by Izzy Kalman February 16, 2009 Psychology Today Blog, A Psychological Solution to Bullying
Some of my blog readers have written to me complaining that what I write is too negative and critical. They want me to write positive things.
In this blog (as well as in many of my newsletter writings) I have been critical because someone needs to be critical. Though it has become quite clear that the anti-bully movement is failing, it is going ahead full steam, as though the problem is not that there’s something wrong with the very nature of this anti-bully witch hunt, but that we are not hunting the bullies seriously enough.
However, I criticize the anti-bully witch hunt not only because it is causing more harm than good, but because the solution to the problem is readily available and has been available for thousands of years. The solution is called “wisdom.” All wise people throughout the world and throughout history know the solution to bullying. The intensive and foolish crusade against bullies is completely unnecessary because the solution is so simple and free.
Before I ever wrote anything critical of the anti-bully movement, I made the solution available to the world. Following the Columbine shooting, when I saw that the approach taken by the world was only going to make things worse, I spent months creating my website and wrote two free manuals: one that teaches kids how to stop being bullied, and one that teaches teachers and parents how to quickly and easily reduce aggression between kids. Thousands of people have been benefiting from these manuals completely for free, and I welcome you to use them, too. There is nothing new in these manuals. I have simly repackaged basic psychology and universal wisdom.
Someone identifying him/herself as Parent of a Bullied Child recently wrote a comment to one of my recent blog entries, and I am featuring the comment here because it is important enough for everyone to read. This comment shows not only that schools’ typical anti-bully interventions make matters worse, but that the solution is so simple. Thanks, Parent of a Bullied Child. The original blog entry to which Parent responded is: http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-bully-witch-hunt/200902…
Here is the Comment:
“I was astonished to see the story about the boy labeled a “bully,” for it added to my worries about my own son’s problems at school with being bullied. What if, to top it all off, he finally loses his temper and starts pushing back and he’s the one tagged a bully? Good lord.
“My son is in middle school and was bullied–teased, isolated, made the subject of rumors, mocked openly in class–for the entire first semester of this year. I had no idea until he finally announced to me that he couldn’t go to school any more. He couldn’t take it. I took him to a therapist who wanted to do an intervention session at the school but my son wanted nothing more to do with it, for he had been bullied some the year before, and the teachers had intervened, and done a terrible job: so bad, in fact, that it immensely escalated the problems and it made him afraid to tell me that they had escalated, for that would have set off another dreaded intervention.
“I began doing massive amounts of research on bullying, and came to the same conclusion, independently, that [Mr.] Kalman long before me had: any form of school intervention backfires badly. And I had real life experience to add to the research. (I do believe that a whole-school, philosophical, Quaker approach works pretty well, but it doesn’t prepare you for the rest of the world, or at least it didn’t prepare my son for it when he moved to this very good public middle school.)
“Anyway, in my research I happened upon the bullies2buddies site and read it with interest. I asked my son to read it and we agreed that he would try it for a few weeks while we figured out what to do. Here’s the breathtaking thing: after what was really 1.5 years of bullying, it stopped in one week. In fact, it stopped the first day my son tried the technique. Two kids started making fun of his chapped lips, blocking my son from getting to his locker. My son just looked at them casually and said, “yeah, my lips get chapped this time of year; I hate it.” They said nothing more and let him pass. It has now been four weeks without any bullying. He said he has been teased a few times, but no more than any of the other kids.
“The therapist has recommended that I keep a close eye on the situation, that my son may not be telling the truth out of fear that we will intervene. I don’t have the sense that this is the case, but I will definitely keep you posted.”
Thanks again, Parent of Bullied Child, for presenting us with your experience. I look forward to hearing from you again.
So, reader, please don’t think I only spend my time criticizing. And please use my website to save other kids from bullying, too.