Are Our Kids Too Safe to Succeed?

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Here’s a chunk of my piece that just ran on  Politico. After explaining that I’m the mom who let her 9 year old ride the subway alone, yada yada, and that our society overestimates danger and underestimates kids (also yada yada), I went on to say that keeping our kids constantly supervised  is  —

…catastrophic. Free play turns out to be one of the most important things a kid can do to develop into the kind of adult who’s resilient, entrepreneurial—and a pleasure to be around.

You see, when kids play on their own, they first of all have to come up with something to do. That’s called problem solving: “We don’t have a ball, so what can we play?” They take matters into their own hands. Then, if they don’t all agree, they have to learn to compromise—another good skill to have.

If there are a bunch of kids, someone has to make the teams. Leadership! If there’s a little kid, the big kids have to throw the ball more gently. Empathy! For their part, the little kids want to earn the big kids’ respect. So they act more mature, which is how they become more mature. They rise to the occasion. Responsibility!

And here’s the most important lesson that kids who are “just” playing learn. Say a kid strikes out. Now he has a choice. He can throw a tantrum—and look like a baby. He can storm off—and not get to play anymore. Or he can hold it together, however hard that is, and go to the back of the line.

Because play is so fun, a kid will usually choose the latter. And in doing that difficult deed—taking his lumps—the child is learning to control himself even when things are not going his way. The term for this is “executive function.”

It’s the crucial skill all parents want their kids to learn, and the easiest way to learn it is through play. In fact, Penny Wilson, a thought leader on play in Britain, calls fun the “orgasm” of play. Kids play because it’s fun—not realizing that really they are actually ensuring the success of the species by learning how to function as a society….

Can you imagine a country full of people who have been listening to Mozart since they were in the womb, but have no idea how to organize a neighborhood ballgame? My friend was recently telling a high school-age cousin about how he used to play pick-up basketball in the park, and the cousin couldn’t understand how this was possible without supervision. “What happened if someone decided to cheat and fouled all the time?” the kid asked. “We just wouldn’t play with him anymore,” my friend replied. Said the cousin: “That’s exclusion!” which, he added, was a “form of” bullying.

Agghh! We are crippling kids by convincing them they can’t solve any issues on their own.

You can read the rest here!

Safe, safe, safe.

Safe, safe, safe.

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150 Responses to Are Our Kids Too Safe to Succeed?

  1. marie July 23, 2015 at 7:16 am #

    As bad as bullying can be, the never ending talk about it, all the education about it, encourages a victim mentality. Kids know to look for it, how to recognize it, who to TELL about it….on and on and on…but rules routinely prevent kids from handling bullies in an effective way by themselves. School and society teach kids to “tell an adult”, hindering the chance for kids to find a solution.

  2. Stella O'Malley July 23, 2015 at 7:43 am #

    I’ve been running Summer Camps over the last few years. The first year, when I didn’t realise how much chhildhood had changed, for the lunch break I just threw the kids out with loads to outside stuff to play with – balls, hula hoops, skipping ropes etc. They looked at me blankly, ‘What are you going to play with us?’ I was puzzled – this was the lunch break, they had supervised games all day, this was the time to kick back and do whatever. I’ve since learnt that kids very often haven’t the capacity to play on their own unless they are given motivational speeches prior to the event!

  3. JdL July 23, 2015 at 7:57 am #

    Well put, LS! I really appreciate hearing your voice in America today: it is badly needed, and you represent the side of sanity so well, both in writing and in person.

  4. Katie July 23, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    Has anyone else noticed the shift in usage- indeed, in the part of speech- of the word “bully”? It used to be a noun that meant “that one nasty kid who’d pick on anyone and try to make one or two kids’ lives miserable.” Now it’s a verb that means “to pick on or mistreat any peers.” i’m in no way saying that picking on other kids is okay, of course!

  5. Buffy July 23, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    @Katie It also appears to mean “not like another kid”. Do you like and want to “play” with everyone you know? Probably not. Then why do we expect kids to?

  6. Andrew July 23, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    The “friend” / cousin incident sounded familiar…

    Ah yes, it was mentioned by commenter BL, here – http://www.freerangekids.com/kids-allowed-to-engage-in-unsupervised-risky-play-develop-skills-that-help-later-in-making-smart-decisions-about-sex-and-drugs/#comment-376350

  7. Emily Morris July 23, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    I have the new school year approaching and this makes me think of a recess issue I notice. I can appreciate some kids being quieter and less sporty, but this does not explain the high number of kids I see who don’t want recess. Even taking a book out is no good. They just sit around. I even see kids who do nothing but hang around the line up area to receive some weird honor of being the first kid in line. They demand to stay in (in which case they demand entertainment) and I even see teachers who let an indoor recess be a potential reward. These kids honestly can’t find anything to do during recess. And yes, I find these kids to be the offspring of helicopter parents.

  8. Andrew July 23, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Buffy: according to citations quoted by the OED, the word “bully” has been used as a verb in this sense – to intimidate, mistreat, etc – since the 1700s. The word was used as a noun earlier, but seems to shifted in meaning from a term of endearment (!) in the late 1500s and early 1600s towards an abusive or intimidating person from the late 1600s / early 1700s.

    So the answer seem to be that “bully” has been used in the modern sense as a noun and a verb for about 300 years!

    (And a person can try to bully someone who is not a child – particularly if the victim is vulnerable in some way, and so not able to stand up to the bully.)

  9. The Other Mandy July 23, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    How sad, kids not wanting or not knowing what to do at recess. If kids demand to be constantly entertained, how on earth can their parents get anything done? As soon as my kids could sit, I encouraged them to entertain themselves, to make my life easier.

  10. Havva July 23, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    @Andrew, @Katie
    In my childhood the noun form was by far the most common application, with the verb form making a rare appearance. Now (at least among adult discussions) the verb form does seem more common.
    I had figured this was a matter of immediacy. We aren’t in the school yard anymore worrying about avoiding bullies, and passing along the info that so-and-so is a bully. So removed from that environment we have a more general concern with making sure our kids are not getting bullied.

  11. Adrienne July 23, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    I think Havva is trying to say that these days, a great many actions are being called bullying, so that anyone can be called a bully for just about anything. Whereas, in days past, there was a bully you liked out for and the rest of the kids just had an occasional bad day. Those smaller infractions were dealt with by the kids and everyone goes back to being friends again the next day. Today, our kids face suspension for the kind of exclusion Lenore talks about here.

  12. mystic_eye July 23, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    If the game is organized by an adult, and there is a kid constantly ‘cheating’ then what does the adult do? They exclude them. Which is actually much closer to bullying since the adult is considered to have power over the children.

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/bully
    “A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker:
    he is a ranting, domineering bully”

  13. SKL July 23, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    Another thing about bullying from the old days: it was understood and basically accepted that there will be one or more bullies. Remember the old Fisher Price little people? The sets with a bunch of kids had a bully! There was a bully on The Little Rascals. There were bullies in the Little House books. There were bullies in just about every kids’ story – and many grown-up stories too. And none of these bullies were getting any particular intervention other than a good smackdown by their peers.

    There was an understanding that kids who had encounters with bullies would generally come out OK, and maybe learn something from it.

    Remember the scene in Ramona where she first dealt with Yard Ape? What he did would be considered bullying today probably. But she came to like Yard Ape as a special friend.

    Kids aren’t that fragile by nature. But we can teach them to be fragile. And that seems to be what we’re doing.

  14. Donna July 23, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    I hate this exclusion is bulling mentality. My kid always manages to get in a group with a completely unpleasant child that makes everyone else miserable, but nobody is willing to cast her out of the group due to this idea that we have to include everyone so my daughter gets stuck interacting with this unpleasant child in order to play with her real friends. It is infuriating.

    Not really on topic, but I do have a kudos for my local police. Today I had to be in court before camp started so I gave my child the choice of staying home, going home with grandma (who spent the night at our house last night) or walking to camp by herself (about a mile away). She chose to walk. Apparently there were “several calls” reporting her. The cop went to camp and talked to her. He then called me to express his concerns. When I shot down his concerns, he said nothing other than it was my choice to allow her to walk and left it at that. I am sure that I will hear about it from the camp, but at least I am not in jail.

  15. Warren July 23, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    Bullying has gone the way of sexual assault and sexual harassment. They have watered down bullying to include every little thing that bothers someone.

    Things are just getting way out of hand these days. From how we see bullying to parents be arrested for being parents to a whole section of American History being deleted, burned, sandblasted and washed away.

    I really do not like the future I see for our kids and grandkids.

  16. SKL July 23, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    A couple weeks ago my daughter told me that something I said to her was racist. (I was not even thinking about race or skin color when I said it; it involved chocolate milk.) She had recently attended a culture camp for internationally adopted kids. I guess they taught the kids that anything anybody says that refers to their skin color could be racist. I wouldn’t mind it if it were coming from their own observations, but I would rather people not school my kids in a victim mentality. The fact is that their skin is brown. There is nothing wrong with brown skin; there’s nothing wrong with seeing it, or even mentioning it. Why teach kids they need to be defensive about their skin color? Even with their own mother?

  17. Anna July 23, 2015 at 11:16 am #

    Donna, I agree with you about about the “exclusion is bullying” thing. I just read a great book: Heather Shumaker’s “It’s OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids.” I’m not sure I 100% agreed with all of her rules, but I did with most of them, including the one that said it’s okay not to play with so-and-so if you don’t want to. As she points out, adults get to choose their friends and decide who to spend their leisure time with. Forcing kids to include someone is most simply going to make them resent and dislike him more than ever, but express it sneakily when the adults aren’t watching. She argues you should focus on teaching kids to say, “No you can’t play with us right now” nicely instead of nastily.

    Apropos of Lenore’s post, Shumaker makes a strong argument that kids need to experience conflict rather than having adults continually prevent or resolve it for them, and that this will do far more to protect kids against bullying than endless school lessons and pamphlets about “bullying prevention.”

    Also, am I the only one who wishes we could go back to the old way of dealing with bullies? My little brother had a classic bully in his kindergarten class – a smart, mean, and aggressive kid from a tough background who made it his business to go after each kid in the class in turn, until he had firmly established his social dominance. When he started beating up on my brother, my father took the classic approach, coaching him to be able and ready to punch the kid back. My dad told him he’d only need to stand up to the kid once, and the situation would be resolved. You know what, he was right. My brother only ever had to hit back once, and the bully never bothered him again. Sadly, these days, my brother would have been expelled for that under some zero tolerance policy.

  18. ChrisG. July 23, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    Anna – I was thinking the same thing. When I was in school (the 60s) this was dealt with after school. A quick scuffle, maybe a torn shirt, & a scrape or two. Done. Usually not a problem after that.

  19. John July 23, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    @marie…….very interesting observation Marie! Here is a quote from Dr. Spock who was a Pediatrician / Child Psychiatrist back in the 1960s:

    “If a parent rushes out to scold a child who has been bullying their children or telephones his parents, this convinces the victim that they can’t protect themselves but can be saved only if their parents are present. So in general, I think, it is better for parents to take the philosophical attitude that their children must fight their own battles”

    Now this is a far cry from the 0 tolerance schools and society in general have towards “bullying” today. If a kid merely calls another kid a derogatory name or even shoves him a little, he’s immediately expelled from school. I don’t believe that’s healthy for the bully OR for the victim. This, I believe, is why we have a generation of young people in the workplace today who will file grievances over the damndest things like if their boss kidded them about something or if a co-worker told a male or female joke that ruffled their feathers. Jerry Seinfeld is absolutely correct, young people today are getting too damn politically correct and I believe all the anti-bully propaganda that’s being shoved down our kids’ throats nowadays is partly to blame for all this!

  20. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    It’s not that exclusion IS bullying, but bullying can be done by exclusion. Anyone who’s ever interacted with a group of 12-year-old girls should know what I’m referring to.

  21. Emily Morris July 23, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    The funny thing about bullying: I’ve read several books on the subject and they all come to the same basic conclusion: Extreme cases aside (there will always be exceptions where adults need to step in) adult intervention beyond a bit of venting and advice-seeking from an adult tends to make bullying cases work and that the ideal approach to bullying involves letting the kids handle it. And these are the people who appear to be the experts.

  22. Reziac July 23, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    About Bullying: what Warren said. It’s now the catch-all for “anything someone doesn’t like or that hurts anyone’s widdle feewings (even secondhand).” It’s become meaningless noise.

    And that’s a good deal of the problem with the lack of unsupervised play: anything kids have to do on their own, they can no longer figure out, so it’s just meaningless noise.

    Is it any wonder that kids today cannot cope with bullies, at ANY level including just “I don’t want to play with you right now”??

    Used to be eventually the bullied kid would have enough, would explode all over the bully, and the bullying would stop. Now they run crying “mommy fix!” which does nothing but mark them out as a target for further bullying.

  23. JulieC July 23, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I’m speaking in some generalities here, but as the parent of two boys, my observation is that girl bullies are much subtler and therefore more effective than boy bullies. I remember a 1st grade teacher at back to school night warning the parents of the girls that many of the girls had already started the whole exclusion thing – every girl who wasn’t wearing purple one day were to be ostracized. That type of thing.

    We taught our kids to fight back against a bully and have never had a problem. My younger kid was being picked on by a boy in 3rd grade for several days – the kid kept snapping his fingers at my son’s baseball cap to get it off his head. My son turned around and in his words, “I punched him in the gut.” The teacher, bless her, told them both to knock it off and that was the end of it. Kid never bothered him again.

    My older boy had a tough time adjusting to middle school and was picked on quite a bit, until he learned the art of the well-timed insult. He’s now majoring in Politics & Government, go figure.

  24. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

    “Used to be eventually the bullied kid would have enough, would explode all over the bully, and the bullying would stop.”
    There has never been a time when fighting with a bully made the bully stop being a bully. All it does is (usually, not always) make the bully seek a different victim.

  25. Anna July 23, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    “There has never been a time when fighting with a bully made the bully stop being a bully. All it does is (usually, not always) make the bully seek a different victim.”

    Possibly true (not sure, actually) but even if so, so what? That’s more than direct adult intervention and anti-bullying seminars are going to achieve. Isn’t teaching kids not to be bullied the point here? Whether the bullies themselves can be changed is a different issue.

  26. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    “That’s more than direct adult intervention and anti-bullying seminars are going to achieve.”
    That’s a tad defeatist.

    “Isn’t teaching kids not to be bullied the point here?”
    Is it?

    “Whether the bullies themselves can be changed is a different issue.”
    Teaching kids not to be bullies… a challenge. Most bullies eventually learn not to be bullies (although some take it into adulthood).

  27. lollipoplover July 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    I WANT my kids to get bored this summer and find ways to entertain themselves. Learning how to occupy your free time with friends, sports, hobbies, or just reading a book will help them discover what makes them happy.
    Learning how to get along with other children when adults are not watching is critical for development. Life does not take place in an adult supervised laboratory where “no bully zones” can be enforced. Address the behavior and don’t label the person.

    Kids are fully capable of keeping bad behaviors in check by calling them out directly and addressing them when they are small and manageable. Some kids can be assholes (so can adults) and need to be called out for their act, and it doesn’t mean they are a “bully” or need to be labeled. They’re just being a jerk. Saying they can’t play in a game until they follow the rules corrects the behavior. This is not exclusion, this is holding others personally accountable. Kids are much better at this naturally and can do it without adult intervention.

  28. Garry July 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    “There has never been a time when fighting with a bully made the bully stop being a bully. All it does is (usually, not always) make the bully seek a different victim.”

    This is short-term thinking, and that’s one of the big problems. If a child bully gets whipped enough times, they often learn that it not such a good idea to be a bully, and eventually become a responsible adult. If not, they end up in prison. Not fighting back against a bully means everyone must be a defenseless victim, and deprives the bully of a much need education!

  29. John July 23, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    Here’s another interesting quote from Dr. Spock on the importance of kids playing with each other and the subject of bullying:

    “To keep your children from growing up afraid of other children, I feel it’s important to get them used to playing regularly with other children from the age when they first can walk. At that age their feelings aren’t so easily hurt and they aren’t likely to acquire fear of other children. IF THEY CAN LEARN A MATTER-OF-FACT ATTITUDE TOWARD THE OCCASIONAL BLOWS AND SNATCHINGS OF THEIR CONTEMPORARIES, IT WILL FORM A PARTIAL PROTECTION AGAINST BULLIES, BECAUSE BULLIES PARTICULARLY LOVE TO GO AFTER FRIGHTENED CHILDREN.” (emphasis mine)

    I don’t think you’d ever hear this kind of advice from Child Psychologists today. We have such a 0 tolerance towards bullying today that we wouldn’t even suggest that our children should interact with another child who is aggressive but that the aggressive child should be expunged from our child’s life entirely. Yes, there are exceptions where an adult needs to interact but I believe, as Dr. Spock does, that it is in your child’s best interest to try and resolve the conflict himself.

  30. SKL July 23, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    And recently I’ve seen in the media where a transgender teen is complaining about the fact that boys don’t want to flirt with / date her. Like maybe we should force people to date people they aren’t attracted to, just to make sure nobody gets left out?

  31. BL July 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    “There has never been a time when fighting with a bully made the bully stop being a bully. All it does is (usually, not always) make the bully seek a different victim.”

    Not if you hit them hard enough.

  32. lollipoplover July 23, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    “BECAUSE BULLIES PARTICULARLY LOVE TO GO AFTER FRIGHTENED CHILDREN.”

    So as parents, we need to bully-proof our children vs. trying to eliminate bullies from existence. I can’t control the actions of others, I can only control how I react. Same for what I teach my children. If we teach them to address the bad behavior directly and firmly and move on, they will at the very least have made an attempt to develop executive function and good social skills. If we teach them to always report it to an adult, we are raising a generation of Chicken Littles who cannot function without adult supervision.

  33. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    “’There has never been a time when fighting with a bully made the bully stop being a bully. All it does is (usually, not always) make the bully seek a different victim.’

    Not if you hit them hard enough.’

    You’re under the impression that you can hit someone hard enough to change their personality???
    I don’t think TBI is the solution to this particular problem.

  34. Warren July 23, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    Well James I hate to burst your bubble but knocking a bully on his butt works more often than it doesn’t. I never did like bullies, and made it known I wouldn’t stand for it. I stepped in for many smaller students throughout school, and have stood up for adults who need it.

    If more people would stand up for others, there would be less bullies.

  35. Travis July 23, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    About the exclusion thing, I agree what Warren said, but I also understand what James is trying to say. Exclusion is a form of bullying that is very common, particularly among girls and, now that teachers are hanging over everything, boys are also very in on it, at least in my son’s school. But the problem with not letting the children cast someone aside for making them miserable is, therefore “bullying” against the other children. I mean, clearly we’re being extra-sensitive about everything, so why not? If you allow children to be cheated on or experience any sort of misery by the hands of another child just so everyone can be included, then you as a teacher are encouraging the bullying to continue.

    @JulieC either you have really chill teachers at your children’s school, or mine are incredibly strict, but there was this one kid at my son’s class who kept pushing my son. My son is tiny, looks more like four instead of six, and being albino, he is easily singled out as ‘different’. So there was a group of boys and one girl picking on him. Pushing, like that one boy, or name-calling, like the other children. So one day this boy comes over and pushes my son to the ground. My son gets up and breaks the kid’s nose (This is after two months of not defending himself and telling the teacher to do something about it, mind you). My son was suspended, the other boy did not get in trouble at all. So apparently kids defending themselves doesn’t always turn out like in your case.

    But to the person who said fighting bullies doesn’t make them go away, read what happened to my son and know that he has not complained about the kids again, and says they haven’t even talked to him since then. So yes, fighting back and defending himself worked for him in that regard, while telling the teachers did nothing.

    About the article, Lenore, maybe calling fun an “orgasm” is a bad idea for most parents today. They would probably get frightened and not let their children have any fun at all.

  36. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    ““There has never been a time when fighting with a bully made the bully stop being a bully. All it does is (usually, not always) make the bully seek a different victim.”

    This is short-term thinking”
    Actually, it’s critical of of short-term thinking. Specifically, it is critical of “well, it’s not MY problem any more” type short-term thinking. In particular, critical of the selfishness that says “I don’t care if this bully bothers other people, so long as they leave me alone.”

    “If a child bully gets whipped enough times, they often learn that it not such a good idea to be a bully”
    That’s not how it works. That’s never been how it works, and, I’m going to go out on a limb here, that’s never going to be how it works.
    What stops a bully from being a bully is they finally grow up, and learn empathy. This cannot be beaten into somebody, it must come from within (though, of course, proper modeling is a key to mastery). There will always be children who are too small, too weak, or too outnumbered to fight back, which is why bullying is a problem that will never go away… all we can do is take steps to reduce the size and scope of the problem.

    “Not fighting back against a bully means everyone must be a defenseless victim”
    You’ve badly mistaken my position on this matter, if you got “don’t fight back”.

  37. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    “But to the person who said fighting bullies doesn’t make them go away,”
    It doesn’t always make them go away, but it usually does. It doesn’t, however, make them stop being bullies.

    Of course, sometimes standing up to a bully DOESN’T make them stop, it just makes them angry.

  38. Steve July 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    Nice article, Lenore. Every time you write about this, more people will get your message and hopefully make some changes in their thinking.

    The photo at the top of the page with your article on Politico brings to mind something I have always wondered: WHY do many woman choose to run on heavily traveled streets? I don’t get it. It’s the equivalent of saying – Here I am. Look at me. Follow me home. I’m looking for attention.

    Then there’s the line in the article that says:

    “And then of course there’s the rise in childhood obesity, diabetes and depression.”

    I wish you hadn’t used these arguments which to me are somewhat questionable, I know they get repeated everywhere.

    I don’t buy the obesity thing because a few years ago, during the Clinton presidency, the numbers describing obesity were lowered so more people – who just the day before were NOT obese are now obese – makes me wonder what the obesity numbers today would be if we went back to those old numbers. I can’t help but think the change to enlarge the obese population was politically motivated. More obese people equals more reason to fund and fight obesity with your tax dollars.

    Regarding depression: who knows who’s depressed and who’s not. Nobody asked me. And I’ll bet nobody asked you. The big thing is this. Over the past 20-30+ years, big pharma has been churning out pills they call antidepressants and marketing them everywhere, and asking “are you depressed?” on TV, the net, radio, magazines, you name it. The power of suggestion is a powerful force. (Google “The Nocebo effect). The pill companies and the medical establishment also pushes “getting treatment.” (which usually means taking meds)

    Everybody gets depressed sometime, and some stay more depressed than others. What most people don’t know is that antidepressants (and other forms of meds) can actually “Make You depressed,” or make you More depressed. Psychiatrist and patient rights crusader, Peter Breggin discovered:

    “From my FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) inquiries to the FDA, I had found that initial drafts of the Prozac label had listed “depression” and “abnormal thoughts” as two of the three most commonly reported adverse reactions to the drug. In these drafts, the company in effect admitted that its own principal investigators–the scientists conducting the clinical trials–were reporting that their patients frequently became more depressed on Prozac…”

    That part of the Prozac label was eliminated before the drug was put on the market.

    The word is getting out, but since drug companies are always in marketing mode, they do their best to counter this kind of information because they don’t want their products to stop selling.

    In Irving Kirsch’s book, “The Emperor’s New drugs,” besides discussing scientific studies that proved antidepressants are no better than placebo, Kirsch tells us on pg. 170 of studies that will be new and welcome information to most people, especially those wanting a natural alternative to antidepressants. If you want to take charge of yourself, you’ll like this alternative. Physical exercise works better than antidepressants. That’s right. Physical exercise works better than antidepressants. Apparently getting as little as 20 minutes of exercise, such as walking, 3 days a week is the answer.

    So, Lenore, perhaps the next time you write about “why” kids need regular exercise, you could site Irving Kirsch’s findings showing that regular exercise works to keep depression away. Just a suggestion.

    ——————————

    Lenore said:

    ” Last year, four Rhode Island legislators proposed a bill that would make it illegal for a school bus to let off any children under 7th grade—that’s age 11—unless there was an adult waiting there to walk them home from the bus stop. Naturally this was presented as just another new measure to keep kids safe.”

    Good illustration, as are all the ones you used.

    From a different perspective, I would add what I’ve mentioned before on this blog:

    David Farragut, the future admiral of the U.S. Navy, began his career as a midshipman when he was 9 years old. That’s right, nine.

    When he was 12 years old, ( in the eyes of the Rhode Island legislators, just old enough to get off a school bus by himself ) Farragut, during the War of 1812, was given the assignment to bring a ship captured by the Essex safely to port. And no, this was NOT a tiny plastic enemy boat in the kiddie pool in his family’s fenced backyard.

  39. Warren July 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    James is somewhat right. That bullies only grow out of it and are not beaten out of it.

    But that bully can be stopped from inflicting more pain and suffering on victims in the meantime. And that is where others need to step up. Two of us from the football team stepped up, and pretty much put a stop to violent bullying in our school.

    What do you think would happen if every time the bully tried something, three or four bystanders stood in his or her way? They will stop, at least at school. And that is all that matters.

  40. Ilana July 23, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    We told our kids (mostly boys) that they shouldn’t be the ones to start a physical fight. But, if someone starts with them, they should feel free to hit back.The school might have “zero tolerance” rules and they might get in trouble for hitting back. But we, their parents, would support them. Including if the school suspended them. It helped minimize the problem, of course. Telling adults occasionally helps, but often does not.

  41. JulieC July 23, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    Travis – I think it was the case that that particular teacher was chill – that and she did not actually witness what happened and it was maybe the third day of school. The school district’s policy is to suspend kids for fighting but the teachers and administrators do have some leeway.

    I spoke about this issue with the superintendent once as I had gotten to know him from a committee I was on. He said he would definitely advise his own children to fight back even if it meant that they got in trouble too.

  42. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    The main problem with teaching “fight back” as the primary defense against bullying is that not everybody can do it. Sometimes the bully has a substantial advantage in size and strength. This makes use of a weapon the only way to win a physical altercation, and I am reluctant to advocate for this amongst children. The only other alternative is a united front… the way adults solve the problem.

    So, you need anti-bullying curriculum, so that bullying behaviors are detected when they’re relatively minor, and you need effective community action to check bullying behaviors that are ongoing, and even when these are at their best functioning, all they’ll do is cut down the frequency and severity a little bit.

  43. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 3:06 pm #

    ” Last year, four Rhode Island legislators proposed a bill that would make it illegal for a school bus to let off any children under 7th grade—that’s age 11—unless there was an adult waiting there to walk them home from the bus stop. Naturally this was presented as just another new measure to keep kids safe.”

    Let’s imagine a world in which such a requirement could be passed into law.
    What happens when parents aren’t there to meet children at the bus stop? I assume the child is not allowed to get off the bus. So… what then? The child is still on the bus when the route is completed… we keep the kid at the bus yard? Do we return the child to the school, and drop them off there?

    I assume that if the parents miss the pickup enough times, eventually the bus company will demand that the child not be put on the bus in the first place… how long can the child stay at the school waiting to be picked up by the parent? Will the school be supervising the child the entire time?

    Enough of THOSE experiences, and you’re going to get to the point where the child either A) walks home from school, or B) walks to a nearby friend’s home from school, unsupervised. Of course, there must have been some reason why the child was taking the bus instead of walking in the first place… it’s probably not important that the streets are busy, or have no sidewalks, or there’s just a lot of ground to cover. The child is definitely safer walking alone all the way from school to home than they are walking home from the school bus stop alone, right?

  44. SKL July 23, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    James: “The main problem with teaching “fight back” as the primary defense against bullying is that not everybody can do it. Sometimes the bully has a substantial advantage in size and strength. This makes use of a weapon the only way to win a physical altercation, and I am reluctant to advocate for this amongst children.”

    Not really. Someone who bullies much smaller children is a coward. He is that much more likely to run away blubbering if a small kid reaches up and punches his nose.

    This happened when my brother was in KG. He was very small for his age, wearing size 3 toddler clothes. He was being bullied by a large, overweight sixth-grader. My mom was called to the office because “a fight” had occurred. The 6th grader came to the office crying that [Name Surname] had punched him in the nose. The office people weren’t familiar with my brother’s name, so they became outraged and went off to find that terrible bully. They had to fight back the chuckles when this tiny little boy came in, declaring “he was bullying me so I punched him in the nose.” They were wondering how he even reached his fist up that high. They counseled him not to hit people any more and sent him on his way. My brother always remained small for his age, but wasn’t bullied after that.

  45. Papilio July 23, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    @SKL: “And recently I’ve seen in the media where a transgender teen is complaining about the fact that boys don’t want to flirt with / date her. Like maybe we should force people to date people they aren’t attracted to, just to make sure nobody gets left out?”

    Janis Ian sings about getting no valentines in At seventeen. Is that a complaint as in, accusing others of unpleasant behavior, or is it simply a remark on why she doesn’t enjoy Februari 14th?

    @Steve: “The photo at the top of the page with your article on Politico brings to mind something I have always wondered: WHY do many woman choose to run on heavily traveled streets? I don’t get it. It’s the equivalent of saying – Here I am. Look at me. Follow me home. I’m looking for attention.”

    That has to do with social safety. Or do you think it makes more sense for them to run on empty streets, hoping they don’t run into some a-hole who can then easily harm them because there are no witnesses?

    “I don’t buy the obesity thing because a few years ago, during the Clinton presidency, the numbers describing obesity were lowered so more people – who just the day before were NOT obese are now obese – makes me wonder what the obesity numbers today would be if we went back to those old numbers. I can’t help but think the change to enlarge the obese population was politically motivated.”

    Could that definition have been altered to keep in line with international practices, so obesity numbers across countries can be compared?

    “More obese people equals more reason to fund and fight obesity with your tax dollars.”

    I can’t help but to think that the negative consequences of obesity do end up being paid for with tax dollars in one way or another.

  46. Buffy July 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    I still maintain that exclusion is NOT always a form of bullying – anyone with me? If my child is having a birthday party, I’m going to let her invite the kids she wants to invite. We’re not inviting the whole class; we are going to invite the 6 kids that she likes and considers friends. It is NOT bullying not to invite the whole class or not to invite the kids she doesn’t like.

    If she wants to invite a friend over on a Saturday afternoon, I will allow her to invite a friend who she likes spending time with. Sorry if that’s bullying, but why should she spend time with a kid she can’t stand. As long as she is kind to that person in everyday life, I don’t believe she has to be a good friend.

    If there’s a kid without friends, who seems to always be alone, I would encourage her to engage with that kid and see how it goes. But I am not going to require her to continually play with and invite kids over who do not warm up to or have anything in common with eachother.
    I’m annoyed that that’s considered bullying in our society today.

  47. Warren July 23, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Or you can do what my buddy did when his son was being picked on by a much larger boy. He went to the home of the kid, knocked on the door, and when the dad answered, he broke his nose. With the warning of,”Everytime your kid bothers my kid, I am coming over.”

    Worked pretty well.

  48. Warren July 23, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Buffy,

    I am with you.

    As an adult I do not have to socialize with people I don’t like, for example James. Sorry couldn’t help it.

    Now in business I have to deal with some real morons and pains, but I am getting paid very well to do so. Big difference.

  49. John July 23, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    Quote: “The main problem with teaching “fight back” as the primary defense against bullying is that not everybody can do it. Sometimes the bully has a substantial advantage in size and strength.”

    @James….of course James, anybody with common sense would know this and I don’t think anybody here is implying that a kid should not assess his limitations before deciding to fight back. Look, if a person slightly bigger than me with some fighting skill is picking on me, I would size myself up to him and ask myself, with a little bit of training, could I take him? If I feel that is the case, then I’m gonna work out hard and develop a few fighting skills so I’ll be confident and ready for him the next time he tries anything.

    BUT if Brock Lesnar, for example, is picking on me, all of the training and lifting weights and personal mixed martial arts instruction is NEVER going to prepare me to defend myself against Brock Lesnar. In that case, I would need to go to the Principal!

    Now I knew of one kid who was a real bully, He would even pick on kids older and bigger than he. In fact, when he was in 3rd grade, he beat the living tarnation out of a 6th grade safety patrol! He head locked the kid, muscled him to the ground, mounted the kid’s chest and wailed away. He bloodied the kid’s nose and even broke his glasses! Of course, the poor 6th grader was too embarrassed to report the fact that he got beat up by a 3rd grader. But when this 3rd grader got older and into the 7th grade, other kids caught up to him physically and when he tried bullying an 8th grader, he ended up with two black eyes! In fact, that happened on a couple of occasions. Well, needless to say, that was the last time he ever got into a fight.

    So in the far majority of cases, if a bully learns that a person fighting back can have success against him, he will think twice before picking on anyone again.

  50. John July 23, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    Quote: “Or you can do what my buddy did when his son was being picked on by a much larger boy. He went to the home of the kid, knocked on the door, and when the dad answered, he broke his nose. With the warning of,”Everytime your kid bothers my kid, I am coming over.”

    Worked pretty well”

    @Warren….well now I don’t know about that Warren…..LOL. The only thing it probably got him was a police record for assault and battery and maybe even some jail time followed by a hefty law suit!

  51. JulieC July 23, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Buffy – I agree with you!

    I knew a woman with twin daughters who would not allow them to have separate playdates. If you invited one girl for a playdate, you were told that the other one would also be attending. Weird.

    My son was friends with one of a set of twin boys. He had him over a few times, and invited him to his sleepover birthday party. I asked his mom if that was a problem given he had a twin. She said absolutely not – I encourage them to have their own friends. That was refreshing.

  52. SKL July 23, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    Buffy: “I still maintain that exclusion is NOT always a form of bullying – anyone with me?”

    Yes. Exclusion of the “don’t play with him if he won’t play fair” type is not called bullying, it’s called natural consequences. We should probably teach our kids how to articulate this in case they are ever accused of bullying when they decide to exclude a bad actor.

    Once or twice my kid complained that a certain girl or two wouldn’t play with her at recess. I told her that people don’t have to be your friend and you don’t have to be theirs. Surely there are other things to do on the playground besides play with the queen bee of the day.

    When I was a kid, I hated recess (and gym too) because of the social dynamics at play. I was the one who tended to hang off to the side and hope no well-meaning teacher forced me to join a game. Some of the boys were just too aggressive and impulsive and I don’t see why I should have had to play with them. At least don’t call that “my free time.” As for finding my own things to do, there weren’t as many options at that time and place – we didn’t have play structures, weren’t allowed to climb the wall or fence, weren’t allowed to leave the grounds, weren’t allowed to use rocks to write on the pavement, weren’t allowed to get our dresses dirty or bend over the wrong way (forget cartwheels and handstands) … the limited equipment available (mainly kickballs) were quickly snatched up by those aggressive boys I mentioned. And I didn’t have any interest in discussing how “cute” the latest androgynous rock idol was. So I guess I was a recess dropout. Oh well. 😛

  53. Anna July 23, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    “So, you need anti-bullying curriculum, so that bullying behaviors are detected when they’re relatively minor, and you need effective community action to check bullying behaviors that are ongoing, and even when these are at their best functioning, all they’ll do is cut down the frequency and severity a little bit.”

    But what if your anti-bullying curriculum inadvertently destroys the ability of the majority of kids to defend themselves? I don’t think that’s at all far-fetched, by the way; as others here have mentioned, they’ve already seen it happening, due to: (1) promoting a victim mentality, and (2) preventing all the ordinary, everyday conflicts from which kids normally learn how to deal with jerks and – hopefully, at least in the case of kids who don’t have some kind of deep-seated psychopathy – also learn that being a jerk isn’t a great idea.

  54. Donna July 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

    Yes, exclusion CAN be a form of bullying to the extent that one person gets an entire group to exclude a certain child for no real reason – well the original person may have a reason, but the rest of the group is just following along. However, exclusion is not bullying when a person, or even a whole group, doesn’t want to play with a particular kid because the kid is unpleasant.

  55. SKL July 23, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    We go to TKD and they had an anti-bullying class about a year ago. Here’s what they said to do if someone is threatening (which is what much of bullying is):

    1. Talk to the bully in a confident voice. Basically say “stop.”
    2. Tell an adult if #1 doesn’t work.
    3. Tackle the problem yourself if #2 doesn’t work. You will get in trouble. But you will get in trouble anyway regardless of whether you hit back or not, right?
    3a. Confront the bully by confidently asking if he is wanting to start a fight.
    3b. If the bully says yes, invite the bully to do what he feels the need to do.
    3c. Block his punch and kick his @$$.

    IMO #2 is mainly to document that you tried to do what the school wants – go to an adult – but it didn’t work.

  56. Warren July 23, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

    John.
    Actually no it did not. You see not all of us go running to the police or other agencies to settle things. Sometimes we just handle it ourselves.

    As for your Brock Lesner example, does not matter. I don’t care how big, or muscled or trained they are. You stand up to them. And I have never seen a knee that was indestructible.

  57. Warren July 23, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    SKL,

    Went to a Catholic elementary school. And our parish priest Father Jack always said, “If someone hits you, you are to turn the other cheek. Then when they try to hit you in that cheek, duck, brace and knock the sucker out.”

  58. Anna July 23, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    SKL: That’s an anti-bullying curriculum I could get behind. Well, except item 2, which I think communicates weakness; but I guess as long as the kids realize (2) is just CYO and not meant seriously, it shouldn’t do too much harm.

  59. Anna July 23, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    Oops – I meant CYA.

  60. Dhewco July 23, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    As someone who was excluded alot after the 3rd grade, I don’t think of it as bullying. I was also shoved, insulted, kicked and other things that are real bullying. It didn’t help that we were dirt poor or that my dad was a ptsd viet war vet who was vary nonconfrontational and didn’t want any conflict (Lord knows, I didn’t even feel as if he could teach me to defend myself).

    By the time I was in the sixth grade, I only had two friends that I could invite over. By eighth grade, that was down to one. By 12th, I was alone. I never have been able to make friends easily.

    Anyway, my point is that exclusion while not bullying exactly, is extremely painful for the excluded. Without well-meaning people, it can become habit to be excluded. It becomes expected and eventually it’s hard to even try to be included.

    When you see someone excluded, you should try to figure out why. Is it a racial thing? Or economic status? Personality quirks? Hygiene? Or is just because it’s someone new?

    There are lots of reasons this happens, but only a few are impassable.

    One more point. I’m not saying that we should force our kids to associate with someone they don’t like. There’s only so much time and too much of it spread over too many people can weaken the quality of the experiences. However, parents and teachers should explore the reasons someone is left out and either teach kids to overcome the reasons for exclusion or, if it’s something the kid excluded can work on, help them change.

    My Two Cents,

    David

  61. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    “But what if your anti-bullying curriculum inadvertently destroys the ability of the majority of kids to defend themselves?”
    Then you are very, very bad at designing curriculum?

  62. Anna July 23, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    Dhewco: That’s all quite true. I was never an “in kid” myself, though I also wasn’t the kid everybody else whispered about and pointedly ran away from. At my school that certainly happened; the girls were often quite explicit about it: “Hey, so-and-so’s coming; run away around the side of the building and don’t talk to her.” In the particular cases I remember the “reasons” were hygiene, race, disability, and/or obesity – usually at least two of the above combined, actually. E.g., the girl who got treated worst was adopted from India in my white-as-snow hometown, physically more mature so she sweated and thus smelled more, and hard of hearing (and to be honest she had some pretty annoying social maladjustments too).

    Probably some of the teachers did try to subtly intervene to improve matters; e.g., my fourth grade teacher taught us all about Guatemala before a refugee from there joined our class, and managed to make to make her background seem so exotic and intriguing that she immediately became the most sought-after girl in the class. However, anything heavy-handed would definitely have backfired. Myself, I actually made a point of being nice or at least not mean to the kids who were singled out for exclusion, because that was what my parents had taught me. (Although since I was a bit of a “loser” myself, it’s not like I could improve anybody’s social status.) I really doubt a school curriculum can teach kids to go against the crowd like that, though. What specifically were you thinking the adults could do? Work with the excluded kid – e.g., on their hygiene or whatever it is, or influence the other kids?

  63. Anna July 23, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

    “Then you are very, very bad at designing curriculum?” Or isn’t it just possible that some things aren’t amenable to being taught in a curriculum, but have to be learned by doing? I think Lenore’s example of the kid who can’t imagine how kids could organize a pick-up game for themselves is a perfect illustration.

  64. Dhewco July 23, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    To be honest, I’m really not sure. If it’s a hygiene problem, it could hurt the kid to bring it up. You’d also be involving yourself in their home life, so it might not work out well for teachers. When I was in 3rd grade, a classmate had nasty, blackened teeth. A nice girl, to be sure, but her home life was horrible and her foster caregivers were really in it just for the check. (At least, that was the rumor..take it for what it’s worth.) As a kid, I remember feeling pity for her, but also I was so wrapped up in my loss of popularity that I didn’t want to go too far in her favor.

    In K-2, I had many friends. From 3rd afterwards, I somehow found myself being excluded. My friends of the previous years suddenly had no time for me. I was lost in confusion. I didn’t really understand cliques. I hadn’t changed anything that I could think of. I was on the lousiest little league team the year before 3rd started, but that shouldn’t have made a difference. The problem is that once the ostracization starts, it becomes habit. The kids think, “Hey, we didn’t allow such and such to play with us…why start now? We had plenty of fun without him.” In the mind of the excluded kid (at least in my case), it starts to affect your personality. The confusion turns to anger and resentment, which also interferes with making friends…and keeping them. You begin to hold on to the friends that you currently have too hard. When they inevitably begin to get tired of it, the rejection is that much harder. You lose the will and the ability to make new ones.

    I don’t really have a solution except to teach kids that actions, and inactions, have consequences. I don’t know how to intervene in a way that would help. I wish I did. Until we do, there will always be those who have no way to fit in. I guess it’s life.

    As an adult, I’ve made just a few real friends. Most, I’ve met through church. We need teachers who can recognize the signs and help students build skills to make friends, especially if they’re parents are unable to do so. Whatever the reasons for exclusion, they need to be taught that there are others out there willing to be their friends. They just have to have the skills to find them.

    David

  65. Dhewco July 23, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

    PS. My parents don’t make friends easy either. Whatever it is about little kids that made it easy for me to find friends, I somehow lost it.

  66. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    “Or isn’t it just possible that some things aren’t amenable to being taught in a curriculum, but have to be learned by doing? ”

    Are you of the opinion that “learn by doing” is mutually exclusive to “being taught in a curriculum”?

  67. SKL July 23, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    I don’t make friends easily either.

    My mom always told me that no matter how popular you are (or aren’t), you can count the number of *true* friends on the fingers of one hand.

    We need kids to be OK with the fact that we are all different. Some of can be happy, maybe happier, without a bunch of friends. We all have different talents that are valuable. We all have personalities that are right for someone, somewhere. Holding ourselves up to any social benchmark is unhelpful.

    If kids could be content with whatever number of friends they naturally attract, whatever talents they naturally possess, whatever grades they are able to earn etc., we wouldn’t be having a lot of these conversations.

  68. Steve July 23, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    I suspect if a child being bullied said something like: “John, who’s been bullying YOU? Ya know, they say bullies are often being bullied by someone else. So who’s bullying you? Your Dad? Your brother? Come on, John, who is it?” Then turn and walk away.

  69. Anna July 23, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

    “In the mind of the excluded kid (at least in my case), it starts to affect your personality. The confusion turns to anger and resentment, which also interferes with making friends…and keeping them. You begin to hold on to the friends that you currently have too hard. When they inevitably begin to get tired of it, the rejection is that much harder.”

    I hear you! This is exactly what happened with the girl I described. I made a point of not going along with the organized meanness against her and did my best to be friendly, but I did get a bit freaked out with how hard she latched on to me after that and I didn’t exactly want her to be my one and only friend. I’ve heard through the grapevine that in adulthood, this desperation translated into being and staying with a really abusive man for many years. But like you, I don’t know what you do about the problem. Honestly, if I were her parents, I would probably have transferred her to a private school, which would have had more diversity so she wouldn’t have been such a target for exclusion (that sounds odd, but take my word for it, that would have been true in my town).

    I think maybe all adults can do for children who are ostracized for being different is to try to tell and show them that in adulthood there will be room for all kinds of different people and somebody will appreciate them for their difference. But the fact is, in childhood itself, that just ain’t going to happen, whatever curriculum we put in place.

  70. SKL July 23, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    When I was a kid, my next door neighbor was way bigger and a few years older than I. She was pushy and would use intimidation to get me and others to do things her way. I mean she would hold up her fist and threaten to use it if we didn’t comply. One day when I was 11 or 12, she started bugging me and I decided I wasn’t having it. I had my toddler brother in my arms and she started saying rude things to him about me. I said something about her being so immature that she would direct her attack at a toddler. She lost it and slapped me hard across the face. I held my ground and said something dismissive about her. She burst into tears and went away.

    After gathering herself, she came back, still in tears, and apologized to me. After that she always treated me like a true friend.

    Of course none of that would have happened had an adult been supervising / interfering.

    I was proud that that was a moment of growth for both of us, because I had the guts to resist intimidation. I’ve had other moments like that since then, as an adult (where it’s not a fist but some other form of intimidation), and they pretty much all end the same way.

  71. SKL July 23, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    Once my kid sister, another person who was small for her age, was in the high school hallway. Someone passed by and shoved her head into a metal locker. Of course there was a rule that nobody was allowed to retaliate bla bla bla. But my sister didn’t waste time thinking about it; she instinctively grabbed the offender by her hair and smashed her head into the locker repeatedly, screaming the whole time.

    Amazingly, nobody saw or heard any of this. 😉 And nobody touched my sister again.

    My mom told a similar story from her childhood. I believe it involved fingernails.

    I wished that I was made that way. Instead I am a person who is very hard to rouse to physical reaction. Therefore I was bullied quite a bit as a kid.

  72. Crystal July 23, 2015 at 6:37 pm #

    Love it, but why oh why do we have to use the word “orgasm” in relation to children’s play? Can ANYTHING not be sexualized today?!

  73. Anna July 23, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    “Why oh why do we have to use the word “orgasm” in relation to children’s play? Can ANYTHING not be sexualized today?!” Agreed, but I think maybe the reason is that she’s trying to convey the intensity of childen’s play, and little in adult life is that intense. I remember the extended and elaborate make-believe we did as kids, and the let-down when it ended, which I can only compare to a really bad hangover. We adults have such tame experiences compared to kids, it’s hard to come up with appropriate language that isn’t coarsening.

  74. Dhewco July 23, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

    They use “orgasm” not to sexualize it (although it kinda does) but to emphasize the parallel with the rush of endorphins that comes with that event. It’s such a happy, enjoyable sensation that whoever used that term feels that any other term falls short.

  75. Steve July 23, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    SKL said: “… After gathering herself, she came back, still in tears, and apologized to me. After that she always treated me like a true friend…”

    Great story. Thanks for sharing it.

    It reminded me of something my gutsy sister did years ago. There was this construction site with a man on a huge piece of machinery. He yelled something sexually suggestive to her from his seat high above the sidewalk. She went over to the equipment and he turned off the motor so he could hear what she wanted to say. She said, “Do you have a daughter?” He said he did. She said, “How would you feel about a man yelling at her what you just yelled at me?” He hung his head and apologized.

  76. SKL July 23, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    I used to have a work colleague who thought everything fun or tasty was “orgasmic.” I blushed a lot working with her. 😛

  77. Anna July 23, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

    Steve and SKL: I love both those stories. I think they illustrate nicely the fact that most human beings we deal with are neither saints nor incorrigible psychopaths (as James’ remarks above seem to assume about all bullies) but somewhere in the middle and very susceptible to influence. A person with self-confidence in a just cause can be very powerful. Lots of kids experiment with bullying; that doesn’t mean they’ll all grow up to be monsters. In many cases, standing up to them is exactly what they need.

  78. Anna July 23, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    ‘Are you of the opinion that “learn by doing” is mutually exclusive to “being taught in a curriculum”?’ No, I don’t think so necessarily (although I think there might be many cases where that is true), but some things are ineradicably one thing or the other. And if the skill in question essentially involves social interaction, being taught to follow a set of rules or invoke an authority figure to intervene is being taught something false and counter-productive to the skill in question. I should know: I was a socially inept kid who listened to what I was taught and tattled regularly. Believe me, it was a bad lesson.

  79. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    “the fact that most human beings we deal with are neither saints nor incorrigible psychopaths (as James’ remarks above seem to assume about all bullies)”

    (Most) Bullies are people who haven’t yet learned empathy, who choose to impose their will on others by force or threat of force (or, sometimes, other unpleasant stimuli).

    (All) Psychopaths are people who are incapable of feeling empathy. not interchangeable.

    Most psychopaths are not bullies.

  80. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    “I was a socially inept kid who listened to what I was taught and tattled regularly. Believe me, it was a bad lesson.”

    I was the one in hundreds of fistfights. Also a bad lesson. Bully A gets sent packing, and finds new victims elsewhere, but bully B steps up to the plate not long after. Somewhere along the line, you run into the bully who doesn’t go away… he waits until he can catch you by surprise, he makes his next visit with several friends, he brings a weapon, or some combination of all of these. Or he moves on to vandalism of your property.

    Yes, I had the bully who wound up in prison, for crimes committed while a minor. Most bullies just need to grow up; they aren’t psychopaths. But… every rule about human beings has an exception.

  81. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    Slightly off-topic, but relevant in many ways:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/07/trimet_allowed_5-year-old_to_b.html#incart_river

  82. Andre L. July 23, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    I’ll make a more general and then a specific (thread-related) comments.

    There is something about this and a couple similar “free range” communities that make me uncomfortable: the automatic nostalgic validation of whatever social norms, especially among kids/teens, were prevalent 50 years ago as necessarily positive and worth reviving just because half a century ago they had more freedom to walk alone, play alone etc.

    This is they typical wrong inference of causation fallacy: just because two phenomena were happening together doesn’t mean one causes the other or vice-versa.

    This being said, I’m even more disturbed by how bullying and other forms of aggression are also often dismissed on this site as if they were all unreasonable assessments of risk or impacts.

    The suggestion that people should just “fight back” instances of bullying, in the sense of physical violence, couldn’t be more wrong. There is also a major misunderstanding of how bullying really operates.

    First of all, not all severely bullied kids can fight back, and being weaker doesn’t validate making someone a target. If that happens among adults, police might be involved, we are long past the days of accepting physical assault or duels as means of solving dispute, thankfully. Girls, for instance, are often physically weaker than boys of similar ages on high school, does this mean boys can to bullying girls around and then we all blame them for not fighting back? Remember that this was once a despicable mainstream reasoning: if a girl can’t take the catcalling, the sexual slurs or the vindictive name calling, and can’t fight back mostly boys doing it, then they shouldn’t ‘provoke’ the boys with ‘indecent’ clothing – is this the sort of social behavior we want to “bring back” as hallmark of free range child life?

    Regarding the exclusion specific discussion, I also think some people are missing the point how pre-teen and teen life operates now with all social media and full time connectivity. Not inviting everyone for a social function isn’t bullying. Refusing to play with someone specifically isn’t bullying. Orchestrating a general social ostracism of some student because of the way (s)he dresses, speaks, or because of a disability or anything else is a cruel measure.

  83. Anna July 23, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

    “Girls, for instance, are often physically weaker than boys of similar ages on high school, does this mean boys can to bullying girls around and then we all blame them for not fighting back?”

    Not at all, but at least when I was in school (which was 20 not 50 years ago, by the way) boys didn’t generally bully girls, nor did girls generally bully boys. Which meant it was most useful to teach girls how to handle mean girls and boys how to handle mean boys. This may no longer be the case, but I’d want to see clear data to that effect before I would change what I taught my sons or daughters about how to deal.

  84. James Pollock July 23, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

    “when I was in school (which was 20 not 50 years ago, by the way) boys didn’t generally bully girls, nor did girls generally bully boys.”

    When my daughter was in preschool, they sure did. And there are some stereotypes (wifebeater, henpecked husband) that suggest that cross-gender bullying were recognizable (even leaving out the question of whether sexual violence should be counted under the “bullying” umbrella.)

  85. Warren July 23, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

    If you were in hundreds of fist fights, which I doubt, if you were then you were not doing it right. It only takes a few to establish dominance, and you very rarely have to fight again.

    And no Bully A does not move on to new victims, because you make sure he knows you have his number. And if you were effective enough with A, the bully B doesn’t even want a piece of you.

    As for the girls being weaker……………LOL don’t tell that to my girls, they kick butt with the best of them. And trust me, when girls go at it, they are some of the meanest, nastiest scrappers out there.

    Size, age and weight don’t mean squat. Integrity, courage and conviction win out more often than muscle.

  86. Kimberly July 23, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    Just from my own experience and things that have gone one with my kids at their schools:

    I’ve given my kids 2 rules to live by on the playground:

    1) They don’t have to be friends with anyone but they have to RESPECT everyone.

    2) They can’t start a fight, but they are permitted to finish one and they won’t get in trouble with me.

    @ Buffy:

    I completely agree with you that exclusion, in and of itself, is not bullying. Can it become bullying? Of course, but that’s a far cry from not playing with a kid who is unpleasant. I personally believe that being excluded because of “anti-social” behavior teaches people in the long run how to be inter-personable with other adults. A kid who doesn’t learn to modify their poor behavior will grow up to be an adult that no one wants to be around.

    Also, I too have asked my kids to go out of their way if they see someone being excluded for an unknown reason. Those kids are usually not too hard to pick out. They don’t even need to play with them — but acknowledging them, maybe even offering to eat with them, can go a long way. Both of my kids have been really good at that.

  87. Donald July 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    1975 – If you get lost, ask a stranger for help.
    2015 – BE SUSPICIOUS OF EVERYONE
    1975 – At 12, you’re old enough to be a babysitter
    2015 – You’re only 12. You need a babysitter
    1975 – Let’s play dodge ball
    2015 – No diving
    1975 – YOU CAN DO IT
    2015 – YOU CAN’T DO IT
    1975 – I’m not your taxi. Ride your bike to school
    2015 – The school is 5 blocks away. Of course you can’t walk or ride your bike.
    1975 – You got hurt on the monkey bars? Next time you’ll be more careful
    2015 – You got hurt on the monkey bars? I’ll have those dangerous things removed.
    1975 – Wait in the car while I duck in for 5 minutes
    2015 – There’s a child in a parked car! CALL THE POLICE!
    1975 – Go outside and play
    2015 – Where are you going? Who are you meeting? No you can’t play unsupervised

    “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t– your right.” -Henry Ford

    I made this poster. Download it onto a USB. Take it to Wallmart and print it as a 4×6 photograph

    http://content.screencast.com/users/dchristensen777/folders/Default/media/93e9dd4b-b090-4f96-91b3-a6f3653f1364/you%20can%20do%20it.jpg

  88. Kimberly July 23, 2015 at 11:36 pm #

    Getting schools and administrators involved with bullying only works if the school actually wants to step in and do something, I grew up in Silicon Valley before it was Silicon Valley. The Apple IIe had just hit the market when I was a kid. My sister and I still live in the area but our kids go to 2 very different school districts.

    My kids go to a great district (in my opinion). It’s not the best academically (at least by Bay Area standards), but the schools are all CA distinguished schools and they are also ethnically and racially mixed — Asian, Indian, Black, White, Mexican…you name it.

    My niece (and nephew) go to the same district I grew up in, but it has changed so much from when I went there. Now, the students are primarily Chinese and Indian and the schools there are huge on the academics — so much so that an under achieving kid will be sent to an under achieving school before they are put in a class that is more at their academic level. Kids at the high schools are regularly getting 5.0 GPAs (which I still think is hinky, but oh well). They are also wealthier because most of their parents are working at Apple and Google, Hewlett Packard, and any number of start-ups and the other 50 million tech companies that are ruining this area (my opinion).

    My niece, who is for all intents and purposes half black, was fairly popular her first few years of elementary school. Then her dad picked her up one day and it was then that the other kids realized that she was half black. Suddenly they were making derogatory comments about her hair being too curly (its not kinky, just wavy) and her skin being too dark. This went on for a while. A long while. My sister complained and had meetings and was always told that the school was working on it and it would take time.

    Then I picked my niece up from school one day (a little nervous because I tend to gravitate towards the punk culture so I have tattoos and piercings and my hair is always different colors so I wasn’t sure how that would go over in that environment), and when I asked her how school was she told me honestly that she’d been picked on during recess and lunch because of her hair and skin. I turned the car around and drove right back to the school.

    I’m not a huge “play the race card” person, but I was so pissed that I told the principal that if they didn’t actually make a concerted effort to stop this bullying that I was going to contact the ACLU and the NAACP. To be honest, I was bluffing, but the schools in this district are so competitive and image conscious I knew they would not want the scandal that would happen if the NAACP marched onto the school grounds demanding to know why a black student was being targeted. I also told them that since I worked nights, I would have more than enough time to park my ass at the tables on the playground to watch what was going on if they wanted or needed evidence. I also added that they were required to move students to a new school if requested by the parents and that if nothing was done, then they would lose their straight-A student to an entirely different district (mine!)

    The school finally actually stepped in and started handing down punishments. And while the bullying didn’t stop, it did decrease and my niece started to have more “okay” days than bad days. But, as I said at the beginning, these anti-bullying programs at schools (when there is actual bullying and not just kids being kids) only work if the schools are less worried about their image and more worried about actually educating and creating a rich environment for the kids.

  89. Abigail July 23, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

    Segregating children into age groups is a more recent advent in the grand scheme of human existence. I believe that the industrialization of our school systems has created an environment in which bullying is more likely. That, combined with a reduction in a naturally occurring competitive opportunities. Children need, like the article suggests, to be exposed to others of different ages. The most successful anti-bullying measures involve empathy training regardless of age – and the best way to train is by caring for those who are younger and being cared for by those who are older.

    Exclusion can be an excellent way to socialize on appropriate behavoirs. If you are a sore loser, you might not be invited to play games. The difference being that the game play is the focus – that the exclusive behavior is not the game (thanks to the commentor about the girls wearing purple business, awesome example).

    As much as I want to preach a “no hitting” culture…I can’t. When my preschooler is being typical and gets hit by my toddler (yeah, typical) – there’s the look “Hitting is never ok, but what did you expect?”

    When we supervise our children to death – they miss out on the actions have consequences learning experience. These lessons are best learned young, when consequences are minimal. As an adult – some overbearing dad might show up and punch you for something your kid did 😉

  90. Donald July 24, 2015 at 12:48 am #

    Bullying has taken a dramatic increase because:
    School administrators must adopt Gustopo practices or lose their jobs. Men are not allowed to sit next to children on airplanes. Adults can’t visit Lego land unless they bring a child. Toddlers are suspended if they eat a pop tart in the shape of a gun. Parents have to face CPS, police, or jail if they allow their child to play unsupervised. People can be tortured for life if they pee outside by becoming a member on the sex offender list.

    Are kids too safe to succeed? Perhaps. However the laws are written that you must raise them this way.

  91. SOA July 24, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    If sports are important for life our family is in trouble. I never played sports-organized or casual. I hated them. DH same story. Same story for my kids. Let’s not focus it on sports. There are a thousand and one games kids can play that are not sports.

    I never organized a baseball game as a kid but I got little girls together and choreographed dances or played pretend games or rode bikes or played hide and seek etc. But if was sports related, I was running the other direction as fast as I could.

  92. SOA July 24, 2015 at 7:50 am #

    Buffy: Bullying can be exclusion depending on how it is done. Would you allow her to invite every girl in her class but the special needs girl? Or every girl but one? If you don’t see how that is cruel and exclusionary than you must have been a mean girl in school too.

  93. SOA July 24, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    Anna: I was in school 20 years ago and yes, boys bullied me. I had boys do the lovely bark at me as I walked down the hall to indicate I was “Dog ugly”. Yes, I believe they were put up to it mostly by their girlfriends who did not like me. I heard other boys bullying other girls by calling them sluts or other names.

    So yes, boys bullied girls. I also had the old a boy comes up and pretends to want to talk to me or ask me out and then is like “PSYCH!” and runs off.

    So yes, boys can bully girls without ever touching them.

  94. LadyTL July 24, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Exclusion, even exclusion people don’t like is not always a bad thing. Do you really think children are so stupid they can’t tell when they aren’t wanted to be there? My mother made me go to plenty of parties where I was just there because they were required to invite everyone. I knew I wasn’t wanted there from the first moment and none of those parties were fun or enjoyable in any way.

    Also it keeps people from excluding people they want to. Why should anyone be penalized for not wanting to be around someone they have nothing in common with? I had to deal with that both living on site at job corp despite being 18 (repeatedly punished for not being friend with all the girls despite having absolutely nothing in common with them and having friends with those in my course) and at a job where I was penalized again for not being friends with everyone despite again having nothing in common with them except where we worked.

    Not being friends or not getting along with everyone around you is normal. Adults certainly don’t invite everyone around them that they casually know to every single event why should children be required to? Being left out of things is not the end of the world and thanks to the internet, you can in fact find people with similar interests somewhere else.

  95. Buffy July 24, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    SOA, that is not even remotely what I said. If you are going to comment on a specific person’s post, please read and comprehend first, especially before name calling.

    To recap:

    “We’re not inviting the whole class; we are going to invite the 6 kids that she likes and considers friends.”

    “If there’s a kid without friends, who seems to always be alone, I would encourage her to engage with that kid and see how it goes.”

    If that’s cruel and exclusionary in your world, then I’m glad I don’t live in it.

  96. BL July 24, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    @SOA
    “Let’s not focus it on sports. There are a thousand and one games kids can play that are not sports”

    Of course it doesn’t have to be sports. How about music, for example?

    You know, I was thinking of some of the very young (teenage) groups I’ve seen at the Celtic festivals I attend, and you know what? They were all homeschooled, expect for one group whose members went to a special school for musically talented kids.

    Something about regular schools seems to warp the ability to interact without supervision. And it must be getting worse, since a generation or more ago even public-schooled kids could manage SOME things by themselves.

  97. SOA July 24, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    I think with exclusion it is how you do it whether it is bullying or not. Enjoying each other’s company is fine. Talking badly about the kids not included in this little group is bullying. Telling someone “Sorry this seat is saved for Kelly.” is not bullying. “Saying ew get out of here dork” is bullying.

    There is a right way and a wrong way to handle that.

  98. Anna July 24, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    “I was in school 20 years ago and yes, boys bullied me. I had boys do the lovely bark at me as I walked down the hall to indicate I was “Dog ugly”. Yes, I believe they were put up to it mostly by their girlfriends who did not like me. I heard other boys bullying other girls by calling them sluts or other names.”

    Oh – boys regularly mocked me in high school for being physically undeveloped (try looking like you’re 9 years old in 11th grade if you want to know how mean high school guys can be) but I guess I didn’t really class that as being bullied. It was easy enough for me to ignore and avoid them. But I thought the earlier point I was responding to was about bullying a younger age, and focused on the need to protect girls from boys because they’re bigger and stronger. That’s what I did not see much of – boys using their physical strength and size against girls. If it’s just mockery and words, I feel like girls can easily beat them at that game – home turf advantage, as it were.

  99. Donna July 24, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    “Would you allow her to invite every girl in her class but the special needs girl? Or every girl but one?”

    I don’t know. Is my child friends with every girl in her class except one? Is that one girl a bossy know-it-all who will ruin my kid’s birthday party? Does she have a valid reason for not inviting that one girl other than she is special needs or is uncool?

    My daughter has a classmate/frenemy who is not to be invited to my daughter’s parties per my orders. My daughter has invited her the last couple years – not because she likes her, but because she is part of the group – and she is a beastly child. She is high-maintenance, bossy, self-absorbed, and just generally unpleasant to be around. A friend came over to help with the last party and offered to kill her and hide the body within 5 minutes of being there. Long before the end of the party, I was contemplating taking her up on the offer. I am not willing to deal with the drama that this one child brings anymore so she is unwelcome. She will be the only one of their group not invited this year. If you want to call me a mean girl, sobeit. I’m done letting this one little brat rule the playground.

    Sometimes parents need to question their own children’s behavior before they start shouting about bullying. Whenever my daughter talks about social issues, my first question is always “what were you doing when this happened?” Sometimes it really is just a mean kid, but most often my daughter’s own actions brought on whatever came next.

  100. lollipoplover July 24, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    “The most successful anti-bullying measures involve empathy training regardless of age – and the best way to train is by caring for those who are younger and being cared for by those who are older.”

    This.

    I’m a bit sick of all this bully talk. Yes, we need to call out the specific bad behaviors and address them but focus should be on empathy for others. “Mean Girl” behaviors will never totally go away and are often passed down from parents, like manipulation and control. All of my kids have had encounters with these type of behaviors and I never considered them “bullied”. They can learn from these experiences and not be treated like fragile tea cups that will shatter if they are called a name or not included. They can also stick up for their friends and have empathy for others who need it most.

    You may not be the most popular, prettiest, fastest, smartest, or skinniest. But you can always be the nicest.

  101. Buffy July 24, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    “Talking badly about the kids not included in this little group is bullying. ”

    Again Dolly, not remotely what I said.

  102. lollipoplover July 24, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    @Donna- I think I know that kid! My husband calls her the “grenade” because she implodes every social event.

    My daughter had an informal birthday celebration at the annual fete (carnival rides, performances, horse show, etc) and invited 8 friends. We got the girls unlimited ride wristbands and partnered them up so they had a buddy on each ride. About 30 minutes into the rides, the grenade girl goes on the Gravitron (which was earlier shut down to clean up puke) with her buddy. I waited outside the ride for her but only the buddy came to me. She said the grenade got back on the ride, by herself, and rode it again. She was entirely green when she came off and demanded to go home because she felt sick.

    I took her to lie down on some chairs in the shade while a musical performance was setting up and gave her water. I also asked her why she went on the ride again without a buddy or permission. She insisted on being taken home NOW. I told her that leaving would mean everyone would have to go (this was an hour away) and it would ruin my daughter’s birthday. She said that’s fine and asked if she could have cotton candy. Yeah, no. She moaned and groaned to leave so my husband finally left me with all the kids and drove her home (she again asked for cotton candy on the way out) and he said NEVER AGAIN. We had to call all the other parents because we came home 2 hours after we were supposed to because of this kid. There are some kids that seek out drama and attention.

    Avoid the grenade children. It’s not bullying. It’s self-preservation.

  103. Donna July 24, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Lollipoplover – My kid wants to come to your kids’ birthday parties!

    Our grenade just thinks she knows better than everyone else about everything and has no problem telling you how it should be done and all the ways that you are doing it wrong. And because she is such an authority on everything, she has to control every activity and be at the center of everything. She comes by it naturally as her father is the same way – always the first to volunteer for everything and then takes total control. It makes him seem like a great guy on the surface – so willing to help – but it is really all about him needing to be the big man on campus.

  104. Warren July 24, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    People like SOA are the problem when it comes to the bullying label.

    Saying “Ew get out of here Dork.”, is not bullying. Yes it is rude, but it is not bullying.

    Talking badly about people is not bullying, it is gossip.

    So sick and freaking tired of hearing people say this is bullying and that is bullying, and every damn thing you don’t like is bullying.

    I would like to know where it is written that people have the god given right to only deal with people that are going to be nice to them. It is life, not everyone is nice, and you cannot change that.

    What you can do is teach your kids to be tougher, have thicker skins and not cry at the drop of the hat.

  105. Papilio July 24, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    When I was in 10th grade, some girl my age started bugging me in the hallways. I didn’t know her, so no idea what that was about. Probably entertainment. Anyway, she and her two friends would push me, or pull me back when going up the stairs, or lift my rucksack up only to drop it again. The thing is, a lot was going on that year and I was so occupied emotionally by those other things that I just couldn’t be bothered. One time I saw them coming and, fed-up, yelled loudly: “Heeeeey, there’s my fan club!” They left me alone after that.

    But: that was the ONLY time I ever managed to get rid of someone annoying me. I am glad for you all that you’re gutsy/thinking fast enough to punch back, come with a good zinger or otherwise say/do the exact right thing to make the bully stop. I practically never have that. I am a coward – there, I said it – and I’m always taken aback when someone is being unreasonable to me (out of stupidity, cruelty or both). It’s always afterward (after that ‘??!!!’ stage) that I get angry with them for what happened, and think of all the things I should have said or done.
    Surely I can’t be the only one…?

  106. SOA July 24, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    No, its not okay to be rude. If you tell a coworker “eww dork you can’t sit with us” you would find a harassment complaint filed against you. Try telling your boss that and see how that works out for you.

    If adults can’t do it, why can kids? School is not like the real world because besides maybe your job, you get to choose who you are around. School you are forced to be around these other kids every day all day long and its such an eclectic group of all types. Even at work you are probably going to be around other science nerds if you are a science nerd. Not at school. The science nerds have to share the same space as the jocks. And it causes issues.

    But it does not have to. Being rude is never okay. Since when is it okay to advocate being rude over being kind?

    So yes, saying “Eww dork you can’t sit with us” is bullying and unacceptable. What if the kid you just said that to had their parent die last week? What if they were thinking about suicide? Yeah that might have just pushed that person to killing themselves. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. So be kind to others. If you can’t be kind to others, then maybe you need to go sit in silent lunch detention to learn your lesson? Natural consequences. Is it really that hard to say “Sorry we have someone else sitting here.” with a smile versus the mean attitudey insulting way to say it?

  107. Donna July 24, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

    “No, its not okay to be rude. If you tell a coworker “eww dork you can’t sit with us” you would find a harassment complaint filed against you. Try telling your boss that and see how that works out for you.”

    It is absolutely not harassment to call a coworker a dork and refuse to sit with him. Your boss may not look kindly on your behavior – especially if it is directed at him – but you are not going to end up being sued for harassment.

    “Since when is it okay to advocate being rude over being kind?”

    I don’t think anyone advocated that. Warren said that saying “eww dork you can’t sit with us” is not bullying. And it isn’t. Being rude is not synonymous with bullying. It is being rude. They are two separate words with two separate meanings.

    Your comment is also pretty ridiculous. I am not advocating calling people dorks or being rude to anyone, but dorks are not stupid and blind. The dork knows very well that you are not holding a seat for someone – can see that plain as day when nobody sits in the seat after he leaves. He knows that you simply didn’t want him to sit with you. It doesn’t matter how flowery your words are in rejecting him, he is fully cognizant that it is a rejection. He probably also knows that he is considered a dork and that people don’t like him. Those realities may push someone over the edge, but that edge probably doesn’t ride on being rejected nicely or rudely.

  108. SOA July 24, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    The difference is at least you are treating them with enough respect to answer kindly versus treating them like dirt on your shoe. In one case, at least it shows you are trying to spare their feelings. The other shows you could care less if they go slit their wrists or not. So yeah, to me there is a difference.

  109. Donna July 24, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    Yes, being obviously lied to – or even worse, not understanding that you are being lied to so you come back over and over before you get it – is so much better. Many years ago I had a black friend say he woukd rather live in the south than the north because down here your enemies don’t hide their hatred. That is far less true today, but I agree with the sentiment. I’d rather have someone be rude to my face than lie and laugh behind my back.

  110. Warren July 24, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

    SOA,

    I would have no problem telling my boss that. Mind you the people around me would think I was going nuts for talking to myself.

    And yes it is overly sensitive people like you that are a bigger problem than bullying. Because you think everything you don’t like is a form of bullying. No they are not. People just do not like you. That is not bullying.

    Being rude is not bullying. Never has been and never will be. If it was bullying, then you would be very guilty of bullying.

  111. SOA July 25, 2015 at 7:45 am #

    As someone who was bullied, I was okay with the people that at least answered kindly. I could take that. The blatant insults right to my face. That hurt a lot worse because it showed they did not care enough to even pretend to be nice.

    and I was not even talking about them leaving the chair empty. I was talking about them saving it for someone else they liked better. You are still getting rejected, but at least they are being polite about it.

    Being rude is unacceptable. I have no problem punishing kids in school for intentional rudeness even if it is not bullying.
    They would get in trouble for being rude to teachers so why not other students?

  112. lollipoplover July 25, 2015 at 8:21 am #

    “So yes, saying “Eww dork you can’t sit with us” is bullying and unacceptable.”

    This is utter nonsense. That’s like saying because I had one beer with dinner last night (two actually…those summer shandys go down too easy) that I am an alcoholic. I am not an alcoholic.
    One beer does not make a pattern of abuse just like one comment does not make someone a bully.

    Rudeness is not bullying. It’s just being rude. And sometimes we perceive others to be rude when miscommunication happens. Some folks have a direct matter of speaking. Some kids ARE having bad days and say mean things unintentionally. That doesn’t make them bullies, just human.

    Dolly, if my child was to say to yours “Eww (allergy kid), you can’t sit with us” because they are feasting on a jar of peanut butter smeared all over their table and they don’t want to expose your child to an known allergen, are they bullying?

  113. Beth July 25, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Dolly, YOU are going to talk to us about kindness? Possibly you should revisit some of your past posts…….

  114. Warren July 25, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    SOA, you really don’t have much real workplace experience, do you? It takes a lot more than one rude comment to initiate a harassment complaint.

    I’ll take a stab at it and say you run into your fair share of rude people. And it has nothing to do with your personality.

  115. Donna July 25, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Huh? Saving a chair for your friend is now bullying? Am I bullying the people in line behind me if I wait for my friends rather than let them sit with me? How about if we don’t allow a random couple to sit with us at our table for 4?

    Wanting to sit with your friends at lunch is not bullying!! Saving a seat for said friend who is running behind is not bullying!!!

    Nowhere else in life are you required to get along with, or even be nice to, everyone else to avoid being considered a bully. They now even insist on calling everyone in the school “friends.” I don’t call all my business associates friends. I call my friends “friends” and my business associates “business associates.” Some people do fit into both categories but many do not.

  116. James Pollock July 25, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    No, saving a chair for somebody is not bullying. But the WAY you go about doing it might be.

  117. SOA July 25, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Saying “ewww” to anyone is rude. How about a simple “Sorry” instead? I can’t believe you would defend that choice of words.

  118. SOA July 25, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    Donna: reading comprehension. I never said saving seats is bullying. Telling someone in a mean rude way that you are saving a seat is what is rude. Instead of just saying “Sorry Charlie, this seat is being saved for Joe” they will say “Eww gross dork get away from here you can’t sit with us,” is bullying.

    It is going out of your way to be mean and insulting when you don’t have to be.

    Warren: my husband almost got fired and was given a bad review at work and did not get a promotion one year because he used less that stellar wording towards a female coworker. He was not even blatantly rude. Just said something along the lines of “If it is so easy, then you do it” when she was bugging him about doing something he was already working on.

    So yes, I absolutely believe that you can get in trouble at work for being anything less than perfectly polite.

  119. SOA July 25, 2015 at 3:50 pm #

    Donna: would you tell a business associate “Ewww dork you can’t sit with us”? Probably not.
    My point stands.

    We are trying to teach kids how to act. So letting them say something with no consequence that an adult could not say, is not teaching them that is not okay.
    I for one don’t let my kids get away with saying mean stuff to other kids for no reason. I correct them and make them apologize. Manners are important to us.
    You don’t say “eww I don’t like that” you say “no thank you”.

  120. hineata July 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    Yes, dorks know they’re dorks for the most part, and high school sucks for a lot of kids. Relentless rejection will cause some kids to snap, as in Columbine, but one hopes the parents of ‘dorks’ can help their kids find activities beyond school to engage in, so that they find a group or even a friend somewhere. …

    I don’t think it’s helicoptering to assist kids on the social outer to find a place to fit in.

  121. SOA July 25, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    You brought up Columbine and that is a great point. If we don’t want repeats of that maybe teaching your kids to be as kind as possible to others at all times, is a good policy. No one is saying be BFFS with someone you don’t like, but they are saying don’t call that kid names or push them or throw things at them or sneer at them or gossip about them. Its not that fucking hard.

  122. Buffy July 25, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    It’s been pretty well proven that the Columbine shooters were not victims of bullying; in fact, they bragged about being bullies themselves. Start here:

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-04-13-columbine-myths_N.htm

    Then read Dave Cullen’s book “Columbine”.

  123. Donna July 25, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    I have occasionally called coworkers worse than dork during my working life. I have never been fired, reprimanded, passed over for a promotion or sued for harassment. In the real world, people seem to have a better understanding that everyone doesn’t always get along.

    But I am not sure why we are comparing school to the “real world.” Never in my life since I graduated high school have I ever been forced to spend 7 hours a day, 180 days a year with 1000 people who are all stuck together based on nothing orher than their year of birth and the neighborhood in which their parents chose to reside, most of whom have nothing in common and would never choose to associate with each other. But if we insist on comparing school to the real world, the real world is full of crappy, rude, obnoxious people. At times, you will be unliked and treated rudely. Deal with it.

  124. Anna July 25, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    SOA: It sounds like you’re classifying any bad, nasty, blameworthy or aggressive action as “bullying.” This seems to me unhelpful. Do we really want to say every bad action toward others is “bullying” and invoke a special kind of zero-tolerance policy against it? I think all of us here probably agree we don’t want our kids behaving like jerks, but not every jerk is a bully.

    I think maybe those who earlier on this thread objected to the increasing use of “bully” as a verb rather than a noun were onto something important. The traditional meaning of the term (and I believe its primary usefulness) is to designate a particular type of person who routinely and habitually uses various forms of violence and pressure on other kids with the purpose of bringing them into submission. Not every kid who does something nasty or rude is a bully, and the term is in my opinion not especially helpful in dealing with normal kids who experiment with meanness.

  125. SKL July 25, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

    Bullying and unkindness are not the same.

    When people say “that is not bullying,” they are not saying “that is acceptable behavior.”

    I think SOA and maybe some others should study the definition of bullying before arguing further.

  126. JKP July 25, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

    This is a really good article from someone who does anti-bullying trainings. I quoted the key points I thought were relevant to this discussion, and I think the author says it better than I could.

    Is it Rude, Is it Mean, or is it Bullying?
    Why we all must learn to distinguish between rude, mean, and bullying behaviors
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201211/is-it-rude-is-it-mean-or-is-it-bullying

    “Rude = Inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else. Incidents of rudeness are usually spontaneous, unplanned inconsideration, based on thoughtlessness, poor manners, or narcissism, but not meant to actually hurt someone.

    Mean = Purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice.) Mean behavior very much aims to hurt or depreciate someone. Meanness is impulsive cruelty that is often regretted in short order.

    Bullying = Intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power. Experts agree that bullying entails three key elements: an intent to harm, a power imbalance, and repeated acts or threats of aggressive behavior. Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse—even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.

    If kids and parents improperly classify rudeness and mean behavior as bullying we all run the risk of becoming so sick and tired of hearing the word that this actual life-and-death issue among young people loses its urgency as quickly as it rose to prominence.”

  127. Warren July 26, 2015 at 2:01 am #

    SOA,

    Is that the same husband that won’t talk about football with his neighbor and then blames the neighbor for not being friendly? I highly doubt he was innocent of the complaint at work.

    As for being as kind as possible to everyone, at all times? Hell no. I do not have the time, energy, nor the need to do that. You want kindness and respect, then earn it. Nobody, and I mean nobody automatically gets my respect. People can earn my respect rather quickly, with a good first impression. But they can also doom themselves to the dog house even faster.

    You are not entitled to kindness. You are not entitled to respect. Once you realize that your life will become a lot less stressful.

    As with Donna, I have used far harsher language with coworkers and even bosses than “eww Dork”. Now maybe in your situation where you have worked it is different.

    James,

    How in any universe or dimension is saving a seat for someone bullying? I can do it nicely, apologetically, rudely, or down right nastily, but none of that is bullying. I can do it every working day of my life, to the same person, and it is still not bullying. Never will be. As a matter of fact, if said person doesn’t take the hint after two or three times, it will get nasty, and that is still not bullying.

  128. Warren July 26, 2015 at 2:11 am #

    This whole overuse of the term bullying stems from the emerging sense of entitlement we see these days.

    People seem to think they are entitled to be treated the way they want to be treated. If not then they cry bully.

    Life is not fair. Never has been and never will be.

  129. Donna July 26, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    Not only is saving a seat for someone never bullying, neither is refusing to sit with someone at lunch even if you are not really holding a seat. You can do it every day and has sweetly or rudely as you choose and it is still not bullying.

    Some folks need to accept that the world does not owe them friendship. You don’t have to be welcome to join any social group that you want to join. People are allowed to dislike you. People are allowed to not want to spend their free time with you. People are allowed to not want to share a meal with you. People are allowed to be repulsed by you.

    To be bullying, exclusion has to be large-scale. Everybody shunning a kid because the Queen Bee of the school as made it clear that anyone who talks to X will suffer her wrath is bullying. A person or group simply choosing not to befriend you is not bullying no matter how rudely they treat you when you try to insert yourself into their group. It is not even bullying if lots of social groups independently decide that they don’t want you to be a part of them. It is not even bullying if the sole reason that they don’t want you to be part of their group is because you are ugly, poor, poorly dressed, or special needs. Being shallow is not the same as bullying.

  130. lollipoplover July 26, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    “If kids and parents improperly classify rudeness and mean behavior as bullying we all run the risk of becoming so sick and tired of hearing the word that this actual life-and-death issue among young people loses its urgency as quickly as it rose to prominence.”

    JKP- I wish your comment were up at the top of this thread!

    I think we are there already and it has lost its urgency. Do you think bullying is more likely with this lack of social training from not playing without adult supervision? I see more and more kids (mostly boys) who at the first opportunity to not be under mom’s watchful eye (or in aftercare) behave abhorrently to others and generally act like little shits. Not so much bullying, just see what they can get away with.

    @SOA-
    I used the word “ewww” correctly in a sentence last night. I am not rude or a bully.

    My teenage son played soccer all day and was dripping sweat and smelly when he walked in the family room and tried to lay down on the sofa. My daughter and her friend were on the sofa watching a movie and planning on sleeping there for the night. I said, “Ewww. Don’t lie on the sofa in your sweaty uniform” and suggested he get a cool shower to cool off, which he agreed was a smart idea. He came down later and watched the movie. And I saved my sofa from a wet and smelly spot. Because sleeping on that IS ewww gross. It’s just a word. Using it isn’t automatically rude.

  131. SOA July 26, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    Lollipop lover- you can joke around with friends and family and be insulting because they know you don’t mean it and you love them. I don’t know that Regina George Queen of the mean girls loves me. I know she does not like me, so no she does not get to joke around with me and call me names because there is no love behind it, just cruelty. My friends and I razz each other all the time with love. That is not the same as walking up to a complete stranger and start making fun of them.

  132. SOA July 26, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    And this is why I won’t feel sorry for any of you if a kid shoots up your kid’s school over bullying or being ostracized and lonely.
    Because you seem to think its okay to be rude and mean to people for no reason and that kindness is not the standard you should strive for.
    I certainly am not friends with everyone I meet. But I try to at least be kind. Which is probably why I was such a target as a young kid. Because they knew I was going to be nice and not snark and bitch back at them.

    You should prepare your kids that there are jerks out there, but never advocate they become one of them.
    I still follow the golden rule of if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all and treat others as you want to be treated.
    If you want to mock me for that go ahead. That just shows what a truly awful person you are. And definitely unChristian if you claim to be one of those.

  133. James Pollock July 26, 2015 at 10:40 am #

    “Not only is saving a seat for someone never bullying, neither is refusing to sit with someone at lunch even if you are not really holding a seat. You can do it every day and has sweetly or rudely as you choose and it is still not bullying.”

    This is nonsense.
    Applying this reasoning to a well-known case, we come to the conclusion that the Little Rock nine, who required armed guards to protect their safety, were not bullied. This defies common sense.

    “To be bullying, exclusion has to be large-scale. Everybody shunning a kid because the Queen Bee of the school as made it clear that anyone who talks to X will suffer her wrath is bullying.”
    Sexist.

    “A person or group simply choosing not to befriend you is not bullying”
    How about if they don’t want to be friends, they just want to sit down to eat?

  134. SKL July 26, 2015 at 10:40 am #

    Personally I have never seen a person over age 14 say “eww” nor “you’re a dork” to anyone other than a good friend who would understand that it was a joke. Maybe I travel in different circles.

    Bullying in adults is a whole different thing IMO. It is much more rare at that age too. It is also easier to deal with in a workplace, because the bully can be fired. Some people are bullies at home, and that’s a whole other issue, and not a FRK issue.

    As for whether kids bully more now than before, I don’t know. If they do, it’s only because we treat bullies with kid gloves, not because kids are meaner or stupider. The fact that some kids will be a$$holes when their parents aren’t around is nothing new.

    There is a girl next door to us, and I am thrilled that they moved in a year ago, because before, there were no kids for mine to play with. This girl is super sweet when adults are around. But I work upstairs with my window open, and I hear what happens when they think nobody is listening. She is overbearing at times (which nobody else believes, because she’s so nice around adults). Her being older and much bigger than my kids already makes mine more likely to want to please her vs. disagree. However, my kids aren’t shrinking violets; they will put in their two cents’ worth, and they’ll leave if they feel mistreated. Therefore, I don’t see bullying. Also, my kids are not accusing her of bullying even when they come home because of her being unkind.

  135. Beth July 26, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    Sometimes when my husband and I go to a movie, he gets the snacks while I sit down. Clearly, I had no idea that I was bullying everyone else in that theater while saving the seat next to me for him! Mean girl, indeed.

  136. SKL July 26, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Adults should be mature enough to not take it personally when people prefer to sit with people they hang out with. They can of course ask kindly, “mind if I sit here,” and I’ve never seen anyone say “no” unless they were actually saving a seat for a friend/relative (which is certainly not bullying). Then they might become friends or they might feel awkward because they aren’t a good fit with that group. And next time they probably won’t choose to sit with that group. Not bullying.

    An adult who thinks it is normal to just plop your butt next to a stranger without asking permission is an adult with a severe lack of social awareness. No wonder if people look at them a little funny. Politeness is a two-way street.

  137. James Pollock July 26, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    “It is also easier to deal with in a workplace, because the bully can be fired.”

    Doesn’t always work. Sometimes there’s the obvious… the bully owns the business, or has the ear of the person who does.

    But also, sometimes the bully is more valuable (for other reasons) to the company, and so the bully will not be fired.

    In a perfect world, this wouldn’t matter, because the bullied employee(s) would just leave for a different job. This just isn’t always a possibility.

  138. James Pollock July 26, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    “Adults should be mature enough to not take it personally when people prefer to sit with people they hang out with.”
    So if all the lunch counters in town hang “whites only” signs, that’s OK, because it’s just people wanting to sit with people they hang out with?

  139. Donna July 26, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    “Applying this reasoning to a well-known case, we come to the conclusion that the Little Rock nine, who required armed guards to protect their safety, were not bullied. This defies common sense.”

    What is the term for it when people bring up the Nazis as an example of the slippery slope we go down any time we do anything? This is the same. An entire school – actually community – threatening the physical safety of a child who walks into a school is vastly different than me personally refusing to sit with you every day at lunch, even if I do so rudely.

    “Sexist.”

    No, simply an example. Since I was actually predominantly talking to Dolly who is a girl, a girl example made sense. Substitute jock or whatever male classification you want and it is equally true. I suppose I could have made a list of every time exclusion rises to the level of being large-scale and therefore bullying, but most people don’t enjoy reading lengthy pointless comments as many have tried to explain to you repeatedly.

    “How about if they don’t want to be friends, they just want to sit down to eat?”

    If you are preventing them from sitting down to eat anywhere in the lunchroom, that would certainly classify as bullying. Otherwise, you are just being rude.

  140. Warren July 26, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    SOA,

    “And this is why I won’t feel sorry for any of you if a kid shoots up your kid’s school over bullying or being ostracized and lonely.
    Because you seem to think its okay to be rude and mean to people for no reason and that kindness is not the standard you should strive for.”

    What is your problem? Nobody said it is okay to be rude or mean. All we have ever said is that being rude or mean is not bullying. If you cannot understand that, then you need to go back to school.

    As for the kindness issues, there are all sorts of different levels of kindness. Do I expect my kids to be kind to everyone, no matter what? Absolutely not.

    And I think you need to go to confession, immediately. You say you won’t fell sorry if our kids school gets shot up, and then later on call us “unChristian”. Go tell your priest, minister or whatever what you wrote, and ask him or her if that is within the values of your faith.

  141. James Pollock July 26, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    “What is the term for it when people bring up the Nazis as an example of the slippery slope we go down any time we do anything?”

    It’s Godwinning, named for “Godwin’s Law”, which states that as time passes, the likelihood that someone invokes Nazis in an online disagreement approaches one.

    “This is the same.”
    In the sense that it’s totally different, sure.

    “An entire school – actually community – threatening the physical safety of a child who walks into a school is vastly different than me personally refusing to sit with you every day at lunch, even if I do so rudely.”

    What an odd claim, that what other people do influences whether what YOU are doing is bullying or not. The only thing that distinguishes the Little Rock 9 case is the number of people in the school who were ready, willing, and able to bully the black students, for the offense of being black people who wanted an education..

    ““Not only is saving a seat for someone never bullying, neither is refusing to sit with someone at lunch even if you are not really holding a seat. You can do it every day and has sweetly or rudely as you choose and it is still not bullying.”

    If it’s never bullying, it’s never bullying. If it’s never bullying, then nobody was bullied. Applying this logic to the LR9 case tells us that they were not bullied. Will you not stand by your original claim? Or is “but that’s somehow DIFFERENT!” your final answer?

  142. Donna July 26, 2015 at 11:16 am #

    “Because you seem to think its okay to be rude and mean to people for no reason and that kindness is not the standard you should strive for.”

    And anyone said that where? We said that there is a difference between being rude and bullying. Nothing more. We also said that you need to be able to deal with rudeness in life as many people are rude. Most are not, but you will run into rude people during your life. If you get your knickers in a twist and start whining every time it happens, you are going to be seen as the problem.

    “But I try to at least be kind. Which is probably why I was such a target as a young kid. Because they knew I was going to be nice and not snark and bitch back at them.”

    Sweetheart, if your posts here are any indication as to how you treat others in the real world, this is so far from true that it is laughable.

    “You should prepare your kids that there are jerks out there, but never advocate they become one of them.”

    And where did anyone advocate that their kids should become jerks?

    “I still follow the golden rule of if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all and treat others as you want to be treated.”

    Wow, Lady, if you treat people as you wish to be treated, you must wish to be treated awfully. Just about every thread you participate in shows you to be completely condescending, self-absorbed, judgmental and a pretty negative person in general.

    “And this is why I won’t feel sorry for any of you if a kid shoots up your kid’s school over bullying or being ostracized and lonely.”

    Yes, hoping our children die in shooting spree is certainly nice and “christian” (actually it is fairly “christian” which is why I am adamantly opposed to religion, but that is a different topic).

  143. SKL July 26, 2015 at 11:18 am #

    SOA, I am not asking you to feel sorry for me if an extremely unlikely rare event occurs at my kids’ school. But nice to know your soul is so shallow. (Actually that is no surprise.)

    You have said in the past that you were super popular and everyone loved you in school, and now you are saying you were a poor bullied girl. Which is it? Maybe some of the people in school viewed you as a bully. That would not surprise me at all.

  144. Warren July 26, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    “If it’s never bullying, it’s never bullying. If it’s never bullying, then nobody was bullied. Applying this logic to the LR9 case tells us that they were not bullied. Will you not stand by your original claim? Or is “but that’s somehow DIFFERENT!” your final answer?”

    No it is not bullying. It is discrimination, hate, and illegal if they are actually threatening violence. But it is not bullying. Yes final answer.

    Now James do you want to go for Double Jeopardy where the scores can really change?

  145. Buffy July 26, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    “You have said in the past that you were super popular and everyone loved you in school, and now you are saying you were a poor bullied girl.”

    I was going to bring this up earlier. Pretty, popular, a-date-every-night Dolly has a really hard time keeping her stories straight.

  146. Warren July 26, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    Buffy,

    I am not sure if it is her stories or her meds she can’t keep straight.

  147. lollipoplover July 26, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    “If you want to mock me for that go ahead. That just shows what a truly awful person you are. And definitely unChristian if you claim to be one of those.”

    Disagreeing with you is not mocking you! This goes back to the essence of the article- playing the victim card over and over again is not helping our children (or adults like you).

    I DO think kids today could be a lot nicer to each other and we should stress empathy as a strong value among all children. See my comments above. I never said it was OK to insult someone, be mean, or be a bully. I just pointed out that a word or a phrase, like eww, is never 100% rude, as YOU insisted it was. If you think this way, you are setting yourself up for a lot of miscommunication in life. Including on this thread…

    But I guess I am an awful person. And “unChristian”.
    **Says the person who is telling everyone we should be nicer to each other, always.**

  148. Buffy July 26, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    What Christian religion is it again in which the believers hope for school shootings? Dolly?

  149. SOA July 27, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    I never claimed to be popular in school.
    I am popular and have friends now.
    I had dates in high school but mostly just like with one boyfriend at a time.

  150. Warren July 27, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    SOA,
    Give it up, we all know you and what you are about.