TED Conversations

Shawn James Jr.

intern, TED


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What do you guys say about bullying?

I just want to know what perspectives people have on the whole thing being as though it’s nothing new to us, but something that has been around for years and was just frowned upon. There is no wrong answer to this question. I just want to hear your input.

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      Jun 16 2011: Kathy, I hope you will have the chance to post the information that you offered above. So many people can use it. I really respect your insights.
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    Jun 18 2011: I think bullying can be a very broad term and also depends a bit on how the person experiences it. I'm 15 myself and I know what it's like to be bullied. In my school (I'm Dutch) there's also something like unconsciously bullying going on. The people doing this do not really intend to bully but the victim does experience it that way. In my case, there are certain comments that some of my classmates like to repeat everyday just to see how I react, after which they all have to laugh. And of course than there are the cases when you're sitting in front of some people and behind you they start talking about you like you're not there. " Look at his/her hair, and she/he has such a stupid voice". It just makes me sad when i hear those things. Why? What is there for you to win by doing this?
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      Jun 19 2011: That is so true Koen...bullying IS a very broad term and also depends on how the person experiences it. You are wise to recognize so much about bullying, and that will help you a lot. What a bully thinks he/she "wins" is the superficial feeling of being "better" than the person they bully. They need to try to build their own self-esteem in the only way they know how, which, as you insightfully recognize, is not very productive.

      The best defense against bullying, in my perception, is knowing ourselves, and being confident with who and what we are. It is important to build relationships that are mutually empowering, and that doesn't always stop the bully from bullying, but it helps us know in ourselves that what they are saying doesn't apply to us.

      Think about the fact that the bullies you speak about have nothing better to do, than criticize someone's hair or voice? While here you are, on TED, discussing very important issues. They are probably jealous of you Koen, for being a wise, insightful, kind young man:>)
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    Jun 16 2011: At almost 50 years old I am still suffering from the Bullying I endured as a child. On psychologist diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of it. Its has been hell, cost me thousands of dollars due to lost work and upset my family life. My two boys have gone through the same thing and are also most likely scared for life, time will tell on that.

    And bullying is not just a childhood thing either. I still suffer from it at work today. The bosses where I work in NYS government use it control the employees, at the same time leaving the consultants alone. Eight hours a day, five days a week, I am suffering.
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      Jun 16 2011: Dear Dain,
      You are so right that bullying impacts people their whole lives...some at different levels than others. It has been ignored way too long. Hopefully you can help your boys so they will not be scared for life. I agree that it is used by many people in the adult world as well. If we could understand that ALL people produce more when they feel safe, comfortable and self confident in themselfes, we may be able to change that dynamic. My heart goes out to you and your boys for the challenge.
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        Jun 16 2011: You are right, and I know all of this, but it does not change where I am mentally. Knowing does not always beget modification. It is probably because since my childhood, I do not love myself. What are you going to do? It isn’t there.

        “Could it be you've developed the mindset of the victim?” Most definitely, and modeling that has taught my children to be as well.

        “Why do you choose to remain in a workplace where this bullying takes place?” Because I make very good money and so does my wife, yet we live paycheck to paycheck. We choose to live a suburban life that is just barely in our means most of the time.

        “Have you considered your own culpability...” Yes and yes. I will take 50% of the blame for happens to me at work, due to my victim mentality, but fifty percent goes to those that choose to pray on that too. And I have to take the responsibility for the kids, but that does not mean I could have been a different person. Sure we make the choices every day to be what we are, like the whole I choose to be happy today bit, it is a great philosophy, but not something that works for everybody. To think it does is idealistic at best.

        “What action have you taken…” I have been in therapy for over ten years. I have been in the psych ward for two weeks adjusting meds. I do site all of the typical issues for staying in the situation, but that is because in my mind I am less than, I don’t like it, I don’t deserve it, but that is what I am to me. As far as outlet, I write poetry, I create art, when I can. I used to perform, just starting to get back to that. I just muddle on, unhappy, unfulfilled. Nobody else can change it, and I am trying, but it is so slow. It is what it is, if I don’t accept it I will kill myself, or someone else, and that most certainly is not the answer.

        “What will it take for you to change...?” A little over five years when I can hopefully retire with a pension, or the lottery for early retirement.
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          Jun 16 2011: Dear Dain,
          You handled those questions very well. I was concerned, because the way they are framed feels like it reinforces the idea that the victim is to blame. You have taken many steps to change your life, some of which you mention in your other comment, and I admire you for that. . It is not easy to change old beliefs and habits when they are ingrained in our heart and mind. You are absolutely right Dain...knowing something logically doesn't always translate into change...it sometimes takes a lot of steps...one step at a time. Kudos to you my friend:>)
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          Jun 17 2011: Dain, I do not know enough about your situation to really give any advice, but here goes anyways. Feel free to ignore it if it does not apply. You said you been going to therapy for 10 years, That is a long time to have this problem unresolved. You seem good at identifying the patterns that influence your present situation, and I'm sure you have a bag of coping skills,but you really need to change the situation, especially if your children are following suit. Maybe a life coach or something of that nature to help you sort out what you are willing to do from what you won't to resolve the problem. You said you work in Government. Well then your boss has a boss and they have a boss. Have you written a letter of complaint. If you have not yet started keeping a notebook filled with offenses and dates, you really should start.
        • Jun 17 2011: You know what Dain? I admire your patience and your strength. You are a special person, no doubt about it. What other do unto you, you did not do undo others. You're a hero and the so called bully is a coward. Support you all the way. Keep up your good self-esteem. You should celebrate for that strength you have. I empathize your challenges. The world is never perfect but we can choose to try to be perfect.
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    Jun 15 2011: i think bullying is making the child feel less worthy
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      Jun 15 2011: You are absolutely right Melissa.
      Wish I could give you a thumbs up....I'm maxed out again for you!
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    Jun 22 2011: Bullying needs to be first and foremost seen as abusive behavior. The term "bullying" in my view diminishes the seriousness of the action to the point where some might think, "Get over it/It happens to everybody sometime or another/It's part of human nature, etc." and that is not what it is.It's the opposite of respect. It's physical/psychological abuse that causes suffering.
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      Jun 23 2011: Jim, You are often my hero!

      Has anyone ever really seen the effects of what chickens do to each other? It is the foundation of what we call the pecking order. In these primitive descendents raptors, the slighest difference among them leads to the group pecking the one which is different literally to death. I watched it one summer as a kid when these sweet fluffy chicks turned into murderous thugs.
      It is not what I want to condone or accept in humanity. We can change and stop it because bullying actually causes changes in the brain. We cannot afford to lose the potential that kids are born with. We have WAY TOO many thugs and not enough scientists, musicians, inventors and I think they need to be protected.
  • Jul 8 2011: Shawn good question in these times. Although many of experience bullying growing up, today the tactics and tools are far more invasive and the vigor in which it is carried out far more aggressive. Even the term itself "bullying" downplays the danger the act brings. It is no longer "bullying" and teasing and pushing, we have younger and younger kids committing violent acts that they have planned out in order to exact retribution or just for fun against their peers. This is Peer Abuse not bullying.

    An example: in 2002 my son Matt was assaulted by upperclassmen on his last day of eighth grade as a "welcome to high school" The young men planned the attack, bought the supplies, chose a location, drafted others into the plan, laid in wait before they pounced. They restrained my son and his friend, smashed eggs on them and poured syrup on them, and proudly proclaimed that this is how it would be in high school, and if they told there would be consequences.

    This was an assault and battery yet those at the school and some police saw it as "kids being kids" No this was not normal behavior but to some adults it was to "be expected" at the end of the year. Why?

    Sadly roughly 40 days later my son took his life the day before we were to go to police. Very little was done at the time, little was said about it, but I decided then I would not be silent. So when you ask I felt compelled to respond. I got "drafted" into this war on bullying, and I have not yielded,

    So when you state there is no wrong answer, I would say the wrong answer is to continue to ignore the issue and the growing causalities we are facing across America.

    It will take an overhaul not just of our teaching institutions, but of our community responsibilities as well to begin to win our schools back one at a time. I would put the issue of bullying and peer to peer abuse in the number two spot right after funding as a main problem within our schools.

    Kevin, Matt's dad
    • Jul 8 2011: I am so very sorry, Kevin. No child or parent should have to experience this. Good luck with your work on the legislation. It is unfortunate that we need laws for basic civilized behaviour.
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      Jul 10 2011: Kevin,
      I am so sorry...what a horrible loss.
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    Jun 16 2011: Happy Shawn!, I think our smart ladies here are noting the importance of self-respect and knowledge of inner self worth. Deep respect and deep love comes from recognizing and affirming what I call our true inner identity: we are worthy and precious conscious human beings (or God's child as many believe), we all have great intellect and good will.

    The way our self-worth has been expressed by our parents and the adults around us may not based on this true identity. Some kids get the feeling of self-worth or importance because they are physically bigger or more intelligent, good looking or affluent, etc. This is how this bullying kids are trained to believe the basis of their self-worth, the current external identities and not the core identities. They get their feeling of importance by bullying others.

    Teachers should know better, as Nicholas have noted, and therefore have the chance to right the perspective of the bullying kids and the other kids. Bullied kids who are sure of their inner self-worth like Jacqueline have noted would thrive in this situations but not for those kids that are on the same basis of false self-worth like the bullying ones.

    Good parenting skills have a strong fundamental impact on how our world will improve tomorrow. I think also that at any level our lives we can always go back to the fundamentals of our self-worth and true identity and make our behaviors right. This is what I think is the key power that will help transform our world. http://bit.ly/KeyPower
  • Jun 14 2011: Does anyone find that schools do not take bullying seriously enough, and often blame the victims for not being "tough" enough?
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      • Jun 14 2011: What kind of events do they relate to you Nicholas? I hesitate to ask because I cannot deal with cruelty to children, but it needs to be told, I think.
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          Jun 15 2011: Hi Julie Ann,
          This is a response to your previous comment about schools taking the problem seriously.
          Can't get this comment under that question.

          The experience with my son was many years ago, and they DID NOT take it seriously, saying that "boys will be boys". My son had reconstructive surgery as a teen to repair damage that was done by repeated physical attackes. It happened often on the bus taking sport teams to away games, and he was not the only one who was the victim. It apparently was a repeated ritual that took place on the busses when there were adults (driver and coach) present.

          Hopefully, they ARE taking it more seriously now, because as Matthieu says in another post...it seriously impacts a teens life.
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      Jun 14 2011: Sorry, I didn't mean to delete it...

      "Just everyday I tutor youth" is the original post.

      Usually it is boys picking on boys because they said or did something strange (sometimes fights), or girls picking on girls because they are not part of their "group" (usually a girl will cry). My kids (group) usually tend to be okay because I ask them questions that are not easy to answer and they get speechless, lol.

      What is done when there is misbehavior, is nothing, I tutor for an extracurricular program after school and discipline = telling their parents/threatening to tell their parents...
      • Jun 15 2011: It's great that you help - provide some solace for them. I think a breakdown in family structure and family values as well as the slack school system bear most responsibility. There needs to be an understanding children's psyche are battered by these assaults, causing deep scarring. If this manifested itself on the outside - for example, if there was severe bleeding every time a child was wounded in this way, action would be taken. But those in charge are not smart enough to understand that this internal scarring is forever. So they do nothing.
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      Jun 16 2011: In my children's school system, they have a zero percent tolerance for bullying, yet bullies get away with it all the time. The schools cannot punish if it is bully vs bullied, because the bully will lie to stay out of trouble and they cannot just believe the bullied. So it seems to me that the school system is placating the problem, not addressing it as they say they are. It is a sad fact and they should remove the rule because all it does is get the bullied hopes up and them dash them and make them feel victimized by the bully and then the school.
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        Jun 17 2011: This pattern often continues into the workplace, so I guess the education system is getting us all ready for continuing future realities.
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    Jun 14 2011: I have been a victim of bullying and I would say it needs to be sanctioned more strongly than it seems to ever be. It can seriously mess you up as a teenager. I have basically built up all my self-confidence in the last 4 years as I had virtually none before university. I can draw some comfort from the fact that those people all went to terrible universities (if at all), but now is not when I could have done with reassurance.
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      Jun 14 2011: Sorry Matthieu,
      My son was bullied when he was young, and as you say, it can seriously impact a person. Glad to hear that you have built your self-confidence, and you appear to be a lovely, intelligent young man:>)
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    Jun 14 2011: Good topic,

    It seems bullying has gotten worse in my opinion.

    Kids can no longer go home and take their minds off of bullies because the bullies are in their homes on the internet.

    I'd like to say Kids will be kids, but that seems like a cop out.

    I look forward to reading everyone's response when I get home from soccer tonight.
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      Jun 14 2011: Hi Christopher,
      I agree that it has gotten worse because of the internet. As you say, kids used to have some safe place to get away from it, and now, it is everywhere they go. Used to be, they could find safety at home, or in school, church, or even amoung friends. Now, the whole world can know about the bullying, and some kids can say and do some very cruel things. There is no escaping it any more, and we see the number of teen suicides it has caused. Just imagine, as an insecure teen, which many naturally are, being exposed to nasty, cruel, lies broadcast on the internet. It is very sad.
      • Jun 16 2011: I totally agree with you Colleen, as a thirteen year old i feel like the youth society is just trying to put so much pressure on a person to see if they will crack. They do this to make themselves feel good or just to cover the pain. Their actions foreshadow a life of sadness.I know firsthand how bullying can affect someone. Even if it isn't physical it still hurts. I am very sorry about your son
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          Jun 16 2011: Another great posting Christian! Keep 'em coming!
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          Jun 16 2011: I understand you Christian.Being a teenager myself, I have encountered many bully cases.Some even cause suicides.That's just wrong.Teenagers need to understand what it means to be a human.Never inflict pain to others.
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          Jun 16 2011: Christian,
          You are only thirteen? Very intuitive teenager:>) There IS a lot of pressure on teens, and it is sometimes difficult to ignore the pressure, but when we can understand some of the underlying causes, it sometimes makes it less traumatic to face the challenge. I'm sorry you know firsthand how bullying can affect someone, and I thank you so much for your kind words about my son. He is now a kind, sensitive, loving man who learned how NOT to treat people:>)

          You are right Muhammad, that bullying has caused many suicides, and I admire your understanding of the fact that we all "need to understand what it means to be a human and never inflict pain to others"...well said:>)

          Christian and Muhammad, you are both GREAT role models for others. Thanks for being you and sharing the gift with us:>)
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        Jun 16 2011: Coleen that is the whole point of school sometimes appear "NOT serious" enough to deal with it.
        How can you protect people from bullying ? Or to be precise how LONG ?
        To be honest... bullying not only happens to kids.
        As a matter of fact, if you let it... it will happen for the the ENTIRE life.
        I think the best way to deal with bullying is not to protect the victim. But to teach the victim to protect themselves. And no am not talking about self defense like martial arts or worse weaponary though it IS quite relevant on some extreme cases. But something more lasting like fostering self confidence.. self worthiness.. the skill to work the system... being a strategist... people skill... so on.
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          Jun 16 2011: Hi Judge Pau,
          We can't always protect people from bullying, and you are right...it does not only happen to kids. You're also right that it sometimes happens for the entire life, which is very sad.

          Teachcing the victim to protect his/her self with self confidence, self worthiness and skills are excellent ways to help prevent bullying, and it would be beneficial for ALL children to have these skills BEFORE they are bullies, or the victim of bullying:>)
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          Jun 17 2011: We should also help the person we call the bully.

          Humans try to dominate each other in order to get their way. Depending on how tactfully this is handled, it can work. But people who are dominant can lose sight of just how much pressure they're using on weaker people and why they're doing it in the first place, frustration one way or another can lead to hurt.

          I think people who try to dominate need some careful guidelines or guidance in order for their frustrations not to overload the balance - they could benefit from learning a bit of empathy. I like the idea of using meditation or reflective time as a guidance system, I have a concern that such internalizing of frustration might not address root causes though. Why does someone feel the need to have a negative affect on others? If there is a benefit to humankind for that, how do we govern or harness it so it doesn't have negative repercussions?

          How are 'bullies' dealt with in arbitration processes?
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          Jun 17 2011: Hello J Hoyes,
          I think you touched on one of the underlying causes of bullying..."to get their way". I don't think bullies think/feel beyond that very basic concept when they are bullying. They would like to feel stronger, more intelligent, or superior to the other person in some way. I honestly don't think their intent is to have negative affects on others. Their intent, I believe, is to try to feel in control, and I don't think they are thinking about or feeling the impact they have on others. You're right...they need as much help and guidence as anyone, IF we are going to change the patterns.

          I facilitated cognitive self change sessions with offenders in the correctional facility and also mediated with convicted felons who were having fights among themselves. The bullying is usually a knee jerk reaction to feel in control, it has many different characterizations, and there are many different levels of bullying, as you probably know. I often asked the questions...what were you feeling, or thinking about when you assaulted that person? They usually were not in touch with thinking/feeling because they were simply reacting to the situation and trying to stay in control. It was often a protective mechanism they adopted as children to protect themselves. A few months of cognitive self change sessions is probably not going to change a bullies patterns that have been established since childhood, so we need to keep talking about it...keep addressing the issues...continue to understand and guide the behaviors toward something more productive.

          Your suggestion to participate in meditation or reflective time could be useful, and those who bully need to understand their own insecurity, as much as understanding how their behaviors cause the victim to be insecure. There is a term called "leveling", which means a person will sometimes try to bring another person to their emotional level to try to feel as good, intelligent, strong, etc as someone else. There's so much baggage!
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          Jun 17 2011: Your comment is interesting & useful, Colleen, coming from someone who works at one of the cutting edges of society.

          Usually when I'm asked to think about the subject of bullying I automatically think about how the bullied person feels and I empathize. But I then recall how easy it is to get into a cycle of bullying. So I expect we can all be bullies or at least we can understand what it feels like to try to get our way and be frustrated enough to try harder to get our way beyond the point of a balanced perspective.
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          Jun 17 2011: Yes J Hoyes, I think we all have the potential to be bullies on various levels, at times. Understanding ourselves and others, helps maintain a balanced perspective.

          My father was a violent, abusive bully, and when he was in a rage, I often thought, why doesn't he just talk about his fear? My mother always said..."love the man...hate the behavior...he doesn't know how to love or be loved". As a kid, I totally rejected that theory. As an adult, I wanted and needed to understand, to help facilitate healing in myself. For 2 years, I volunteered at the woman's shelter and family center, where I was interacting with abused women and children. Then I volunteered with the dept. of corrections for 6 years, working mostly with offenders of domestic assault. When one sees the childhood history of some of the offenders, (sexually assaulted by family members starting at age 2 for example) it is no wonder there are so many wounded people in our world. If we are going to change anything as a society, the change needs to come from many different angles.
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      Jun 16 2011: Well I'm always disappointed when people are bullied but the internet trends leave me a little perplexed. On Facebook you don't have to accept every "friend" request and you don't have to know what everyone is thinking
      (Especially other teenagers). I believe bullying stems from insecurity and naivety from both parties. While the advent of internet communication is great we must also retain our sense of community and trust. There will always be people with negative and conflicting intentions. Therefore we must always find the few people we trust to help us keep them in arms length.

      also Christian- Try to remember that everyone is clueless at your age as to who they are and how society is. Try not to compare yourself to others but to compare yourself to who you want to be. I've found the people who can do that are the people who are happiest and stand tallest.
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        Jun 16 2011: Good point Jesse..."bullying stems from insecurity and naivety from both parties". That's why Judge Pau's suggestion to foster self confidence is so important for ALL kids. Good idea to try to "find a few people we trust to help us keep them at arms length". When we foster relationships that are empowering, we help build our own self esteem:>)

        I don't agree that every teen is clueless Jesse. We have a couple right here (Christian and Muhammad) who are VERY insightfull young people:>) You do bring up a good point however, that the teen years are sometimes challenging because there are so many things going on with the teen including peer pressure, hormonal changes, etc. To be able to stand like the mighty oak in the middle of the storm is challenging for some of the seedlings who are vulnerable.
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    Jun 14 2011: in my opinion there needs to be more campaigns of anti bullying directed at PARENTS more so than kids.
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      Jun 14 2011: What about the parents who don't care, "kids will be kids" attitude?

      Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
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        Jun 14 2011: can you? maybe, with some creativity.
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          Jun 16 2011: Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
          YES...with creativity, and there are a LOT of very creative people in our world:>)
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        Jun 14 2011: Those parents deserve an elbow to the jaw for their ignorant attitudes.

        Edited: Take away a dogs food I bet they will learn how to get it back...
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    Jul 11 2011: Hi Shawn:

    Why are you all talking about bulling almost as a “natural” phenomena?
    I find it very odd.

    I’m not from the US, and I have never seen situations as described on the movies where older kids constantly hit and steal from younger kids, and that is supposed to be common.

    In my experience (and the experience from the people I know firsthand) teasing happens within each group (same age) and goes around, sometimes sticking to a particular person, or group of people, but never involving repeated beatings or by no means stealing.

    I have no hypothesis on why that happens in the US (I don’t know if it happens elsewhere as well), but I think it is a good question to ask why in some places and not in others.



    PS this is a comment I posted on a talk, but I think fits here as well.
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      Jul 12 2011: Dear Julian,
      We are talking about bullying, because it is becoming much too common in the US. In my perception, it is not at all "natural". If this is not happening in Argentina, PLEASE tell us your secret!

      It is an EXCELLECT question to ask "why in some places and not in others"? It would be nice to hear from people of many different cultures, so we may learn more about "why" and "why not".
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        Jul 12 2011: Hi Colleen!

        I don’t know if I can speak for the whole country, and I surely don’t know the secret, but there are a few social dogmas (at least in my time and social environment):
        If you are older you should not fight with a younger guy, it’s abuse and you will lose respect from your peers.
        Fights are 1:1 or many to many, not many on one, you will lose face otherwise.
        Stealing is a big offence and doing that will leave you out of the social fabric.

        That being said, there are always affinity groups and people teasing other people, etc, violence is there off course, but it has some boundaries.

        Top of mind I think words like bully are also institutions, if they are strong in a culture/group, they have a “roles and responsibilities” impact on the “actors”.
        If the category is softer, maybe it’s more manageable, or not, I don’t know.
        Certainly outside regulation has and needs to have limits, from my perspective you can’t allow physical violence at school (no excuse), but verbal and social types of violence are different.

        Also school is an artificial environment, multi age concepts as in Montessori or Waldorf education should make this less of a problem.

        Just some ideas.


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      Jul 12 2011: Not just a US phenomenon. In Asia, it's very common to see the older kids bullying younger children because of the age-respect mindset. The younger ones are supposed to do whatever the older one says, no question asked and if they don't the older one can punish them. And if the younger ones are doing something wrong, the older ones are allowed to punish the younger one (this is not necessarily bullying because the older one may not be hitting the younger one but actually correcting the younger one's disrespectful ways. But even as there are good discipliners there are always those that can take things too far).
      That's just an extreme form of bullying (stealing and repeated hittings). But bullying can also be isolation or verbal abuse.
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        Jul 12 2011: I read up on bulling specifically in Japan being tremendously horrible and pushes youth and young adults into suicide, suicide clubs (people who meet online commit suicide as a group) or become " hikikomori" which are people who shut themselve out from the real world. Many of these youth though have a unorthodox way of thinking that is frown apon adults and there peers, which is why the bulling is bad many adults will look the other way because they have a mind set of he is a freak and he deserves this treatment a good book called 'Shutting Out The Sun', really put light on bullying in Japan.
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          Jul 12 2011: Isaac,
          I've heard about "suicide clubs" here as well, and Kevin points out, in one of his comments that social media is a factor with bullying.

          Isaac, you also say that some "people ...shut themselve out from the real world". Do you think some of the virtual reality video games contribute to people shutting themselves out?

          What do you think about this? Do you think some of the video games are becoming reality for some kids? Some of them are pretty violent. Are we "normalizing" violence?
        • Jul 12 2011: Colleen as a society we have green lighted violence at an astonishing rate. People never dealt with real world bullying that was right in front of them, so how are they supposed to handle something they cannot see? With the advances in gaming technologies we have begun to raise a generation on the idea that is it okay to hurt others to get what you want. Look at most shows on TV they are fueled by conflict. Every story ever written is BUT there is a difference when it is glorified. Lt. Col. Grossman wrote a book on video/tv violence, "Stop teaching our kids to kill" He is a great person to hear lecture.

          I have talked with officers and in reviews of school shootings in some cases the ratio to hits to misses is high. They are getting their targets in a way because they have been "trained" by what they enact on the video system. That blur between reality and game is hard for some kids.

          Some adults are also escaping the real world by spending 11-17 hrs a day in cyberspace in areas such as Second Life, where the "real world" is now called "off world" The fantasy of being whatever and doing whatever is a huge draw. And if adults cannot stop being drawn in how can we help kids not to do the same.

          The recent Supreme Court upholding violent video games was a setback in this area in my opinion.
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          Jul 12 2011: I agree Kevin. I find it difficult to believe that many do not see the connection between violence on video games, TV and films. Some people argue that it is only "fantasy/make believe", and doesn't influence people. I believe it DOES influence people, and again, I think we are "normalizing" violence and abuse.

          Just as family and societal situations influenced those in jail, our acceptance of violent video games, TV and films are continuing to influence. As a matter of fact, when I was volunteering for the dept. of corrections I witnessed the guys in jail playing the violent video games all the time!!! It was reinforcing what they already believed to be "reality". When I was doing the sessions and asked them about it, they often said..."everybody's doing this...refering to violent video games...personally assaulting one another...etc.!!! They often didn't seem to have any boundaries between what was real and what was not real. I believe the brain takes in the information and sometimes doesn't recognize the difference between reality and fantasy, so the violent videos become the reality right along with the "real" violent behaviors they experience in life. It reinforces violence as an acceptable, normal way of living.
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          Jul 12 2011: Hi Isaac!

          Thanks for the new concepts, I researched hikikomori, and other concepts, really novel 

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          Jul 12 2011: Hi Kevin:

          I disagree with you, violence and sex are both “cheap thrills”.
          I have a 2 year old, if she could choose she would probably eat only chocolate and spend most time with the Ipad, etc.
          She will learn in time that life is more subtle, complex and interesting.
          If a culture doesn’t teach/build sensibility and pleasure (in the abstract sense), sex, violence and fast food will reign and they should, they are easy ways of getting you off, and they have a purpose, if you are not educated enough to enjoy other things, then who is the state to deny you access to this?


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          Jul 12 2011: Hi Colleen:

          About video games and TV, they are a choice and they lead but also adapt to ratings, I don’t have TV at home, my kids don’t watch TV, I don’t watch TV, it is my choice.
          I would look at TV programming as a symptom, not a cause.
          If you think about mass media and the messages they spread, they are horrible, but people like them and pay for them.
          I’m sure that a video game or TV producers thinks about profit and the right product to attract it and not about having a bad/good influence on the public. I don’t expect them to take care of my family, why should I?
          On the other hand we should ask for better quality content, if we all liked opera, theater and documentaries (just to name something) TV would be full of them.


    • Jul 12 2011: Julian the issue is global but it can be taken very differently as Crystal points out as cutural issues that can drive bullying behavior. As she stated the key is the "ability to get away with it" I have yet to be in a plce where people do not have personal stories. Sometimes is it very hard to wrap up events because once the door is opned everyone wants to tell their story and find solutions for their own situations.

      Again the "idea" that bullying is purely physical cannot be farther from the truth today. Today it is much more emotional based will a clear intent to harm a person. To ostracize them and to keep them "down" and at times when the mental doesn't work that is where the physical manifestations come into play.

      There are so many social/ demographical/ racial/ ecomnomic issues associated with bullying or in reality "Peer Abuse" that is why there is so much descension over what bullying "is" and it is easiet to break it down to its main root "intent to harm" This is not teasing, that is normal, exceeding those teasing boundries for personal pleasure or gain are abnormal.

      Don't get caught up in the actions caused by the intent, this is where far too much money has been spent. on trying to "fix the outcomes (zero tolerance) We need to be like doctors:Treat the actual disease not the symptoms.

      See what great conversation comes from such a simple question, and hopefully empowers others to act. Isn't that what TED is supposed to be about?
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        Jul 12 2011: Hi Kevin!

        The limit between teasing and abuse (in the non physical sense) it difficult to draw.
        How would you map that?

        This conversation seems to me like adults trying to regulate children interaction, a very hard thing to accomplish, and if you do accomplish it the result may be as bad as the problem.

        What is the root cause?
        Why is an individual/s compelled to abuse other/s (also be abused)?
        Why is that environment specially fertile for that behavior? What is abnormal about it?
        What are the core values enabling that individual/culture to do that?

        We can’t regulate social interaction, only extraordinary situations, but we can change the environment (jumping to conclusion here without the questions answered, sorry)


        • Jul 12 2011: You're right where is that line? It varies for each of us, but if we begin at a standard of, once you intentionally set out to hurt that other person and to get others to hurt that person physically/emotionally, then you have crossed that line.

          There is no way to "regulate" social interaction and we should never try, but we can start by as you state/change the environment, or simply change the rules.

          Why do 10% of students noted as problem kids rule the school hallways? Because that is the way it has always been ( adults will tell you this). But why not engage that other 90% to reinvent the wheel? We can with supervision and guidance allow the students to regulate themselves.

          People see this notion of anti-bullying as lame laws and turning kids into wussies, where I see building a better infrastructure and building stronger, empowered and compassionate students. This is the foundation our schools will be built on,

          On the root causes, you have good questions and there are a lot of answers, because we all have different views. An earlier post said this was a worthless post, while others have chimed in with good ideas and thoughts. And the positives have outweighed the negative posts, why because the environment was changed into that of something being built and not torn down. It is far easier to tear down and abuse than it is to build or protect.

          Core values: Listen/Compromise/Create
  • Jul 11 2011: Colleen again the times have shifted some students have gain their own self of "esteem" because of the power they hold. If a young lady can make others do her bidding in exchange for being left alone, the self worth and importance of that individual goes up. Is it self esteem, perhaps to you and I no, but to todays youth yes it iis. Status in the pecking order is King/Queen in todays schools more than ever. There are many cases that "teacher pets" are notorious bullies again using their "status" and own self worth to "control" the other students and in some regards the teachers themselves. As you stated more powerful and in control over others.

    Again it (bullying) is not the same as years gone by. I advise teachers and adults to take what they thought bullying was put it in a box and throw it out the window. Then start learning the game all over. I had no idea it was this bad until it landed on my doorstep. And I listen to all sides of the argument to chart my course.

    what that young man said is a center piece of my conversations with students on the misuse of technology and the ensuing lack of empathy within our schools. Many have no idea that they can be prosecuted, that they are as guilty as the original sender when they forward obscene materials or at 17/18 could be a keystroke away from being on the national sex offenders list.

    I have been in school assemblies and phones will literally come out and students will begin to delete things.
    If we empower them to act and stop spreadingt and stop sending indecent messages we've made a mark.
  • Jul 10 2011: Bullying is terrible. It makes someone question their self-worth. Obviously it can lead to the one being picked on to do some terrible things to themselves. And getting adults involved doesn't always seem to be the answer. I think that it may provoke the bully to bully more because they think their victim is weak (which is probably what they want the victim to think). Bullies, I think, have low self-esteem to begin with. It makes them feel good about themselves when they hurt someone else. I don't think the victim needs as much help as the bully does. The bully needs to find out about themselves; they can't bully someone forever. They need to discover their identity. The victim just has to hold out. Although it's sad that bullying can lead to the victim having to move and start over. The future may seem bleak. And I feel like saying "It gets better" wouldn't register with the victim because of all they deal with.
    • Jul 10 2011: Kyle you are absolutly right that we have to address the bully as well in the re-education of this topic. They do have to understand what they are doing is worng because studies shwo that long term prognosis for bullies is as bad or worse that the victims. Many will have run ins witht he police more often than other classmates. In fact 30-40% of former bullies have 2+ criminal convictions by age 24. So you are absolutly right in that they cannot bully people forever, yet they think they can, because they don't know better.

      Also it has been found that actually bullies have very high self esteem. Many of todays bullies might just be the popular kids and those who are the teachers pets. The old ideas of "rough" kids as the bullies are over.
      It is not the parents who will make the biggest difference but the students themselves. There can be strength in numbers to push back against the very few in schools who actually cause issues.

      No victim should have to "hold out" or transfer schools or be home schooled and that is why the system is broken. We move the victims and simply allow the bully to choose additional targets.

      " It gets better" is something we have said for years now we have to "Make it better". By being involved and involing students in the change process that is where the battles will be one and lives saved.
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      Jul 10 2011: Dear Kyle and Kevin,
      I agree with everything you have both written except one little piece Kevin. Do you really think that any bully has very high self esteem? Or do they pretend to have high self esteem? I agree with Kyle, that bullies have low self exteem. My experience with the bullies incarcerated, was that they put on the persona of a very confident person, and often seemed popular, because the other guys didn't want to mess with them...they knew the consequences. Even in jail, there was a "pecking order". In the "cognitive self change" sessions I co-facilitated, with 10 men to a group, however, they often expressed insecurities. Also, reading their files, often confirmed reasons for their insecurities. I'm not justifying their behavior in any way, and we need to go to the root causes, if we are going to change anything.

      Again Kevin,
      I am so sorry about your son, and my heart goes out to you and your family.
      • Jul 10 2011: No we are both right in different areas Colleen. The "old" way of thinking has been Bullies= Low esteem which is true but it has dramtically changed in the last 10 yrs to students who ahve very high self esteem and want to stay on top that resort to bullying. We see this more and more with social media.

        The playing field shift and we must shift as well. And you said the magic word "root" of the problem.
        Bullying has been ignored and band-aids put in place, (Zero Tolerance the biggest failed experiment)
        rather than adressing the actual reasoning of "why" students do this to each other rather than only addressing the aftermath with criminal punishment.

        When I lecture to auditoriums of students or parents and give my definition:
        "Bullying is the abuse of power and control of one person or a group of people over another person or group to intentionally cause pain and consequence to that person or group through a variety of means."
        Students get it and they will immediately look at those who are "forcing" them to do bad things. They have the power to make change. It would be interesting to hear from your group how things may have changed for them if one person had stood in their defense and helped shield them from one or two people bent on hurting them.

        I think we can change that mentality in our schools ( the earlier the better, thats why I have even done trainings with Preschoolers) of treating each other better will make better learning environments and better citizens.
        Will we stop bullying? Absolutely not it will always be there but can we empower students to stand up for each other to decrease it? I believe we can. I know we can.

        When I go back to schools I've talked to and see what the students have done I am amazed.
        There is no black/white on this issue. Some things work some don't but we have to try, and some adults and students have already given up. But I can't.
        Thank you Colleen for your thoughts.
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          Jul 10 2011: Dear Kevin,
          I'm sure you have more information than I do, because I have been out of the bullying loop for several years. You say that bullying has shifted to students who have very high self esteem and want to stay on top. Wanting to stay on top, doesn't seem to have changed. I think bullies have always wanted to appear more in control, smarter, stronger, more powerful...on top in some way.

          The piece I'm not getting, is if a young person has good self esteem, they usually know they are "on top" in many ways other than physically/emotionally hurting others. I totally agree with your definition of bullying. When I lectured about violence and abuse, I believed and taught that any violence and abuse toward anyone was caused from insecurity and low self-esteem. If a person is confident and strong in him/herself, I cannot imagine wanting to abuse or violate another person. So, what do you percieve to be the root cause of people with high self esteem wanting to bully someone? If s/he has high self esteem, haven't they gained that in some way other than bullying? I realize that social media has been a factor in many of the recent bullying situations.

          You say it would be interesting to hear from my "group"? You mean incarcerated offenders? I specifically remember one man...age 36...in and out of detention and jail many times since age 14...many of the offences were assault. In a one on one session with him one day, he just looked at me very sadly, and said..."why didn't anyone tell me all of this when I was 14"? The only thing I was telling him was that he has choices regarding how he acts and reacts to others. Think about what you are saying and doing...feel what you are doing...how would that feel if somebody did the same thing to you? How do you think it makes the other person feel?

          You said another magic word..."empower". Thank you Kevin, for not giving up.
      • Jul 13 2011: Thanks for the comments Colleen and Kevin.
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    • Jul 9 2011: Zim, is it a valid question? Yes it is. Bullying is the major issue behind funding in schools today. Don't tackle the bullying, you can't cut down truancy, drop out rates and low test scores. All questions are valid. At times we must ask the tough questions no one wants asked to fuel the debate. . I am now seeing people come back to me and say "Keep it going" who were some of the first ones who did not want to listen that is was an issue.And allthough some of us see the disparity of comments here and shake our heads. As someone who has been in the trenches on this topic for the last 7-8 years I can tell you I have heard it all, and usually in person. Try sitting in a Judicial Hearing and have people debate what happened to your child as "not an issue at school".
      There is a camp that says it is normal and it helps people grow. Yes competition can help people grow but not spiteful abuse there is a difference. Then there are those who are trying to make change,. 7 yrs ago schools & cops were not interested in bullying, now I am invited to training sessions to both groups to relay our story and to help them plan. Rather than rally against them for inneffectiveness I chose to infiltrate and work from within to make change happen, rather than to hope it happens. And I have made great friends along the way, again some who discounted me and were against what I was saying, until we discussed the concept.
      There is no right and wrong, but there are best practices, and when we agree that there is a problem we can begin to work on it. Until then we will sit in our camps and glower at the otherside because they don't think the way "we" do.

      This debate here in this forum has the ability to affect change moreso than the thousands of debates about the recent not guilty verdict that we can do nothing about. This issue we can.
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          Jul 9 2011: I love your Blunt way of putting the Bully thing, kicking puppies. I had no idea a human children are anything like puppies.
        • Jul 9 2011: Well in some regards yes. When one deals with those that are in opposition it is best to learn from them why they oppose an idea before it can be broached, and brought to them within their own needs that also reflect the needs of those outside an organization.

          And dealing with Law Enforcement I tend to talk in military terms but also in terms parents and students understand as well. I make no doubt about it, todays schools are war zones and we are loosing children at an astonishing rate while adults choose to ignore the crisis. The system is broken so in another Military jargon: "Lead, Follow, Or get out of the way".

          But back on track your question seems to be more in the vien of trolling than your original question. But I am always happy answer questions and educate. No offense meant Zim just pointed observation.

          Always interesting views and thoughts on a seemingly simple question that some seem should not have been asked.

          And Joseph in some areas,sadly, animals are better protected than children when it comes to abuse.
  • Jul 9 2011: Julie thank you and forums like this and others elsewhere is why I choose to be vocal. I can champion but I cannot be everywhere. If I got "drafted" I believe part of my job is to enlist others.
    Scott as you mentioned this is not an easy situation. Basically we are talking about a culture shift which means hard work. There is no Silver Bullet or Magic Pill which is the main thing people want when I lecture, the easy way out. It has taken us years to get into this mess it will take years to get out.

    Schools need to have the open and honest disucssion internally as to "what is and what is not Bullying/Abuse" and decide to act to remedy and not continue to hide issues. Why I say this is my point of focus has never only been about Matt's assault but the apparent lack of concern by adults that allowed it to happen. As I was told by parents, administrators and yes police, "it has happened for years" And my rebuttal was, "And none of you said Enough, Stop" and allowed it to continue and grow.

    The saving grace are the students themselves. They are tired of the environment and want to make change. The bystanders are the jkey in taking back the kingdom. I have worked will all sides of the equation over the last 7 years as it will take a community response to align the troops. Our story will be on CBS 48hrs later this fall, and I am happy to be a resource.

    Peace and keep up the dialog and "Be the Change" in your own community.
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    Jun 21 2011: There are 3 entities that make up the bullying dynamic:

    1) the bully
    2) the victim, and
    3) the bystanders.

    It is the third group - the bystanders - that have the power to turn the tide. Experts on the subject agree this is the key. If bystanders did not stand aside and let it happen and instead confronted the bully or provided support to the victim there is a great likelihood that the bully would become isolated and just disappear ( it is true that the bully his/herself has issues that need to be addressed, but that comes after....)
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    Jun 19 2011: It is possible for a bulled guy,unless cared,to bully someone later on.For the bullying guys have been bulled in the same maner by his parents,his educators, and someone who don't care him.Surely, they look like the attacker, but I think they are also those who need help more than anyone.
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      Jun 19 2011: Hello Mark,
      In my perception, it is VERY possible that one who has been the victim of bullying, often turns into the bully. As I stated in another comment, most of the men I worked with in the correctional facility, whose crime was often assault, were verbally, physically and sexually abused as children. I agree that they also need help, otherwise, they go back into society and continue the behaviors.
  • Jun 18 2011: How much "Bullying" is contained in our DNA? Nature shows many examples of social hierarchy predicated on physical dominance. Things like rights to breed the females to continue their specific bloodline and the order in which members of a group get to partake in the eating of a kill are based on physical prowess. Our intellect and reasoning abilities separate us from the animal kingdom, but surely some of that primal instinct remains.

    Where is the line at which protecting our children from all things potentially harmful becomes a harmful act of its own? We can mostly all agree in the extreme cases of Bullying, but when is there an argument for "just kids being kids"? How does the competitive nature, whether natural or instilled into our children, turn from a positive attribute to a negative attribute in organized sports?

    The military uses extreme "Bullying" as a successful training technique. Basic training and any kind of special ops training will consist of something like a "Hell week" in which a type of mental and physical torture is endured by the trainees. This training is used to build mental toughness. Is this type of mental reinforcement harmful to children under all degrees of severity? Does sheltering them from all harm make them weaker adults?

    My personal definition of "Bullying" would be something like a behavior of one person toward another that has a lasting negative impact on the self-worth of the victim. I would classify that type of behavior as terrible and something that should not be allowed. My biggest issue is generalizing all kids to be the same and equally negatively or positively influenced by certain behaviors.

    Again, extremes are easy to recognize and most rational people would view them with the same disgust. Is there an argument to made for not confusing "Bullying" with regular types of hardships kids face that build character, motivation, and mental toughness? --Don't lynch me---just playing devil's advocate.
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      Jun 19 2011: Dear Jason,
      I see you have not been "lynched" yet!! You ask some good questions, and I think there have been some studies done with offenders regarding DNA, primal instinct, and certain dominant genes, which might lead to more understanding of bullying. Perhaps you could find that information, or someone can address those issues. I'm only an observer of life...not a scientist:>)

      You ask..."how does the competitive nature...turn from a positive attribute to a negative attribute..."?
      My perception and observation, is that it depends on ones self confidence. If a person has learned through their own experience that demeaning, belittling and physically beating others is the way to try to feel better about themselves, they will often repeat that behavior on others. I honestly believe that bullying is mostly a learned behavior, but I'm not a scientist, so that's up for debate. My only experience, is exploring the behavior in various ways for 60+ years.

      I don't think anyone on this thread has generalized all kids "to be the same". There are testimonies here from
      people who have moved through the challenge, and testimonies from others who, as adults, are still living with the pain of bullying from the time they were children. Facing hardships may "build character, motivation and mental toughness" in some people, and it may weaken others to the point where they cannot function well in life. As we know, bullying has caused many teen suicides recently. Generally, bullies seem to know who the weaker person is, and those are the people they target.

      You are right...there IS confusion about what is "Bullying" and what is "regular types of hardships" and that is probably one reason the challenge continues to exist. Websters definition is:..."sweetheart, a fine chap: a blustering browbeating fellow: one habitually cruel to others weaker than himself: the protector of a prostitute, a hired ruffian". We wonder why there is confusion in identifying bullying?
      • Jun 19 2011: In my opinion, our culture has moved more toward protecting our children to the point of harming them. Steve Keil mentioned in his TED talk about how some women in Bulgaria think it is a bad thing for kids to play in the dirt---This is not just a Bulgarian problem. This thought of children being such fragile things and sheltering them to the point of impacting natural defense mechanisms is a scary thing.

        In most Bullying cases, I feel we should be looking at parenting behaviors more than the behaviors of the child. Why can't we make it mandatory that as part of being the responsible guardian of repeat offending Bully that Parenting classes are issued? If that is the case, I feel there is an argument to made for making classes mandatory for parents of obvious habitual victims.

        It is wrong to blame a victim, however there is a case to made for victims being created at home by their parents. In these cases, it is wrong not to address the root of the problem. This is not to take away from the Bully's role, but to add solutions to the big problem moving forward. I feel we have almost over sensitized ourselves to the one perspective and have become oblivious to others.

        I truly feel the overly agressive, destructive, ugly behavior of the Bully is the main problem, but there are other things to consider in many cases. To really address the problem, we have to look at the parenting practices of both sides.
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          Jun 20 2011: Jason,
          You may be right in some instances, and with some people, regarding overprotection. I think the new popular term is "helicopter parents" for those who "hover" over their kids. As with anything in life, I feel we need to find balance.

          I have heard about cases where the judge orders parenting classes as part of sentencing for repeated child abuse, which I think was/is very appropriate.

          I agree that we need to address the root of the problem, and find solutions for everyone. You're right...we sensitize ourselves to one perspective and become oblivious to others. Some stress that we need to educate the victim...some say we need to educate the offenders...educate the parents...teachers...etc. I say we ALL need to be aware of the situation and educate ourselves in many different ways to understand the whole picture.
          That's why I worked with offenders AND victims of abuse AND children in state custody because of abuse, etc. It has been one focus of my life exploration, and attempt to learn more about it and maybe change the situation a very tiny bit. Again, I think it is about balance, and awareness by everyone in our society.
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    • Jun 17 2011: Hi Kathy -- As stated in email, I'm looking into this. Editing comments is not something that the Admins use as a practice, and they always notify users of comment deletion. They occasionally request that users edit offensive statements out of comments, but again, let the users do it themselves. I will be in touch with you as I learn more.
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      • Jun 21 2011: Hi Lindsay -- If you believe a comment of yours was edited please email conversations[at]ted.com and the Admins will look into this. It doesn't appear that an email from you regarding a comment being edited was received. As I noted to Kathy, the Admins do not use the editing of comments as a tool for moderation. User comments will either be posted intact or removed if they violate the TED Conversations Terms of Use or are off-topic to the conversation at hand (the original poster's topic).

        If you or other users would like further clarification or have questions, please email conversations[at]ted.com. But, how about we leave this thread for Shawn's topic?

        Personally, I feel that bullying is at-best a hurtful example of childish behavior that can have deep long lasting effects. At worst, it is a dangerous example of a mob mentality where the aggressors may take an action that individually they might never take. Sometimes with terrible and tragic consequences.
  • Jun 16 2011: I have always liked a piece written by Roger Ebert on the Internet Bully: There is more to it, but I will post 2 paragraghs.

    “This Internet age has given rise to the critical sniper – and snipers have always been the most despised of soldiers. The Internet critic is foulmouthed and illiterate – he hides behind a cloak of anonymity, he offers no products of his own making. The insults he issues have a playground quality. He says to others what was once said to him, believing that they will feel the same hurt as he did – and still does. And somehow this will compensate him. The abused has been sold on the benefit of becoming the abuser.”

    “The only criticism that is valuable to others reflects universal truth, it is not merely an expression of the inner conflict of the critic, and needs must be practised by those most qualified and most altruistic. Negative criticism is often nothing more than boasting in disguise and, like most boasting, is just an outward manifestation of inner feelings of inferiority."
  • Jun 15 2011: People who bully are often the most insecure. The best way to handle a bully is to ignore them and instead use that anger toward a positive outlet.
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    Jun 15 2011: saying things like "i am smarter then you" is this bullying? i dont knowbecause with bullying everyone thinks about real bullying, kicking him, laughing at him, use the kid this is so aweful when this happens
    and the school should be very mean and strict to these bullies. and punish them, dont just talk to the victim and ask "who was it :)" in a very nice way. do something about it. if they dont change .. its their problem, they will not be welcome anymore at school
    • Jun 15 2011: Hi Melissa, you are so right. Bullying does make a child feel less worthy. It causes a lot of emotional harm.
      Saying "I am smarter than you" -is that bullying? I think that depends on the situation. If the kids are just playing around and saying it with good humour, then I don't think it would be bullying. But if they say it with the intention to hurt the other person, that could be bullying. There is physical abuse, such as the kicking and laughing. But there is also emotional abuse and that is also bullying. If the intention is to cause pain, physical or emotional, that is abuse.
      On a happier note, I hope your birthday is going well :-)
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        Jun 15 2011: Melissa and Julie Ann,
        I agree that if someone is doing something repeatedly, that hurts another person, or to cause a person to feel less confident, it is bullying or abuse.

        I don't think some people realize the impact it has on people though, so sometimes it is difficult to recognize. The people who say...boys will be boys, and that's what they do, are not understanding how it may feel to the person who is bullied. That may be why nothing is done about it sometimes, because people don't understand, or deny the ramifications.
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          Jun 15 2011: indeed, they just say "ignore this" only when they're bullying very bad they will hear you
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          Jun 15 2011: Yes i learned my lesson, i learned to ignore things, i learned to search things that i like, i learned to do things that i like
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        Jun 15 2011: umm my "friend" always said this to me, and it was not a joke "i know i am smarter then you" "you dont know what a depression is" also she was always complaining about every lesson in school, i enjoyed the lessons, but day after day i began to dislike it. is this my fault ? i just had to ignore this?
  • Jun 15 2011: I was bullied as a child. It was hard on me at first but taught me to stand up for and value myself.

    If I was not bullied, I don't know If I could have ever developed the justifications for my self-worth in my own mind.

    People can try to stop bullying and "give" children self-esteem but true self-esteem can only come from ones own mind.
    • Jun 15 2011: "If I was not bullied, I don't know If I could have ever developed the justifications for my self-worth in my own mind. "

      Bob, this is an interesting statement and I think it is sad that you think that you needed to be abused to find self-worth. This is a concept that I have great difficulty understanding. You appear to be thankful for being bullied - is that correct? You also seem to advocate it? I find this bizarre but perhaps you have "thicker skin" than most. On this thread there are some of the accounts of bullying and how it affected, and continues to affect, the victims of this barbaric behaviour. Could it be that you saying that you would be pleased if your children were bullied, came home every day emotionally and physically abused?
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        Jun 15 2011: Hi Julie Ann,
        I think I understand what Bob is saying, and I'm sure he'll speak for himself at some point. I believe we have opportunities to learn from our challenges, and it seems that Bob is recognizing what he learned from being bullied. From my violent father, I learned how NOT to treat people. His violence and bullying caused me to recognize more compassion and empathy in myself. It's not a lesson I would have chosen consciously, nor do I advocate it as a good way to learn, but never the less, there WAS something to learn with that experience.

        As you know, my son was bullied, and I would NEVER encourage that as a way of learning. However, I admire and respect my son, who is a loving, compassionate, sensitive man. I agree with Bob that true self-esteen "can only come from ones own mind". I think we need to learn different ways of teaching, encouraging and expanding self-esteem.
      • Jun 17 2011: Being bullied forced me to think about why I was being bullied and why I deserved to not be bullied. Being bullied forced me to analyze the bad situation and deal with the problem. I learned that my parents / teachers etc. would not always be around to act as a crutch.

        I was not born with a "thick skin" but through being bullied, I learned how to deflect the blows and fight back.

        In a way I am thankful that I was bullied when I was younger because being bullied as an adult would be a lot harder to deal with than as a child. Bullying exists in the adult world and it is best to be prepared.

        I don't advocate the act of being a bully but I understand that adults and children can take the bad situation and learn from it.
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          Jun 17 2011: Learning from experience.I like that.Bob,you taught me a new lesson about life today.Thanks.
        • Jun 17 2011: Hi Bob, thank you for your response. I understand your particular situation and how your defense mechanism developed. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain you experienced.

          I do think, however, that bullying can never be justified. I know that the argument of "they will experience this later in life so better to start now so that they get used to it" is often used. I vehemently oppose this because I don't think a child has to be abused in order to ward off abuse later in life. In fact, the opposite quite often happens. It's a bit like saying, "you will get burned one day, so why don't I stick your hand in the fire every day so that you get used to it". Irreparable damage is done, excruciating pain experienced.

          I think if a child is loved, nurtured, is made to know their own validity, they will have the self-esteem and confidence to demand respect as a child, and as a adult. This being said, if a child is introverted and reserved, for whatever reason, the bully is even more of a coward to target that child. The problem is the bully, not the person being bullied.

          My very best regards to you Bob.
  • Jun 15 2011: Colleen, in response to your post below, I am so, so very sorry. This brought tears to my eyes and infuriates me simultaneously. I really do not understand how this type of savagery is allowed in a system that is supposed to look out for your child. These kinds of actions by bullies and inaction by the adults around them, should have the most severe consequences. I have always been appalled that there is a union to look out for the teachers' interests, but no organized group to look out for the children's interests.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is a lot of talk but I don't know if there is real change. I think these acts of bullying are still pervasive, and done with impunity. So sad, and yet we consider ourselves civilized.
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      Jun 15 2011: Thank you Julie Ann for your loving kindness.
      I saw your comment last night, and could not respond because thinking about the situation brought tears to my eyes and infuriated me as well...again...25 years later! It is difficult to see anyone abused, and I don't totally understand it either. All I can do, is my best to try to understand it to the best of my ability and do what I can to try to change it:>)
      • Jun 15 2011: You are welcome, Colleen. It is pain that lasts a lifetime. I hope your son is doing well now.
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      Jun 15 2011: Julie Ann and Colleen,

      As a mother and a human being I am in absolute sickened agreement. No wonder our world is in the state it is in if we do not as a society protect our children from this stuff! The bullies and the ridiculers grow up to seize power in business and in government and they just get a little more polished.

      I found that this bullying issue challenged me to my core as a young mother. I had taught my sons never to resort to violence. They laugh now at my advice: 'Your brain is your strongest muscle! ' I would say - use your words! However, I finally had to re-evaluate that I was turning my sons into sitting ducks. My husband and I came up with the 'two hits' rule. That was; who ever is tormenting you gets one physical blow and when they go for a second - after that you stop them for your sake and the sake of others. Here's how it actually worked out:

      Once in a school gym, one of my sons, recovering from a serious car accident ,was watching a game where his twin was playing volleyball. He was sitting in the bleachers next to a fan of the other team. The fan started bullying and Christian tried to put him off. The other guy was spoiling for a fight and finally slapped my son across the face. Christian told him to back off and when the other guy went after him again he engaged. They rolled down the bleachers and on to the court where my other son left the game to protect his brother.

      Sounds like a typical kids fight right? Wrong! The whole gym had watched. The whole place had seen Christian take the first blow without response. The whole gym, the dentist down the street, the teachers, the kids- all of them took a stand against the bully because they had seen what they considered remarkable self control on Christian's part. The other kids was suspended and my boys were not - in a system with a zero tolerance mandate because no one would stand for the injustice.
      • Jun 15 2011: Hi Debra, I responded to this a minute ago but the post seems to have disappeared!
        Anyway, I was saying that it is a great story. It is impressive that everyone stood up against it. It shows what united pressure can do and enforced zero tolerance is really the way to go. You strategy worked well and I would bet that your son has or will use it for his own children. :-)
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          Jun 16 2011: That is EXACTLY what it takes...ZERO TOLERANCE! When enough people stand up for something different, there could be a change:>)
  • Jul 12 2011: It's a psychological problem on people who is lacking of ego and trying to maintain it with bullying. These people should go to psychologist..
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    Jul 12 2011: One aspect that is forgotten is that when it comes to bulling there are only victims. Many bullies suffer as well, and the more you get to know there situation the more you might be able to understand why. Though I think there should be punishment, I think we do go to the point of demonizing rather then actions to rectify the situation. For the bullied and the bully.
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      Jul 12 2011: Isaac,
      Did you mean to write "there are NOT only victims"? I agree with the rest of your comment:>) I think that bullies have often been bullied and they are repeating a pattern they have learned.
    • Jul 12 2011: Issac you are exactly right. We need to attend to both the victim and the bully. In every relationship there are the Bully, the Victim and the Bystanders.
      For years it was move the victim, placate the victim and basically ignore the bully or in some cases kick them out of school to "stop" the behavior. And of course none of that worked. Kicking kids out of school only displaces the problem to the community, plus the bullies don't learn "why" what they did was wrong. The behavior also weakened the victims because they really had no supporters, and once the bullies were back in school the cycle starts again.

      This is why I strongly feel it is the Bystanders, the students themselves if given the green light to make change will do so. Through education and team building within the schools they can dramatically decrease school violence. And I said decrease, we will never end it, that is simply a ridiculous notion and cannot be done.

      So yes Issac lets get to root of the problem and stop putting band-aids on when we know they will only last a little while and make us feel better about ourselves.
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    Jul 12 2011: At the risk of repeating what others may have already said: bullying is not handled "right" because everyone expects everyone else to solve the problem. What I mean is that many parents will want the schools to do something about the bullying problem. On the other hand, the parent may become too involved and take their child's side (understandable, BUT maybe the child is at fault. Not saying that s/he deserved the bullying but fighting for the child, doesn't teach the child how to fend for him/herself). It's really tough for the parent because they want to be involved but how much is the issue?
    Even though bullies don't necessarily have low self-esteem issues I find they share this in common: the ability to get away with it --not taking responsibility for their actions. (This is more an ego booster than anything >.
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    Jul 9 2011: Okay Matt, i will take your comment as a slap in the face; but, i certainly won't turn the other cheek!
    I don't really think it's fitting for a person to criticize my points, when they haven't even stated their own?
    It's like not voting, and then complaining about politics.