Author, Teacher, Psychologist and Speaker

Posts Tagged "bullying"


Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 in Blog | 6 comments


It’s International Anti-Bullying Day

Anti Bullying Day


Hear the word “bullying” and your mind quickly conjures up images of the bigger kid on the playground with his fist raised high above the trembling form of a smaller kid, or maybe the scene in the hallway of two boys tumbling on the floor AKA World Wide Wrestling style, or a group of “beautiful” girls in the lunchroom gossiping and pointing toward a pimply, fat, unpopular girl, calling out names like “Lardo”, “Fatty”, and “Ugly”.

Take those images into the next decade or two of the lives of those same kids and what do you see? Many times what you will find is that those young bullies, who found that sense of power, took that aggressiveness with them into adulthood. You might think that as we mature we, well,  mature. Unfortunately, that false sense of power and control that some of us adopted into our identities as kids becomes a cornerstone of the adult persona.

Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to control, intimidate or abuse others. And an adult bully has the same basic goal as a child bully – to gain power over others and keep that imbalance of power in check. They humiliate, harass, and dominate their victims – or targets – to make them feel powerless, inferior, and afraid.

In many ways, we support and exist in a culture of adult bullying. For instance, from a recent NY Times report on an incident in the NFL: “On the Miami Dolphins’ practice field, players simulated sexual acts as they taunted a teammate about his sister. In the team’s hallways and meeting rooms, racist epithets and homophobic language flowed…verbal and physical abuse was widespread and even celebrated.” (“‘A Classic Case of Bullying’ on the Dolphins, Report Finds”, February 14, 2014)

A justification of “motivation” is always a poor rationalization for behavior in which any figure of authority uses intimidation, ridicule, or humiliation of another.

And that rationalization extends way beyond the football field into virtually every workplace where any one adult, or group, condones the use of intimidation to gain power and authority over others. It extends into the very fiber and fabric of our country. Adult bullying includes the mobbing tactic of global discrimination by one group against another based on differences of class, race, religion, gender, and sexuality.


What can we do about Adult Bullying? We can develop and adopt a broader concept of the “Golden Rule”, and not only treat others the way we want to be treated, but begin to:

  • Dialogue With One Another – communicate effectively in an effort to bridge the differences that we share individually, and as a nation, and to reflect upon those differences in a positive and constructive way.
  • Understand Our Differences – begin to use that communication to truly learn about one another, see things from the another perspective, and develop a new perception of reality that is inclusive of every human being. Often we are afraid of our differences only because they are something we don’t yet understand.
  • Respect Those Differences – we are all citizens of one nation under God – however you choose to view and/or define God – we were created, and according to the eyes of God and the law of the land, we are equal.
  • Accept Those Differences – whether or not we agree, or adopt any certain belief or lifestyle, or adhere to any religious conviction – we can choose to learn about, to understand,  to respect and yes – to love – one another.


“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” Princess Diana


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April 20, 1999. The Columbine Massacre.

Posted by on Apr 20, 2012 in Blog | 3 comments

Kids killing kids

Columbine High School

Columbine High School

Some people hate remembering terrible events. Anniversary dates should be for birthdays, weddings, happy times.

Is this atrocious act worth acknowledging? Remembering?  Reliving? More than half of all fatalities in schools are attributed to shooters. This was the worst single act of murder at a school in U.S. history.

Why would anyone want to recall this horror?

I think it might be worth appreciating some of lessons we have learned. First of all, we hopefully have learned not to jump to conclusions. In the early days after the massacre, rumors of retribution for bullying, gay and gothic affiliation, and hatred of all Christians, jocks, and African-Americans, flooded the newswires. However, lead investigator Kate Battan classified Harris and Klebold’s behavior as indiscriminate and random. “Sticking a gun underneath a table and firing — they didn’t even know who was under that table.” Investigators have concluded that this was an unmitigated and purely arbitrary act of hatred. Yet, no investigative reports address the real issue of “Why”. Random hatred comes from somewhere. Random murder has a reason. Some have justified this act by saying that Harris was homicidal and Klebold was suicidal – they wanted to “terrorize the entire nation” and be remembered for the “greatest mass murders in history.”

Secondly, this fortuitous act of violence has given us a heightened awareness of these types of attacks.  Oregon, Red Lake, Minnesota, Northern Illinois, Virginia Tech, Oikos University, and Chardon to name a few. We have examined and investigated and implemented policies for safer school environments. We have placed law enforcement inside schools, put bars on doors, and implemented lock down procedures.  We have put into action systems of crisis management.

And yet, some things have not changed. Bullying, hazing, and hatred are just as prevalent, if not more so. We cannot change and/or legislate the way people feel, or control the things that they say and do – the Facebook threats, the cruel bathroom horseplay, the hateful texting messages.

When does this

Harris and Klebold

Become this?

And for others, the lessons learned were those of violence. Almost every time since that carnage that there has been an incidence of school shooting, there is a reference to Columbine.  Earlier this year, a 16-year-old Utah boy showed up at Columbine High School and told the principal that he was doing a story for his school newspaper about Harris and Klebold. A month later, he was arrested on suspicion of planning to blow up their suburban Salt Lake City high school, steal a small plane and fly to safety.

One of the most recent, T.J. Lane, Chardon High School Shooting Suspect, allegedly shot randomly into a group of students, killing 3 students and injuring 3 others. Almost all early reports mentioned the similarities between Chardon and Columbine – demographics, student population.

And then there are those who “celebrate” the anniversary in other ways. At around 12:30 p.m Monday, April 16, 2012, Columbine High School was on a lockout – students were not allowed to leave the school and parents could not pick up their children for 3 hours.  Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies were sent to “sweep” the school grounds in response to a bomb threat. According to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jacki Kelley, they get bomb threats and death threats ever year during the Columbine anniversary week.

Why do we recall these days of unprecedented, unexplained, and horrible violence against the youngest of innocents – our children?

The 13 who were killed 13 years ago

For me, I remember, lest I forget.


The Colorado State Flower

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