Please Explain: Bullying

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bullying is commonplace in schools, but in recent years cyber-bullying, suicides, and school shootings have shown bullying to be a very serious issue. On this week’s Please Explain we’ll find out what constitutes bullying and aggression among children (and adults), its repercussions, and how parents, children, and schools should address it. We’re joined by Elizabeth Englander, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University, and Jessie Klein, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Adelphi University, and author of The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools.


Elizabeth Englander and Jessie Klein

Comments [49]

Alice Jane Klugherz from East Village in NYC

I think we need to keep talking about this topic. Below is an incredable
very short video about the subject, so moving I watched it many times and
it awakened so many deep feelings I cryed each time, I urge you to watch it. Who ever made this is extremely talented:

Apr. 12 2012 08:18 AM

Klein should be ashamed of not following her own advice. "know thyself" woman!

Mar. 31 2012 09:36 AM

What a couple of harpies. My soul is being bullied by the two of them.

Mar. 31 2012 01:40 AM
Geoff from Yonkers

Yes, i agree with a lot of the comments - interesting topic, but unlistenable.

Mar. 30 2012 11:07 PM
Brutus from NYC

Robert from NYC:

What the heck are you talking about?
What are the bullies then, superior/superhuman kids?

PS: Lenny, maybe you could have directed your questions to each guest individually to avoid the verbal clashes.:)

Mar. 30 2012 09:03 PM
sandra from nyc

Gawd, these two speakers sound like THEY are bullying each other and even Leonard!
I can't keep listening to this podcast if there isn't some courtesy.
They need to take a few deep breaths while speaking.
Thank goodness we can stop this radio bullying by just shutting off the computer!!!

Mar. 30 2012 05:21 PM
d. gieringer

Klein is indeed an expert in bullying—how to shut people up, whether it's Englander, Lopate, or the long line of people with questions—with non-stop talking and pointed references to her website. Amazing to see such lack of sensitivity in someone presumably trying to promote it.

Mar. 30 2012 02:40 PM

The speaker said in so many words that children and teens should not be held responsible for their actions at school. She contends that this should be seen as a system problem. Frankly and with all respect, this is ridiculous. I was bullied mercilessly throughout my twelve years in the public school system. I learned first hand what was and was not effective with them, after being beaten and humiliated enough. What worked was returned violence. This was something that was not in my nature, but I learned well to be, ultimately. To this day I have I have PTSD, including a hair pin trigger, trouble sleeping, and depression. The effect of being afraid for my physical safety every day on my schoolwork is incalculable.

The bullies seemed to genuinely had a good time doing this, and they knew the consequences would be minimal. Outside of school, bullies' behavior would be chargeable as both assault and harassment. Now, I'm not suggesting legal action against ten year olds, but there need to be real, tangible consequences and a strict zero tolerance policy. Every student has the right to learn without fear of violence.

Mar. 30 2012 02:39 PM
Shelly from NYC

@Kate from Washington Heights - It was Jessie Klein who was not allowing Englander to speak. When Englander was able to speak, I heard her reference Jessie's name.

Mar. 30 2012 02:04 PM
Jen from NYC

Seriously - this show needs to figure out how to schedule their time better. They always time constrain hot topics and cut people off. It is appalling.

Mar. 30 2012 02:02 PM
ame315 from brooklyn, ny

this could have been an excellent and important conversation, but there was so much verbal bullying by one of the guests that it was very difficult to listen to.

Mar. 30 2012 01:59 PM

I think Klein is a bully...

Mar. 30 2012 01:59 PM

OH MY GOD !!! These two women are cackling away and over each other, what a terrible shame that two cackling fools are the guest speakers on what could have been an important and imformative discussion.

Mar. 30 2012 01:58 PM

Show some leadership in facilitating this conversation Leonard! You are in control, so please make sure that both of the guests are heard (and not at the both time).

Mar. 30 2012 01:57 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

It is BULLYING fathers out of the house and out of the home and out of the lives of his children that is the underlying problem, not bullying at school. Men have been bullied out of house and home and workplace, and that is the reason for most of our socioeconomic problems today.

Mar. 30 2012 01:57 PM
Erin from Westchester

These two are so rude!!

Mar. 30 2012 01:57 PM

There is no need to explain bullying, its the normal state of kids as shown in Lord of the Flies. The correction is to make them civilized.

Mar. 30 2012 01:56 PM
Kate from Washington Heights

Englander seems obsessed with not allowing Klein to just talk. Is that bullying?

Mar. 30 2012 01:55 PM

What about bullying when it takes place at a university? What can a student do when he is bullied by a tenured professor and the institution does not respond to complaints?

Mar. 30 2012 01:54 PM
Amy from Manhattan

If "cooties" or anything else becomes an ongoing theme for aggressive teasing & a reason to ostracize a child rather than something tossed off 1 time, I think it can get to the point where it is bullying & should be addressed that way.

Mar. 30 2012 01:53 PM
Steph from Ny

I am a teacher and I see this as a systemic problem. We need to teach children basic social skills. There is a program called Responsive Classroom that helps teachers incorporate social Ed in the curriculum.

Mar. 30 2012 01:53 PM

professor from Rutherford, NJ, I agree that it is important to look at this from a broader cultural perspective. How do we make kids more civil?

But, the ladies shut down any suggestion that the student could, e.g., fight back, o stay low, or do ANYTHING.

So what practically can a kid do if they are bullied NOW?
Its not blaming anyone, let alone the victim, but recognizing that its not true that "there is nothing to do but wait for a social shift."

Im sure you agree.

Mar. 30 2012 01:52 PM
charlie Bryant from NJ

These two ladies were awful to listen to. They were fighting to tell "the truth"

What annoying voices!!!

I had to turn you off

Mar. 30 2012 01:50 PM
Peggi from Nassau County

Is this problematic to American?

Mar. 30 2012 01:47 PM
bookmarc from Glen Ridge, NJ

I was a military brat. I went to 14 different schools around the world before graduating high school. I experienced every form of bullying, including numerous fistfights. I never surrendered and, as I got older and bigger, they tended to back off. I have never picked on anyone, physically or verbally. Despite a black belt and a history of practicing Muay Thai, I have only used deadly force once in my life and that was on a guy who pulled a gun on me--I broke his jaw, but I did not kill him, though I easily could have. I guess that being bullied made me want to be able to defend myself, but it never made me violent--or rude, for that matter.

Mar. 30 2012 01:43 PM
Listener from NYC

Regarding the Chicago Interrupters: better than adults serving as the interrupters, help train the kids in those skills. In my high school 15 years ago, we had trained peer mediators to help resolve student conflicts. Bullying often happens when adults aren't present, and the key to the Chicago interrupters is that it is very peer-to-peer (involving some former gang members), and is why I think it's so effective. The challenge would be helping kids to learn the cues for knowing when a situation is or might become too dangerous, but the more who can be counted on to be on board such a program, the greater effect this kind of initiative this will have.

Mar. 30 2012 01:42 PM

I do think adults should be held responsible for dealing with bullying and not knowing how to is a pretty poor excuse for not dealing with it. Parents can be called in to school for conferences with the children involved- bullys can be expelled-these are educators -they ought to be able to come up with some ideas. If a child is being threatened, harassed in an environment that should be safe and that he is forced to be in -the school is to blame. i cannot agree with your guests who seem to be absolving adults of blame for not dealing and controlling this behavior.

Mar. 30 2012 01:42 PM
shelly from NYC

Yes. Odd conversational dynamic, indeed. One particular lady is sort of a bully when it comes to conversing. Give the other woman a chance to jump in. Please.

Mar. 30 2012 01:41 PM
Jan from Westchester

Talk about bullying. One woman won't let the other speak. That's a form of bullying. Can't you silence her mike?

Mar. 30 2012 01:41 PM
Peggi from Nassau County

I'm second generation of bulling - beaten. My daughter is the third was a victim - beaten!
I was determined to STOP this.
The elementary school was not helpful.

It is very hard to stop this when people in power do not listen.

My mother, daughter and my self are stronger because of this - BUT I would rather have not gotten this experience.

Mar. 30 2012 01:41 PM
professor from Rutherford, NJ

Individual counseling is important for the victims of bullying, but school and workplace workshops on how to deal with bullying are perhaps more important. If you treat the issue only as a "problem of individuals", you run the risk of "blaming the victim". It is important to look at the social, economic and cultural factors of bullying.

Mar. 30 2012 01:40 PM

Englander and Klein said something very very wrong!

If you are a bullied child, you need to do something about it NOW. You cannot wait for a " social discussion" bla bla. That is for the long run.

You cannot tell the child that there is nothing HE or SHE can do NOW to end the bullying. The methods are: a) Strike back hard, b) Ignore, c) Irony
The kids needs to feel that THEY can affect this. The ladies are like socialists who think that the individuals actions don't matter, only some large scale social change.

Still, great job, the large scale -make kids more civil- approach is important, in combination with recommending of practical individual action from the bullied.

Mar. 30 2012 01:39 PM
Matthew from Astoria

Ironically the guests are having an odd conversational dynamic here.

Mar. 30 2012 01:38 PM

Can you please keep these ladies from talking over one another?

Mar. 30 2012 01:37 PM
Kate from Washington Heights


Mar. 30 2012 01:37 PM
Elsie from Brooklyn

Adults who are so emotionally stunted that they ignore, or worse, participate, in this kind of behavior have no business having children. We have created a society of emotionally crippled adults and we are watching our children play this out, sometimes with disastrous consequences. We've taught kids that being competitive is o.k. - little wonder they are behaving this way as a result.

Another thing I've noticed is that adults seem to take the bullying of their children personally - as if their bullied children are 'losers' and therefore the shame the parents feel about not raising a 'winner' prevents them from helping their children.

It's time to realize that we have created a toxic society and until we deal with this fact, we will continue to see our children behave in increasingly troubling ways as a mirror which reminds us of how ill we, the adults, really are.

Mar. 30 2012 01:36 PM
Ellen from Brooklyn

I think people we need to remember that bullying is subjective. I remember in high school someone who I considered part of my friend group made a comment about how the rest of us were always making fun of her and stressing her out over little things. I was completely shocked by her reaction. I never had meant to make her feel weird, I was just lightly teasing and it was normal with my family and friends. I no idea she felt so negative about it and never understood before she made that comment that she felt that way.

There needs to be real education that doesn't just demonize "bullying" because a lot of people will think they're not doing it. We need to learn how to say what we feel and to check in with people and instead assuming they're having fun with you.

Mar. 30 2012 01:34 PM
Neil from Austin

Is there any wonder American children bully each other? America, after all, bullies other nations. This is who we are. Children get their cues from the environment on what is acceptable behavior. We invade countries, send drones to kill civilian populations, etc. These are the cues we are giving our children.

Mar. 30 2012 01:34 PM
sher from lower Manhattan

Getting IMPATIENT with all your accurate but Generalized descriptive and prescriptive talk! Why don't you ask them Specifically, what can an adult SAY, in a situation to helpfully intervene? What SPECIFICALLY, could bystander teens do or say to head off episodes of bullying?!
Get Real please?

Mar. 30 2012 01:32 PM
Kira from brooklyn

Part of the problem is what people are exposing their kids to; I have a 6 and 9 year old and what I've noticed above all among their peers is that their parents are letting them play video games and watch movies where inappropriate language, sex and violence are present. Once you do that, you're basically saying it's ok to use that kind of language or behavior. I'm always surprised by the parents and teachers who let kids call each other "idiot" and "stupid", citing it as kids just being playful. This is pretty basic stuff. my kids still think that "shut up" is a bad word and while it might seem naive to some, I love it. When I was 12 I told my father that I had "dumped" my latest "boyfriend" (just a holding hands affair) and he sat me down for a long talk about why one shouldn't use language like that when referring to other people, even if everyone else is...he had a good point.

Mar. 30 2012 01:31 PM
Francisco from LA

My son is in 5th grade and what I have observed from other children whom have tried to bully him is that they often appear to be lonely and need attention. Girls especially appear to have a very passive aggressive way of bullying boys at this grade - this is a huge issue at this age. Girls appear to have a free ticket at this age.

The callousness which sometimes adults have with each other translates into bullying in child's world. At the end of the day they learn from all of us.

Mar. 30 2012 01:29 PM
jul from bklyn

What about the definition of bully? Is every childhood misbehavior now "bullying"?

I have seen very smart children bully others as they are learning how to work and benefit in social situations. This of course does not excuse it, but it certainly does not fit the bully image.

Mar. 30 2012 01:29 PM

From what I can see.. kids who bully deep down seem have low self esteem and/or lack of communication and stress related skills.. and see bullying as a way to feel more in control.

Mar. 30 2012 01:25 PM
Kate from Washington Heights

When children no longer use their bodies, when they no longer go out into the neighborhood and getting fresh air and using their muscles - when it is no longer true that all the kids in the neighborhood are needed to form a kickball team, when adults don't hang out watching the kids play - are we surprised that kids are acting out in scary ways?

Mar. 30 2012 01:23 PM

Is there any general advice given to those who are being bullied? Generally publicized. Individually counselled.

Mar. 30 2012 01:22 PM
Mary Beth from Manhattan

There was an article recently in AARP about the prevalence of bullying in old age homes. Can you comment?

Mar. 30 2012 01:22 PM
Robert from NYC

could it be, that expansion of bullying is related to the fact that we rise weaker (physically and mentally) kids, and they can be an easier pray for bullies?

Mar. 30 2012 01:21 PM
K from NJ

I am concerned that our new law against bullying in NJ is counter-productive and perhaps even dangerous. The principal of my children's school warned students that the police will be called to investigate if there are any allegations of bullying. I think he meant to warn the bullies that they should stop, but the kids seem to have taken home the message that no one should complain about bullying anymore because it will immediately become a huge deal and make the bully more angry the next time.

Mar. 30 2012 12:51 PM
Gerald Fnord from Palos Verdes, Ca.

Without bullying, how will we pass down all the arbitrary---and often personally harmful---traditions and attitudes so many of us hold so dear? They cannot withstand the light of rational self-interest without the added incentive of physical and emotional punishment for their violation....

Similarly, without bullying in childhood, how will a future generation of employees, parishioners, constituents, and spouses be prepared for the bullying that largely makes the relevant systems---employment, church memebership, politics, marriage---work?

(We _could_ instead create more humane systems for all of these, but that would probably be Kenyan Anit-colonial European Socialism, worse than twenty Hitlers.)

Mar. 30 2012 11:13 AM

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