Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Anti-Bully Movement - Where Do You Stand?

This is a tough one for me. The truth is, it's hard to just pick a side or even a place on the spectrum and stay there. There are two basic schools of thought. The Anti-Bully Movement itself, which is largely credited to Dr. Dan Olweus, whose primary mission statement claims: "every individual should have the right to be spared oppression and repeated, intentional humiliation, in school as in society at large."

That statement sounds good to me, it makes sense. But critics of the movement claim that according to the definition of bullying, this statement is too inclusive. According to the definition provided on Olweus's website, bullying is: aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power. Most often, it is repeated over time.

Most anti-bully programs currently put to use in schools are based on the Olweus school of thought. It sounds good... yet, most experts - even those who a adamant that this is the way to go, admit that bullying continues to get worse, year by year by year.

Critics of the anti-bully movement assertain that the definition of bullying is too broad, and the punishment too harsh. One of the most visible and vocal critics of the movement, Izzy Kalman states that not only do the fundumental principals of the movement create more harm than good, they contribute almost exclusively to the death of Free Speech.

He's not alone in his critism, and I have to admit, the statistics do seem to be backing him up as far as the effectiveness of current protocol.
This summer, I was talking with a very good friend of mine who was having a really tough time with her childs school. She told me a story that I found rather startling, yet, unsurprising.
Two years ago, her son Sean was having difficulty with a female student in his class. According to Sean, this girl was sooooooo annoying and would pester him all day. He started picking on her and being mean to her, in hopes that she could take the hint and leave him alone. Any adult could see that she obviously had a crush on the boy and was trying to get his attention. By not reciprocating, she only pushed harder and became more and more irritating.
At one point, Sean had been telling her to leave him alone and she wouldn't, so he gave her a nasty look and took his index finger and swiped it across his neck: mimicking a slashing movement.
The girl was so offended that she ran home and told her mother, who was beside herself with outrage. She was going to make this boy pay, not for hurting her daughters feelings, but for threatening her daughters life. Sean was ten at the time.
Because of the extremely harsh penalties required by school officials, this boy has taken two years of anti-bully classes, supplimental to his actual school lessons. And the girl? Well, she wasn't quite done with making him pay for slighting her and spurning her advances. Knowing that Sean isn't allowed to be within her vicinity, she will often approach him and demand that he leave the area. If Sean refuses, the girl tells on him and he is forced to leave and also written up. She taunts him and tells him how he damaged her self esteem, forever and that because of him, she has to go to therapy, etc. etc. This girl has the power now and she abuses it every chance she gets. She has become the unintended bully.

When I hear stories like this, Izzy Kalman makes a great deal of sense to me. Heck, when I'm thinking with my head and not my heart, he makes a lot of sense. Abraisive and rude, he says things that most of us don't want to hear. But he often has a point even if he pisses us off when he makes it.

And then, there is the propaganda. The bloody scenes portrayed in our news that spawn our outrage. The tales of children who just couldn't take it anymore and commit suicide because of their bullies cruel behavior and we want to see those bullies punished, by God! The following links and video are examples of the different positions on the spectrum of this anti-bully crusade:

This trailor for the movie "Bully" is extremely heartbreaking and displays the emotional devastation that bullying can cause. Watching this video made me want to throw all of the bullies in jail.

Here is a link to Dan Olweus's anti-bully website Violence Prevention Works I would have provided an article, however, this website offers materials for sale; it does not give out free information on specifically how or why their program works.

I have already provided a few articles written by Izzy Kalman, his website Bullies2Buddies gives several articles and help information. It is often materials and opinions that differ from the socially accepted public opinion. Some of his ideas may even seem ludicrous. The very name of the website implies that we can turn our bullies into our very good friends.

I find that while I am in a more logical frame of mind, much of what Izzy Kalman says makes a lot of sense to me. Not all of it, andd frankly, I think the guy could use some lessons in tact. But he's right about one thing for sure. All the experts agree that bullying in schools is on the rise. Why are we still using anti-bully programs that are proving themselves ineffective?


  1. You have no idea what a deluded, sociopathic, and hypocritical liar you are. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that that you suck up to Izzy like he wants others to do to bullies.

    How about I bully you like crazy and force you bend to my will? Would you support me anyway?

  2. I allow anonymous comments on my blog in an effort to be all inclusive and foster the best communication. I would prefer that you not use threats towards me, however.