Bullying in School Whether Physical or Emotional Start’s with the Bully’s Parents

NOTE: Larry Winget, Television personality and five time New York Times/Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “Your Kids Are Your Own Fault” and “The Idiot Factor” will join me on the PI Window on Business Sunday afternoon at 12:30 PM EST to talk about the growing problem of bullying.

Cost of inter-generational transmission of abuse. Dealing with the aftermath of individuals who learn and model disrespectful and domineering behavior to gain control over others creates significant costs for society. For one, schools must cope with the behavior problems of children emotionally traumatized by intimate partner violence as well as respond to the bullying tactics that these children may use on the playground. In the long term, these controlling tactics impact negatively in our workplaces, homes and communities.  Governments must address the range of factors that contribute to the inter-generational transmission of abusive behaviors by allocating significant resources in school settings for early intervention, anti-bullying and healthy relationship programs.

from the paper Psychological Abuse – A Discussion Paper was prepared by Deborah Doherty and Dorothy Berglund (2008)

The above referenced excerpt from a 2008 paper sponsored by Health Canada paints an overall or 10,000 foot view of the consequences associated with bullying in our schools.  Sadly the issue of bullying, which has now been extended to the realms of cyber space as illustrated by the suicide of 15 year old Pheobe Prince who hung herself in January, 2010, is at an epidemic proportion according to studies.  In fact according to a “U.S. 2004 poll of children, 86% of more than 1,200 9- to 13-year-old boys and girls polled said they’ve seen someone else being bullied, 48% said they’ve been bullied, and 42% admitted to bullying other kids at least once in a while.”

In terms of the differences between boys and girls, the same U.S. poll indicated that boys were “more likely to say they would fight back than girls (53% of boys vs. 38% of girls), whereas girls were more likely to say they would talk to an adult than boys (32% of girls vs. 19% of boys).”

What is also interesting to note is that those who do the bullying are the ones who ultimately pay the greatest price in that reports show that “one out of four elementary school bullies have a criminal record by the time they’re 30.” As these children grow into adulthood, their prospects for success in later life are significantly diminished with many failing in school and ultimately never enjoying the career or relationship success that other people enjoy.

This being said, the problem is getting progressively worse despite the well intentioned direction of experts in terms of how to deal with bullies, which include the following suggestions:

  • holding off anger
  • never get physical or bully back
  • act brave, walk away, and ignore the bully
  • use humor
  • talk about it
  • use the buddy system
  • Develop more friendships by joining social organizations, clubs, or sports programs

While each of the above suggestions are to varying degrees effective, they nonetheless fail to get at the root problem of why the majority of children bully in school, which is usually tied to a troubled home life.

While I have never been considered an extremist in any sense of the word, I must admit that based upon the home conditions from which some of these children come, the thought of forced sterilization for select adults has fleetingly crossed my mind one more than one occasion.  I bow my head in shame with regard to this acknowledgment, but am certain that I am not the only one to ever entertain such thoughts when confronted with the heartless callousness and disregard of some parents towards the well-being of their children.

After all, and referencing the dialogue from one of my all time favorite movies “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” in which Sydney Poitier’s character points out the fact to his father that “I owe you nothing” and that “If you carried that bag a million miles you did what you were supposed to do because you brought me into this world,” speaks to the ultimate responsibility a parent has towards their child.

Poitier’s powerful remarks concluded with the generational implications of a parents responsibilities when he makes the statement “and from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me, like I will owe my son if I ever have another.”

These are words that should give us all pause for thought, especially given Larry Winget’s observation in his bestselling book “Your Kid’s Are Your Own Fault” that on average parents spend only 3 minutes each week in meaningful conversation with their children.  By the way, click on the cover below to buy Larry’s book . . . it’s more than worth the money and time even if it is the only book you have an opportunity to read this year.

Holding parents accountable in a similar manner to those whose children commit criminal acts through the issuance of a parental order, would seem to be the logical first step in reversing the bullying trend.

In an excerpt from my soon to be released book “Tasers, Abortions and Parenting: Behind The Curtain of Policing America” which is a collaborative effort with television’s Cop Doc, Dr. Richard Weinblatt, reference is made to the advent of parental orders in the United Kingdom:

In England for example, and more specifically Wales where according to a 2008 children’s charity NCH report “1 in 10 young people have been affected by gun or knife crime,” a Parenting Order as it is called is made against the parent or parents of a child which has been given an “Anti-Social Behavior Order, has been convicted of an offence, or the parent has been convicted of an offence under section 443 or 444” of the country’s 1996 Education Act.

The Act, which grants local authorities with “more responsibilities with regards to strategies for reducing crime and disorder,” and in particularly as it relates to ” racially aggravated offences,” is an interesting concept relative to its intention.  Specifically, the parent is held accountable for keeping their children in check so as to prevent similar or repeat behavior resulting in further run ins with law enforcement.

Usually put into force for a period of 12 months, there are of course restrictions in that the order must not interfere with either the parents’ or child’s religious beliefs, or in any way conflicts with times in which the parent or parents are normally at work or when the child is attending school.

Similar judicial rulings have also been handed down on this side of the Atlantic as demonstrated by the story of a Detroit couple who were found guilty of “failing to control their 16-year-old son,” who while under the influence of marijuana committed several burglaries.

As detailed in the book, “Susan and Anthony Provenzino, were each ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 plus court costs for their purported failure to in effect properly parent their son, which violated a city ordinance that “parents must exercise reasonable control over children under 18.”

In short, what I am advocating is a strong belief which questions why society as a whole is made to pay for the poor parenting skills of those adults (emphasis on adults), who fail to provide the needed direction, care and love to their children.  It is in most instances the parents who are ultimately to blame for their childrens’ behavior, and therefore should bear the greater if not full burden for the consequences of this absence of interest and involvement.

Perhaps, and similar to the Provenzino case, if parents are forced to pay restitution either financially or through their child’s removal from a school bus or the school itself, or even restricting Internet access  in the home, maybe just maybe the needed changes will take place.

In the case of Massachusetts 15 year old Pheobe Prince, who’s suicide has directly led to felony charges being laid against 2 boys and 4 girls aged between 16 to 18 years,  the relentless taunting she suffered during the preceding 3 month  period in which there was no intervention from the school, should serve as a warning to us all.


Phoebe Prince "A Victim of Indecisive Action"



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