Archive for Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Student wants teasing at school to stop

September 23, 2008


On the street

Do you think children who are bullied should seek outside intervention or stand up for themselves?

Stand up for themselves within reason. Otherwise they won’t learn how to live in this world. It’s too tough a place for them to always go cry on someone else’s shoulder.

More responses

Dear Dr. Wes & Kelly: If I'm being teased at school, do I tell them they are wrong or leave it alone?

Kelly: Why do we value the opinions of others so much? Why can't everyone be content with themselves? Instead, we choose to get personally involved. When people dare to diverge from the normal views of society, we question it, verbally express it and in some cases attempt to change it.

In a world that is based on the theory of survival of the fittest, it's only natural for humans to try to show their dominance over one another. This is achieved either through self-sufficiency or creating conflict and establishing superiority through bullying. To prove that we are stronger, we must make the weak look weaker. We distract from our own personal flaws by pointing them out in others. Then there are those who are wanting and/or need to be accepted by their peers. They depend on their approval and will adapt to fit the mold.

There are two ways in which this tendency plays out in bullying. One is verbal, the other physical and both can be equally emotionally damaging. Some kids become depressed and have a dramatic decline in their self-esteem, while others become aloof and are afraid. In the most extreme cases, some kids see suicide as the only way out.

If you are being teased, do not hesitate to defend yourself. Now, I am not talking about giving the bully a taste of his/her own medicine. Be above that. Simply defend your self worth. Your acceptance of yourself should not depend on that of others. Realize you are a unique, capable individual. If this continues, immediately tell an authority figure. Bullies must realize there are limitations to their behavior and that it is not okay.

Some believe that by ignoring the problem, it will go away. That's not true. In some cases, it just makes it worse. The bully preys on vulnerability. Do not be afraid of confrontation. Let him/her know you have no tolerance for their actions. It's better to stop the conflict early then let it continue on.

Wes: Kelly did a nice job of answering your question at the individual level, so I'll discuss the larger concerns you raise. This is one of my least favorite topics because in all the clinical cases I've seen, teasing and bullying produce some of the saddest, most downtrodden kids. They trudge to school each day, fearful of what new humiliation awaits or try to avoid going altogether. In many cases this builds to the point of serious psychosomatic symptoms that further degrade their lives, or even self-harm. I've had numerous clients in their 20, 30s or 40s who are still experiencing the effects of being mistreated in junior high. You might think they should be over it by now - but most are honestly trying to move on. The problem is that we get a great deal of our social programming in adolescence. It's the time when we learn who we are and how to participate in society, and that in turn defines us as adults.

Your important question is particularly difficult to answer because most psychologists are trained to change individuals - not groups. Regardless of what you may or may not be doing, the problem is not in you. It's in your school, your culture and in the families of kids who are teasing you. Certain kids are more likely than others to be teased - so you might want to see if you can figure out any ways to make yourself a smaller target. But in the end the answer is always what we call "systemic change," requiring a modification in the culture of schools, families and communities.

Unfortunately that complicates things a great deal, and we adults really don't like complicated solutions very much. We want politicians to sum up everything they believe in one catch phrase and we want our kids to change if we repeat "Just Say No to Drugs" or "Stand Up to Bullies."

Bullying requires the combined effort of parents, schools and kids to change environments, especially in a world where the Internet, digital video and cell phones provide rich new opportunities for hurting and degrading one another, while hiding behind a funny screen name.

I think schools are trying to get better at this, though many solutions are still imperfect. However, like everything else the issue of bullying ultimately falls to the family to address. Unfortunately, when you look at bullies across all social and economic lines, you tend to find disengaged parents. I am astonished to see how many families now believe they cannot control their kids, spend thousands of dollars to bail them out of their mistakes, allow them to steal from them repeatedly, and continue to fund their bad choices. Then they wonder why those same kids turn out with antisocial personality styles and a general lack of empathy. Ultimately that's the root of bullying: believing that the powerful people in your life will not hold you accountable. You are thus free to hurt whomever you wish, while ignoring their pain and the shame and guilt that it should cause to you.

Next Week: Political teenagers. With the election year if full swing, teens should be interested.


weluvbowling 9 years, 4 months ago

Quailrun, neither my son, nor my daughter were over weight. It was sheer jealousy on my daughter's part (not to mention the other girl has mental issues that no one chose to address) and my son, well it was because of his sexual orientation.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

The second part of the "forbidden word is:Dee

canyon_wren 9 years, 4 months ago

I thought Dr. Wes' advice was very good. I would agree that most bullies grow up in situations that make them feel insecure--either because they are neglected, or because they are indulged, as Dr. Wes points out. The end result is often pretty much the same.I also agree with Kelly that the victim should try not to let others' opinions matter so much. But of course that is easier said than done--something that can be acknowledged "intellectually" but emotions usually rule in a situation like this.It seems to me that often victims of bullying, if they are strong enough, go on to make significant contributions to society and their world--sort of like the "refining fires" have produced something of value. But not all victims can be that strong--a lot depends upon the support they regularly receive from their own families.

Ragingbear 9 years, 4 months ago

Since my first comment was deleted. Let me restate. This advice is dangerous on many levels.

Ragingbear 9 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

gr 9 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

This format is really stupid.I tried to use a silly word and it told me to "watch my mouth" Let's see if I can write the word another way.I said: And I will write it one part at a time in differant posts to show how completely stupid this is.Part one of the forbidden word is Gobble

Bossa_Nova 9 years, 4 months ago

acg, i have to agree with you on that one. most bullies are insecure a@#holes and if you confront them and knock 'em down a notch they wisen up. but what's difficult is when it's a group of kids/people picking on only one person. it's hard to knock'em all down. when i was growing up there was one kid who always got picked on by everybody. looking back i feel bad because i never stuck up for him. i was one of those guys who felt it wasnt happening to me, therefore it wasnt my problem. but now i regret never doing something on his behalf. i know he suffered. he has kids now and i hope they dont get bullied they way he was. what's the solution? those of us who have a heart have to teach our kids not to be bullies and to stick up for those who are getting picked on while at the same time stick up for their own selves.

Calliope877 9 years, 4 months ago

I say all bully children be publicly flogged.

acg 9 years, 4 months ago

Kiddo, my advice to you, and boy am I going to hear about this, is to tell the teaser she or he has one last chance to act like a human or suffer the consequences. If they do it again, you give them a good old fashioned beat down. Make sure to do it somewhere really public too, so that everyone can see and those who don't see will hear about it within the hour. Bully kids need to be knocked down a peg or two. If someone doesn't humble them before they grow up, they end up being those bully adults someone mentioned above. Now remember, when administering your a** whipping, don't give too much (you don't want permanent damage), make sure you give enough (you want him or her to stay down and lick their wounds a little while) and don't be afraid of consquences. You'll probably get into some sort of trouble with an authority figure but it's so worth it in the end. Isn't that right little Miss Becky W.? Yeah, you still walk softly around me when we see each other and it's been what, 15 years?

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

I guess you are right hail2oldkuthanks for responding.I guess I am not used to using "racial" words. I never even thought of that.

Confrontation 9 years, 4 months ago

The real problem is that idiot parents create idiot children. The parents of bullies are also bullies. You see them driving their SUVs, honking at everyone or cutting them off in traffic. They're the parents who make fun of kids at athletic events. They threaten other parents when their children aren't being favored or praised. Unfortunately, forced sterilization of idiots is illegal. They'll keep having kids who will grow up to have kids who are also idiots and bullies. Thank goodness the rest of us can get concealed weapons now :)

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

The third part of this horrible, dastardly word is:ook with a "g" in front of it.Can someone tell me why this is a bad word?

TopJayhawk 9 years, 4 months ago

Just hit him on the end of his nose.Ya gotta stand up or lay down.

weluvbowling 9 years, 4 months ago

My son was bullied in school. Any school he went to, Leavenworth or Lawrence. He finally quit.My daughter started being bullied last year by this monster that came to town in Leavenworth. It was all over jealousy. My daughter never had any issues before this child. My problem with this? The school did NOTHING about this girl and she bullied many! I called the State of Kansas about it...their elected the 7 officials into your local board of education so my suggestion is elect different ones next time as there is nothing the State can do about it! BOY WAS THAT REASSURING! There is NOTHING you can do about a school that does NOTHING to protect your children. My solution...I am home schooling this year! It is amazing the things that I am finding out that they have not even taught her yet and she is 14!!!!! In my opinion she is going to learn alot more this year than she has in the last 8 years and she is learning it, of all places, AT HOME!

hail2oldku 9 years, 4 months ago

topj - the go-k is the part that is being viewed as offensive obviously (racial slang). The filters do need a little tweaking since in total there is nothing offensive about the word you were trying to use.

cds 9 years, 4 months ago

Act like a doormat and you get treated like a doormat. Simple as that.

gr 9 years, 4 months ago

"Since my first comment was deleted. Let me restate. This advice is dangerous on many levels."And since my question was deleted, let me ask again. Ragingbear, where did you get that idea?

catblu 9 years, 4 months ago

The only way to stop bullying in schools is to hold the administrators accountable.. That means if there's a bullying problem that hasn't been addressed you don't renew the administrators contract..But..... You also have to have a school board that wants bullying to stop... You only have to look at the Tonganoxie schools to see how ignoring bullying works... After the Tonganoxie school district lost a title IX federal suit, Costing $506,000, the insurance company settled for $440,000 instead of appealing and losing more money. The Tonganoxie school board rewarded their administrators that ignored the bullying, by giving them big raises and extending their contracts. Did that work to stop bullying.. NO! Two years after loosing $440,000, parents were at a school board meeting complaining that their kids were being pee'd on, 3 were choked until they passed out and a boy was held down and ben-gay was pushed up his rectum..And what did the school board do about it... YEP more raises and contract extentions. A harsh bunch of people setting on that board. Last year at Tonganoxie, the superintendent screamed yelled and berated the assistant superintendent so badly the assistant superintendent tried to leave the building, the superintendent followed him, still screaming. The assistant superintendent called the police. So what happened??? The Tonganoxie school board bought out the assistant superintendent's contract for $57,000 and kept the superintendent.. YEP, paid off the victim and kept the bully. So why is there bullying in schools... It pays very good.

quailrun 9 years, 4 months ago

You know it seems more kids are getting bullied and picked on now a days, not because they don't fit in because they are nerds, or weird, but seems mostly now a days they are just over weight. get rid of the video games that you spent four or five hundred on, let these kids get out and be 7,8,9th graders, I hung outside all the time, yes outside, not behind a tv, with kids my age learing how to respond to certain conflicts, and trying to learn how to deal with it. Not kept in a house.

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