Published on November 24, 2011 by Izzy Kalman in A Psychological Solution to Bullying
It was with great excitement that I came upon a new article this morning by Prof. Helene Guldberg who, to the best of my knowledge, is the only academic psychologist in the world that has dared to criticize the anti-bullying movement or, as she aptly calls it in this article, anti-bullying industry. This industry has been growing rapidly, with myriads of people (including myself) capitalizing on the anti-bully hysteria (though I am trying to reduce the hysteria). Like any industry, it needs to raise public awareness and fear of the problem it addresses in order to successfully sell its services and products. And where money is involved, scientific objectivity takes a backseat. This industry has succeeded in getting the public to pressure governments to pass laws requiring the taxpayer to fund its well-intentioned but counterproductive activities. The public’s hatred of bullies is so strong that it is willing to overlook the research showing what we already know from experience: that these efforts rarely reduce bullying and often result in an increase. Even scientific researchers, in the desire to promote anti-bullying programs to the public, selectively present research on failing bullying prevention programs as though they were successes.
The first, and thus far still the only, (non-self-)published book in the world to criticize the anti-bully movement is in Helene’s Guldberg’s 2009 work, Reclaiming Childhood: Freedom and Play in an Age of Fear, which contains a chapter, “The Bully Bandwagon.” I wrote about this groundbreaking book in a May, 2009 blog, and conducted an interview with her shortly afterwards. I was also greatly honored to have been asked by the American Journal of Education to write a review of her book. (You can email me at email@example.com if you wish to read the full text of the review).
I am extremely grateful for the existence of rare people like Prof. Guldberg because it is so lonely being almost the only mental health professional in the world publicly criticizing this failing industry and trying to save society from its ravages. It is wonderful that the world has a scientist who actually thinks like a scientist regarding the emotionally charged subject of bullying.
If you like it, won’t you pass it on to others? She deserves your support, and the world deserves her wisdom on this frustrating issue.