New Book Alert: Tasers, Abortions and Parenting: Behind The Curtain of Policing America

“What a fascinating read. It’s going to rile folks up as well as having many people yell “Amen!”  It will also, probably for the first time, give people an understanding about the direction our society is heading and give them some idea how we got to where we are now.  Plus, your chapter on parenting is dead on and will hopefully cause folks to become more active in the lives of their children!”

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”

Late last summer we released a chapter excerpt from the book Tasers, Abortions and Parenting: Behind the Curtain of Policing America, a collaborative effort between myself and television’s Cop Doc Dr. Richard Weinblatt.

As a mainstream book,which has a broad and universal appeal by virtue of the fact that it delves into some of the most controversial topics of the day, the creative process will likely be one of the best memories I take away from this entire experience.

Delayed in its release so as to provide us with the opportunity to incorporate into the text what were at that time developing stories such as that of the Serial Suicide Killer William Melchert-Dinkel, I have to say that after reviewing the final publisher’s draft it was worth the wait.  Of course both Dr. Weinblatt and I think that you will feel the same way.

After a few final edits and the inclusion of a special Forward, the book will be available sometime in mid to late June or, at the latest early July.

In the meantime, enjoy this brief excerpt from Chapter 9 which talks about the problem of bullying:

Chapter 9 – Lord of the Flies: A Metaphor for Schoolyard Justice?

“Lord of the Flies is a novel by Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding about a group of British schoolboys stuck on a deserted island who try to govern themselves, with disastrous results. Its stances on the already controversial subjects of human nature and individual welfare versus the common good earned it position 68 on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books of 1990–1999.”

 from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

During a 2010 interview, 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” made the comment that children establishing a pecking order in the schoolyards of America is as natural as Mom’s Apple Pie.  Well maybe he didn’t use the exact term Mom’s Apple Pie, but his point was pretty clear . . . kids, for lack of better reference will be kids.

Studies and polls such as a “U.S. 2004 poll of children, would tend to support Larry’s position.  With 86% of more than 1,200 9- to 13-year-old boys and girls polled saying that they’ve seen someone else being bullied, with 48% indicating that they’ve been bullied, and 42% admitted to bullying other kids at least once in a while,” one might even argue that it is a childhood rite of passage.

What is interesting is that bullying has just recently been recognized and recorded as a distinct criminal offense, which is a departure from the light-hearted view of college hi-jinx hazing portrayed in movies such as Animal House or a “boys will be boys” mentality that associates aggressive behavior with being a normal part of the adolescent experience represented by the character Flick in the Holiday favorite “A Christmas Story.”

The data in terms of criminalizing bullying would seem to support the elevation of consequences from a teachers reprimand to possible prosecution under the law.

To start, research shows that those who do the bullying are the ones who ultimately pay the greatest price in 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.

In terms of a broader societal impact a 2008 paper that was prepared by Deborah Doherty and Dorothy Berglund titled “Psychological Abuse – A Discussion Paper,” made the following observations:

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.

In fact so disconcerting is the growing problem of bullying in America, a U.S. Secret Service report went so far as to suggest that bullying had played a part in many school shootings, and then went on to emphasize that efforts should be made to “eliminate bullying behavior.”

The real question these reports raise is where do you draw the line between what we had earlier referred to as a childhood rite of passage and the destructive actions in which the impact overflows or extends into the fabric of American society as a whole?

Perhaps the best place to start is to first understand or define that which can actually be called bullying.  After all, the more common scenarios by which we define the term bully, such as at the school level, is not a new phenomenon in that it has been part of the human condition from the beginning of time.

Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defined bullying as being when a person is “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more persons.”  According to Olweus “negative actions” include a pattern of behavior in which a person “intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways.”

In other words, bullying can take on many forms including physical, emotional and verbal elements where there is a real or perceived “imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group,” abusing those who are “less powerful.”

Interestingly enough, this can occur at multiple levels of societal interaction including the home, work or within entire neighborhoods.  It even occurs on an international or global level.  For example, when one country exercises undue power or influence over another it is referred to as Jingoism.

So now that we know what bullying is, at least as defined by the experts, how do we establish a range of tolerance or acceptability?

Where do we establish the line, in which an individual’s or group’s actions go beyond the realms of a boys-will-be boys or girls-will-be girls shrug, to one that can be perceived as a bonafide threat either in the imminent future or somewhere down the road?

When do we in our reactions to a bullying situation depart from a sticks and stones attitude of a measured and practical response, to being one of the paper machè wimps to which Winget often refers – the kind that would put a cast on a hangnail?

An even more challenging question is how you establish a standard that makes sense across the board in which individual circumstances that would present mitigating factors risk being ignored.  At this point, the Casey Heynes story immediately comes to mind.

For those who may have like the Geico commercial suggests, been living under a rock or, were away from the planet for a short time in March and April 2011, the video of a rotund boy finally standing up to one of his tormentors went viral on YouTube.

Casey Heynes of course was the somewhat overweight lad in Australia who while being filmed took a few shots to the face by the much smaller but more aggressive bully.  Having been on the receiving end of both physical and mental abuse over several years, Casey finally stood up for himself and literally picked-up the bully and body slammed him to the ground.

Viewing this incident in isolation one might be inclined to suggest that both boys warrant disciplinary action from the school including a possible suspension.  But here’s the thing, the torment to which Casey was exposed on a daily basis, and which actually hit the critical point of tolerance when he told his sister that he was contemplating suicide, was being filmed.

If Casey had not made the choice to stand up for himself, while still being able to demonstrate tremendous restraint by walking away after the bully miscreant was disengaged by way of the pavement, the group of troublemakers would have posted a different kind of video to YouTube.  Would the humiliation from a prime time clip on the chubby kid clip have been enough to have pushed Casey over the edge re his contemplating suicide?

While we will likely never know the answer to this question, one thing is certain, the universal support for Casey reflected in the millions of people who viewed both the original video, as well as subsequent interviews speaks to the global interest and reach of the bullying question.

The Heynes case also highlighted the fact that generally speaking parents seem to have for the most part been asleep at the wheel in terms of instructing their children on proper conduct towards others, and in the process have abdicated their responsibilities for disciplining their children when they do cross the line from normal childhood discourse into destructive behavior.

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  • Books Written by Jon Hansen

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