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Studies Reveal Why Kids Get Bullied and Rejected 938

Posted by kdawson
from the see-my-finger-see-my-thumb dept.
Thelasko writes "I'm sure many here have been the victim of bullying at some point in their lives. A new study suggests why. '...now researchers have found at least three factors in a child's behavior that can lead to social rejection. The factors involve a child's inability to pick up on and respond to nonverbal cues from their pals.' The article sketches out some ways teachers and councilors are working with bullied kids to help them develop the missing social skills."
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Studies Reveal Why Kids Get Bullied and Rejected

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  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:06PM (#31004282) Homepage

    Why are kids bullied and rejected?

    Because sometimes, other kids are dicks. Next question?

    • by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:34PM (#31004558) Homepage

      This, more or less. Blaming the victim only keeps the cycle going.

      • by Gorobei (127755) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:54PM (#31004748)

        Yep, you can fix the bullying problem in a week by ending the "blaming the victim" mentality inherent in the people in charge.

        The rule is really damn simple: you don't bully anyone. If you do, you get punished.

        Good elementary school administrators do not tolerate bullying.
        Good high-school administrators do not tolerate bullying.
        Good college administrators do not tolerate bullying.
        Good bosses at firms do not tolerate bullying.

        If you want to suck as an administrator, go right ahead: you make the law, but pleased don't get too upset when we slash your tires and put sugar in your gas tank. You are making the rules and judging, we vote in the only ways we can vote in this situation.

        • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:38PM (#31005226)
          Problem is, how do you know what is bullying and what is not? Its pretty easy for someone to say they were verbally "harassed" by someone and have the backing of 2 or 3 friends to bully someone. A lot of remarks can simply be taken out of context and used against someone. Problem is, bullying is mostly hearsay and very subjective. What one person considers bullying is different than another person. Plus, things are different between friends, I know that some of the remarks I say around friends could be taken to a casual observer as bullying but of course its not. Even worse is when the other person denies it but they think that somehow the "bully" has manipulated the "victim" into not talking.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ajlisows (768780)

            I think you'd have to be a pretty big idiot to have a hard time spotting the difference between harsh interaction between friends and outright bullying. My friends and I said some mean shit to each other (and still do!) but the person on the receiving end isn't usually cowering, cringing or crying. Not to mention the fact that any decent teacher/administrator is going to have a good idea of what kids consider each other friends. That kid kneeling down in the mud crying in front of the bigger kid? He is

          • by malkavian (9512) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:53AM (#31007674) Homepage

            Ok, I think the broken teeth from having the face smashed into a wall, the scars on the forehead from having a half brick thrown at me, and the scars on my torso and arms from sharp objects (broken glass, usually) used to slice me count as bullying.
            My social skills were fine. I could pick up on the "non verbal cues" very accurately, and to this day, I'm considered highly adept at that.
            Basically, this research is saying "We'll find ways to make sure you follow the crowd", rather than being a little different (hey, I read Lord of the Rings at 5 years old, and loved physics and cosmology; yes, I was "different").
            What happened with all this bullying? Well, the do gooders simply said "You have to understand them; they come from a deprived background. They're having a hard time at home".
            Bzzt. Wrong answer. This attitude got me a nervous breakdown by the time I was 11 amidst all the school's hand wringing over how they could improve the lot of a bunch of yobs who wanted to do nothing more than talk about football all day, and beat up anyone who didn't want to do that.

            Interestingly, I once had a client who'd worked out a way to pretty much cut bullying out. He was an explorer, who'd settled for a while in England and set up a company. This company used the knowledge he'd picked up across a goodly many expeditions, and allowed him to set up a whole host of challenges in 'adventure grounds', so there were the rope bridges, rope climbs, climbing walls etc; all the stuff to challenge the physically oriented kids, who went out and proved how physically gifted they were, and got real respect for achieving something. Places that contracted him to install the grounds had an 80%+ reduction in bullying across the board, and classroom results had a marked improvement.
            However, in the early 2000s, Health and Safety got their teeth into this, and said the ground were "too risky", and disallowed further installations, while shooting up the insurance premiums on schools that had them. End result, the grounds were removed from places that had them, bullying went up and grades went down. But it was cheaper.

            There are those that bully because they need to prove themselves, and grounds like that will cater to them. And there are those that bully because they're nasty. Those need to be weeded out and taught hard lessons early.
            It is NOT due to some kid not picking up on non-verbal clues. We pride ourselves on being an enlightened and accepting society, so why is it that some kid who may be far brighter than the rest (I've noticed that those tend to act and perceive the world in a different way) needs to suddenly understand the ways of kids far less enlightened? Why not hold the lowest denominator to higher standards?

      • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@yaho o . com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:05PM (#31004838) Journal

        Generally speaking, I agree with you. However, this isn't "blaming the victim". This is giving victims something that can do in their own lives to end or mitigate bullying. That isn't blame, that's empowerment.

        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:25PM (#31005088)

          Teaching them how to beat the shit out of the bully would be empowerment. This is just something to waste the kids time and let him think about while he is being physically abused/battered.

          • by n dot l (1099033) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:52AM (#31007378)

            The TFA I read discussed social rejection, and noted that bullies often focus on the socially rejected. This isn't about using your social skills to charm the bully (lol), it's about using them to get friends and hoist yourself out of the immediate target population, or at least get yourself on a better footing to fight back (most bullies have their own social issues - if you can sort yours out that's an automatic advantage).

            I've been bullied. I watched other kids get bullied too. I got rid of my bullies by not behaving like the other victims, not by beating anybody up (as if I could). I realized that the only targets were people who were isolated from the main social group and unwilling to fight back (in most cases by their own low self-esteem) and made an effort to not be one of them. I learned to control my emotions so I could think clearly in social situations that weren't going how I wanted. I learned to actually pay attention and read other people's body language properly. I learned the social rules. I made friends outside my usual circle.

            The guys that spent 5 minutes between classes laughing at me in the halls every day (not hardcore bullying but hardly pleasant, I assure you)? Most of them weren't being sarcastic or mean like I thought. They were confused by how incongruously I acted. I was the one that was too stupid to read their expressions correctly. Once I clued in, I stopped escalating simple misunderstandings (I actually thought I was sticking up for myself) and quickly made friends with many of them. I had no trouble ignoring the few asshole opportunists (most of who were doing it due to their own self esteem issues) in the lot who were jumping in with a nasty quip just because they saw they had a chance to get a laugh at my expense. Over the next few weeks I got rid of a good two thirds of the grief I'd get at school (the low grade harassment) in this way. I'd say fixing this one mistake of mine is probably where I started to really build my self-confidence.

            The scary looking thug (huge muscles, tattoos, scars, rumors that he's done nasty things - seriously scary fucker) that went around threatening people into giving him free shit? The confidence I'd gained making some friends was enough to keep me calm around him. Calm enough to see his insecurity screaming through every little gesture (fucked up home life, he had a lot to be insecure about). Flat-out told him "no" when he punched me and told me to give him my CD collection. He was stunned, I don't think he'd ever seen someone calmly stand up to him before (I admit, it freaked me out afterwards - he had opened up with a punch). He wandered off as though nothing had happened and didn't bother me again.

            The asshole who'd steal my shit, trip me, shove my head into my locker, heckle me in class (WTF teachers, how did that shit ever fly?), throw things at me, etc every single chance he got? I was his favorite victim until a few months after I started turning myself around. He turned out to be desperately afraid he'd lose his friends' respect if he didn't act all tough. Getting the courage to go and talk to them (his friends) and find out that they didn't really like him was the key to getting rid of him. Desperate fuckers turn out to be easy to bait, and I only had to get myself seen with his buddies regularly for a few weeks before he freaked out about them ditching him and did something stupid enough to get them to actually ditch him. He never bothered me again. I'd actually been hoping to get something out of them that I could blackmail him with, but I'm not one to complain if a problem takes care of itself.

            So I disagree that TFA's conclusion is some bullshit way to avoid having to actually punish bullies. We're social creatures, and learning how to navigate the social web (rather than hovering helplessly around the edges) is definitely empowering. I certainly wouldn't argue with anyone that would just beat the shit out of a bully, but it's hardly the only way to deal with things (and I've seen a couple of guys that did that get shunned even more for being "dangerous" hotheads).

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:47PM (#31005310)

        Blaming the victim only keeps the cycle going.

        You can piss and moan all you want about people being dicks and guess what - they will still be dicks. Its like those personal ads where the girl says things like "no jerks need reply" - like that would ever stop a jerk. The only person you have control over is yourself.

        I would have KILLED for training in basic social mores and skills as a child - just rote, repetitive stuff the same as any other kind of training, so that what I did not know naturally I could at least fall back on manually learned behavior. We put kids who are slow in math and reading in classes that teach to their level - how about classes that teach social conventions and behaviorism for kids who are slow at that?

    • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:44PM (#31004670)

      But even dicks can be defused and deflected with a few social skills, a bit of verbal bantering, etc.

      Most dicks want to be liked and respected but settle for being feared.

      It is possible to deal this way with most bullys, but the skill set required is often something that won't be learned by the bulling target for a year or maybe two.

      We keep kinds back (retain them in lower grades) for academic reasons, but seldom for social reasons. Often, I suspect, simply delaying entry into school for socially awkward kids might solve a lot of this. Either that or enroll overly aggressive kids a year ahead of time.

      Age driven school enrollment is probably the root cause of much of the bully problem

      • by scdeimos (632778) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:10PM (#31004906)

        We keep kinds back (retain them in lower grades) for academic reasons, but seldom for social reasons. Often, I suspect, simply delaying entry into school for socially awkward kids might solve a lot of this. Either that or enroll overly aggressive kids a year ahead of time.

        Are you f'n serious? Keep bullied kids back a year and further bully them ("The System" bullies them by keeping them back a year), encouraging more bullying (the bullies are now armed with, "dumb dumb just got kept back a year") and docking them one year of pay (they now lose out on one year's income potential before retirement)?

        Fix the problem: punish the bullies and the teachers and parents that turn a blind eye to them.

      • The short answer. (Score:5, Informative)

        by CFD339 (795926) <andrewpNO@SPAMthenorth.com> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:23PM (#31005066) Homepage Journal

        Bullies are cowards. All of them.

        The best thing to do with a grade school bully (assuming I'm talking to someone the same age) is to hit them in mouth. Hard. You well then either get hit back a couple of times -- which will hurt, but not be tragic -- or not. In either case, the bully will find someone else to pick on. Learning that getting beat up on the playground isn't the end of the world can itself be incredibly freeing -- and usually leads to it never happening again.

        I have no patience for bullies -- but I have even less patience for helicopter parents who replay their own sad lives as victims through their kids and insist the world be made into a padded safety zone where nobody says mean things or looses at tag any more.

        • Learning how to fart (Score:5, Informative)

          by rve (4436) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @04:46AM (#31007350)

          Bullies are cowards. All of them.

          Actually studies have shown the complete opposite (I read it on paper) [sciamdigital.com]. It used to be fashionable to attribute this kind of behavior to low self esteem, until someone actually bothered to investigate this, and found that bullies actually tend to have unrealistically high self esteem and tend to be more bold and impulsive than average.

          From this, the logical next step would be to subject a bully to so much abuse that his self esteem is shattered and see if this changes their behavior. This would obviously be immoral.

    • by germansausage (682057) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:23AM (#31005654)
      Once upon a time there was a bully. He bullied a lot of kids. One day he bullied the outcast. He shoved the outcast from behind as he was walking by. The outcast was slammed into the lockers and split his lip. The bully walked away laughing. That evening the outcast and his one lone friend came back to the school with a hacksaw, a school issue combination lock and two large garbage bags. While the friend stood watch at the end of the hall the outcast sawed the lock off the bully's locker. It took no more than a minute to empty the bullies locker into the garbage bags. The outcast locked the locker back up with the lock he brought. The garbage bags were tossed into a dumpster behind the gas station. The next morning the outcast watched from a distance while the bully tried to open his locker. The school locks all looked the same but his wouldn't open. Eventually the principal and the custodian came with some bolt cutters and the lock was cut. The locker was opened and inside was....nothing. No gym clothes, no textbooks, no almost complete woodwork project, no homework, no notes, no tennis racket, no leather jacket, no anything. The bully may have eventually realized that one of his victims had gotten even, but who it was, he never knew. He bullied a lot of kids.
  • Context (Score:3, Funny)

    by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:10PM (#31004318) Homepage
    Interesting, but very the analysis lacks any cultural context. Is this really the fault (or failing) of the victims, or a consequence of the values and morals of our society and culture? The only way to answer that question is through a comparison to other cultures, past and present. The report seems to accept certain social behaviours as given or natural when perhaps they are only specific to our culture. I think more study is needed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mikael (484)

      If you something that other kids have that they don't, you will be bullied, like having two working parents, or hope for the future and the motivation to want to learn and go on to college or university.

      There have been plenty of news reports of stories like this, and the victims are not simply those who are underweight/overweight, or with learning difficulties. There have reports of students being attacked (and even committing suicide) because they were successful in their work. Then the bullies would just

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        I think the simpsons was right, bullies can smell it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pitchpipe (708843)

        I would say it is because they are in an environment where they are being bullied

        You don't see that kind of shit in the workplace, at least not the in-your-face kind of thing: adults would never stand for it. It's weird how it is tolerated in a child's environment. "Boys will be boys" and such.

        I was naturally a nerd and would've continued down that path happily into a career as a scientist, but I had to become "cool" to fit in. I know that I didn't really "have to" and that it was my choice, but I believe that an environment that was more conducive to the brighter students would have

  • by vudufixit (581911) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:13PM (#31004336)
    Years of pent-up anger boiled over. My high school tormentor was sitting across a cafeteria table from me. I decided right then and there,that I was going to strike back, as brutally and spectacularly as possible. I used the attached round stool as a launching pad and dove into him, knocking both of us to the ground. I rose immediately, punching him in the hard part of the side of the head - hard enough to indent my middle knuckle to the point that it's now level with the rest of the other knuckles. He was humiliated, I was vindicated (and suffered very mild punishment), and the BULLYING STOPPED FOR GOOD because the 1200+ other students in that school learned through the usual grapevine that I FOUGHT BACK.
    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:20PM (#31004422) Homepage Journal

      First year in high school I was bullied, struck back, and then was labeled as a hot head. Every other hot head considered me one of them and assumed the only way to solve disagreements with me was with violence. It took a while to shake that.

      Just a reminder that fighting back has its own consequences.

      • I struck back too (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Chicken_Kickers (1062164) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:17AM (#31006444)
        I went to a Malaysian Public Boarding High School. The environment there was closer to a military boot camp than Hogwarts, complete with barbed wire fences, guards and wardens. The eldest students there, called "seniors" lord over everyone else ("juniors"). You're pretty much at their beck and call and any perceived slights usually results in a beating. You dare not tell the teachers as it would probably get you more beatings from them as you are "tarnishing the school's reputation by making a complaint" and then even more beatings by the seniors when they found out you squawked. You also dare not tell your parents since you will let them down if you leave the boarding school. One of the tasks I had to do as a junior was to wash a whole dorm of senior's uniform, all 18 of them, once a week. There were no washing machines and you have to manually wash, dry and iron them. After a few times of doing this, I decided to strike back. After washing their uniforms, I carefully rubbed them on the communal toilet floor, in such a way as not to stain them. I then dried the uniforms and lightly ironed them. After a few weeks of this, many of the seniors developed very itchy fungal skin infections. To my great satisfaction, they never did found out what I did. From then on, I learned that revenge is truly best served cold. Seeing your tormentors in discomfort and none the wiser is much sweeter than fighting back physically.
    • by timmarhy (659436) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:29PM (#31004496)
      +1

      I was never really bullied because i fought back early on, plus i'm a beefy guy to begin with so inspite of me being into computers no one bothered me. later in high school i put my skills to use making home brew, and i became very popular (suprise suprise).

      I think the number one thing teachers and parents need to do is let kids fight their own damn battles. if jnr gets bullied, let him give the kid a black eye. it also gives the bully a taste of what will happen later in life if you insist on picking on people. all this passive agressive shit where your only allowed to express yourself according to someone elses rules is bullcrap.

      I know if my kids were getting picked on at school i wouldn't sit down and tell them to care and share, i send them to boxing lessons and tell them to defend themselfs. people taking shit is the result of this passive nonsense people have been bred on for the last 20 years.

      • by electrosoccertux (874415) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:52AM (#31005888)

        All these years I thought "turn the other cheek" meant you just put up with bullying.
        Then I read a sentence in this book by some Christian author I can't remember. Anyways, he said
        "You can't turn the other cheek if it's been turned for you".

        There is a key distinction between meekness and weakness I was not understanding. Now that I have discovered that, it is my choice whether I choose to fight back or not. I don't feel "morally obliged" to be passive. I evaluate whether it is important for me to defend myself at that moment, and I act on that. The real problem all along for me was a control issue. Now that I have that control, I realize the power struggle for what a silly thing it is, and it just doesn't bother me. I also am much older now and these things just don't happen anymore.

        I plan to do what another /. poster wrote about a year ago. His daughter [2nd, 3rd grade or something] was being abused by the school bully. He contacted the teachers, several times about it, to no avail; after the girl was physically hurting his daughter. He contacted the school principle, who didn't do anything, shrugged it off, not a big deal, etc. So he told his daughter, the next time this happens, grab her hair next to her scalp tightly, and push her head down as hard as you can while you pick your knee up right into her face.

        The girl did it, gave the bully a bloody nose, teachers and principle were ALL OVER her and /. poster; threatened him with a lawsuit over his daughter's conduct. So he explained everything to his lawyer and had him write them a nastygram. They and the bully's parents shut up.

        I liked this story because
        1). he tried to deal with it through the most acceptable means [of course they weren't going to do anything about it, but he tried at least and so had legal grounds to stand on]
        2). The bully never bothered his daughter again. Neither did anyone else in school.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Idiomatick (976696)
      In my school my bully was doing the standard showing how tough/cool he was at lunch by making me get more drinks for the table (think Hogwarts style giant cafeteria) I got it last time so I told him to piss off. So he a little pissed that I didn't submit flipped my plate onto my lap saying 'oops' and laughing it up with his friends/lackeys. So I got up steaming as he continued to make fun of me. Grabbed his fingers and twisted his arm behind his back and slammed his face into the table as hard as I could. I
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jason Levine (196982)

      That didn't stop it for me. One kid made fun of me so much I couldn't take it anymore. So I grabbed his hand, pulled him towards me and executed a perfect clothesline, knocking him to the ground. (I was a fan of wrestling at the time. It may be fake, but those moves - if properly pulled off - can hurt.)

      The next group of kids who made fun of me were... well, a group of kids. If I passed one of them in the hall, they wouldn't say anything, however if two or more of them were there, they'd tease me. They

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gorbachev (512743)

      That's all fine and dandy until someone loses an eye.

      I read some accounts of kids being bullied these days, and their situation was pretty desperate because the bullies were members of gangs. Any violence in self defense (or otherwise) would be responded by a beating by one or more of the other bullies in the gang.

      Try fighting that...

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:15PM (#31004352)

    It really is an under-addressed public health issue

    I really hope they don't _over_ address it (WAIT! this is a serious comment!).

    I'm really glad to see them taking a "help the kids function in the real world" vice the traditional "turn schools into a happy fantasy world" approach.

    At the same time, learning to deal with these kind of challenges on your own is important. Obviously there are lots of cases where things get out of hand, and as the article describes, kids grow up with all sorts of problems as a result.

    I think the assumption here is that you are giving the kid a push in the right direction.. rather than hand holding.. which might work. When you start doing the latter.. I think you just serve to isolate the kid more (classic example.. when a teacher essentially forces a group to include someone).

    Most kids are so desperate to have friends, they just jump on board

    Personally I think this hints at the root of the problem... self esteem.

    It's cliche.. but "just be yourself" works. If you're a geek.. be a geek.. you'll fit in somewhere.

    • by voss (52565) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:01AM (#31005450)

      People who beat up other people GO TO JAIL. They do not get peer mediation, they dont get 3 day suspensions.
      Police do not tell victims "Suck it up, be a man, stop living in a fantasy world", they arrest the thug and put him in jail
      for an extended period of time. They do not force victims to stay in proximity with their perpetrators.

      We do not tolerate it when husbands batter wives and when parents batter children, we dont allow thugs to extort money from people
      on city streets or to beat up people as a means of social dominance. Why do we tolerate physical violence by peers?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      It's cliche.. but "just be yourself" works. If you're a geek.. be a geek.. you'll fit in somewhere.

      Nope. Sorry, but it does not work. Delude yourself all you want, but if you have kids, please try to review your view. Be yourself and you'll fit in. Ignore the bullies and they get bored eventually. I know those words well. I was told them myself. They have no roots in reality, though. They're the feelgood words parents use to delude themselves and their kids in the vain hope that they can wish the problem aw

  • From the Article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:16PM (#31004358)
    "The number one need of any human is to be liked by other humans"

    Admit it.

  • Asking for it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by serps (517783) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:23PM (#31004452) Homepage

    Wow, that article really has a 'blame the victim' mentality, with the coda "and here's why".

    The article even ends with the appeasement of "what can you change about the way you act to avoid being bullied"

    Just like Battered Wife Syndrome, bullying is something that, ultimately, is the fault of the aggressor. Appeasement is not the solution.

  • Let me translate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by deglr6328 (150198) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:23PM (#31004456)

    Let me translate the article for you so you don't have to waste time on its bullshit: bullied kids are responsible for their own torment and it's really their job to stop it from happening. --> F-you Clark McKown. Right in the ear.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:27PM (#31004488)

    In other news,

    Studies Reveal Why People Get Beaten and Mugged
    The factors involve a persons inability to pick up on and respond to nonverbal cues from muggers.

    Studies Reveal Why People Get Prison Raped
    The factors involve a persons inability to pick up on and respond to nonverbal cues from rapists.

    Studies Reveal Why People Get Prison Murdered
    The factors involve a persons inability to pick up on and respond to nonverbal cues from murderers.

    • by capologist (310783) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:15PM (#31004980)

      Studies Reveal Why People Get Beaten and Mugged The factors involve a persons inability to pick up on and respond to nonverbal cues from muggers.

      A better analogy would be, "Studies Reveal Why People Get Beaten and Mugged: The factors involve walking alone through dark alleys in crime-ridden neighborhoods." Identifying and addressing factors that increase risk of being mugged doesn't exonerate the mugger, it just makes you less likely to get mugged. That's all this is. It isn't "blaming the victim" like so many people are shouting. It's simply a matter of identifying factors that increase the risk of becoming a victim and addressing those factors in order to reduce such risks. I only wish this study had been done 40 years ago. I have Asperger's Syndrome (only recently diagnosed) and was bullied a lot as a kid. If my parents had been armed with the information in this study, maybe I would have been bullied less.

    • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:26PM (#31005104) Homepage Journal

      Seriously, though, how you act makes a huge difference to how likely you are to be mugged. It's actually quite useful knowledge: the places to avoid, how to act if you're in a strange place, how to react when potential muggers interact with you to gauge how safe a target you are, what to do if you are being mugged (e.g., never believe what a mugger says when he tries to get you to do something, especially if it involves going someplace where he'll find more private).

      It's fine to say "muggers are bad people" -- we know they are. But that doesn't get you far in the area of self-protection. "Make all the people in the world good" is not a viable strategy.

  • I see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pydev (1683904) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:32PM (#31004528)

    <sarcasm>Who would have guessed? Those poor bullies are really the victims of the kids they beat up, because the kids being beaten up are practically asking the bullies to commit violence against them. I mean, obviously, if anybody doesn't want to conform to social norms or has interests other than those that the popular kids have, they are abnormal and hence need to be cured!</sarcasm>

  • by at_slashdot (674436) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:47PM (#31004690)

    Bullies don't have initially preferred targets, I bet they try to bully everybody, but they continue with people who don't fight back or don't know how to protect themselves, what are the chances that those people are the shy ones, the ones that don't get social clues, the ones that are a bit slower? Do we need a study for that?

  • ANOREXIC ANDY (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:50PM (#31004708)

    ANOREXIC ANDY

    "There's a lot of hate around here."

    -Gentry Robler, Santana High sophomore

    The Santee rage massacre took place less than two years after Columbine, and this time, thanks in part to the pathetic figure of Andy Williams, people started to seriously consider the role bullying might have played. But there was resistance.

    In the immediate aftermath, Santana High School officials and local law enforcement officials either denied growing reports that he was a victim of bullying, or else they argued that even if he had been bullied it had nothing to do with the shooting.

    Andy's appointed lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Randy Mize (his father could not afford to hire a private attorney), listed eighteen incidents of bullying just in the weeks leading up to the shooting, including "burned with cigarette lighter on his neck every couple of weeks," "sprayed with hair spray and then lit with a lighter," "beat with a towel that caused welts by bullies at the pool," and "slammed against a tree twice because of rumors." These "rumors" of course were rumors of the sexual orientation sort, the most devastating of all bombs you can drop on a newcomer kid who is incapable of defending himself. Jeff Williams, Andy's father, later said, "Some of the stuff basically borders on torture."

    As Andy quickly learned, Santana High's culture combined the lethal cruelty of coastal California suburbia with familiar, rural trailer park hazing. He wanted out. He visited his mother in South Carolina a few months before his attack, and hoped to move back with her. When he visited old school friends in rural Maryland on that same trip, he told them that kids at his high school regularly egged his father's apartment or stole his homework and threw it into garbage bins. They called him "faggot" and "bitch" and "gay" and taunted him for not fighting back when he was bullied. Worst of all, much of the abuse came from the neighborhood "friends" he hung out with, got stoned with (he turned stoner to try to earn acceptance), and from whom he tried and failed to learn to become a skate rat.

    Some were students at the high school, some weren't. Andy's decision to hang out with students from another school, which suburban kids don't often do, in spite of the fact that these "friends" abused him at least as much as the Santana High "friends," says a lot about the choices he faced. If Andy could have learned to skate, he might have been accepted by a second-tier clique in the coastal California public school hierarchy. As it was, not only did he never live up to the skate rat standards on the ramp, but to punish him for being a dork, his skateboard was stolen on at least two occasions by his friends, who then taunted him for being too much of a fag to protect his board.

    In spite of their relentless taunting, Andy joined them at the local skate park, where they got buzzed on liquor and weed, skated on the ramps (he just watched), and tormented Andy Williams.

    "His ears stuck out, he was small, skinny, had a high voice, so people always picked on him 'cause he was the little kid," said Scott Bryan, a friend of Williams.

    He earned the nickname "Anorexic Andy."

    "He was picked on all the time," student Jessica Moore said. "He was picked on because he was one of the scrawniest guys. People called him freak, dork, nerd, stuff like that."

    Laura Kennamer, a friend, said, "They'd walk up to him and sock him in the face for no reason. He wouldn't do anything about it."

    Anorexic Andy: before puberty...

    Even Andy's fifty-nine-year-old, neighbor Jim Crider, observed, "Williams looked like someone working hard to fit in with his peers-and not quite succeeding. His clothes did not match what the other kids were wearing. When he talked, others didn't always pay attention."

    Anthony Schneider, who was fifteen when the Santee shootings happened, both confirmed Crider's observation and gave a small glimpse into the dumb, cool poison of this schoolyard culture there: "He didn't have that

  • by lanner (107308) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @10:53PM (#31004746)

    Uh, it's pretty clear to me that there is an overtone in this article that it's victim's fault that they are not well liked or have social problems.

    While I accept that this may be true in some cases, and a contributing factor in many instances, it's shocking and abhorrent to me that someone might suggest that it's the victim's fault that they get physically assaulted, mentally abused, pressured to do drugs, etc.

    The common attribute to bullying is bullies. They are the source of the problem (as often a single link in a chain of abuse) and it would be wise to focus on identifying, exposing, and properly reacting to their abusive behavior against others.

    I don't want to attack the entire study based on my perception of this article, and I'll support that having poor social skills can contribute to the likelihood of being a bully victim, but WTF?

    • by The Wooden Badger (540258) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:24PM (#31005078) Homepage Journal

      I think that you are missing the point of the article. If there is a certain set of traits that bullys prey on, isn't it wise to know what those traits are and then arm kids with those traits with the skills they need to not be a victim?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by johncadengo (940343)

      The common attribute to bullying is bullies. They are the source of the problem (as often a single link in a chain of abuse) and it would be wise to focus on identifying, exposing, and properly reacting to their abusive behavior against others.

      I don't want to attack the entire study based on my perception of this article, and I'll support that having poor social skills can contribute to the likelihood of being a bully victim, but WTF?

      Want to know my guess? A bully wrote this article.

    • by xant (99438) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @03:35AM (#31006918) Homepage

      I dunno, kinda seems like you didn't read the article. It leads with "The number one need of any human is to be liked by other humans", and keeps that chord going throughout. A person who is rejected and has no friends is unhappy, whether he's bullied or not, and the focus in the article is rightly on that issue.

      If you focus on that part of the message, you see that there is indeed a problem that originates in the suffering child. You can't divide the world into "bullies" and "non-bullies" any more. It's "those who reject him" and "those who don't reject him", and for the kid suffering with no friends, nearly everyone is in the second group. The normative behavior is to reject as alien those who do not respond to social cues. Will you blame the whole world for behaving normally, or try to teach the suffering kid how to break through the perception barrier and get accepted?

      Regarding bullies: of course the bully's behavior is non-normative, and needs correction, but that's really the lesser part of the suffering of the lonely child. The greater part is the inability to make friends.

  • I had to post this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:16PM (#31004992)

    I've lived a strange life. I was bullied from a very, very young age at school. I was also bullied by my older brother and his friends. After time, at school I became the bully. After about a year I switched schools. Once again, I was bullied. Within a year, I switched homerooms and the bullying stopped (one class was full of completely malicious little shits and the other was full of people I would be friends with for a decade). A few years later, a kid that had bullied me in the past came back to the school. I bullied him continuously. Then, I moved to another state and school. I was bullied there for about two years. I went to another school and by then I had learned a few lessons. The bully in me was still there. But it had changed. Instead of bullying the weak, I enjoyed bullying the bullies. I treated the world as a hostile place. Everyone that wasn't a friend was an enemy. Every affront was an act of war, and my typical response was escalation. You push me into a locker? I pull a knife on you. You punch me? I slip on brass knuckles and return the favor. I got a reputation as a crazy bastard. Eventually I calmed down to where I am now. Rarely bullying others, and rarely resorting to violence. People say that I have an attitude (they can just sense it without me talking), and I believe this is largely why I am no longer "messed with." I carry a weapon everywhere (even to places with metal detectors; i have a specially designed plastic knife meant to bypass them) and I constantly assess threats.

    I advise people to treat being bullied like war.

    Escalate- Attack.
    De Escalate- Let them do what they want and hope they stop.
    Maintain the status quo- Only if you believe something will change on its own

    If you're not a tough kid, I'd advise you to talk to some tough kids. At one point I had two kids who would do assaults for hire (they're in prison now). Either way, discreetly pay some rougher kids (arrange a half up front or some sort of protection) to protect you and to attack your enemies. Of course legally you can be accountable- but if you're smart, you can cover your tracks enough to create reasonable doubt ("I only wanted them to protect me") and prevent conviction if it somehow managed to go to trial (never happens). Basically, grow a pair of balls and go to war or hire mercenaries.

    I remember in one of my college classes (name drop to let you know how old I am ;) ), I heard an older woman (40s) constantly venting about her son's problem with a bully. Even after multiple "incidents," and several visits to court, this kid at her son's HS still was harassing him. He had shown up at their house and attacked her son. The typically inept police (not a slam at cops in general, but in my current state the cops are a joke. some states have higher standards.) did nothing after she attempted to file a police report. Basically, they system hasn't done shit except make it worse for her son. Could have gone much easier if she had gone down other paths such as:

    Escalation: Paying someone to attack "the bully"
    Escalation: Attacking the bully
    De Escalation: Leaving town
    Status Quo: Continue to be bullied

    She chose-
    Escalation: Putting the bully on trial

    Worked out well, eh?

    The system is terrible in most cases for justice. Either too harsh of sentences, or too light.

  • Don't blame yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by peterofoz (1038508) on Tuesday February 02, 2010 @11:54PM (#31005388) Homepage Journal

    We've been down this road a couple of times with our kids being bullied at school. In nearly all cases, I'd judge that the bully kids were the ones with the social problems. Here are a few case studies from 4th to 6th grade:

    • Girl bully is only child with a single mom who is dating. Bio father was an abusive jerk as was at least one of mom's boyfriends. Mom is very sensible. We had parents and youth meet and talk it over for what is acceptable and what is not. Invited the girl over for a weekend and had a great time - now the girls are good friends.
    • Seriously obese 6th grade boy bully is only child with parents of middle eastern origin. Father is a real jerk so there's little hope for the kid. Stay clear of this one - he's trouble.
    • Only child boy bully with widowed mom gets aggressive when hanging out with my son and another friend. They're ok when its just 2 of them. Jealousy and competition for attention is driving this. Mom is very nice, also lives with aunt and 3 female cats. Invited him camping with the boy scouts for some serious guy time - had great fun.

    Upshot is that the kids being bullied need to build self confidence and know which relationships can be fixed, and which ones can't. Bullies are typically insecure, jealous, or lonely and this is how they feel empowered.

    We can see this in adults as well. Typically its the momma bear personality,though sometimes not. Discussion on their secret need to be dominated and disciplined is a topic for another forum.

  • by nerdyalien (1182659) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:20AM (#31005592)

    unfortunately, I don't have any solutions with me. But I can tell you some long term consequences based on my experience.

    I was brought up in south-asia in a co-ed public school. Public schools are a mix of all the social classes and it is still a habit of 3rd world country men to look down each other on minor nuances.

    I was a bully victim throughout my school years (and to a certain extent in my college years.. but more towards 'work-wise bullying'). Definitely I didn't have the physique to fight back. So I had to submit it to survive school years as changing schools is not the solution for everything. As a consequence, I never had a big circle of friends in school. And I try to forget most of my school years and ppl I met there.

    Most of my school time, I spent on home work and other stuff (including reading, thinking stuff up) while rest are having merry time in the school yard. But nevertheless, I met handful of good guys (mostly nerds), who ended up being my long term friends/confidantes.

    But I really got to know I'm having a serious issue, only after I entered to college. I spent 4 years there without attending a single dorm party, going to college prom or road trips. I just didn't fit into people. I had hard time understanding ppl and only time I understood them was.. when they are ganging up to bully me.

    Same thing with romantic stuff. Its a shame, even educated in a co-ed school, I never went on a date in my entire life (and not to mention, no first time yet). Simply because, I don't know how to approach females and talk to them nor have the confidence. Back in school days, when I approached a girl, there are herds of ppl shouting/yelling nasty stuff.... and to avoid that harassment, I opt not to talk with girls.

    Moreover, I have issues approaching strangers and talking with them. And I'm worst in terms of bargaining things and manipulating situation for my advantage. No matter how much I try to fit into social groups, I always get kicked out.

    Even in my office, I tend to limit my communication to e-mails/IMs. Even thought other staffers having great non-work bonds.. I only have professional relationships.. that's that.

    If I didn't get bullied.. I would've interact with more ppl and probably complete 10,000 hours in social relationship training, hence I would've done much better in things I came across after school years. Plainly, I'm having hard time in terms of communicating with people, that pretty much closes most of the life experiences. In long run, all this have costed me quite badly. And yes, I agree with what the article explains.

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