"School bullying called widespread."
April 25, 2001 7:30 AM   Subscribe

"School bullying called widespread." This one's a real gem. Not only are the results of the study overly predictable, but the article is full of other great realizations, such as how "bullying is [...] unacceptable behavior," and how there is a "possible connection between bullying and violence."
posted by CrayDrygu (27 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

The story on Morning Edition (NPR) this morning was what caught my attention: one of the claims--not in the Globe version linked here--was that bullying is connected to psychological problems in both bullies and their victims. Big surprise, right? Except they listed the psychological problems: one of them was "disliking school."

No, disliking school isn't a psychological problem. It's often a sign of clear thinking: not wanting to go someplace where you're being attacked isn't a psychological problem, it's just good sense. Not wanting to spend your days moving between random activities every hour, and being told how bad you are at all of them, isn't a psychological problem. (Failing all your classes is a problem, but may not be psychological--though being told that the reason is that there's something wrong with you wouldn't help.) Hell, not wanting to be yanked out of math, or music, or English just when it's getting interesting, because you're good at it and think it's cool, isn't a psychological problem either.

On the other hand, if it takes a survey to convince people that being beaten up isn't something that 11-year-olds should shrug off, now we have the survey. The significance here isn't the study results: it's that adults might actually look at the matter and realize that "boys will be boys" is a reasonable response to some playground games, but not to systematic harassment, theft, or beatings.
posted by rosvicl at 7:48 AM on April 25, 2001

I saw a link to the study on Salon and I knew it would turn up here, so I didn't bother to post it. What I find really curious is that a study actually needs to be done -- do adults not remember what school was like, at all? Does anyone not think that bullying a) exists and b) is a serious problem?
posted by lia at 7:50 AM on April 25, 2001

There is bullying because there is no damn discipline in American schools. None. In an American school you can do anything short of all-out assault and all you get is bull-caca like detention. There is no fear.
posted by owillis at 7:54 AM on April 25, 2001

An unrelated survey has shown that pushing down on the gas pedal will cause your car to increase in speed 100% of the time...who knew?
posted by GrooveJedi at 8:02 AM on April 25, 2001

I get a kick out of the fact that it takes a specialist to tell us:

"Bullying is a red flag. We know that bullies have issues. We know that kids who are bullied have issues."

Holy cliche quota! God forbid someone were to have "red flag issues." I didn't realize that clinicians actually used this kind of terminology.
posted by gimli at 8:02 AM on April 25, 2001

owillis, there was plenty of bullying in schools even in the days of corporal punishment. There is bullying because it's human nature.

lia, I agree with you. But. How many times have you heard some pol or other not want to address a problem because it "hasn't been sufficiently studied." The lack of a study is sometimes a cover for people who don't want to tackle an obvious problem.
posted by anapestic at 8:05 AM on April 25, 2001

Holy cliche quota! God forbid someone were to have "red flag issues." I didn't realize that clinicians actually used this kind of terminology.

I'll wager that the study will be described as "a wake-up call," too. It's a wake-up call to see the red-flag issues!
posted by lileks at 8:14 AM on April 25, 2001

The scariest part of the whole "bullying" trend isn't that kids are being bullied, but that a lot of people seem to think that its acceptable for the victim to shoot his bully. Especially with the last school shooting, there seemed to be some people who felt that it was understandable that he (cant remember his name) shot those people, because, well, they stole his sneakers.
I'm not sure what I'm saying here. If we say that video games can't cause violence, because of all the kids who play them and DON'T open fire on their school, what about all the kids who get bullied and don't kill scores of people?
posted by Doug at 9:02 AM on April 25, 2001

Today's been pretty good for me, so I'm in a generous mood --I'll give a random snail mailed prize to the first person to find a newspaper/magazine article referring to the study as a wake-up call, no kidding.
posted by lia at 9:03 AM on April 25, 2001

anapestic, I'm not saying no - but I feel it's done with a little more impunity nowadays
posted by owillis at 9:07 AM on April 25, 2001

I think stuff like this gets too psychoanalytic and ignores the real problems. Kids aren't becoming violent and doing drugs because they're getting bullied in school. Kids are becoming violent and doing drugs because that is what our culture exemplifies. How many people do you know who NEVER got pushed around, or pushed someone else around?
posted by gnutron at 9:32 AM on April 25, 2001

Kids are becoming violent and doing drugs because they don't give a rat's ass what their parents think, if they're even around.
posted by owillis at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2001

[From the article] We know that bullies have issues. We know that kids who are bullied have issues.

Perpetuating the cliche-watch! Other than those lucky enough to be in a vegetative state, who doesn't have "issues"?

What about the children? Won't anyone please think of the children?!?
posted by Skot at 9:35 AM on April 25, 2001

Whoa there, cowboy! Let's not put the cart before the horse here. After all, at the end of the day, discretion is the better part of valor.
posted by gimli at 10:05 AM on April 25, 2001

The number of gun-related fatalities has fallen from 1990-1997/98, according to the national safety center. Fewer than 1 in 100 shootings occur in schools. Problem being, when you examine violent crime as a whole and start factoring assault, rape, mugging, etc., then you find out over a third of the violent crimes among minors occur in schools. Compared to the adult work-place, students are ten times more likely to be the victims of violent crime.

Between 1970-1980, the suicide rate among adolescents 12-18 climbed nearly 100%; people were trying to say nothing had changed, then, either.

Earlier, someone had mentioned Andy William's case; there are a couple of petitions and a letter campaign to urge Judge Exarhos to seriously consider the challenge to proposition 21. I support this and hope to see the challenge move to the supreme court. Because I'm in favor of kids murdering each other? Hardly. The law itself was intended to address gang-related homicide and was actually funded by corporate interests (including Texas oil) outside the state of California. Links follow, courtesy the Coalition to Save Andy Williams:

The text of proposition 21
Who paid for 21?
posted by maxBell at 10:19 AM on April 25, 2001

did find this article that indicates a link between day care and bullies (was this already discussed on MeFi?).
posted by mutagen at 10:32 AM on April 25, 2001

Well said skot and gimli.

And one must remember this adage - don't cook your goose before you burn your bridges. I think a lot of people nowadays tend to forget that, and society is much the worse for it.
posted by lucien at 10:58 AM on April 25, 2001

Don't forget to remember it takes a village to raise a child!
posted by lia at 11:01 AM on April 25, 2001

It is an unchallenged fact that bullying is a problem in schools, but do we really need more and more experts and doctors constantly reminding us of this? I hope it isn't just giving kids another excuse to go on a rampage... heck, kids who are getting picked on are apparently gullible enough to be coaxed into murder by the media ("with it's video games and all"); what's to stop them from pumping bullets through their classmates then pleading "It's not my fault, I was bullied!" to the sympathetic media?
posted by Laugh_track at 12:33 PM on April 25, 2001

It is an unchallenged fact that bullying is a problem in schools, but do we really need more and more experts and doctors constantly reminding us of this? I hope it isn't just giving kids another excuse to go on a rampage...

Being bullied isn't the cause of rampages. It may be a contributory factor, but not every nerd geek loser dweeb and otherwise abused person feels that turning around and wiping out their abusers is a good response.

In fact, most of us are exceedingly proud of the fact that we managed to live through that bullshit and be reasonably mentally healthy adults.

Us picked-upon people aren't just looking for an excuse to blow the shit out of everyone who ever oppressed us. Yes, thoughts of "Christ, I wish person X would just die. Maybe I could kill person x, that would get rid of the problem!" do cross our minds, but let me make something extremely clear here:

You have to be a sick sick sick sick sick sick fucker to pull an uzi on your classmates, your coworkers, innocent bystanders beneath the clock tower and anyone else who isn't currently shooting at you.

Like the _vast_ majority of human beings, us dweebs value human life just as much as anyone else that isn't a sick fuck. Is it really that fucking difficult for supposedly intelligent researchers to understand?

Yeah, fine media is pervasive. Yeah, fine, I can enter into a fantasy situation (tv, movies, video games) and realize that hey, this is not real. There's a difference between this portrayal of death and actual death. I'm not actually an amazonian warrior with gigantic javalins hunting town a triumverate of evil, I'm a pudgy 23-year old geek playing Diablo II.

I just don't understand how people can say "Oh yeah, _I_ can tell the difference between reality and fantasy, but this 16-year kid, he can't because of movies!"

Fuck that noise.
posted by cCranium at 1:10 PM on April 25, 2001

Hey, cC, it's cool! Don't shoot!

Seriously, it makes me as crazy as it does you. Well (and passionately) put.
posted by Skot at 1:13 PM on April 25, 2001

...possible connection between bullying and violence.

Why do we need special words for assault depending on who the perpetrator is? If the perp is a high school student it's "bullying". If it's a fraternity member it's "hazing". If married to the victim, it's "a domestic disturbance".

They're the same thing, and they need to be treated as such.

Doug: well, they stole his sneakers

Can you give one example of somebody using this as an excuse for a school shooting? Just one?

Also, are you saying that stealing someone's sneakers isn't a crime that should have been handled better by the adults he reported it to? I'm speaking theoretically here, since I don't believe that a)anybody stole his sneakers, or b)anybody has used this as an excuse for a school shooting.
posted by swell at 1:18 PM on April 25, 2001

Quick aside here to note that a link to an incredibly lame article has resulted in a pretty damn good thread. Only on MeFi...
posted by gimli at 2:02 PM on April 25, 2001

Swell, I'm not saying the children ever said, "Well, I shot everybody up cause they, ya know, called me gay." but to media does focus in pretty closely on their being bullied. Which seems as silly as blaming violent video games, or Eminem. There is also a level of sympathy for these kids that's almost unheard of, considering what they did.
I believe there is actually a movement right now to help the most recent school shooter, because they feel he was driven to violence by bullying.
posted by Doug at 2:37 PM on April 25, 2001

1/3 of all middle schooler? that's 3 times better than i thought.

maybe we just assume too much of people's good sense. there is no sense in rage.

other people may not have shot people up because they stole his sneakers, but knowing who it is that has fucked you and not being able to do anything about it becuase parents/ authorities won't step in.

sounds like rape. it is rape.
so you can see the rage and desire to kill. yeah he shouldn't have done it, but you can see the rage and desire to kill.
posted by elle at 2:47 PM on April 25, 2001

Lemme just get this straight, Elle...it is rape to have your sneakers stolen? These two things are equally damaging, in your mind? You also think that rage and a desire to kill are normal, healthy reactions to being bullied?
posted by Doug at 4:42 PM on April 25, 2001

I was going to accuse Doug of making up people with patently silly points of view to prove a point. I won't do that. The people in that article have views that I strongly disagree with. Andy Williams does belong in jail, and being "teased for being skinny and having big ears" should have been handled with the usual "sticks and stones" rhyme.

On the other hand, the term "bullying" is used to describe taunting, assault and stealing. Can't find a link, but at the time I recall also hearing about burning with cigarette lighters. The father certainly knew about the skateboard stealing since he paid to get the kid a new one (which was then stolen by the same person). Why not instead confront the thief, make him return it, and slam him in juvie for a few days? Wouldn't demonstrating simple justice go aways in dissipating the rage that causes this stuff?

elle: Calling things rape that aren't rape for hyperbole's sake cheapens the word. This wasn't.
posted by swell at 5:22 PM on April 25, 2001

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