We seem to focus on the wrong questions; the “why” questions. And even worse, the questions that analyze generalized, abstract reasons for why mostpeople or why our society does something.
One of the latest in the long list of articles about how to be better parents – by being a Tiger Mom or a French Mom – is by Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker, “Why are American Kids So Spoiled?”
Of course Kolbert gives examples of permissive American parents that raise nasty, narcissistic, self-indulgent, entitled, spoiled brats who harass, abuse and bully their parents. And then we can analyze why we parents raise them that way, and the plusses and minuses of raising kids permissively; or not expecting anything until they’ve understood the advantages of the behavior we want and they’re willing to put forth the effort to give it. And then we wring our hands at adults we see who are aging but still spoiled brats. And then we feel overwhelmed and helpless because we think our society is going downhill.
Ah, the false assumption that if we can figure out, objectively and dispassionately, what’s wrong, we can reason our way to the correct plan that will work for all reasonable people.
A better question is about what behavior each of us wants to demand from our kids and grandkids in a real, specific moment.
Every moment, we’re training our kids about what behavior is acceptable and what the consequences will be for falling below our standards of behavior – whether that’s disapproval, removal, or something else.
Training is more important than explaining.
My question is about specific individuals, situations and moments in time – what do we want to say and do with our kids at that moment? It’s not a “why” question. It’s a "what" question focused on the present and future, not on the past.
What reasons do we want to give to our kids for our standards and demands, when don’t we want give reasons in the moment, and when is their compliance expected whether or not they understand or agree with our reasons?
What immediate rewards and consequences do we want to have for their behavior?
As opposed to the misbehaving kids, who we’ve all seen, in Kolbert’s examples, I’ve seen many young kids behaving wonderfully in public – toward their parents as well as toward non-family members. Their parents have trained these kids and demanded good behavior from them, and the kids have accepted the standards.
We can usually get civil, polite, helpful behavior from our children and grandchildren if we’re willing to do the training.
We do know what we want and we don’t need the latest research studies to justify it. Also, we don’t need to spend our children’s whole childhood analyzing what’s right or begging them to act decently.
Our beloved four-year-old granddaughter has cancer. She finished surgery and is in radiation-chemotherapy mode. They say there’s a good chance she’ll live long and prosper. We grasp that life preserver and try not to cry all the time while we go about fulfilling other responsibilities.
Thank you for that gasp and intake of breath.
All the staff at Children’s Hospital were wonderful. All the families we met there were also kind, considerate, caring and thoughtful. Disease and death are great levelers – we’re all there because were attached to a kid in trouble.
Almost all our family and friends are also wonderful. We show up with food, holiday presents for all the kids, baby sitting, prayers, gasps, tears and arms-around sharing of pain and hope.
And then there are the very few know-it-all bullies and the vicious self-bullying that I want to talk about.
A few of the bullying categories are:
The religious missionaries. Their theme was that this happened to us because we didn’t belong to the right church or pray to the right God. Or we carried some hidden sin that we’re being punished for or past-life karma is finally being manifest or bad genes are carried in the family. And our granddaughter will be saved only if we convert to their correct way.
The health missionaries. Their theme is exactly the same in form, but different in content, as the religious missionaries. This happened because we weren’t pure enough – bad water, not completely organic produce, not pure enough vegetarian or vegan, not enough cleansing of toxins, not pure enough affirmations or thought. We all know there are some cancers and diseases that are made worse by bad living – smoking, drugs, alcohol, living next door to a leaky nuclear plant – but this is not one of those cases.
The political missionaries. Their theme is that the cause of her cancer is global, warming or cooling or environmental pollution, acid rain, fluoride in the water, America as a greedy, decadent, selfish, bad country.
The emotionless professional bullies. They think emotion is a sign of weakness and maybe they’re upset by public displays. Especially at work, they’ll look down on you if you cry or they’ll find a reason to get you transferred or fired. They think robots are better than people.
All these missionaries sound alike, except the fault they focus on is a little different. Whether their God is out there or their God is in their logic and reasoning, they’re convinced they’re right and they’re fervent and righteous about it. Because they’re right and righteous, they think they can ignore or trample your feelings. They think they know what’s best.
Of course, I can see that all these people have reasons, excuses, justifications – they want to help, they’re scared, in our diverse society they don’t know what’s proper, they’re simply awkward in how they try to comfort us, etc.
What if we’re wrong about the treatment we choose? We can’t be sure.
None of this is useful. Sure, there will be genetic testing, but all the rest of those thoughts are simply us making ourselves ride an emotional roller coaster; sometimes at the heights, sometimes in the pits, always being flung around and bruised. Obsession, self-flagellation, negativity, depression, and loss of confidence and self-esteem don’t help.
Weaklings and whiners blame temptation and tempters. That pattern of good reasons, best of intentions, and pathetic excuses and justifications to blame someone else is as old as apples and temptation. It’s just as lame and weak now as it always was.
According to Wall Street Journal articles, Beverly Hall was Superintendant of the Atlanta Public School District when at least 178 teachers have been accused of cheating to elevate student’s test scores en masse. Administrators were also accused of “impeding the investigation, tampering with tests and intimidating teachers.”
According to Kyle Wingfield, reporting for the Journal, “Many politicians and teachers have responded to the report by blaming the test and accountability measures like No Child Left Behind. This is exactly the wrong reaction: Atlanta shows us why public schools need more, not fewer, accountability measures.” I agree.
Interim School District Superintendant Erroll Davis Jr. is cleaning house. “At the same time, a former Atlanta deputy superintendent [Beverly Hall] agreed to go on paid leave from a Texas school district that hired her earlier this year.”
The dust will take a long time to settle. I hope Ms. Hall’s lieutenants and all the other teachers involved spend time in prison and then find jobs in which they will not held out as role models to children trying to better themselves. We count on teachers to be role models; to demonstrate the highest standards.
They used to say, “The Devil made me do it. I had good reasons. It’s not my fault and, therefore, I shouldn’t have to suffer.” Now they say, “Society, the bad rules or system, too much pressure, my bad genes, my bad brain chemistry, my bad upbringing and childhood made me do it. It’s not my fault, I’m a victim and, therefore, I shouldn’t have to suffer.”
In a series of articles in the New York Times, “Poisoned Web,” Jan Hoffman details a sexting case gone viral in Lacey, Washington. What can you do for your son or daughter so they don’t get sucked into the black hole of a sexting catastrophe that could ruin their whole lives?
In this particular case, a middle-school girl sent a full-frontal nude photo of herself, including her face, to her new middle-school boyfriend. He forwarded the picture to a second middle-school girl he thought was a friend of the first one. The second girl, an ex-friend with a grudge, forwarded the picture to the long list of contacts on her phone with the caption, “Ho Alert! If you think this girl is a whore, then text this to all your friends.” The photo rapidly went viral. A lot of the analysis about the situation is nothing new:
Why do girls send nude photos of themselves to boyfriends they have or hope to have? The same reasons girls always have.
Why do guys prize and show these pictures as evidence of what studs they are? The same reasons guys always have.
Who or what is to blame? The same culprits get vilified: thoughtless, foolish boys and girls, teenagers, school officials, society, double-standards and technology.
Does technology make sexting worse? Yes, of course. Technology makes it seductively easy to forward pictures and comments. Also, technology makes the information global and permanent. Kids can’t move to another school or even another city in order to get away from the consequences of what they and others did.
In the past, many reputations and lives were ruined by foolish moments. Kids and adults have always been able to exercise righteous or mean or vicious inclinations, but it’s so much easier now.
The boy, the second girl and everyone else who forwards the picture have to face their own stupidity or meanness. And they may have to face their role in a suicide. An act of a moment can destroy a life. Also, they may have to face prison. We hope this will help them do better the rest of their lives. Humans have always learned some lessons the hard way.
Do today’s kids face overwhelming pressure? Many people make excuses for the foolish or nasty kids; as if the external pressures are overwhelming. For example, the article quotes, “'You can’t expect teenagers not to do something they see happening all around them,’ said Susannah Stern, an associate professor at the University of San Diego who writes about adolescence and technology.” This line of thought focuses on reducing all pressure and temptation.
But pressure was just as great throughout history as it is now – depending on the particular time in each society.
I would require all schools have assemblies and programs in which students and parents are required to participate. Law enforcement must be involved to present examples of what can happen to the kids who send pictures of themselves and to the ones who forward those pictures. This will increase awareness of the dangers of kids succumbing to pressure to do something foolish like sending pictures of themselves and of the penalties for kids who forward pornography.
Parents have the major responsibility to preach, teach and police their children’s use of internet and wireless devices. This is our ounce of prevention. As the father of the girl who sent her nude picture said, “I could say it was everyone else’s fault, but I had a piece of it, too. I learned a big lesson about my lack of involvement in her use of the phone and texting. I trusted her too much.”
These steps will decrease the number of kids involved in sexting. But we’ll never stop 100 percent of kids’ foolish or mean or vicious actions. But that can’t be our intention. Our goal is to educate kids whose awareness of the potential consequences of their actions will awaken in them the ability to do better.
Our goal can’t be to educate or convert psychopaths or people who want to make a living off child pornography. Educational approaches aren’t effective with these people.
Remember, all tactics depend on the situation – the people and the circumstances. So we must design plans that are appropriate to preventing our individual children from sending pictures or forwarding them, and to minimizing the disaster if they act foolishly.
Many types of family bullying are obvious, whether it’s physical or verbal harassment, nastiness or abuse, and targets or witnesses usually jump in to stop it. The typical perpetrators are mothers and fathers bullying each other or the kids, sibling bullies, bullying step-parents or kids sneakily bullying a step-parent in order to drive a wedge between a biological parent and their new partner.
But many people allow extended family members to abuse their children or their spouses, especially at the holidays, because they’re afraid that protest will split the family into warring factions that will never be healed. They’re afraid they’ll be blamed for destroying family unity or they accept a social code that proclaims some image of “family” as the most important value.
Except in a few, rare situations, that’s a big mistake.
A rare exception might be an aged, senile and demented, or a dying family member whose behavior is tolerated temporarily while the children are protected from the abuse.
But a more typical example of what shouldn’t be tolerated was a grandpa who had a vicious tongue, especially when he drank. He angrily told the grandchildren they were weak, selfish and dumb. He ripped them down for every fault – too smart, too stupid; too fat, too skinny; too short, too tall; too pretty, too ugly; too demanding, too shy. He also focused on fatal character flaws; born lazy, born failure, born evil, born unwanted.
For good measure, he verbally assaulted his own children and their spouses – except for the favorite ones. He even did this around the Thanksgiving and Christmas tables when the parents and their spouses were present. He was always righteous and right.
I assume you’ve asked him to stop or given him dirty looks, but that only seemed to encourage him to attack you and your children more. Or he apologized, but didn’t stop for even minute. When you arrived late and tried to leave early, he attacked your family even more. He blamed you for disrupting the family. The rest of the adults also said that it’s your fault you aren’t kind and family oriented enough to put up with him.
What else can you do?
I think you have to step back and look at the big picture – a view of culture, society and what’s important in life. Only then can you decide what fights are important enough to fight and only then will you have the strength, courage and perseverance to act effectively.
Compare two views: one in which blood family is all important.
We are supposed to do anything for family and put up with anything from family because we need family in order to survive or because family is the greatest good. This view says that if you put anything above family, especially your individual conscience or needs, you’ll destroy the foundations of civilized life and expose yourself in times of need. In this view, we are supposed to sacrifice ourselves and our children to our biological family – by blood or by marriage.
We can see the benefits of this view. When you’re old and sick, who else will take care of you but kith and kin? In this view, the moral basis of civilization is the bond of blood and marriage. Violate that relationship, bring disunity into the family by standing up for your individual views and you jeopardize everything important and traditional.
In my experience, this view is usually linked to the view that men and inherited traditions should rule. Boys are supposed to torment girls because that teaches them how to become men. Girls are supposed to submit because that’s their appointed role – sanctioned by religion and culture. If men are vicious to women and children, if old people are vicious to the young, that’s tolerated.
Contrast this view with an alternative in which behavior is more important than blood.
Your individual conscience and rules of acceptable behavior are more important than traditions that enable brutality and pain generation after generation. What’s most important in this view is that you strive to create an environment with people who fill your heart with joy – a family of your heart and spirit.
If you choose the first view, you’ll never be able to stop bullying and abuse. Your children will see who has the power and who bears the pain. They’ll model the family dynamics they saw during the holidays. You’ve abdicated the very individual conscience and power that you need to protect yourself and your children. You’ll wallow in ineffective whining and complaining, hoping that someone else will solve your problem.
The best you can hope for outside the family, when your children face bullies who have practiced being bullies or being bullied at home, is that school authorities will do what’s right and protect your children from bullies. But how can you expect more courage from them than you have? Or why shouldn’t they accept the culture which tolerates bullying and abuse, just like you have?
Are you the biological child in the family or merely a spouse?
Is your spouse willing to be as strong as you?
Who’s the perpetrator – a grandparent, another adult or spouse, a cousin, a more distant relative?
Do you see the perpetrator every year or once a decade?
Do other adults acknowledge the abuse also?
Expert coaching and good books and CDs like “Bullies Below the Radar: How to Wise Up, Stand Up and Stay Up” and “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks” will help you make the necessary inner shifts and also develop a stepwise action plan that fits your family situation and newly developed comfort zone. For example, see the case studies of Kathy, Jake and Ralph.
Keep in mind that while you hope the perpetrator will change his or her behavior, your goal is really to have an island with people who make every occasion joyous. You must be prepared to go all the way to withdrawing from family events or to starting a fight that will split the family into two camps. But at least you’ll be in a camp in which you feel comfortable spending the holidays.
Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Sometimes when one person speaks up, many others join in and the combined weight of opinion forces an acceptable change. Sometimes if you say you’ll withdraw, you’ll be seen as the most difficult person in the room and the rest of the family will make the abuser change or ostracize him or her.
Last week, a ninth-grade girl was arrested for creating a cyber bullying web site to attack another teenaged girl. In addition to photos and sexually explicit statements, the online poster stated that the target “would be better off if she just died.”
The ninth-grader has confessed and the case has been turned over to juvenile authorities. The school has also instituted disciplinary action.
Lori Drew got off because previous statutes were “constitutionally vague” and not specifically directed at cyber bullies.
The law went into effect August 2008 and by December Missouri prosecutors had filed charges against seven people accused of violating the statute. Hopefully, the new laws are written well.
Although we all want to protect free speech, I think the more important value here is tightening laws in order to protect kids from vicious, false and often anonymous attacks by other disgruntled kids or adults.
There will always be people in angry spite-fights with each other. And every society draws boundaries about what can be said or done, privately and publically, in these fights. By trial and error, we’re drawing those lines now concerning the use of new media like cyber space and text messaging.
Numerous articles, including Sandy Maple’s on parentdish.com, “Teen Insult Web Site Shut Down,” have reported that online free speech has bowed to the pressure of community values. In an effort to stop online harassment, cyber bullying and abuse, a coalition has pressured Go Daddy, the internet host, to pull a web site, “People’s Dirt,” out of cyberspace. Calling it an “insult site” is misleading. The site was forum for anonymous hate mail.
What did it take to pressure Go Daddy to drop the site?
The site was very popular with vindictive and vicious high school students who used it anonymously to publically trash-talk, harass, abuse and embarrass their targets. The combination of slander and defamation on the hate board was illegal, but the anonymity offered by the site protected the abusers.
The Go Daddy hosting service agreement with its users allows Go Daddy to end service for sites whose content includes activities that “defame, embarrass, harm, abuse, threaten, slander or harass third parties.” The contents on the site, including a threat to kill students and staff, racial slurs, claims of promiscuity about named high school students, and accusations against named teachers fit into those prohibited categories.
Go Daddy could have resisted the effort and forced the group to go to court to prove some sort of illegal activity. But this is a much better solution: common cause to stop bullying and abuse. Go Daddy will find other ways to make money.
Every society or community limits complete free speech because of a more important value: The balance necessary to maintain the strong sense of community that enables the people to live together peacefully. Neither end of the scale – complete free speech or complete censorship and repression – yields a society worth living in. Some form of compromise, some balancing of individual and communal desires and needs is always reached in communities that move ahead amicably.
Whether the site will remain offline is still an open question. Other internet hosts may be willing to carry it. Alfredo Castillo, the site's founder, has previously said that if the site was removed by Go Daddy, he would move it to an international host, where it could skirt any American prosecution.
Mr. Castillo is a person who doesn’t care about his community. He’s an individual isolated from his community’s values. He’s interested only in his own desires to make money. Those are some of the identifying characteristics of bullies and sociopaths. Anyone know where he lives and where his children go to school?
A rash of teen suicides (4 in the last six months) has alarmed a Schenectady, New York school district. At least two of the suicides have been directly attributed to abuse and bullying, especially girl to girl harassment. However, the school superintendent has been quoted as spreading the blame, “The community is also beginning to understand that these activities are embedded within neighborhoods and even in the homes across our city and across our country.” He has also made the point that educators aren’t parents and that their influence and control are limited.
I was interviewed by Steve Van Zandt and Jackie Donovan on their Daybreak program on Radio WROW in the Albany-Schenectady area. Our focus was what the school district could and should do. Steve and Jackie are great in presenting the issues and fielding calls.
Of course, the superintendent is right, but I’d like to see him step up and tell what part of the problem he’s going to attack with speed, intensity and determination.
First, he sounds like he’s leading a debate down the pathway of analyzing all the factors involved and describing the ones he might label as the most important. He’s an “educator,” which means he’ll get stuck in “analysis paralysis.”
But he doesn’t have to analyze or solve the whole problem of teen abuse and bullying in society. He simply has to take responsibility for the number one task of his school district and of each principal. The number one task is not education, it’s safety and security. Only when he can guarantee pretty good safety and security, can the principals and teachers in his district do their second task of education.
Second, he doesn’t have to continue analyzing what’s wrong at school, the kids know and each teacher, principal, administrative assistant and bus driver also should know. One brave middle school student spoke up at a community meeting pleading, “Just help us. We need help.” The four suicides, all in the same high school should be a wake-up call to him.
The superintendent is also wasting the summer; his best opportunity to get programs developed and installed. Summer is the best time to do the behind-the-scenes work to get an anti-bullying, anti-abuse campaign ready so they begin resolutely on the first day of school. A few straightforward, but sometimes difficult steps are for the superintendent, principals and a core group of committed parents are to:
Notice that I haven’t said anything about educating, therapeutizing or rehabilitating bullies. That succeeds only after anti-abuse, anti-bullying programs are implemented.
Wall plaques saying that students must respect each other are nice but ineffective by themselves. A detailed program with clear consequences, implemented strategically, firmly and continually can solve 90% of the problems at school. That’s the best that schools can do
Also, that would be teaching children and teenagers that the adult authorities will actually fulfill their responsibility. New York may also need laws to force this superintendent to do his job.
Whose fault was the killings at Columbine High School? And how can we help our children resist bullies, not become bullies themselves and thrive after horrible killings?
Next week will be the tenth anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School. A recent book by Peter Langman, "Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters," analyzes the killers in this and other shootings. Already the media is gearing up for an analytic retrospective. There will be an orgy of hand-wringing and finger-pointing.
It was the school’s fault. Had the principal stopped the bullying of Harris and Klebolt, they would not have turned into killers.
It was the fault of the parents of the killers. Had they raised their kids better, they wouldn’t have become killers. Had they seen what their children had become, they would have had them incarcerated or committed.
It was the fault of Harris and Klebolt. They were psychopathic, psychotic killers who twisted and resisted every attempt to help or to stop them.
It was the fault of a society that is violent and corrupt. Had the teenagers’ minds not been filled with violent images, they would have been peaceful.
It was the fault of a society that has lost its connection with God. If our society was more God-fearing, the boys would have grown up with good morals and not have turned into killers.
Typically, we approach problems with the scientific method: determine what went wrong, fix the bad part and the system will run effectively. That method works well on purely physical material – billiard balls, cars, sending spaceships to the moon – but it is totally misleading when applied to the living world, especially to humans. I’m not the first to say this. Blaise Pascal said it 400 years ago. He was right.
Looking to blame and then fix one part of human life is the wrong way to go. It leads us to think that we can isolate one or a few causes and fix them. It leads us to think we can easily fix the school system or our society and then there will be no abuse or crazy killers and no massacres.
Of course, we don’t want kids to bully other kids. And we need laws to force principals to stop bullying at their schools and also to protect good principals from suits brought against them by parents wanting to protect their bullying children. And we want to recognize and rehabilitate kids with criminal tendencies sooner. And we want a society that is more clear and consistent about not massacring other citizens. And we want a society with more ethical and moral citizens.
Our efforts to change our school and legal system are necessary, useful and laudable, but they are not a solution that will prevent future massacres.
Face reality. Bullies, psychopaths and killers are like the weather – they’ve always been with us and always will be. We can’t change the weather any more than we can completely prevent massacres and tragedies. Assigning blame won’t change that. The way we deal with the inevitable changes in the weather or the next blizzard that will hit Denver in April or May is to prepare ourselves so we’re not caught off guard or helpless.
The useful question for us is how we prepare our children and teenagers for a world in which they will face crazy, violent people. One of our tasks is to teach our children not to use bullying tactics to make themselves feel good or to get what they want. Another task is to teach them to be resilient in the face of bullying and how to stop bullies in their tracks. Obviously, Harris and Klebolt never learned this.
The hardest task for parents is to recognize when our children have gone bad and to do something about it. It would be asking a lot to expect parents to say, “My kid is crazy and might go on a killing spree. Please lock him up.” It would also be asking a lot for school administrators to say the same. Yet that is exactly what we want to ask of Harris and Klebolt’s parents. And also what we must ask of ourselves.
Answering these difficult questions will help us teach our children better than hand wringing or assigning blame.
A recent article in the New York Times illustrates attempts of one middle school of privileged kids in Scarsdale, New York, to teach empathy for those less privileged. The less privileged included examples from great literature, of old, disabled and autistic people, and even of those students who didn’t get invited to last weekend’s social activities by the “in-crowd.” Similar efforts are being considered by many other middle and high schools.
Can such programs succeed? Should schools engage in social engineering?
Education, in the root of our word and from its earliest time, was based on “cultivation” in the sense of cultivating a crop of good and virtuous citizens capable of leading a society that does good and supports the virtue of all citizens. Leading was usually the vocation of only the privileged. Education of the less privileged also emphasized creating good and virtuous citizens, but was focused more on what we might call vocational training for productive labor.
We can’t convert all schools – elementary, middle or high schools – into strictly vocational training and expect to produce good and virtuous citizens, capable of self-government. In our democratic society, we treat all kids as privileged in the sense that they get training in virtue and being a good citizen. They all also have the potential of serving at the highest levels of government, instead of such service being the privilege of only those born to privilege.
Empathy is a necessary element of being a good citizen, as well as a necessary component of great leadership and management. For example, it’s one of the leadership and management training sets promoted by all business schools. And the current economic recession or depression has a large component of greed and unethical and un-empathetic behavior at its core.
Parents should be teaching empathy to their children even before they’re developmentally capable of it, instead of thinking that a course as part of an M.B.A. training will ever do any good. Since many parents don’t teach empathy, and also in support of those who do, I’m glad that elementary and middle schools are intentionally making that a part of the curriculum, in addition to academic subjects. The key to teaching empathy and virtue is the character of the teacher, not the syllabus or lesson plan.
But teaching at home and in programs at school can’t be expected to solve the problem for every one, even though results in schools in the south Bronx are also encouraging. Many children and teenagers will get it; others won’t. One of the most famous examples of the impossibility of teaching everyone is Alcibiades, a brilliant, rich boy taught by Pericles at home and Socrates at school, who grew up to be unethical, unscrupulous and un-empathetic.
Humans do have free will, but that doesn’t man we stop trying to teach them. We simply try with our eyes wide open. Even in Scarsdale, as the article says, “mean girls are no less mean, and the boys will still be boys.” Also, there’s still “name-calling, gossip and other forms of social humiliation.” Bullies and bullying will always exist.
But now the schools make clear that such behavior is frowned upon. Punishing it can be very difficult because it’s such a tricky area to find appropriate responses. However, the clarity with which we label uncaring and unacceptable behavior gives every student a clear chance to judge the perpetrators and decide whether to try to join the in-crowd, ignore them or stand up for the students who are targeted..
I notice that in all the cases cited (and in most others I know about) the adults did not do their jobs. They knew what was going on, but they allowed lawless individuals and gangs to control the school or the school bus. Whenever the legitimate authorities leave a vacuum, the most vicious and brutal people will try to take over. Remember the book by William Golding, "Lord of the Flies," where the children were on the island without adults to help set high standards.
I especially appreciate that the article didn’t end with descriptions of different bullying tactics or with psychoanalysis about why bullies do it. It ended where it should end: with an example of adults taking charge and stopping the bullying. And it’s not that hard for administrators who are dedicated to stopping bullying.
The administrators simply separated the freshman from the upper classmen, told upper classmen and freshmen what the acceptable standards of behavior were and what was not allowed, and assigned teachers to watch and work with groups of students. Then they acted swiftly and firmly if there was an incident.
Bullies have always existed and will always exist. We must prepare ourselves and our children to act skillfully and effectively. We can do that as a society (laws, culture) and as individuals.
In my coaching, consulting, books and CDs on how to stop bullies in their tracks at home, in school and at work, I always focus on stopping bullies before trying to help therapeutize them. Help the victims first. If the legitimate authorities won’t act, you as a parent must still protect your children, work to replace the failing principals or move to a school district where the authorities act courageously and firmly.