A Different Take On Bullying

In a case of “Which came first, the egg or the chicken?” insomnia is one of those things where I’m not sure if I can’t sleep and therefore I get sucked into the black hole that is internet science/medicine research (IFL Science!...cough cough).  Or if I have insomnia because quite frankly anyone would if they’d just read fifty pages on bacteria eating brain tissue and pooping out (potential) Alzheimers.  


I was on one such adventure last night, where I was deep in the bowels of google, when I came across this and thought more people might find it interesting than just me.  (of course the light of day and the return to sanity that brings, has me less sure, but I’m sharing nonetheless).  


  • Anti-bullying measures, as currently implemented, cause more bullying, not less.

  • Multi-modal literacy is best developed, not by controlled exposure to diverse modes or incorporation of desired modes into curricula, but by specific free mode-exploration, accompanied by triggers for hot cognition.”

Now being the mother of dragons...er boys, I feel like I’ve been given a front row ticket on the issue of bullying.  I have certain suspicions that truly vicious bullying is an Fe function (myers briggs).  Which isn’t to say that only FJ’s bully, but that all other types (I’m looking at you ENTJ) are probably using the Fe function in some way.  My observation among children supports this, as it is usually the most socially intuitive kids who are doing the bullying, and it’s usually the T’s who are on the receiving end (being awkward and socially low aware).   This matches with the above hypothesis, that current anti-bullying solutions don’t actually work because they benefit the kids with higher awareness/consciousness.

I tutor at my kids class day (for lack of a better term) and ran into some bullying this year.  It was difficult figuring out how to address it because the cases were far too nuanced with deviant behavior happening usually from both the bully and the bullied.  The usual intervention only resulted in more ostracization and attention drawing to the problem with widened the aforementioned social gap.   

He says more:

I've received numerous replies asking me to clarify, elaborate, and/or speak in plain language. I didn't realize this would be such a hot topic, so I apologize for not elaborating to begin with. I will do so now.

  • Bullying:

There are many, many different anti-bullying initiatives being implemented (in North America, where I teach) but most of them (in my opinion) rely on purely philosophical and rational, as opposed to empirical (and evidence based) models.

The current push in the school where I teach is what I would call a "holistic" approach, where the focus is on the average student, and THEIR response to bullying, rather than adressing the conditions and results of the bullies and the victims of bullying. Rather than punishing bullies, or protecting victims, I see administrations admonishing the student body as a whole, and asking them to "speak out" and "stand up" to bullying where and when they see it.

The idea, as far as I can understand it (and I've read many papers on the subject), is that bullying can't happen if you promote and encourage an environment of acceptance, and zero-tolerance for bullying amongst the student body. By encouraging students to stand up for each other, and call out bullying behaviors when they see it -- rather than stay silent -- you eliminate bullying.

The reality, in my experience, is that this policy leaves victims powerless, and lets bullies off the hook. The onus for protecting vulnerable students gets passed from teachers and administrators to the students themselves -- the persons least equipped and mature enough to deal with the issue. The result is that ordinary students feel guilt and shame, and react in the obvious way -- with group-think and witch-hunts. Meanwhile, victims receive zero support. Actual bullies are treated with kid gloves, and even get special attention and extra resources. Vastly more, in fact.

I would personally recommend abolishing zero-tolerance policies, abandoning "holistic", "whole school" approaches to combating bullying, and instead empower teachers and administrators to use their natural authority to identify chronic bullies and abusers, and deal with them on an individual basis, and with actual consequences.

There is this idea afloat, currently, which I do NOT believe is supported by the body of the evidence, that you can reduce the burden to society by keeping very troubled and potentially dangerous students "in the system" where they can receive help, rather than discarding them, where they have a good chance of becoming criminals, and falling through the cracks of society.

On the surface, it makes a lot of sense, and is very compassionate. But it ignores the tremendous, tremendous damage that these students do to the education and socialization of all the other students -- and especially the vulnerable students who suffer the most.

I personally feel that the trade-off we're currently making -- where the vast majority of students are forced to suffer terrible learning conditions and potential violence, while simultaneously being asked to "be responsible" themselves for their deranged peers' actions, is not only unfair, but damaging, and unsustainable.

The damage we are doing to healthy and happy children by refusing to punish and remove obvious bullies from the system is WORSE than the damage to society that is caused by letting those few damaged children that are the problem, to fall through the cracks. In my opinion.

I am in favor of abandoning, "inclusion" and "mainstreaming" policies, and bringing back special schools and classrooms for troubled children.”

Anyway, you can read the rest here. I found his take extremely thought provoking and definitely in line with what I’ve observed.   But I’m interested in other perspectives and opinions.