TED Conversations

Andrea Morisette Grazzini

CEO, WetheP, Inc.


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Are grownup bullies teaching kids how to bully?

Media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Keith Olberman make a living by catalyzing the ire of their audiences through their incendiary tactics.

Leaders themselves, from pastors to politicians to parents to Tea Partiers and Black Panthers square off against different others.

Sparks are a flying, to say least.

And new movies like "The Hunger Games" and "Bully" provide brutal images that imply youth brutality can be catalyzed by adult cultures where competitive vitriol prevails.

Meanwhile, in the real world, communities and schools struggle to manage the bully-culture that has lead to increasingly more mental health concerns, if not more suicides by ostracized kids.

So, folks.

Who's to blame for bullying: kids, adults, both?
Who should lead the demise of cross-country bullying?
And the $10K Q: How?

Bullying, it seems knows no bounds. Thus, I hope this conversation doesn't get too bogged down on specific groups who suffer from bullying, but more on the larger contagions that seem to infecting many different segments of society.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts --


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    Apr 12 2012: I refuse to believe that any child is born "bad" or "evil". No two people will handle stress and pain in the exact same way. While teaching I have seen mothers proud of their daughters' "Queen Bee" status and defend cruel behavior as a normal part of adolescent behavior. This never failed to alarm me.

    I continually say to all: those of us over thirty no longer have the emotional point of reference to equate our experience in middle or high school with that of today's youth. The culture of 24/7 contact creates a level of potential embarrassment and harassment that I would have never experienced. Creating stress levels for youth far above what I would have known and been able to cope with. However today's kids see it all as perfectly normal and "it is what it is" kind of attitude. The adolescent brain is wired for emotional action and reaction leaving the use of logic as a second choice, so add to this a constant contact with parents (perhaps bullying parents) teachers, friends, random acquaintances, and it's a recipe for pain.

    The energy put into helping victims is vital, but there also needs to probably be ten times that energy put into working with and trying to understand the bullies as well. They are certainly victims of bullying somewhere in their life as well and have chosen to self-soothe in this way.They are hardened and find the topic of empathy pathetic and boring. They need help and protection from themselves and others, but their actions make it an "undesirable" task. And having worked with their parents who perpetuate the pride in their bully-child make it impossible to work with the parents. So, you are left with the child. The child. Who in all likelihood without intervention will grow to become the adult bully.

    These are children, both bullies and victims, that are living an emotional, technological experience that we adults did not. I propose that we ask them. Then listen to them without our "expert" point of view of "how to be a teen".

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