“Sibling rivalry consistently matches the definition of bullying better than school bullying. It is repetitive, the kids really want to hurt each other, and with the possible exception of identical twins, there is always an imbalance of power.
The entire field of bullying research is plagued with inconsistencies because the definition is confusing and because it is almost impossible to conduct objective research about bullies and bullying, as these words are biased descriptions of people and behavior.
Furthermore, the bullying researchers who have mandated through force of law what society is to do about bullying have no idea how to get rid of bullying. Research has been showing that the results of their programs are an embarrassment. Knowing how to conduct a research study does not make one an expert in solving the problems one is trying to study. Successful methods for reducing aggression, including bullying, have been known for a very long time. However, these methods are contrary to the basic philosophy of the anti-bullying researchers who have given us in their stead interventions that increase hostility. For a fuller understanding of what's wrong with the anti-bullying psychology, read my article, What's Wrong with the Psychology Underlying the Anti-Bully Movement: https://bullies2buddies.com/Essential-Articles-for-Mental-Health-Professionals/whats-wrong-with-the-psychology-underlying-the-anti-bully-movement.html
Israel C. Kalman, MS, NCSP
Director, Bullies to Buddies, Inc.”
“I pray the you have your opportunity to lay down your all for the next Dorner, which I know you will do gladly. There could be no greater testament to your life, and lack of moral sense”
contrarian48 on Mar 13, 2013 at 09:20:57
“His death will not be vain.. How touching. And the 3 innocents he murdered? Are you simply morally deaf and blind, or are you that empty a human? You are far worse than any Dorner, as you excuse murderers, and lionize them, make them heroes, and try to convince others they are both victims and heroes. Why aren't you out ther defending Anders Behring Breivik?”
“Lenore, you are a genius! And courageous! This is actually the best therapy for kids! I used to do this a few decades ago when I worked as a school psychologist in Israel. In the three schools I served I asked the principal to provide me with groups of problem kids to work with. I would meet with the kids for one period per week. They of course expected me to tell them what to do. But I didn't. I just hung out with them but let them do whatever they want and deal with each other directly. The kids loved these sessions and they improved. They gained self-confidence, became happier and did better academically. They healed each other. I wish you much success with these groups!
“You are right that watching a video clip or reading a manual is not enough for some kids. What is needed with them is an effective technique. My personal success rate with hundreds of individual victims of bullying is at least 90%. Other professionals who have learned my techniques are also experiencing wonderful success: https://bullies2buddies.com/does-bullies-to-buddies-work.html
Unfortunately this entire field of bullying has been created and promoted by professionals who don't know how to teach kids to stop being bullied, so they want everyone else to change.
“Einstein said that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. We have been fighting bullying intensively for thirteen years since the Columbine shooting, and bullying is said to have become an epidemic.
Scientific thinking requires us to consider the possibility that our failing anti-bullying efforts are part of the problem rather than the solution. If these efforts were working, bullying would be becoming less of a problem rather than a bigger one.
Even more importantly, instead of trying to force bullying out of existence by raising awareness of its horrors and passing laws against it, we need to be teaching people how to handle it. Mr. Edgerton is correct in saying that bullying is part of life, whether it is from nature or nurture or a combination of those. It happens far more within the family than in school. Schools are education establishments, not correctional facilities. Their job is not to protect children from the challenges of life but to prepare them for handling those challenges, whether the challenges are academic or social.
“I wish there was some way to unfave a comment one faved by mistake. :-(”
hp blogger Adam Kirk Edgerton on Jul 11, 2012 at 20:29:03
“I read through some of your materials, and I definitely agree that treating bullied children as merely passive victims is not helpful in the short-term. But there is certainly more complexity than your manual and video suggest - role-playing through some scenarios is not enough to stop mistreatment. I also don't think that lawmakers are purely self-interested; they simply are not the ones who are actually in the schools.”
“Please--I made an error in my comment. I don't see how to fix it. Please do it for me. The last paragraph says, "What I'm saying is unrealistic." Please change it to, "What I'm saying is not unrealistic."
“Restorative justice is a wonderful practice and it is to be highly commended. However, as an overall solution to bullying in schools it has its limitations. It is highly time-consuming and requires the participation of many people. Are we to conduct these lengthy hearings every time a student insults another, rolls their eyes, or talks about them behind their back? These are all acts that are being labeled today as bullying and they can make kids miserable.
Restorative justice is great for criminal acts or for helping insensitive kids improve their personality. It would work very nicely in the Karen Klein case, as this article indicates. It certainly would have been better than a one-year suspension from the bus, a severe punishment for ten minutes of rudeness.
But there is a much better way of eliminating bullying from schools that requires little time and expense. Teach kids–and staff–the simple skills for handling bullying. They won't need the school to conduct lengthy hearings with lots of people. Everyone becomes socially smarter and more confident because they are able to handle difficulty on their own. Bullying is going to happen throughout life and we shouldn't lead kids to believe that there will always be a restorative hearing to help them whenever someone makes them feel bad.
What I'm saying is unrealistic. I have been teaching this to kids and schools for a few decades and the results are phenomenal.”
“Your article is very well written, but reflects many of the popular beliefs about bullying and the supposed difficulty in solving the problem. It is widely believed that if the school staff would only be willing to make the bullying stop, it would succeed in doing so. However, this is unfounded. The research has been showing that the most revered, intensive anti-bullying programs fail to make more than a minor dent in bullying and often result in an increase in hostilities not only among students but parents and school staff as well.
A simple solution to bullying does exist. It is called "wisdom."I have taught thousands of professionals to use my techniques for imparting this wisdom to kids and they are getting wonderful results.
The idea that if there were a simple solution to bullying it would have become widely accepted by now is simply not true. There is an entire mega-million-dollar anti-bullying industry that is dominated by researchers promoting fear of bullying and the idea that the solution is very complex. They have succeeded in getting laws passed that require the failing approach to be used by schools throughout the country. A simple solution would put them out of business. I will be glad to arrange a demonstration of how easy it for kids to stop being bullied once they understand the dynamics of the problem and the simple solution.
“There is one thing none of the researchers are considering: the thing that works absolutely best. And that is teaching kid how to handle cyberbullying. We wouldn't dare give children a car without teaching them how to handle the dangers of driving. Yet we give children cellphones and computers with internet access and expect everyone else to protect them.
Just like we teach kids to avoid the dangers of driving on their own before we give them a car to drive, we should be teaching them how to handle the dangers of cyberspace. Then we won't have to put so much effort into trying to protect them from each other. My website has a detailed set of instructions to kids for dealing with cyberbullying. How about doing a study in which you have kids read these instructions and then see how they fare in comparison with the "how do we make kids stop engaging in cyberbullying" approach? Maybe we will find that the best solution is in a place no one seems to be considering. Here are the instructions: https://bullies2buddies.com/Essential-Articles-for-Students/how-to-handle-cyberbullying.html”
hp blogger Janice Harper on Feb 1, 2012 at 14:02:12
“Thank you for the kind words, they made my day. I'm not sure, though, that I'd say homework is a bad idea. I do think (often) that my daughter has had way too much homework, and that is an issue. But I was a university professor for a decade and found that far too many students were not at all prepared to be self-reliant and put the time into studying and working outside the classroom. So my own view is that homework should be assigned, but not over-assigned. Kids still need to have a childhood, even into high school.”
Groucho1951 on Feb 1, 2012 at 09:32:52
“And schools think the more homework they can pile on the kids, the better off the kids will be! When a kid is getting 3 hours of homework, plus projects (monthly long/year long/semester long), plus having to study for tests, it becomes counter productive! When they go toi school totally exhausted because they were up so late, the schools are actually HURTING tghe child both mentally as well as physically. Why don't they get it?”
“There is a solution to this crisis, but it is not what the world is currently doing, which is conducting a crusade against bullies. This crisis has grown during the very years that we have been trying hardest to rid the world of bullies. This approach is counterproductive. The only reliable solution is to teach kids how to handle the social pressures of life, not to try to protect them from those pressures.
To better understand why this bullying crisis exists and how to solve it, I welcome you to read the following two articles:
I would just like to point out that, despite the greater complexity of workplace situations, what happens when employees report others to the authorities in the hope of getting justice is the same thing that happens when children go to their parents to complain about each other: the hostilities escalate, as each child tries to convince the parent that they are right and their sibling is wrong. But now, not only is there more hostility between the kids, the one who is wrong in the eyes of the parent now hates the parent, too, and wants to get even with both their sibling and their parent.
Somehow adults believe that the very process that causes hostilities to escalate within the family are going to make relationships better in school or at work. It is extremely difficult to be a good judge, one who makes both sides happy. In fact, judges don't even expect to make both sides happy. They just want to make sure that the perpetrator gets the proper punishment. And they don't expect the perpetrator to love them, either.
In any organization, whether it is a family or school or workplace. the environment is most pleasant when people know how to deal with each other directly. The authorities should be involved only as a last resort, and even then, we should consider ourselves fortunate if there is a smooth resolution.”
It illustrates the true solution to bullying: wisdom. Wisdom involves using our brains to solve our problems, rather than expecting others to protect us from problems and to solve problems for us. If we were to teach kids the wisdom for dealing with difficult situations on their own–a skill that will help then throughout life–rather than trying Quixotically to create by force of law a world in which there are no difficult situations, we would save ourselves a lot of time, effort and money, while sparing people the inevitable suffering caused by laws that cause more harm than good.”
hp blogger Janice Harper on Jan 6, 2012 at 13:16:07
“Of course, this is a story of calculated revenge. I'm not sure wisdom is the best adjective.”
I always admire your reasoned analysis of the problems surrounding anti-bullying laws, and your ability to see both sides of the issues.
The problems we are having with these laws are a ultimately a result of the way "bullying" is defined today. The traditional definition is using force to make people do things against their will, as in "Give me your lunch money or I'll beat you up after school," or, "You're going to have sex with me or you can kiss your job goodbye." The new definition of bullying really boils down to "any behavior than can upset anyone else."
A good law criminalizes behaviors that cause OBJECTIVE harm--behaviors that can harm people's bodies or property, or deny them liberty. It means that if you do them to me, YOU are the one who's hurting me. But we open up a Pandora's box when we criminalize behaviors that cause SUBJECTIVE harm. For example, if you say something I don't like and I get upset, I really upset myself. It is wrong to punish you for that.
The "bullying" acts that should be criminalized already have names. There is no need to add an additional category of "bullying." Anti-bullying laws are really anti-freedom-of-speech laws.”
hp blogger Janice Harper on Jan 6, 2012 at 12:24:00
“You make an important point about distinguishing between objective and subjective harm. Of course, civil cases seek remedies for subjective damages everyday, so it's not new. But the further we shift toward treating these subjective damages as objective ones, and shifting the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused, the more we risk repeating the sex abuse scandals of the 80's that turned a real problem -- sex abuse -- into a witch hunt where accusation was all the proof required for conviction.”
“We are looking for every solution except the simplest one. We all believe that if someone is being bullied, it is the responsibility of other people to solve the problem, either the so-called bullies themselves, their parents or the culture at large. But these efforts will never work no matter how hard you try to implement them because bullying, as much as we hate to admit it, is human nature. Human beings aren't angels or saints. Every social group establishes a pecking order and there is a constant struggle for dominance. Winning the struggle feels good, losing feels bad. The absolutely simplest way to eliminate bullying is by teaching people how to handle being bullied. It is effortless, but one needs to understand the dynamics and how to implement the solution. When we teach this to an entire class, the kids all become more resilient. However, this solution is not popular because it requires the individual who is suffering take responsibility for the solving the problem, and people confuse taking responsibility with "blaming the victim."”
“Unfortunately, I am not a scholar and don't jot down the name of every study I come across. But the following is one that is specifically about relational aggression:
Crothers, L., Bell, R., Blasik, J., Camic, L., Greisler, J., and Keener, D. 2008. Relational Aggression in Children and Adolescents: An Overview of the Literature for School Psychologists. NASP Communiqué, Vol. 36, #5 February 2008
Several metanalyses have been conducted on anti-bullying programs and they show that they rarely reduce bullying and often lead to an increase. To find these, please go to the following page of my website, and click on the tab that says "Politician." If you scroll down, you will find links to four metanalyses: https://bullies2buddies.com/Police/Law/
“To show that bullying is going down, people love to cite studies showing that physical bullying has decreased among kids in school. It's because we have a strong need to believe that all our anti-bully crusading is actually paying off. It is convenient to ignore researcher findings that non-physical bullying is going up.
It is relatively easy for schools to put a stop to the more obvious forms of bullying. But there is no shortage of ways for kids to torment others that are not physical and are less detectable. Social scientists understand that all social groups create pecking orders and it feels better to be at the top than at the bottom. When we stop the physical, kids don't just stop the pecking. They simply look for safer ways to peck.
Parenting experts teach us that when we pay attention to negative behavior, we get more negative behavior. And we wonder why paying so much attention to bullying isn't making it disappear.
I know this may not your purpose with this article, but it shows how easy it is to end up being mean to people. Bullying experts believe it is pathological, but it isn't. It is human nature, and few people are strong enough to resist the pressure to follow the group and torment others. The reason that everyone is so gung-ho against bullies is because we think the bullies are "other people." And we wonder why so many people are bullies. It's because they are not "them"; they are "us." If we realized this, we would be less eager to try to eradicate "bullies" from society and be more concerned with our own behavior.
As usual, great and incisive writing. You objectively present the problems facing both the accuser and the accused rather the simplistic black-and-white "good victim/evil bull" perspective that has become so common today.
I believe your frustration partially has to do with the wish to have a perfectly fair system. Unfortunately, living beings are far more complex than the inanimate material that physical scientists work with. While we can send machines to the moon with uncanny accuracy, we cannot engineer a perfectly fair human society.
However, I think a major stumbling block to a creating a better society is the modern tendency, promoted by social scientists who should know better, to believe that the solution to human problems is government: if we can just pass tough enough laws, social problems will disappear. Unfortunately, as you document so clearly, once we involve the legal authorities against people, hostilities almost inevitably escalate. We should learn the lessons from The Wizard of Oz: the politicians in the shiny government buildings are just ordinary people and cannot magically solve our social and emotional problems for us. The power is within us; we just need to access it.
Personally, I think that people would be happier, and there would be fewer social problems, if more effort were spent on imparting to people the wisdom for dealing with difficulty on their own instead of the naive expection that government can do it for us.”
“Dr. Harper, welcome to antibullyism, the most popular witch hunt in the history of the world. It is a quasi-relgious crusade aiming to rid the world of the evil people among us, and religion is driven by belief, not logic. Though it is dismally failing in its mission, you cannot write anything critical of anti-bullyism, no matter how rational, and, without getting viciously attacked by its adherents.
The general public can be excused for being gung-ho against bullies. It sounds like such a good idea, it is hard to see what could possibly be wrong with it. It is harder to excuse the world of science, which has abandoned logic when it comes to bullies.
But as the great twentieth century philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “Few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.”
Social scientists are human beings, and as such know the pain of being victimized, so they, too, are seduced by hatred of bullies, and hatred sends logical thinking down the drain. Nothing in history has satisfied the need to hate as the anti-bully movement. We now have a scientist-endorsed group we can legitimately hate without getting accused of being racists.
The reason anti-bullyism is so incredibly popular is that everyone thinks the bully is someone else. Just read the vicious responses to your article. Serious students of human nature understand that evil is not other people. It is us.”
Richard Schwindt on Nov 4, 2011 at 20:20:23
“I think you hit on an uncomfortable truth: "everyone thinks the bully is someone else". Even Shakespeare notes that if everyone received their just desserts: "who should escape whipping?". At the worst moment of my abuse experience one of my colleagues slipped me a note about people who lack consciousness. It helped and reminded me of Jesus: "forgive them Lord, they know not what they do". I was terribly abused psychologically in the workplace but I was also a manager for 11 years. Was I never the bully? I don't know; I don't think so but I hope I am not so arrogant as to be above critical self reflection. That said, there is a qualitative difference in mindset between workplace abusers and targets. However, the group phenomenon that Janice references is very real and maybe there should be a book called "when bad things happen to good people that are perpetrated by other good people facilitated by not so good people." I hope that would make us all stop and think and perhaps adopt some humility to mitigate our vengeful instincts. Ps, I've believed for a long time that all worplace copies of Machiavelli, Von Clauswitz and Sun Tsui should be replaced by Montaigne's essays.”