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The Culture of Bullying: Loss of Civility at School, Work, Politics

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In poll after poll, Americans have voiced concern over the erosion of civility in modern life and human interactions, in government, business, media and online. According to a poll released in June by Weber Shandwick, 65 percent of Americans say the lack of civility is a major problem in the country and feel the negative tenor has worsened during the financial crisis and recession.

Nearly half those surveyed said they were tuning out from the most fundamental elements of democracy—government and politics—because of the incivility and bullying behavior.

As the national conversation on bullying gains momentum, it’s time to take a closer look at what is causing this behavior and why it matters.

“In today’s America, incivility is on prominent display: in the schools, where bullying is pervasive; in the workplace, where an increasing number are more stressed out by coworkers than their jobs; on the roads, where road rage maims and kills; in politics, where strident intolerance takes the place of earnest dialogue; and on the web, where many check their inhibitions at the digital door,” says Pier M. Forni, author of “The Civility Solution: What to Do When People are Rude” and director of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“How in the world can we stop bullying in schools, in the workplace, in politics, when it is so close to our national character right now?” asks Dr. Gary Namie, a psychologist and cofounder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, a Washington state–based nonprofit.

The Government Ramifications

With Election Day on Nov. 2, the biggest issue to emerge this election cycle is the potential impact of the Tea Party movement. The NAACP recently published a report called “Tea Party Nationalism,” exposing what it calls links between various Tea Party organizations and racist hate groups in the United States, such as white-supremacist groups, anti-immigrant organizations and militias.

While many people only vote in presidential races, this is the first national election since Barack Obama became president and could reshape the country’s political and social landscape. At stake is control of both the House and Senate, which Obama’s falling approval ratings and the stumbling economy have endangered. Republicans need a gain of 39 seats to retake control of the 435-member House of Representatives, and they need to gain 10 seats to win back the majority in the 100-member Senate. All 435 House seats are at stake this year, along with 37 Senate seats and 37 of 50 state governorships.

With a number of Tea Party candidates emerging victorious in this year’s primary races and many political pundits predicting a GOP landslide on Nov. 2, this year’s midterm election cycle is more than just a numbers game.

Tea Party supporters—who, according to polls, tend to be socially and politically conservative, white, male, married and older than 45—routinely herald themselves as the voice of “real Americans.”

The NAACP report, which counts among its authors, Leonard Zeskind, one of the country’s foremost scholars of white nationalism, says the Tea Party has become a site for recruitment by white supremacists and others.

“The Tea Party makes its mark by finding an underdog and attacking them mercilessly,” writes lawyer and author Emma Ruby-Sachs in The Huffington Post. “They employ the same tactics as the school children responsible for the deaths of Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh and the countless other kids tormented for their perceived sexuality. When we are young, this kind of bullying, picking on the weak, earns popularity. Turns out, it earns the same when we grow up.”

“Thuggery is nothing new in politics; it transcends time, ideology and party,” says Public Affairs Television senior writer Michael Winship. “But what’s even more disturbing in 2010 is how much of the public, especially many of those who count themselves among the conservative adherents of the Tea Party, is willing to ignore bullying behavior—and even applaud it—as long as the candidate in question hews to their point of view.”

Two Tea Party leaders have been very public about their homophobia.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., whose fundraising efforts are benefiting Tea Party candidates across the country, said LGBT people and unmarried, sexually active women should not be permitted to teach in public schools. Next was Carl Paladino, the Republican nominee for governor of New York and Tea Party favorite, who told a group of Hasidic Jewish leaders in Brooklyn that children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking that homosexuality is acceptable.

 ”The culture of bullying isn’t limited to school children; it has become a national pastime,” notes Progressive Politics writer Karen Harper in the Examiner. “During the 2008 presidential campaign, crowds attending Sarah Palin rallies shouted, ‘Kill him’ over and over again referring to President Obama … Tea party activists carry signs depicting the American president as the devil, the anti-Christ, Hitler and worse. They carry guns to rallies and their paranoiac fear of the government has turned into hate and aggression.”

Facing the Consequences

Forni of Johns Hopkins’ Civility Initiative says the onslaught of rude, bullying and uncivil behavior—intensified by the 24/7 reach of the Internet and social-networking sites such as Facebook—adds to the stress people are already feeling and can translate into real and very tragic consequences.

According to Forni:

  • Students who are bullied and/or cyber-bullied face increased risk for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal attempts.
  • Studies have shown that protracted exposure to stress caused by living in an uncivil environment lowers morale and increases the chances of developing coronary heart disease and other illnesses
  • The American Psychological Association has estimated that workplace stress (considering absenteeism, loss of productivity, medical expenses and turnover) costs U.S. businesses about $300 billion a year

“The weak economy, two wars going on, the threat of terrorism, the hostile political environment, the two major parties warring with one another and exchanging salvos that are not very civil—these are not the most pleasant or stress-free of times,” says Forni. “When we are stressed, we are less likely to be considerate and kind to others. We retire, retreat into the citadel of ourselves and we shut the door. We are more prone to anger. We are less tolerant of the mistakes of others.”

Forni says feelings of insecurity only exacerbate the problem. “When we are insecure or not sure of ourselves for whatever the reason because the economy is bad, or we think we are going to lose our jobs … very often we shift the burden of that insecurity upon others in the form of hostility,” he says. “It is the kick-the-dog syndrome. You make an innocent pay for how badly you feel in order to find some kind of relief.”


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Incivility and bullying behavior is also often a precursor to physical violence, says Forni. According to the Department of Labor, there are about 1.8 million acts of physical violence in the American workplace in any given year.

In a cover article in September, Barton Gellman wrote in TIME that “threats against Obama’s life brought him Secret Service protection in May 2007, by far the earliest on record for a presidential candidate.”

At the same time, the number of extremist groups in the United States climbed 244 percent in 2009, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Specifically, their numbers grew from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009.

“This extraordinary growth is a cause for grave concern,” says “Intelligence Report” editor Mark Potok. “The people associated with the patriot movement during its 1990s heyday produced an enormous amount of violence, most dramatically the Oklahoma City bombing that left 168 people dead.”

“That wave of anger began with the parallel 2008 cataclysms of the economy’s collapse and Barack Obama’s ascension,” says New York Times columnist Frank Rich. “The mood has not subsided since. But in the final stretch of 2010, the radical right’s anger is becoming less focused, more free-floating—more likely to be aimed at ‘government’ in general, whatever the location or officials in charge.”

Rich notes that this anger is “more likely to claim minorities like gays, Latinos and Muslims as collateral damage.”

“The mad-as-hell crowd in America, still not seeing any solid economic recovery on the horizon, will lash out at any convenient scapegoat,” he says.

In a speech at the University of Michigan, Obama remarked on the need to maintain “a basic level of civility in our public debate.”

“We can’t expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down,” Obama said. “You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it. You can question somebody’s views and their judgment without questioning their motives or their patriotism. “

Experts in civility note that it is difficult for society to expect or demand that teenagers and children stop bullying and tormenting one another when adults and political leaders are leading by example.

Getting to the Root

Experts note that the hostile and intimidating atmosphere that defines today’s political discourse can be traced back to a number of factors, including the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the changing demographics of the country, the troubled economy and, of course, the fact that a Black man with an Arab-sounding name and a Muslim-born father from Kenya is sitting in the White House.

“September 11 delivered into the hands of the Republican Party a traumatized nation, and our new masters put Americans through the political equivalent of a collective military boot camp; torn from the familiar surroundings of safety and home, we found ourselves stripped of our old identity,” according to a study published in the “Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies” titled “Bullying in U.S. Public Culture.” “Allegiance to the old public virtues—respect of the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the rule of domestic and international law—was mocked and dismissed as quaint and soft by our new drill sergeants. From then on a state of emergency replaced the rule of law and set itself up as the norm.”

“If we are in a constant war-like mode societally, it sounds trivial, it sounds child-like, it sounds naively utopian to say, ‘Can’t we all get along?’” says Namie of the Workplace Bullying Institute. “If you call for civility or a suspension of unmitigated, unfettered aggression, they call you a wimp. They think you are a wimp.”

Working Toward a Solution
 
In his recent column in the New York Times, Rich says he does not expect the extremism and violence in our politics “to subside magically after Election Day—no matter what the results.”

“If Tea Party candidates triumph, they’ll be emboldened,” he writes. “If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow.” He believes the only thing that can ultimately change the tide is an economic recovery.

Still, the string of suicides by teenagers such as Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington bridge this fall after a video of him in a sexual relationship with another man was posted on the Internet, has rocketed the bullying epidemic into the national spotlight and brought this type of behavior and the havoc it can wreak on people’s lives into sharper focus.

In October 2010, Rutgers launched Project Civility, a two-year initiative to engage students in a series of activities and discussions aimed at cultivating an environment of courtesy and compassion. The project, coordinated by Kathleen Hull, director of the Byrne Family First-Year Seminars, and Senior Dean of Students Mark Schuster, was in the planning stages long before Clementi’s tragic suicide but coincidently was launched the same week he died.

Hull’s approach to Rutgers’ civility project hinges on personal responsibility: While individuals may not be able to change the world, they can make a difference in their small corner of it. “We are living in a time of great uncertainty,” Hull says. “[But] all we can control is our own behavior. We can’t change the world and stop wars and make everything better, but we can control how we act and how we respond.’”

Obama has called for greater awareness of the problem, saying the nation must “dispel the myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.” Although Obama was addressing the problem of school bullying, the message can—and should—apply broadly to the political and electoral process, critics say.

Consider the recent case of Republican nominee and Tea Party candidate Joe Miller of Alaska. In a move more typical of repressive regimes such as China or Iran, private security guards hired by Miller put handcuffs on a reporter who was trying to question the candidate at an event on Oct. 18 and placed him under citizen’s arrest.

“This kind of hooliganism and casual trampling of First Amendment rights from people who claim to embrace the Constitution as holy writ is symptomatic of a deeper problem,” Winship says in a recent editorial.

Meanwhile, reports of voter intimidation by poll watchers—mainly Tea Party supporters and ad hoc citizens groups—in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods are surging this election cycle. According to a recent New York Times article, “Tea Party members have started challenging voter-registration applications and have announced plans to question individual voters at the polls whom they suspect of being ineligible.”

Chad Dunn, general counsel for the Texas Democratic Party, recently told NPR that the most aggressive poll watching in early voting has been at Black and Latino precincts, which lean Democratic. “These poll watchers would follow a voter after they were checked in, hover behind them, try to look over their shoulder as they’re voting,” says Dunn.

“Scuffling with the press and others may seem minor, but it’s just the beginning,” Winship warns. “The only way to fight back against bullies and thugs is to stand up and tell them to go to hell. To do otherwise is to give an inch and prepare to be taken for the proverbial mile.”

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17 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Great topic, Luke! Thanks for addressing this full-force with tons of back-up data.
    As a public school teacher in an urban school, bullying is ridiculous. Last week, I had a 15 year old girl stand up and start screaming at another girl: “You will never learn! You are so stupid! You are an idiot.” and a barrage of other profanity and hate-filled speech.

    The girl I was speaking with had all the natural questions any child of 16 years old with the added responsibilities of being a single mother would ask in the moment of being called by a hospital to go and check on her daughter while she simultaneously collected her homework for the night. That is the girl who needs our help. Not the bully. The bully needs to be shown to the door.

    Unfortunately, my hands are tied by an absurd bureaucratic system that binds me into accepting the presence of the bully in my classroom in the name of “justice”.

    After the incident, like a police officer (which I am not), I have to write a witness statement of the events. The legal risk that moments like the day the bully appeared in class opens me, the teacher, up to, is completely unacceptable.

    Yet, as a collective society, we continue to tolerate these absurd and draconian laws.

    Those laws must be re-written. School is a matter of CHOICE. Education is ultimately a privilege, not a right. Education is not the sector for politics or for playing games with young people’s lives. A school is where you learn to read and write and to do math and to try not to forget it all before you go to college or to the working world.

    Bullies do not want education. They want to push people around. They want to be violent. They want to take out the circumstances of their miserable lives out on others.

    A century of education “reform” has not created LESS bullies. It has created MORE and WORSE bullies: those who use their fists, the Internet, Facebook, cellular technology, and a cadre of other TOOLS as WEAPONS.

    There can be no such thing as “equitable education” when there is a bully present.

    Schools should be legally empowered to remove bullies entirely from the school system and teachers should be legally granted executive power in their own classrooms. to determine who is and who is not a bully. A frightening idea for millions: trust should be placed in the teachers do to their jobs. Perhaps a training program to ensure that teachers are properly equipped to actually be teachers…. yes…. I will concede you that, American Public.

    Here is a simple policy and fair to all: Bully once: you are suspended for a week. Bully twice: You are suspended for a month and it is the students responsibility to catch up with all missed work. Bully three times and you forfeit your right to a public education…. I do not care what color or gender you are or what your struggle is. Obviously, school is not for you and you do not need or want my help. So stop wasting my time and yours. Go to WORK.

    The bully in the (true) story I told you will be back to school this week and will continue bullying… the vicious cycle continues. I will not cast blame or aspersions at parents. I will not cast blame or aspersions on teachers or administrators. All are accomplices in a system that has bound their hands, including myself.

    It’s like Japanese engineers say: “Don’t fix the blame…. fix the problem.”

    The way you fix a bully is by ELIMINATING his/her presence from the school system entirely. The other children have a right to be safe and sound and to have their learning environment protected.

    Teachers have a right to be safe and sound and to have their job security protected. Administrators have other things to deal with: like how to educate an increasingly illiterate population of students… nationwide. There are only 7 hours in a school day…..

    What will, dear readers of this blog, the political excuse from Washington be when the national illiteracy rate is 50% of all graduating high school seniors? What nonsense will they try to sell us all then? Only time and the Office of the Secretary of Education will tell….

    When I have to stop class in the middle and deal with someone who has raised his/her fists in a pugilistic manner, fill out legal paperwork, and then help to calm the nerves of frightened children – who are such, despite their cellphones, dreams of making it big in business or on television and constant insistence that they are otherwise adults – When I have to do that, I cannot serve YOU, the American Public.

    Instead I become what you never intended me to be: a police officer or a prison guard. If I had wanted to be a police officer, I would have taken the job the Austin, TX PD offered me and if I had wanted to march troops all over Iraq, I would have signed on to the JAG Core in the Massachusetts National Guard. I love teaching, so I chose to stay.

    Frankly, your tax dollars pay do not pay me to be an officer of the peace.

    Your hard-earned tax dollars pay me to teach Spanish.

    And I do not appreciate being FORCED against my will to occupy another role. Again: not blame…. point out a problem.

    There is an answer to these difficult conundrums in our shared and diverse society and it is this: Federal legislation that governs the public system MUST somehow be transformed. The system must be DECENTRALIZED.

    Not DESTROYED, but DECENTRALIZED and control given over to local school districts. Each municipality then is empowered to deal with bullies in their own way and according to their own laws. If a state wants to tolerate bullies, then fine. If a state chooses a zero tolerance policy for bullies, then fine. That is diversity because it is evolutionary and revolutionary.

    The voices of the poor, the rich, whites, blacks, latinos, asians, teachers, principals, parents, attorneys, congress, school board members and any other stake holder in public schools that is not coming to mind right now needs to be implemented into the new Federal educational legislation for the 21st century.

    A crack team of researchers needs to be set to the task of SOLVING THE EDUCATION PROBLEM in America…. and NOT creating policy that FIXES BLAME.

    We cannot keep reaching our hands into empty pockets and expect to come up with spare change. That is one definition of clinical insanity.

    Yet, in the area of Public Education, we persist in acting crazy. And you know who suffers? Kids of all ages.

    With this post, I stand up for those kids, I stand up for my fellow educators nation wide who know EXACTLY what I am talking about, I stand up for parents who are at the end of their rope, for burnt out administrators, for overworked police officers, for tired Moms and for stressed out Dads: gay and straight and everything in between. We are one family.

    What I do NOT stand up for is a bully. A bully should know that s/he is NO ONE to us and the law should reflect this.

    Your story about a “bad day” is nothing but a lie if you refuse to use your words to peacefully resolve conflicts. We live in a competitive and tough world. Now, get over yourself. Your best revenge in life against the people who wronged you is to be wildly successful in your life and that starts at school – even if you hate being there. I am talking to the bullies who are reading this.

    Do not give up hope, America! Hold the line, hold it strong. Write your Senators, write your Congressmen. Demand this transformative legislation be enacted.

    To cite one of the planet’s greatest difference-makers, Mr. Gandhi: Be the change you want to see in the world. So, be brave, be honest, be forthright, be happy, prosperous, and be good and civil to one another. There is no recompense or money for these actions. What there is available to you are relationships with other human beings – not fist-fights and pain and suffering.

    Thank you for your kind and generous attention to this blog post. May the God of your understanding Bless The United States, All of our children, all of our Schools, Teachers, and Students, and may we be granted clarity, understanding, and commonsense around educational legislation in the 21st century. Amen. Namaste,. אָמֵ, آمين‎

    Who I am the possibility of Just and Humane Education for All…. and that is who I am. Who are you?

  • Anonymous

    A very well written, inaccurate and partisan article. You jump back and forth between bullying and the Tea Party, but never connect them factually. Lots of inference without any facts. I have been keeping my eye on the Tea Party and frankly the only time I have seen violence recently is when left wing groups get together.

  • Anonymous

    From Free Republic’s “Opiniated Blowhard” and ClearCase_guy:

    “The Tea Party makes its mark by finding an underdog and attacking them mercilessly,” writes lawyer and author Emma Ruby-Sachs in The Huffington Post”

    Like the way the Left has been savaging Christine O’Donnell, who is down in the polls by double digits and yet we get a parade of crude, bullying articles about her sex life? Sounds like Emma is doing a little projection.

    and “Which president referred to the other party as “enemies”?”

  • Anonymous

    I read DiversityInc articles and often reference them as a basis for diversity minutes in staff meetings. It is clear to me DiversityInc leans way to the left of the political spectrum. However, there are many articles with sound content which are not politically driven. I found this particular article disappointing. I was expecting to read a piece describing how the exponential loss of civility among individuals negatively impacts and produces a divisive climate in our workforce, communities, our broader society and our country as a whole. What I got for taking the time to read the article was more or less, Sam Ali’s platform to express his political views – an interesting tactic the day before mid-term elections. I got more from the subsequent posts, particularly the teacher’s post which described the epidemic problems our public education system faces, specifically in reference to bullying, than I did from Ali’s article. One of the first steps in promoting civility is recognizing, as an individual, a person has limited perspective and does not speak for the masses. Since Mr. Ali thought it pertinent to go the political route as a basis for his content, I wonder why he chose to only point out extremism on the right and neglected to balance his content with any examples of extremism on the left. To me, ironically, that is an indicator or symptom of the underlying problem which leads to further loss of civility. I find most Americans I encounter crave balance. In today’s environment of imbalance, most people I know find themselves in the middle being pushed and pulled, dodging a crack in the head from a pendulum which seems to swing violently from side to side. Politically, many people I speak with are more frustrated than ever before. Regardless of their affiliated party or lack thereof, they find themselves at a loss for true leaders, instead of politicians, and end up voting for what they believe is the lesser of two evils – that is if they vote at all. We may live in a time when technology has advanced our ability to communicate and share our thoughts, but it has not brought us closer. I find that fact sad and unfortunate. It has been my experience, the people with the loudest voices rarely represent the majority. And the people who think they represent the majority rarely do. I would welcome an article which really speaks to non-partisan qualitative and quantitative research on how the loss of civility is leading to a breakdown and decline in our society.

  • We want gentlemen and ladies to represent us in congress. At least I do. I do not want a bully to gain office. This sends the wrong message to our allies and foes.

    Nevertheless, I do not identify any party as the party of toxic candidates. Hopefully all parties will respect the will of the people to advance the ambitions of good people and reject the ambitions of bullies.

  • I don’t equate incivility with bullying. People are often “uncivil” or rude because they are thoughtless or not very smart. Bullying, on the other hand, is malicious and evil.

    I do agree that much of what is referred to in the article as “lack of civility” on the part of political candidates is, in reality, bullying.

    Civility means treating others respectfully, no matter what we think of them or what they may deserve.

    All thinking voters should put out the word that we won’t vote for candidates who trash their opponents — that we will vote only for those who talk or advertise about their own plans, platforms. and political records..

    As for letting teachers make the call on what constitutes bullying, some teachers and school administrators are bullies, too. And others choose to ignore bullying, which is unethical and unprofessional.

  • Anonymous

    To the last commentor: You say “As for letting teachers make the call…”

    Here’s the deal: Stop fixing BLAME. Fix the “PROBLEM.” It is astoundingly naive to assume that you can fix blame. American politics, big business, and, oh millions of us think this is a viable pathway to solutions. To be as bold as possible, the blame-fixers are all wrong in their approach. Solutions couched in “blame-fixing” are doomed to collapse before they begin.

    The problem in public education is that there is no HONESTY. How do you fix that? By letting go of being dishonest and by being honest.

    As for teachers who ignore bullying: yes, those teachers should be dealt with by being FIRED. There is no good reason to keep an ineffective teacher working. Should student test scores be used as a measure for this criteria? No. Absolutely not. Students who take zero responsibility for their lives are the measure by which a teacher accurately and effectively teaches a subject? Are the people who promote this theory listening to what they are saying?

    Like I said, there is a whole training program that needs to be invented parallel to the transformative federal legislation. Teachers have NEVER been trained and while many argue that it is IMPOSSIBLE to train a teacher (nothing is impossible, truly), there are several general requirements to transformaitve and “difference-making” teaching….let’s call them “measures to be met” that could be put into place in a training program. The program would be low-cost and highly effective.

    here is another “bullying” story and it’s true. A student at my school was arrested for trafficking automatic weapons…. $15,000 worth! This week! So…. please Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Taxpayer and any sexually or culturally diverse iteration thereof… you tell me… Do we need strict, rigid, and stringent policies that draw clear black and white lines around this sort of activity? Or do we need grey and vague and passive-aggressive wishy-washy kind of policies? Which scenario would YOU choose, given the data I just shared with you?

    Teachers need executive power in their classroom, as radical as that idea may seem to the general public. There are standards for training that need to be set. Most parents (and casual commentors) do not have the complete picture. Like I said: the data set needs to be collected and analyzed.

    Do not fix the blame. Come together and fix the problem.

  • I am appalled by the comments made on November 1st by a guest who is a teacher. First of all, education is not a privilege. It is a right given to every child. Secondly, while teachers may find it difficult and frustrating to deal with bullies in the classroom, eliminating them from the school system is NOT the answer unless they are a real danger to the other student(s). We need to help keep the victims safe and we need to get help for the bullies so they can stop this inappropriate behavior. That is why there must be anti-bullying and cyberbullying curriculum in our schools. That said, the education of kindness, compassion, morals and ethics must begin at home and carry over into our schools. I am not saying the bully should not be punished, but there is a reason why they are behaving this way. It’s up to their parents to punish them and get them counseling. If they are disrupting the class, teachers should give one verbal warning and if it persists, the bully should be asked to leave the classroom and go to the principal’s office whereupon the principal should contact the bully’s parents at once. Parents should understand that their children’s behavior is in appropriate and that they must get their children counseling. By understanding why the bully is acting in this manner and helping them, we can eliminate the problem. Bullying is horrific and it has reached epidemic proportions. No one wins! We need to help the victim and the bully! When I hear teachers and principals say bullying is ridiculous, it proves that there are many schools who do not take this issue seriously. The attitude of schools saying “Not My job Man” as well as the attitude from parents who say “Not My Kid” must stop! Kids are committing suicide as result of being bullied. Is that ridiculous? It’s the saddest most tragic thing in the world. It would be most frightening if teachers and schools were given executive powers to remove bullies from the school system as bullying is not a one size fits all.
    Ross Ellis
    Founder and Chief Executive Officer
    Love Our Children USA and STOMP Out Bullying

  • Anonymous

    Bullies bully because they can, bullying is a crime, and until bullying/abuse is seen for what it is, bullying will continue with impunity.
    I have been personally trying in vain to establish a “Federal No Bullying Law”, and as much as I enjoy having Obama as president, his administration is silent when it comes to actually enacting a bill.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, this culture supports bullying. First, the freedom of speech is a handy excuse for saying nasty, hateful speeches against someone. I am not saying we should abolish freedom of speech, but it is creating a culture where people feel that they can say whatever they want to say regardless of who gets hurt. However, just because you can say it, it doesn’t mean you should. Many Americans don’t understand that.

    Second, this culture values performance above morals. A bully can be promoted. It doesn’t matter if s/he is belittling everyone at work. As long as s/he is doing a good job, he can get praised or even promoted. Same thing with sports. Remember that Brigham Young basketball star who was suspended more breaking a moral code. Many people thought it was a stupid punishment.

    Third, America likes retribution. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The problem is retribution borders on revenge. Revenge can fuel hatred. Remember Phoebe Prince. The mean girls were angry at her because Prince dated their ex boyfriends. So the mean girls bullied her death. Does the punishment fit the crime?

    Fourth, America thinks it’s ok to say nasty things if they’re true. Remember Natalie Munroe, a teacher who blogged about her frustrations with her students. She referred to her students as “loser” “dresses like a street walker” etc. A teacher committed name calling but people defended her. They said that it’s OK to call them names because it’s the truth!!!
    Other people defended her using the freedom of speech excuse.
    Everyone has flaws. Some people are gay, some are fat or ugly. Do these “truths” give anybody the right to call them names and harass them on a daily basis??

    Fifth, breakdown in parenting. When children are nasty and disrespectful, the parents do nothing. “All children do this, so it must be OK.” If a child yells, “Mary is a loser” the parent will say “it’s OK honey. That’s what she is.” Absolutely disgusting.

    Sixth, decline in the quality of education. Schools are breeding dumb children who don’t question ideas. They accept conformity. They accept whatever they hear or see. Schools are not doing enough to build character. In fact, schools are havens for bullying. Have people become really dumb that showing civility is no longer common sense?

    Seventh, the media is feeding people stupid TV shows. The media sells sex…. and hate. Respectful is boring. There has to be a nasty joke or people won’t watch it.

    It’s truly sad that the future of the country lies at the hands of poorly educated people who can’t show common sense of basic respect for fellow human beings.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, agreed, butties do bully because they can and evidently get away with it. It will take a collective effort by way lf law and our Schools and Workplace HR departments to become educated on this issue and adopt a no tolerance policy. It is harrassment and should never be allowed. Those with low self esteem seem to bully for recreation to make themselves feel powerful, it is a shame that our young and old behalf in such an appalling way.

  • Dorian Mansood

    So many people desperately tire when they must reach at least half way to communicate properly with others. So many are marooned not understanding their own TONGUE!

    So many Suburban women trapped on the hill in flakey shallow choices for friends settle and are seemingly trapped in gossipy congregation traps. CAN we speak openly what we feel without a care or is it now Socially unacceptable to tell the TRUTH?

    Our children mirror the thought of their parent at home and their bullying clearly tells me that children enter a serious conflict within themselves that they believe differently than their households!

    • I get you Dorian but the H.U.G.E. issue starts in the home within the “Nuclear Family”. Boundaries which guard: loyalty & self respect. If one has self respect, and the majority don’t you have a huge aggression potential. If people contend in a REBEL environment individuals need to take a stand for the HEADSHIP and uphold the order of peace. Are extended family taking “Liberties” and encroaching? Are some members so encroached upon leaving no other place to stand but a: “Miniscule place?” Can Americans leave no ROOM for Personal I d e n t i t y ?

      If GENDER is brought low for instance, the role of every member of a community is in the DITCH. People will will cry out. If men are deposed before their children by their OWN we have a serious identity and boundary assault insuing. How many families are in Domestic VIOLENCE and now Humanitarian violations?

      What defines Crimes of Aggression in the United States of America?????

      This is serious people because to simply dicipline our own is one thing but when does it GO TOO FAR?

      Psycholoigical ABUSE is one of the MAJOR inhumane violations going on in the modern existance. People do not even know what the “Six Grave Abuses on Children”.

      American populations enter lethargic complacency, and all avoid their civic duty for fear of retaliation to adopt into murderous mindsets: Every man for himself.

      In a race to take a judgement seat or a higher place people within the home, or community strive to rise above others to take a higher sage ground; a comfortable new place out of bounds to accountability? The GOA doesn’t think so.

      Online conducts are protraying these very mentions. We have people pretending and saying what ever to whom ever. I wish it was about being different, everyone is different we have millions of undiagnosed hiding behind reputation. You can’t hide bad habits much less lie about what one truly is. You can change neighborhoods, even clothing, and car but habits fine their way into the light. SNEAKING around civility by having one of our lower family members do the dirty work is NOT Ethical professionally and morally.

      If we take mysterious situations out of our eyesight so as not to incumber other with questions to answer we are putting it off on another after us. The burden will be even greater when we suddenly see what we’ve hidden find freedom stand before us everywhere.

      In centuries past societies put away their: radical political activists, lepers, disabled masses, and empoverished youth into a literal confinement ditches under guard, don’t we still do the same?

  • Melodie Malec

    What I don’t understand is what the fear is of being different…..I worked as a Instructional Aide in a public school upon in which an incident occurred with two of the children….when the teacher heard me say to the white child —who that brown boy with the strips on his shirt – she called me over and said you cant say things like that. I wondered what did that was so wrong – how did I know if the boy was Hispanic or Indian or perhaps just tan and how would this be an inference as being derogatory…..She simply said next time keep your descriptive references to just the boy with strips on his shirt…I thought okay and would make a mental note…..But really, why cant we learn to appreciate someone’s color/race/gender without feeling like we have done something wrong!!

    • Luke Visconti

      Because our entire human history shows that pointing out a race/gender/orientation is almost always for negative reasons. Just like the overwhelming majority of bullets fired from a gun have been intended to kill other people, not to put food on the table. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

  • Thank you so much for addressing this issue. It is so devastating and demeaning to be bullied by the person that holds your livelyhood in their hands. Hopefully this will empower people to stand up for themselves.

  • Anonymous

    If the institution at which the bullying takes place – whether the home, school, the internet or the workplace – does not have high standards for the way people treat each other, then bullying is much more likely to become increasingly prevalent in society in general.

    When it comes to cyber-bullying, YouTube has the lowest standards of all in my experience, and also according to an article from WIRED Magazine.

    This is unacceptable.

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