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Rethinking Bullying: Kids Don't See It As Bullying

from the talking-past-one-another dept

For years we’ve talked about all the silly overreactions to things like the concept of “cyberbullying.” In almost every case, it seems like it’s just parents simply being incredibly overprotective concerning kids disagreeing with each other — and the “solutions” they always seem to pose either seemed so off-base as to be ridicule-worthy, or so heavy-handed as to be worrisome for other reasons. As an example of the former, we had a post years back, about a self-described “cyberbullying expert” who claimed that kids would listen to her message about how cyberbullying was bad because she had some guy in a Spiderman costume telling them about it. And, for the latter, we’ve got all the ridiculous attempts to criminalize being a jerk online, such as in response to the whole Lori Drew incident.

Danah Boyd, who actually studies social interactions online among young people, recently put up a fascinating post about how kids and adults seem to totally talk past each other on these issues, in large part, because kids don’t think of these things as “bullying.”

When I first started interviewing teenagers about bullying, they would dismiss my questions. “Bullying is so middle/elementary school,” they’d say. “There’s no bullying problem at my school,” they’d say. And then, as our interview would continue, I’d hear about all sorts of interactions that sounded like bullying. I quickly realized that we were speaking different languages. They’d be talking about “starting drama” or “getting into fights” or “getting into my business” or “being mean.” They didn’t see rumors or gossip as bullying, regardless of whether or not it happened online. And girls didn’t see fighting over boys or ostracizing one another because of boys as bullying. They didn’t even see producing fight videos as bullying.

So then I started asking them what bullying was. What I learned was that bullying was when someone picked on someone or physically hurt someone who didn’t deserve it. I’d ask how they knew if someone deserved it and the response was incredulous, “oh, you know.” So I pushed harder… “what if you don’t know?” I asked. I got blank stares so I took a different tactic. “What if someone’s messing with someone and that other person thinks they’re being mean?” This got their attention, but not in the way that I expected. Most told me that you know when someone is messing with you and that if you don’t, you’re stupid. Besides, when someone’s messing with you, you can’t take it seriously.

The real issue, Boyd suggests, is not that “bullying,” is a problem. It’s a lack of empathy. And, of course, that goes way beyond kids. As she notes, “just ask any marital therapist who’s trying to help a couple work through their relationship.” From there, she points out that these interactions really aren’t all that different from adult interactions:

When I look at how teens hurt each other, I can’t help but also see how they’re developing training wheels for future relationships and reflecting normative behaviors that they see around them. I hear teens’ dramas reflected in their stories about how their parents fight — with each other, with their friends and family and colleagues, and with them. What teens are doing is more coarse, more direct, and more explicit. But they’re witnessing adult dramas all around them and what they tend to see isn’t pretty. Parents talking smack about work colleagues or bosses. Parents fighting with each other or ostracizing their family members over disagreements.

Boyd isn’t quite sure how to deal with this, but is right that this appears to be a much more productive way of looking at the “issue.” In thinking about this, it seems like rather than trying to do the impossible and “stopping” people from acting like jerks, a potentially more effective way of dealing with this is trying (if at all possible) to use those kinds of interactions as learning experiences.

There’s a great quote, apparently by Ian Percy that “we judge others by their behavior, while we judge ourselves by our intentions.” It’s really accurate, and highlights the difficulty of having empathy in such situations. People never think that they are in the wrong — and since they can’t readily understand or know the thought process and intentions of others, it often leads to them thinking the worst. If there were better ways to get people to at least recognize that others might also have good intentions, it could at least limit the negative impact of some interactions. Such fights and misunderstandings will never go away. It’s probably wishful thinking to even imagine they can be decreased even slightly. But calling them “cyberbullying” and outlawing jerky behavior or doing silly costumed song-and-dances isn’t going to help matters at all.

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Comments on “Rethinking Bullying: Kids Don't See It As Bullying”

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124 Comments
DCX2 says:

Hmm...

What I learned was that bullying was when someone picked on someone or physically hurt someone who didn’t deserve it.

It appears to me that the problem would be teens who believe that other people do deserve picked on or physically hurt. What could possibly justify hurting others? Merely because you don’t understand them, or they don’t understand you?

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Hmm...

Nah, you and Mike are both mistaken. Some people are in the wrong, know it, and enjoy it. Actually, no… All people are at times in the wrong, know it, and enjoy it. Some enjoy it more often, and just more, than others. And most also engage in rationalization of actions they knew to be wrong until they manage to convince others or even themselves that their actions were morally sound.

Or, to put it more succinctly, people are assholes.

herodotus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hmm...

The thing is, though, that very few people will say openly: ‘Yes I am an asshole, because is amuses me to be one’.

People always seem to feel a need to come up with an excuse, a narrative that makes them into something better than a mere asshole.

Kids are stupid, and don’t have this problem. I severely doubt they ever think of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this shit. And I assure you that no kid who bullies other kids says ‘c’est la vie’ when they do end up on the receiving end. They say ‘What a dick!’.

Finally, to the guy who wrote:

“Bullying preps you for real life”

I call bullshit.

There is only one social environment where kneeling on someone’s arms and pounding their face in gets a pass, and that is in school. In real life, that would land you in jail.

If you want to prep kids for real life, hold them accountable to the behavioral norms of the adult world. There is nothing like doing some jail time to convince a kid that their actions have consequences.

None of which has anything to do with ‘cyber-bullying’, which is just people online acting like people online. I understand some kids might not be emotionally capable of dealing with the cruelty of hordes of anonymous cyber-jerks, but that is their parent’s problem, not the government’s.

Anonymous Coward says:

The main problem is that all these social workers that make presentations to classes end up treating middle school teenagers like they’re still in elementary school, which means that they wind up presenting these problems in ways that seem childish. This is especially problematic because at the middle school age the average teen is trying desperately to not be seen as childish. Therefore, by presenting bullying to them in elementary-school terms, they end up thinking of bullying as childish behaviour and the more serious actions aren’t seen as bullying. The problem isn’t within how bullying specifically is present but is one of the many problems that comes from underestimating middle school teenagers.

Bengie says:

Re: Re: Re:

I call up “The Mighty Buzzard” friends and family.

Could you please tell “The Mighty Buzzard” to stop staring at my young daughter and chatting with her online, it’s freaking me out.

A complete lie, I don’t tell it to the police, so it’s not illegal, but it sure as hell could mess with your life. Now your friends and family secretly believe you’re a closet pedo.

But hey! free speech!

I’m sure there are some real life cases were some ones right to free speech can cause lots of damage to the innocent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Honestly the problem seems to be not enough bullying going on. I’m 3 years out of high school, I was in middle school during sept. 11. The changes that occurred in the years after were monumental, you couldn’t bump into someone the wrong way. Bullying preps you for real life; if you were bullied you know how bad it is. If you bullied people, eventually you ran out of friends and had to evaluate what your doing wrong.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Absofreakinglutely. For the past fifteen years or so we’ve been raising our kids to be whiny little emo pansies that are completely unprepared for the real world.

My father had a job, an apartment, and paid his own bills at thirteen. I had a job and my own place at seventeen and was a soldier at eighteen. Kids today largely don’t stop sponging off of mom and dad to one degree or another until their mid-20s. There is something seriously wrong with a society that sees college-aged adults as children and allows them to act like it without consequence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Absofreakinglutely. For the past fifteen years or so we’ve been raising our kids to be whiny little emo pansies that are completely unprepared for the real world.

Exactly. That’s why bullies are actually good: they’re just helping to teach others about life. You’ve heard the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? Well, bullies are just trying to help the weaklings by making them stronger. Instead of being punished for doing so, they should be rewarded for their efforts. So, the next time you see some so-called bully attacking someone weaker, don’t try to stop them, go help them! It’s only for the weakling’s good.

Freak says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just like to correct you.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, is a poor translation of the warrior’s creed.
A better translation would be “What doesn’t kill me, I should seek to learn from”.

So, for example, I could catch a bad disease and all the muscle I’ve built up could be eaten away before I recover, (which makes me much weaker), but I should still seek to become ‘stronger’, or in this example, learn to wash my hands and cook my food more throughly so that it doesn’t happen again.

Your interpretation would lead to a broken window fallacy at best, (It is possible to gain something from a bad thing, (Ie: being beaten up), so we should beat up everybody).

123 says:

Re: Re: Re: "It's only for the weakling's good."

yes! by killing (some of) the weaklings! maggots have to eat too! πŸ˜‰
___________
an anon above made the critical distinction between an insult vs bullying/stalking/harassment.

also, “cyber” is different than IRL verbal. the “cyber” aspect may be similar to a billboard, in that the abuse doesn’t disappear quickly. both may continue as “passive harassment”.

btw, in the kernel-of-truth department… adversity *does* make one stronger, but there are many strengths that may develop. some specific strengths may surprise and dismay those who poopooed the bullying as “strength building”.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m surprised you don’t see the non-sequitor between bullying kids in HS and their preparedness. Bullying doesn’t prepare anyone for the real world. It instills fear and stunts the social growth of those bullied. It also instills in the bully that such negative social behavior is acceptable

By the way, try to give an adult a swirlie some time. I bet you’ll end up arrested for assault. You may have the right to be an asshole, but you don’t have the right to harass anyone.

And I don’t think 13 year olds can sign leases. And I’m pretty sure we’ve had child labor laws for quite some time, so I doubt your 13 year old dad was paying bills with *his* money.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think you kind of missed something there. Illegal acts are just as illegal at 15 as they are at 30. Assault and harassment already have means of being dealt with without creating a second set of rules for children.

About the second bit, I’m closer to forty than thirty and have yet to sign a lease. I also worked from thirteen until I was out of school without ever filling out any paperwork getting permission from a school administrator. Occasionally I ditched school because my boss needed me to work during school hours. What you think is true is not.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think you must have missed something there.

There are already a second set of rules for children. I went to a school where kids were getting beat up on a regular basis (I don’t mean fights, I mean 2 or 3 kids beating on one) and they never faced any legal consequences for their actions. Often teachers would see it happening and they would step in to stop it, but when it came time for punishment / explaining it to the principal it was always “a fight.”

In the “real world” these kids would probably be labeled a gang and sent to prison for assault, in school they’re “just kids being kids”, which is bullshit.

If the current laws worked in schools, I would agree that we don’t need anymore – but it is clear from my experience that they don’t work. If anything I think they should pass a law which makes it a criminal act for teachers or school administrators to under-report or not report physically violent behavior to police.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

As someone labeled as a “Bully” by parents of a Homecoming King who I told to GO HOME, AND MOVE 1,600 Miles away because he wanted to chop his nuts off, and was the result of a director of Special Education for FOUR STATES, and a Deputy Sheriff of 25 years, and whose Cousin is Director of the entire CIA office in the Southwest, I am happy to pronounce you as….

A FUCKING MORON.

Thank you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I disagree, how do you learn:

– Patience
– Tolerance
– Couping mechanisms
– Non confrontational skills
– Respect

If you never have to use those skills and they are never challenged?

Want to see what happens? Look no further than police brutality, there are a lot of good people that never learned to coupe with stress, they should be a wall and take the abuse and do a job instead they succumb to emotional distress and hurt others and become bullies themselves, like others who go to management positions and bully others because they can and they have no moral brakes to stop them because they have no frame of reference, if they were bullied they may stop and think about and feel guilty about it.

At least that happened to me, I felt guilty about what I become and changed my ways, and I don’t believe I would have done that if I didn’t have all those bad memories to show me how bad those things really are to others. I believe it made me a better person it enhanced my empathy towards others it helped me understand how others feel and ultimately made me a better person.

Yes bullies are horrible, but they are part of how we learn things, bullies are the failed ones, the ones that couldn’t adapt or find solutions to their own fears and emotions and adult bullies should be punished and can be punished by states, but kids that know no better? have no experience and are still learning for me that is going to far.

If you never had been bullied how would you know when you become one? Would you be able to override your on emotions to stop bullying others without a strong aversion for those kind of thing?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And I’m pretty sure we’ve had child labor laws for quite some time, so I doubt your 13 year old dad was paying bills with *his* money.

I had a lawn service business when I was 10 years old. When I was 12, I added a paper delivery service. So I was running two businesses and going to school by grade 6.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Have you ever thought about the why?

I spend a lot of time on that question, and it is true most bullies end up in low positions, but why?

To be in management you need some skills like patience, coping mechanism for high stress situations, non-confrontational skills, empathy, ability to understand people just to name a few aside of course the technical knowledge, those things only the bullied learn, the bully is the guy who failed to acquire those skills and I believe they fail because of that.

What do you think?

123 says:

Re: Re: Re: most bosses are bullies, ime

also, bosses aren’t necessarily “smart” in terms of productive skills.
I’ve had more the impression that adult life is just a more sophisticated version of high school. the categorical exception is that the guys who are already (e.g.,) raping girls in high school will go to prison as adults.

Mojo Bone (user link) says:

So deviance from the norm somehow ‘deserves’ punishment? I can (almost) see how hazing could serve a purpose, (I’ve been through several kinds of ‘boot camp’ and at least one ‘plebe system’) but it’s hard to grok how abuse severe enough to be described as ‘bullying’ can be derived from altruistic motives. True enough, milder forms of essentially the same thing are often described as ‘peer pressure’ and are said to be an aid to discipline and good order in certain kinds of social groups; the trouble comes when otherwise acceptable levels of this pressure are applied by a peer group with a twisted or perverse set of values.Perhaps bullies are trying to enforce something; the question is whether the paradigm being enforced is good for either the group or the individual, and whether the presumably positive effect on the group is worth the potentially negative effect on individuals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Either way, it’s no business of a government institution to be saying that otherwise legal behavior is morally wrong or socially unacceptable.

And just who do you think decides what is and what isn’t “legal behavior”? The government! You sound like some of people running around yelling “KEEP GOVERNMENT OUT OF MEDICARE!”, without even knowing that medicare is a government program.

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No, it has never rightly been the business of the government to dictate morality. Their job is to draw a line that defines the absolute limits of acceptable behavior before you are thrown in jail.

You, obviously feel that your sensitive little emo kids having to interact with people who don’t like them should be one of those lines. I on the other hand think that you are a pussy and that we should not make invasive new laws to accommodate your delicate sensibilities. It’s an honest disagreement and one that I hope those like you will lose in the legislature.

Hugh Mann (profile) says:

Sounds more like a vocabulary issue

Seems like the older kids don’t like the word “bullying”, because it sounds childish. So they come up with other euphemisms. The word is not nearly as important as the behavior it is intended to describe. In any case, it sounds like the kids can still identify behaviors in which one person exerts “unfair” or “mean” influence over another via intimidation or violence.

That all being said, I tend to agree that the concept of “cyberbullying” is sort of silly. As if any behavior is somehow different merely because you can carry out some version of it online.

HM

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Also the bullied have the most chance to be a fair person in the future, because they have very, very, very strong emotions about it and probably will be driven to never ever do that to others, while a person who never experienced that may fall prey to their own narcissistic needs and override their good sense.

It is horrible to be bullied and that it is why I truly believe it make better people, they never forget how horrible it is and will most probably not want to inflict that on anyone, it creates empathy towards others.

It is harsh, it is unfair, but I don’t think it is useless, it serves a very important function and produces very strong character people in the long run.

Other way to have that is have very stringent community norms where the old ones will always be in conflict with the younger ones, that strife is what enables learning and the formation of social norms, we are not going to eliminate those things because we all die and new people is born all the time and they need challenges to learn something.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It is harsh, it is unfair, but I don’t think it is useless, it serves a very important function and produces very strong character people in the long run.

Exactly. It just builds character. Rape is especially effective in building character in young women. It teaches them modesty and to not dress and act provocatively. So you see, it’s all good!
/s

ббб says:

Re: Re: Re:3 maybe.

this is not the type of thing i search for on the internet, but I’ve never seen glenn in a minidress or thong. so, maybe Glenn *did* learn something useful.
on the other hand, we haven’t seen Glenn ever deny wearing a thong, so i guess he’s just deliberately leaving Americans in the dark about this important issue.

Freak says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This response struck me as particularly mal-informed, of all the ones here.

First: “Also the bullied have the most chance to be a fair person in the future, because they have very, very, very strong emotions about it and probably will be driven to never ever do that to others”

Actually, that’s completely false. A person who was bullied, given an opportunity, is more likely to become a bully. It’s the same deal as kids who were abused as children are more likely to abuse their own children or other people close to them. The way you interact with others as a child forms the way you think relationships should work, in that your ideas mimic what happened to you. Which is kinda counter-intuitive, but psychology wouldn’t be a very interesting field if it worked the way we think it should.

“it creates empathy towards others.”
Actually, it does just the opposite. Often, it prevents people from forming close bonds with other people; instead, feeling hurt, like say . . . a Victim, they fall into the trap of psychological games. Even after having been bullied by a Prosecutor, they still take on the role of a Victim. Taking up an inauthentic stance in order to get close to someone, without understanding the necessity of being open or honest. Even if a friendship is formed, it feels distant. Like, say, the relationship between a Victim and a Rescuer.
Summation: Because their experience forces them into the role of the Victim when they interact with people, they fail to form bonds, which means they often find themselves with much less empathy than other people.

Thus, completely unlike your conclusion, people who are bullied, (or abused by one of their parents), are much, MUCH more likely to become sociopaths. One property of a sociopath is the apparent lack of empathy just so you realize why that stat, (look it up if you like), is relevant.

“that strife is what enables learning and the formation of social norms” “they need challenges to learn something”

I don’t think it’s worth my time to poke another hole in that sieve, but for a single counterexample: People who aren’t bullied, (or bullies themselves), develop social norms and learn. There are people who live entirely happy lifes
Are you saying that the only smart people are the kids who were beat up in school?
If the scale of strife is such that it need not be bullying, and need not damage the individual . . . then your statements are irrelevant in that they do not serve the purpose of backing up your argument.

“we are not going to eliminate those things because we all die and new people is born all the time”

I may be misunderstanding . . . you think it’s impossible for old people and young people to agree?
Even if I agree that strife MUST exist, not everyone will be effected by that strife, I’m sure I can pick an example or dozen just from people I know.

TL;DR: At best, your argument is a broken window fallacy; in seeing that something good MIGHT come out of something bad, you assume that something bad is necessary, and in fact, actually good. But there are ways of attaining the same good without something bad, and you have yet to prove that something bad necessarily, or statistically, leads to more good than bad, (Indeed, I have given counter-examples, so it is not necessary, and the statistics, AFAIK, say otherwise).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Understanding Parent's role in creating self-worth

If we want kids to stop bullying, we have to get to the core issue otherwise we are just putting another band-aid on a gaping wound that is sweeping across the United States and many countries around the world. Using the term “bullying” I think is more rooted in the ethos of the “intervention culture”.

Too simplistic? Impossible to fathom?

In The US, we desire answers that will make our problems go away fast. Using “Bullying” as an answer like going to a hospital with a ruptured artery, hoping the a medical practitioner take mend the issue a few bandages and we can get home in time for supper, but often diagnosis is not that straightforward.

I am reminded of a situation where a friend moved in and one night after work, I came home to find a package of hotdogs all sliced in two. After some light discussion, it came to light that he had some serious issues and I asked him to get help. I also remain convinced that this friend’s parents felt more ashamed of the way they brought up their child (who at the time was in their late 20s) and didn’t provide them with the tools necessary to deal with the intense situations early on in their child’s development. Their parenting skills (calling me as a bully when I told this person to see a psychiatrist) were piss-poor, and I saw as a form of control, one of very core tenants necessary to building an intervention culture.

They ultimately moved away (1600 miles away) at my request because I didn’t want to see him hurt himself.

The intervention concept doesn’t create a nurturing, loving and empowering environment where kids are able to develop a sense of self worth. It’s a cop-out, and requests a form of third-party assistance.

Indeed, this may be necessarily offered to families of lower socioeconomic status, or divorced families. The growing income gap is pushing more people into lower socioeconomic classes. This along with economic mobility factors has the ability to be a given within our lifetime unless there is growth in the lower and middle classes.

So looking for the band-aid for the ruptured artery, or calling someone a bully is the easy the answer. The correct answer is to understand your role as a parent and give your kid a sense of self worth. Otherwise, by asking for permission to intervene, you deny your kid the learning and social experience of dealing with problems early in life and this can snowball into other issues later in life.

nature vs nurture (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 there are too many pigeonholes

i know the post preceding your reply describes me.
IMO, your description is also correct, though i suspect about a *minority* of ex-bullied.

Some related psych:
1. molested kids, I’ve read that the majority do not become molesters as adults. admittedly, this depends on quality of data, and i don’t recall reading estimates of unreported molestation. (I could easily miss this, because I’m not anything close to being a sociologist). Also, how many molested don’t become molesters, but *do* adopt a *different* abusive/criminal habit?

2. true sociopaths. are they sociopathic purely by “nurture” or do they need be at least partially “nature”?

3. child soldiers. extreme examples that seem to be primarily due to “nurture”.

_______
btw, “Persecutor” not “Prosecutor”?

Anonymous Coward says:

Cyberbullying statues are silly, unnecessary, and potential have chilling effects on speech. We already have laws on the books for harassment and stalking; anything that doesn’t rise to the legal definition and level of stalking or harassment is and should be legal as free speech. Now maybe we need to clarify some of these harassment statues to spell out how they apply to the internet, but every cyberbullying statue I’ve read about is a knee-jerk overreaction with far reaching consequences for free speech on the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Today the internet is about 20 years old and the world wide web of connected computers about 40 years old with exact ages depending on when, IE what event you start counting from.

Popular usage of the internet is much less than 20 years. For youth and scientific types not much but for a significant portion of older adults the internet age has not even started yet.

As one advances in life the tendency is to advance in positions of power. That is most people in significant position of power have never gone through the learning experience of basic internet social learning. They are completely clueless as to what, how. and why internet social actions take place and even less if that is possible able to comprehend the results. There is a complete lack of understanding what any action will produce as results.

In 1900 it took 2 weeks to travel 200 miles by wagon. In 1920 this same 200 miles could be accomplished at 20 miles per hour in 10 hours and in 1950 at 50 miles per hour in 4 hours. The knowledge and skills required in 1900 were of little value in 1920 and of no value in 1950. Knowledge acquired from over five thousand years of travel was of no value in a mere 20 years and completely forgotten in 50.

Looking at age demographics shows that in modern times average life expediency has increased from 40 years to 70 years in the same time frame. So if one was 20 years old in 1900 with the transportation skill required for existence in 1900 then in 1920 one would be 40 with the same skill set and 70 in 1950.

The 1930s are generally thought of as a great depression but there is another view that is equally valid. It was a time of great invention. Great advancements were made in transportation, in airplains, in cars, and in trains and in communication, in radio and in TV.

Now if one combinds the labor requirements of 1900 transportation with the shipping requirements of 1930 is easy to see that there was a significant number of individuals that were unemployable because they had the 1900s skill set when the 1920s skill set was required as a minimum.

It is widely assumed in economics that the 1930 was an era of insufficient demand and it was the government who provided relief by supplying jobs to the masses. What is little appreciated is there was little demand for goods as there was insufficient individual income because the individuals did not have the skills required for that age. Job requirements were for aircraft mechanics. Available labor talent was mule skinning. Not a good match. From this one can easily see that mot only was the 1930 a period of high unemployment but an age of high job availability. Manufacturing based on 1,00 year old consumer demand [wagons] was out and new upstart in [cars].

The WinkiLeak has fiasco has significance way beyond way beyond security. The world is now experiencing the exact same social situation as the world experienced a 1930 style transportation advancement in communication.

Thought process that sufficed for thousand of years are completely obsolete. The idea of an individual operating on his own meeting all challenges and accomplishing a task are as quaint as a Lewis and Clark or a Shackleton expedition would be today. In amazement today Shackleton boat sank. To rescue his stranded men he took part. a very small part, of his crew and rowed across the Weddell Sea to South Georgia then hiked for 36 hours across the island to reach a whaling station at Stromness. In modern times a group of trained mountain experts tried the same hick which they only managed to accomplish is twice the time despite being well rested at the start instead of months of starvation and fatigue as Shackleton was. The old skill set required for such rugged survival no longer exists. The world had changed.

The world is experiencing another such change in communication and thought.

Anymouse says:

re: longevity

The individual that discussed life ‘expediency’ as having increased doesn’t recognize the actuality. One only has to visit an old cemetery to realize that the older individuals were living just about as long, there were just more deaths of childbearing-age women and infants. It doesn’t take very many infant mortalities to lower the average life expectancy. Those that survived infancy and childbirth lived just about as long as they do today.

123 says:

Re: re: longevity

OT again, but… some USA-centric thoughts:
I’ve seen what you’ve posted but *ON LY* as posts. So I may be misunderstanding something.
Since ‘senior’ care must be better than it was in 1940 (as example), there must be counteracting factors that cause 2010’s late-age life expectancy to remain at 1940’s level.

pringerX (profile) says:

Now in new flavors like "Cyber!"

This is just another instance of slapping the “Cyber” sticker on something and calling it new and different. This just aggravates the problem the article describes. Kids these days don’t equate the term “bullying” to the full range of actions that actually constitutes bullying, and the lack of empathy isn’t helping either.

Anonymous Coward says:

I happen to be a senior in high school, and I’d have to say this article is fairly accurate, with a few exceptions.

I’d define bullying not as picking on someone who “doesn’t deserve it”, but picking on anyone who is emotionally effected by it, which is harder to identify. If you are “messing with” someone, and they laugh about it or do something back, that’s probably not bullying. But, if you do the same thing to someone who just tries to ignore it, or even tells you to stop, that’s where it becomes bullying.

In high school, people do things that some would call “bullying” to each other for a few reasons.

1. Because they think it’s funny, or they think others will find it funny.

2. Because someone else has made them angry and they feel the need to “get revenge”.

3. Because they are bored and and are just trying to get a reaction from someone.

I agree with mike that the problem is empathy. It’s human nature for people to have confrontations, and it’s not bullying when both sides are fighting. But if people knew when someone was being effected by their actions when they are being “funny”, or cared more about it their would be a lot less bullying.

Even so, I would say my school has not had a problem with bullying. It’s a small school, and their will always be the small groups of girls who always fight, but outside of that, if anyone is getting picked on, people almost always come to their defense.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re:

Did you ever hit the nail on the head! Bullying is when you mess with someone who would rather be left alone. Quite often, those who want to be left alone will be picked as targets precisely *because* they don’t fight back. They provide cheap laughs for folks with weak morality.

To me, it’s about the fear. When you are actually scared to go to school, or scared to walk down the hall between classes, and it begins to interfere with your ability to function in school…that’s bullying.

darryl says:

Re: Re:

and it’s not bullying when both sides are fighting.

So if you are bullying me, and I punch you in the nose for your troubles. You (according to your rules) are no longer being a bully.

People tried to bully me at school, and my response what to attack them. Fight them, and by my actions show them what they are doing is not what I want… (plus I was a fast runner).

But it a bit sad for mike to say that kids should just accept it as a life lesson, suck it up, move on.
And saying that adults do it so its ok for kids to follow suit is also bad ‘advice’.

Just as it is very poor taste to say, that you will never get rid of bullying, so you might as well even give up trying to reduce it.

It seems Mike takes that attitude for most things, if you cant completely eliminate something, dont even bother trying.

Just because you do not think it is a major problem Mike does not mean it is not a major probem.

You assume so much Mike, one has to wonder where you get your idea’s and logic from..

You are very defeatist, might as well let file sharing because you cant stop it, might as well let military secrets out, because you cant stop it.. might as well let bullying, because you cant stop it.

might as well let copyright theft because you cannot stop it,

yes, you cannot stop crime, you can fight it, and you can control it.. you are right that these things cannot be elliminated..

But they can be illegal, reduced, and rightfully punished.

You are never going to get rid of copyright, so why do you try ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Whose fault is it ?

One thing that is rarely discussed is that the victim of bullying will often “attract” it. That is, they can change schools and it starts again with a completey different set of peers.

I’d definitely not want my kids to be bullies but I’m probably more concerned with showing them how not to be victims.

Is victimhood a series of action ssomeone can learn not to do ? Or is it just who you are ?

Sometimes just not being “cool” is enough to be a victim.
Or maybe being a bit too academic (“swotty”). Or maybe it’s a combination of uncool but not suffciently inconspicuous.
But often it’s a “devil take the hindmost”. As long as there’s someone less cool than you , you’re OK. And so there are would be victims who are glad it’s not them, who stand idly by for that reason.

Seeing some messages exchanged between about-to-be-teenage girls, I’ve been shocked at how intensely the mean “cool” kids seem to almost hate the uncool kids. It’s not enough to ignore the victims, they are almost angry at them.

What’s up with that ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Whose fault is it ?

One thing that is rarely discussed is that the victim of bullying will often “attract” it.

So, they’re just asking for it, eh?

Is victimhood a series of action ssomeone can learn not to do ? Or is it just who you are ?

If you had a daughter that became a victim of rape (a form of extreme bullying), would you still say that she must have been asking for it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Whose fault is it ?

What you don’t believe people can behave in such a manner that they atract predators?

You don’t want to identify those traits to teach people to not be victims?

What kind of person don’t want others to reach understanding to solve social problems that we face.

See I can be dramatic too πŸ™‚

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Whose fault is it ?

— If you had a daughter that became a victim of rape (a form of extreme bullying), would you still say that she must have been asking for it? —

I never said anyone was asking for it. I said that many victims of school bullying find it starts again when they move elsewhere. Which means they are doing SOMETHING that attracts it.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Whose fault is it ?

I never said anyone was asking for it. I said that many victims of school bullying find it starts again when they move elsewhere. Which means they are doing SOMETHING that attracts it.

Like being the wrong color or unattractive or overweight or poor or gay or following the wrong religion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Whose fault is it ?

No for being unable to find solutions to problems.

I knew a couple of bullies, one people ignored him for 6 months he never ever bullied others again he was shunned from the group and that made a difference, the other one was more stubborn and found himself getting calls in the middle of the night non stop for a year, having people call any job he found and accuse him of being a bully and getting him fired or having to quit because people look at him funny.

Community can work wonders the best part is that people forget and people who wronged others have a chance to start over, unlike government records that will last for the rest of the life of someone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Whose fault is it ?

I never said anyone was asking for it. I said that many victims of school bullying find it starts again when they move elsewhere. Which means they are doing SOMETHING that attracts it.

Like being the wrong color or unattractive or overweight or poor or gay or following the wrong religion.

Have you ever noticed how some women seem to have an ability to pick the wrong boyfriends. After seeing them abused by multiple partners, noone sane thinks “it’s their fault” but their friends often wish they didn’t keep picking those kind of guys.

My point is, some people clearly have a tendency towards serial victimhood, and it’s often nothing to do with being poor or black or gay but to do with the way they handle themselves when/if the first incident occurs.
So rather than having lots of touchy feely class exercises about teaching the bullies not to be bullies, or teaching the bystanders to intervene, I’m saying we should recognise the phenomenon and try to enable the would be victims to resist victimhood.

Lets face it – most good teachers could look at a new class and make a good guess who’s going to be a likely bullying target.

In any other walk of life, if we already knew the likely target but had not yet figured out who the perpetrator was going to be, we might take some measures to strengthen the target in advance.

Like locking your car, or advising a young woman to carry mace or learn self defence for the dark walk home.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Whose fault is it ?

As a Parent, asking for help isn’t bad, it just furthers the “Intervention Culture”.

If you need help being a parent and giving your daughter or son value in this world, I’m sure there are people who can help you. But calling it “Bullying” gets us nowhere.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Whose fault is it ?

Have you ever noticed how some women seem to have an ability to pick the wrong boyfriends. After seeing them abused by multiple partners, noone sane thinks “it’s their fault” but their friends often wish they didn’t keep picking those kind of guys.

My point is, some people clearly have a tendency towards serial victimhood, and it’s often nothing to do with being poor or black or gay but to do with the way they handle themselves when/if the first incident occurs.

We’re talking kids here. Most of them don’t start out thinking of themselves as victims. They just find themselves “different” in some fashion which attracts attention and they get picked on.

It’s the same with child abuse in a family. The kid may do nothing, but still gets singled out for punishment from an abusing adult.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Whose fault is it ?

I think I understand what you are trying to say … but I think your argument is much more applicable to adults than children.

Adults are (or should be) capable of assessing a situation and understanding the possible ramifications of their actions (i.e. pretty girl alone at night walking down a dark alley after a night out, yes people should be safe everywhere but … they aren’t).

Children, on the other hand, have little and sometimes no ability to control their thoughts, feelings, or actions. Not because they haven’t learned what behaviors cause you to become a victim, because they are children and they are developmentally immature. Their brains are literally not yet capable and do not have enough information to understand the potential consequences of their actions.

Also, I think you are being very dismissive of this particular point:

Like being the wrong color or unattractive or overweight or poor or gay or following the wrong religion.

Almost all children get bullied a little at some point in their youth but these kids are the ones who are serial victims of bullying. What would you advise a black kid in a white school to do so that people don’t bully him? Or a gay kid in just about any school?

I think what you are suggesting is that we should teach children to conform to all social norms in an effort to “fit in.” I heard that same bullshit from a teacher when I was a child and it was probably the worst advice ever given to me. Personally, I don’t support special cyberbullying laws; however, I do believe that schools should be a safe environment for children to learn and students who repeatedly bully other children should be separated from the other students. Anyone saying “this is practice for real life” is an asshat, adults have a great deal of freedom to change jobs, move, or simply avoid someone they have a problem with; but children are often stuck in a school and have little or no recourse in dealing with bullies.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Whose fault is it ?

I think what you are suggesting is that we should teach children to conform to all social norms in an effort to “fit in.”

I was going to say the same thing. When I was in school, I learned the best way to avoid being bullied was to “fit in.” So when people complain about Americans being “sheeple,” that’s because these same Americans learned that the best way to avoid problems is not to stand out. If you look and act like everyone else, you’ll have fewer problems.

Whether you want to call it “anti-bullying” or “sensitivity training” or “diversity training,” it all boils down the the same thing: teaching kids tolerance and acceptance of other people’s differences.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Whose fault is it ?

I think what you are suggesting is that we should teach children to conform to all social norms in an effort to “fit in.”

I read it as a recommendation to teach people how to deal with (or avoid) bullying effectively, rather than exclusively focusing on teaching the bullies not to bully. It might be politically difficult in the same way as passing out condoms in high school, because some people would see it as condoning the activity we want to stop.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Whose fault is it ?

I read it as a recommendation to teach people how to deal with (or avoid) bullying effectively, rather than exclusively focusing on teaching the bullies not to bully.

And how do you teach people to avoid being bullied? Any tips? As I said before, my personal experience, both as a kid and as a parent, is to learn to fit in. If people make fun of your clothes, you change your clothes. That’s why kids all want the same things to wear.

Sure, you can learn to be different, but if people are inflicting bodily harm on you, you either learn to fight (which may get you in trouble), to run, or to hide (“fit in” or move to a place where you won’t be so different). You can also report it to the authorities, but again, this is dealing with bullying, no matter what you call it. If the teachers and administration are receptive, maybe you eliminate the bullying. If they are not, the bullying may just get worse and sometimes you end up with suicides as a result.

Yes, there are survival skills, but I’d much rather attend a school or send kids to a school where those aren’t necessary. I’d also rather live in a society where those aren’t necessary. For example, in some neighborhoods you carry a weapon to protect yourself. Do I want to live there? No.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Whose fault is it ?

And how do you teach people to avoid being bullied? Any tips?

Nothing I’m particularly qualified to expound on, but I didn’t say I would be the one doing the teaching.

You can also report it to the authorities, but again, this is dealing with bullying, no matter what you call it.

Well I called it dealing with bullying. πŸ™‚ Don’t fall into the perfect solution fallacy, which is seems you may be veering toward. Will training potential victims solve the problem? Certainly not. Would it mitigate the problem? It sure seems possible to me. Would it do harm? I don’t see how.

Yes, there are survival skills, but I’d much rather attend a school or send kids to a school where those aren’t necessary. I’d also rather live in a society where those aren’t necessary.

Sure, but that is entirely unhelpful to anyone getting bullied.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Whose fault is it ?

Will training potential victims solve the problem? Certainly not. Would it mitigate the problem? It sure seems possible to me. Would it do harm? I don’t see how.

Although teaching people how not to be victims is a good thing in general, as a parent I also believe you come down hard on kids who behave badly. If a kid is mistreating someone, you tell that kid it is unacceptable behavior. So a zero tolerance policy toward bullying is, in my mind, an acceptable if potentially unachievable goal.

If tolerance is perceived to be too touchy-feely, so be it. If we want to build effective online and offline communities, we have to promote tolerance/cooperation/negotiation as a concept or we will have people justifying why they can exclude, pick on, or bully other people. In other words, I think it is fair to say meanness is unacceptable even if you can cite reasons why the other person “deserved it.”

I’ll also say that if someone has called you a bully and you don’t think you are, it still indicates there is a communication problem between the two of you which should be addressed. Whatever your justification, you still need to work it out, or you need to find a way to separate yourselves from each other.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Whose fault is it ?

Yep, I agree with all that. With the possible exception if the zero tolerance policy causes a lack of judgment. Meaning the stories of kids getting kicked out of school for getting beat up on. There’s a zero tolerance policy, so the principal just suspends anyone involved without figuring out what actually happened and who needs to be punished.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Whose fault is it ?

Yep, I agree with all that. With the possible exception if the zero tolerance policy causes a lack of judgment. Meaning the stories of kids getting kicked out of school for getting beat up on. There’s a zero tolerance policy, so the principal just suspends anyone involved without figuring out what actually happened and who needs to be punished.

I agree. If a kid has been harassed or beaten up and responses to defend himself, he shouldn’t be treated exactly the same as the aggressor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Resisting Victimhood

There’s a lot of odd stuff being said around here.
Lets explain where I’m coming from.

When I was a kid being picked on for a long time I tried to laugh it off. They never got the satisfaction of seeing me cry but they never stopped either. It simply went on, as it was good sport for them.

I wish someone had told me then that bullies are often essentially cowards. If I had punched the ringleader on the nose hard just once, it would probably have stopped right then. I would not have been in any serious trouble.
And it would have radically changed my outlook and self esteem for years.

And if I could go back in time to my younger self, I’d tell him just that – they’re a bunch of cowards, and if you fought back hard like you had nothing to lose, they’d probably run off.

How do I know this was true ? Because a couple of years on they picked on another smaller kid and he suddenly fought back like a crazy person. Just exploded. Everyone was simply amazed. And it all stopped.

123 says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Resisting Victimhood

“Because a couple of years on they picked on another smaller kid and he suddenly fought back like a crazy person. Just exploded. Everyone was simply amazed. And it all stopped.”

youtube!
training vid!

the bullies stopped bullying the exploder,but didn’t stop bullying other kids, did they?
(this could be difficult to answer, because a few years in school changes so much.)

BruceLD says:

Subject

The RIAA, MPAA and their lawyers operate precisely like bullies, and they’ve been bullies for many years because they know their bullying tactics work very well to their benefit.

We used to have a bully in my school hundreds of years ago. He was much like the RIAA/MPAA and he made the rules for all of us. One day we finally wised up and all of us bully victims fought back. There was strength in our numbers, and the bully retreated and became a mere shadow of himself.

That remains true back then, and it also remains true to this very day.

Anonymous Coward says:

The kids in the suburbs are a bunch of wooses. We handled our own stuff. Where I went to school, if you dissed me I kicked your ass. If you were bigger than me, I would knife you. No one got away with anything. If you were weak and couldn’t talk someone into helping you, then you learned how to negotiate with someone to protect you.
I know it’s really horrible that some poor little girl, already emotionally damaged because she had no Daddy at home and Momma worked all the time, had to come home to an empty house and go online and be tormented. Like I said ALL ALONE. Where was mama and daddy, her protectors. They were getting screwed by the Wall Street Assholes that forced mom to go to work and not be able to take care of her child, because mom and dad broke up fighting about money.
Does this story make you want to get married and have children?

augman (profile) says:

Cyberbullying

Perhaps my greatest fortune in life was having wonderful Mother. She didn’t belong to any religion or go to church every Sunday, yet she’s without a doubt the most virtuous person I’ve met. I vividly recall the day when, as a six year old I sat as she explained “The Golden Rule”. It’s so simple to understand and if we all obeyed it, how different this world would be.

Anonymous Coward says:

The biggest problem with bullying are the psychology freaks all going bananas over something that is basic human nature. We all play the game, I am more popular, I am stronger, I am smarter, I am just badder, period. What’s the beef? Someone disses you, take them out. The world has too many people for the planet to sustain anyway. We need to get rid of a couple of billion people to keep from exhausting our resources. People need to learn that if they continue to run their mouths and diss you, then they could die. I could take care of a bunch of them right now by killing all the Muslims and the Christians with all their non-violent bullshit. Both religions were built in blood and are still extremely violent. They are extremely disrespectful with their hateful sermons against everyone that they think is wrong. I find them to be offensive and hateful. Kill the infidel, God hates gays, God wants you to be successful, give me your money. Get rid of all of them, outlaw their religion and make them go underground. All religions preach Armageddon and want to destroy the planet. They are extremely dangerous and need to be controlled.

The only thing that will save this planet is to find at least 4 other planets to live on. Give one to the Muslims, one to the Christians, one to the Catholics and one to the people that just want to get the hell out of here and away from all the freaks.

There is no land left. It’s all owned by someone or some country. You can’t just explore and make your own way by claiming the land and then making it better. This planet is totally owned by the rich and they are not giving anything back, they won’t even pay their share of taxes. Bottom line: if you’re young and poor, you’re screwed. You will never own anything and will never have a life except to be play fodder for the rich assholes games.

Christopher (profile) says:

Bullying in and after middle school more amounts to keeping someone from attending events/parties and marginalizing them. That can be INFINITELY MORE HARMFUL than telling someone that you dislike them, harassing them, or giving them a physical beatdown.

I had that happen to me during 5-6 grade, because of a lie that someone spread about me having tried to strangle someone!

Marginalizing someone hurts more than just being jerky towards someone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Before you say I don’t understand, I do. My dear bullies hang me upside down and kick my legs blue I endure that fore years when the time came I was strong enough to defend myself.

Really harmful is not having nobody to confide and get good advice, someone to trust and that will be there for you, that is the real harmful part.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Irony

Yes, it’s interesting the amount of justification for bad behavior. If you want communities to work together, you need to expect everyone will treat everyone else with respect. The “there are reasons why they get picked on” thinking isn’t going to work. Go the extra mile to make sure everyone is included. If not, you’re just going to get divided groups, which in an extreme form leads to road block in DC because no one can agree or is willing to work together.

I think humans are probably tribal by nature and try to exclude “other,” but if we want people to work together on big projects, the “other” mentality isn’t going to work.

Bold Creative (user link) says:

Whose fault is it ?

-> how do you teach people to avoid being bullied? Any tips?

It would be great if there was a solid answer to this question… But as the bully can now remain invisible behind the technology of a mobile phone or a hacked Facebook account, a good answer becomes harder to find

However, we can offer young people new ways of looking at bullying through the sharing of stories that they can empathise with.

http://vimeo.com/7642029

Le Blue Dude says:

Word choices

Dunno about everyone else, but I try to overcome the empathy gap by understanding primate behavior patterns. When humans act like primates, and emotionally or physically hurt me or someone else, I make sure not to refer to them as ‘evil’ (a word many people jump at the chance to use). Instead I either ignore it, or I try to explain to them why what they did left me (or someone else) feeling emotionally bruised.

‘course many people accuse me of acting like a kindergarten teacher and not being particularly respectful due to my tendency to view humans as primates with an absurdly complex mating ritual.

But the real problem here is word choice. Saying someone is ‘evil’ is like giving yourself permission to hate them and harm them. Saying someone is ‘acting like a primate’ doesn’t exactly excuse their behavior, but it makes it ‘sound’ to your brain like the solution is to teach them, not to hurt them.

Liam says:

Re:

You make it sound like it’s a good situation when you’re forced to pay your own way as a minor. While I dislike this fad of encouraging kids to report every single mean thing someone says to them, you should never condone harassment. And that’s essentially what you’re saying: that being forced into miserable situations is better than preventing those situations from happening. It isn’t- kids aren’t “spoiled” if they aren’t miserable during high school; they’ll be perfectly well adjusted if they’re merely exposed to the fact that people are insensitive. And that’s what bullying is, for the most part- either gender policing (which may easily evolve into gay-bashing) or simple insensitivity.

I know from experience that being “bullied” is unpleasant, but upon reflection I realize that bullies don’t necessarily understand what they’re doing is wrong; they have fun at others’ expense, and every social group does it. The jocks bully the nerds, and the nerds in turn are hostile and sometimes downright vicious to anyone they perceive as higher on the social ladder.

I suppose that my solution would be just this: realize that bullying will always happen. But do the best you can to moderate behavior so that you don’t allow a system of dominance and submission to form. While it’s true that “real life” sucks, high schoolers are stuck in a situation they had no say in- much different than in a company where you may have the option of quitting. Don’t fall into the trap where you essentially tell vulnerable teenagers to suck it up- what kind of rolemodel are you if you’re saying that they have no valid reason to make a complaint for any reason? Sometimes “emo pansies” actually have a reason to be concerned.

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