who made the analogy about adults at a bus stop: if this treatment happened to an adult, the police would be called. There would be no need for children to respond to bullying by fighting back if authorities at school would respond to the bullying appropriately. In addition, it is ridiculous to teach children not to tattle on bulliers. I will teach my kids that they should tell me if they are hit by anyone. They should also tell me if they see another child get hit, and they should feel no guilt about "tattling" on a bully if the bully is assaulting another child. That's not tattling, that's a moral compass. Teachers who will not deal properly with a bully, who accuse a child of tattling, or who expect the child to just live with it, are cowards and should be fired.

Posted by: m | May 2, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

In addition, the idea that bullying should be fought with reciprocal violence is just what leads to situations like the VA Tech shooting.
--------
You think that had more to do with it than schizophrenia? Really? Honestly?

People said that Eric Harris (Columbine) was a bully who bullied other kids like Brooks Brown. Umm... if people fought back against him wait, no, he, the bully was the gun nut who pulled the trigger.... wait.... Brooks, the victim didn't shoot anyone... hmmm...

I'll still go with mental illness first on this one.

Posted by: DCer | May 2, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I fought back, my newphews fought back, and none of us every shoot anyone. We are all productive adults who don't pick on other people are start fights.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Irish girl

Don't defend your position - the cowards will never get it.

They don't have spinal cords and neither will their kids.

Then you and I pay for cleaning up their messes and picking up the pieces.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

You are right anon poster. I don't have to defend my position. I have to say though that everyone who has posted does have good ideas. However, I don't think that these ideas can stand alone. Teachers and parents need to get involved, but there are going to be times when you child stands alone. Whether it is on the play ground or in the board room.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

So if all the other little girls in my daughter's elementary school dress in a way that I, as a parent, think is immodest and inappropriate -- I should just bite the bullet and buy her a halter top and a pair of high heels anyway? And if I don't, then she deserves to be bullied? What if I'm from a country and culture that doesn't expect children to be dressed like little adults? I would never dress my children in designer clothes.

And by your logic, should I also forbid them from being in the band since I don't want them to be teased for being band geeks? How about the school play? Is that out too?

You seem to have a kind of limited view of what children are actually like.

Posted by: questions, questions | May 2, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

DCer: Good for you for getting through it and learning to exercise your own power.

To all those who believe parents or teachers intervening with bullies is the solution... I can't say it won't work in some situations (especially where the bully is basically an ok kid who doesn't truly understand the hurt they're inflicting). BUT--and this is a huge BUT--by intervening, you are teaching your child that he or she does not have the power or ability to solve his or her own problems. Maybe that's true. Maybe it helps your kid in the short run. But at some point your kid won't have you or a teacher nearby and will need to deal alone with the hostility of others, and it helps to have a bit of confidence. Besides, you can legislate against specific behaviors but you won't make anyone like your kid... at best you'll only make people pity your kid. Liking comes from respect, which has to be earned by the kid alone.

I've seen kids bullied for having a stupid name, for being fat or thin, for having ugly clothes, for being too openly smart or for being learning disabled. Yes, you can help your kids, as DCer suggests, by helping them eliminate some of the glaring differences between them and other kids. (God, the ribbing I took for that purple polyester suit my mom dressed me in... it was a hand-me-down... NO ONE is so poor that they can't say no to purple polyester!)

But the biggest thing is giving your kid some tools. I'm in favor of hitting back. I'm hugely in favor of kids learning how not to show their vulnerability to their tormentors. The bullied kids always seem to be the ones who cry when they're teased. (DON'T. Cry later, at home.) I'm also in favor of learning to make allies--maybe your kid is too small or peaceable to hit back, but can befriend a bigger or more aggressive kid. As far as non-physical bullying, don't let them see you sweat; don't retaliate in kind, because ANYTHING you say can and will be ridiculed; but having a group of friends, again, is the best defense. It's always the loners that are targets. I don't mean this to blame the victim, but to give the victim some agency. Helping your kid make friends--real friends, maybe from another school--is a great step.

Posted by: worker bee | May 2, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse


Irish girl

"but there are going to be times when you child stands alone. "
Whether it is on the play ground or in the board room"

Exactly, in the end we all stand alone, with or without a moral code. It depends a great deal on how we were raised by our parents.

Posted by: Spike | May 2, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

worker bee

"God, the ribbing I took for that purple polyester suit my mom dressed me in... it was a hand-me-down... NO ONE is so poor that they can't say no to purple polyester!)"

The ones in smelly rags won't say no to purple polyester...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Y'all /really/ need to read "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander" by Barbara Coloroso.

There is no magic formula to make your kid safe from being bullied (or becoming a bully, which I don't really see reflected in this conversation), except to create a society where bullying is not acceptable and dealt with.

I'm shocked that the answer in some comments seems to be "train them not to do anything "weird"" - sure, we need to help our kids socialize, but one's personal safety and security should not depend on wearing the right sneakers!

This doesn't mean disempowering children but rather engaging them - not just the kids directly involved, but the bystanders who allow it to happen.

Anyways, read the book, it's fantastic.

Posted by: Shandra | May 2, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The ones in smelly rags won't say no to purple polyester...

That is so sad. One thing we can teach our kids is not to be a bully.

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Shandra

"There is no magic formula to make your kid safe from being bullied (or becoming a bully, which I don't really see reflected in this conversation), except to create a society where bullying is not acceptable and dealt with. "

I'd like to create a Shangri La too. But it ain't gonna happen in my lifetime or my kids lifetime.

I have to prepare my kids for the world and neighborhood we live in TODAY.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

12:52 PM, it was a joke.

Seriously though, I was dirt poor, but that wasn't what caused me to be bullied--it was the fact that I had zero sense of what was appropriate.

I am not for a minute defending bullies. But they're not picking victims out of a hat. They're picking kids that come across as weird or weak or defenseless--and you can help your kid learn those signifiers, and learn not to radiate vulnerability.

Think of it this way. We may eventually reach a point where all kids are taught not to be bullies. Great--no one will post evil rumors on the web or ambush you for your lunch money. At this point, if you are socially inept, too loud, too emotional, have no common sense, or whatever, you may not be the victim of bullying any more... but you will still have a really hard time making actual friends. Why not help your child be the kind of person that people want to befriend?

Posted by: worker bee | May 2, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Shandra

What the heck are you smoking? (please send some my way.)

Kids have commited suicide after being bullied. We need to address the problem TODAY!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

By worker bee @ May 2, 2007

"I can't say it won't work in some situations (especially where the bully is basically an ok kid who doesn't truly understand the hurt they're inflicting). BUT--and this is a huge BUT--by intervening, you are teaching your child that he or she does not have the power or ability to solve his or her own problems."

I have a hard problem following this logic. I would think that a child would learn that they have the power to influence events without violence if they went and told an adult that was then able to help stop the problem (much how we call the police). This is an important attribute to instil in young people to help maintain a civil society.

I should add that if the adults then fail to prevent the bullying (the "at some point we are always alone" scenario) then I would think it indicates a larger failing.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I remember absolutely nothing wrong with the kid in our school who got bullied. She wasn't beaten up just tormented without cease. As far as I could see it, her only crime was having been singled out (and who knows why that happened?). I chose not to participate and defended her on several occasions. How about teaching our kids to stand up for those who are being mistreated? Even if they are loners and poorly dressed. If we are going to talk about cowardice, kids who stand by and watch others get bullied are cowards.

Kids who are trained to act conventionally for fear of being bullied are also cowards.

There are so many kinds of cowardice and so many kinds of bravery that extend well beyond the basic scenario favored here: the wild west show down.

Posted by: underthetulippoplar | May 2, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

David S

You are missing the whole point.

Bullying includes non-violent peer pressure. EVERYONE, child or adult stands alone, in the end. With or without their moral code. With their own conscience, if they have one.

Posted by: Spike | May 2, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

On reading my post, I should qualify that I do not believe that the ability to beat off your attacker physically necessarily means that they will then stop bullying you. They could bring friends next time, or use other means to intimidate you.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

David S: I do see your point about the child exerting agency through telling an adult.

I guess in my experience bullying tends to be repeated: a victim stays a victim even in a new setting or school. Since it's a different group of kids doing the bullying, my belief is that it needs to be stopped by the victim--before it starts, instead of waiting until it becomes a problem. But I realize that this is my experience and I was a weird kid! So, YMMV.

Posted by: worker bee | May 2, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"They could bring friends next time, or use other means to intimidate you."

Yeah, that's why we have diplomacy and sometimes wars.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

By Spike @ 1:22 PM

"Bullying includes non-violent peer pressure. EVERYONE, child or adult stands alone, in the end. With or without their moral code. With their own conscience, if they have one."

I understand that not all bullying is directly violent. I apologize for my lack of clarity.

I do, however, respectfully disagree with the notion that self-reliance is necessarily about the the inevitability of being alone or that standing up to a bully by yourself guarantees you any safety. Bullies are, indeed, people that intimidate others to be feel in control. If you deny them that feeling, they can simply find better way of getting at you next time.

I would challenge, instead, that bullying occurs in places where you are not alone but surrounded by bystanders (teachers, other students, etc) who do nothing because they too fear the Bully. It is the opposite of self-reliance to go to the aid of someone who is being bullied, but it is exactly what needs to happen more often.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

by worker bee @ 1:24 pm

"I guess in my experience bullying tends to be repeated: a victim stays a victim even in a new setting or school. "

You make an excellent point. I would hypothesize that advent of the traits which make one more likely to be a victim a result of being bullied. It is true that bullies look for individuals who show those victim traits, but I would also say that bullies engage in the creation of those traits where they did not exist before, particularly among younger children.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

oops. The anonymous poster @ 01:34 PM was me.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

"Yeah, that's why we have diplomacy and sometimes wars."

Would it be possible for you to explain this analogy? Specifically examples of the diplomacy and wars you are thinking of.

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Forget the Tae Kwon Do.

Bullies don't know it either.

Pack bullies? Hit the leader just like Ralphie hit Farkus. The toddies run away.

Sports and athletics are the key to conditioning, confidence, and not quitting.

Even if you lose, especially if you lose, you pick yourself up, dust off, and go at it again.

NO PC TEACHES THESE LIFE LESSONS!

Posted by: OhioOrrin | May 2, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Nice post, DCer.

I wish it was as easy as being normal- although that certainly causes its own issues when we want to try and celebrate individuality and differences.

I had a lot going against me- overweight, bad teeth, bad skin, bad hair, not much money, and being the only white girl in the entire class, naturally shy and straigh A kinda chick. That alone got me lots of negative attention and bullying.

But what really did it was when I was 7 and tried to kiss a girl on the playground. It was a completely innocent fun kiss as I'm sure most people can imagine- but since I was a girl and she was a girl...well from that day on what had been a regular flow of teasing and ostracizing became an outright onslaught.

The worst part was that I really had no idea what- I had no clue that girls doing things to other girls was "wrong" I had no idea even what "gay" was.

I'm not sure I could have done anything about it at that point- when EVERYONE in your peer group is against you, what can you do?

Over time of course I grew into a happy fun reasonably secure adult- life brings its own opportunities. But at the time? I don't think there was much I could have done on my own to change things.

Posted by: Liz D | May 2, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Where were you that you were the only white kid in class? I am just wondering?

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Liz D

"I'm not sure I could have done anything about it at that point- when EVERYONE in your peer group is against you, what can you do?"

This is where the moral code part comes in handy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"Where were you that you were the only white kid in class? I am just wondering?

Posted by: Irish girl"

Try being the only Jew in a small southern town.............

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

PG County

It got better in High School- there were five white girls out of about 300 females.

Posted by: Liz D | May 2, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh Liz that is horrible. I feel for you and the Jewish kid. Although I don't think I would know a Jewish kid outright unless they told me and I still would have been friends with them if they did.

Did you have friends?

Posted by: Irish girl | May 2, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

What is PG County & what is the timeframe?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh some years I had the "other outcast girl" to buddy up with, but they often seemed to be from unstable families and moved a lot. So nothing consistent over the years.

High school really was better- intelligence was respected in my classes, the "old bullies" got pushed into the lower level classes and I didn't have to associate with them. I still never got asked out on dates or was very included in social events, but there was some respect and freedom.

And I'll point out that *I* had no idea why being white would mean I was bad either and certainly didn't have an issue over it...but I got a lot of insults for it as a young kid.

Posted by: Liz D | May 2, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

PG County- right outside DC in MD, fairly low income, ghettofied area. For me it was about 86-96.

Posted by: Liz D | May 2, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"the "old bullies" got pushed into the lower level classes "

Funny how that happens a lot.....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 2, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

But at the time? I don't think there was much I could have done on my own to change things.
---------

I guarantee you that you probably could not have done anything to solve your problem without exacerbating other issues. There is a lot of different kinds of bullying and you happened to get caught with one- weird cultural misunderstandings.

My sister had a pen pal who lived in a trailer park in Canada who spent years contemplating suicide and talking about how horrible life was until she scraped enough cash together to move to San Francisco and went on to have a great time there, apply to college at 20, start a small business, etc. Sometimes people are trapped in regions where one thing is cool and it's not the thing you like.

Another story I remember was how a friend of mine talked about tormenting a kid at his Catholic School because the kid's button down shirts came from K-Mart and weren't Polo brand. Up until that point I presumed kids in uniforms at religious schools were immune to that kind of bullying.

I'm pretty confident that there is nothing that the school system can do to really stop all bullying. As long as there are bus stops, as long as there is recess, as long as kids are free to talk to other kids, as long as kids see each other at malls, there will be problems that the kids have to face up to by themselves.

No one here can really say schools or the police are capable of stopping verbal harassment. It's up to the kids to stop it themselves and we as parents have to be ready to treat this seriously and prepare our children for it. They have the power to make their own decisions with the mental capacity they have at a given age.

Don't even take into account the ways that strange parents might abuse a system where they claim their kid is getting picked on and they want immediate expulsion. that's one reason why schools can't make this zero tolerance. I remember one mother screaming at us from her car to stop bothering her daughter about her father abandoning the family and my mother grabbing our hands and getting us away from this woman's public, teary, head slamming on steering wheel breakdown. We didn't know her daughter, who was in another grade as I remember.

Posted by: DCer | May 2, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh and Liz, I know exactly of the demographics you speak. I had several friends in college in the late 1980s who attended PG County schools and the ones that couldn't qualify to get into Roosevelt had absolutely hellish high school experiences that I barely believed. PG County relied way too heavily on Roosevelt to take care of the gifted students at the expense of every other high school.

Posted by: DCer | May 2, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

HA so true re: Roosevelt!

Posted by: Liz D | May 2, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

By DCer @ 2:45pm

"I'm pretty confident that there is nothing that the school system can do to really stop all bullying."

I can agree with that. There is only so much institutional changes can do to effect something that is ultimately a community problem that requires a larger focus. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink," right?

The cases that I have studied (like the australian one I linked from this morning) have had success using fairly sweeping programs, though I doubt they would have worked without a lot of community support. There are case studies where these programs fail, and a cause is resistance from communities that don't see bullying as a problem in their community (or at their school).

Posted by: David S | May 2, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I hear so many people say the answer to being bullied is to fight back. Sometimes, yes. In my case, no. I did fight back, and frequently lost. (That whole smallest kid in class thing again). All it did is get the bullies to hunt in packs. If they were alone, they ignored me. If they were together, they attacked verbally or physically.

Sometimes fighting back is not enough. In my case, the real solution lay in psychological defense mechanism. I basically talked myself into no longer caring. Their verbal attacks fell on deaf ears. I had formed bonds outside of the "mean girls" and was happy with that.

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | May 2, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

i would not say that the prisons are full of cowards altho that is one way to phrase it. the prisons are full of people who see violence as an acceptable alternative. while we may cheer when ralphie punches farkus what the book doesn't tell us is farkus, after being humiliated by ralphie goes after ralphie with a baseball bat leaving him quadriplegic or brain damaged or better yet goes into daddy's gun cabinet & pumps ralphie with a couple o'slugs.

Posted by: quark | May 2, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I was bullied in grade school and finally, one day, I snapped. I was known as a good, smart, quiet girl, and the lead (boy) bully was known as a troublemaker. One day, someone stole a copy of a teacher's test - nobody knew who did it. This bully was particularly mean to me that day, and I broke down crying after school. The principal came over to me and asked what was wrong - I answered that I knew the bully had stolen the test, and he had threatened me over it. The words just rolled off my tongue before I even knew what I was saying .....

Did he really steal it? No freaking idea lol. But the school was apparently looking to get rid of him, so they expelled him over the incident. Word spread like wildfire about my role in this, and you bet your bottom dollar that NOBODY ever messed with me ever again :)

Posted by: StrikeBack | May 2, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

quark

Yes that is what happens. Maybe to sissy liberals like you. Just let your kid take it then.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

fr: DCer:

>...Dress your kids in designer clothes. There is no avoiding this issue and no substitute for buying good clothes for your kids. If your kids are not asking for brands of clothes that the really hip kids wear you have to ask your kids why not? Many parents are trying to parent too cheaply and you are just going to have to bite the bullet and buy your kids good clothes.

Oh puhleaze. Get a clue. A lot of parents CAN'T afford to dress their kids "in designer clothes" for a variety of reasons. Maybe a kid has a single parent who works and can't afford to get silly "designer" clothes. Were I a parent, there would be NO way I'd allow my child to dress in "puff daddy" or "p diddy" shirts simply because he's a "celebrity", not to mention the clothes he makes $$ off of are produced in a third world factory, where the workers are paid a pittance.

Posted by: alex | May 3, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

not to mention the clothes he makes $$ off of are produced in a third world factory, where the workers are paid a pittance.

That's their own fault.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

In addition, the idea that bullying should be fought with reciprocal violence is just what leads to situations like the VA Tech shooting.
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You think that had more to do with it than schizophrenia? Really? Honestly?

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Hey, we don't really know whether the VA Tech shooter was having a schizophrenic episode, or whether he was narcissistic, or depressive, or what his exact mental illness was, if any. Several of these mental illnesses are precipitated by stressful events (such as bullying). As for his state of mind at the time of the attacks, his videotapes show that in his own mind he was retaliating with "fair" violence against those he saw as his bullies. He was clearly bullied as a kid. Perhaps if adults had stepped in to help instead of leaving him to suffer the bullying on his own, he would have experienced less stress as a child, and wouldn't have fallen prey to schizophrenia or whatever it was.

Posted by: m | May 3, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps if adults had stepped in to help instead of leaving him to suffer the bullying on his own, he would have experienced less stress as a child, and wouldn't have fallen prey to schizophrenia or whatever it was.

Well, those adults should have been his parents. He also wasn't bullied by anyone at Va Tech, so your argument is weak.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh puhleaze. Get a clue. A lot of parents CAN'T afford to dress their kids "in designer clothes" for a variety of reasons. Maybe a kid has a single parent who works and can't afford to get silly "designer" clothes. Were I a parent, there would be NO way I'd allow my child to dress in "puff daddy" or "p diddy" shirts simply because he's a "celebrity", not to mention the clothes he makes $$ off of are produced in a third world factory, where the workers are paid a pittance.

----

and what, I may ask, would any bully care about what you wrote? For that is the issue, would your behavior as a parent help your kid cope or hurt your child. My parents' embracement of a nonviolent philosophy meant I got the crap kicked out of me. does that mean MLK was wrong or just wrong for the schoolyard?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"When the above is done, tell your children to never, under any circumstances, let anyone say anything bad about them without fighting back or threatening to fight back."

Ate you kidding me? Are you really that thin-skinned? You must have no siblings--I have three brothers and if I reacted that badly every time someone teased me, I would've had my *ss handed to me. Get a thicker skin--fighting *every* time someone says anything bad about you just makes you look like a hot-tempered jerk. People avoid angry, negative people like that. I knew a guy who would flip out like that--he has real issues about being short--and he had a hard time getting dates. If he'd had a sense of humor about it, it would've been cool.

I definitely agree that standing up to bullies is generally the best policy but fighting someone every single time they say something bad is silly. It depends on the kind of bad--are they teasing you or actively trashing your reputation?

Also, I would never give in to my child's demands to buy designer clothes. If they want them, they can earn the money themselves, although I would discourage even that. A Coach bag for a kid? Louis Vitton? Ridiculous. Kids don't need expensive stuff like that; it encourages rampant materialism. Yes, kids should wear clean clothes that don't make them look too dorky but nice clothes, even trendy clothes, don't have to be expensive.

Posted by: Enn Why | May 4, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Clarification--the county is east of DC, however not ghettofied. Attitudes like that are just the ones that feed bullies. We live in a $800K home with excellent jobs and do not appreciate comments like those. Bullies or not.

Posted by: PG County | May 4, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

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