Defeating the Culture of Bullying

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Emily Bazelonsenior editor at Slate and Political Gabfest Radio panelist, talks about her new book, Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy

EVENT:  Emily Bazelon will be reading at the Barnes & Noble at E. 86th St. and Lexington Ave. on Thursday February 28, 2013 at 7:00 PM.


Emily Bazelon

Comments [13]

Jenny from Oregon

Bullying seems to be something we express concern with only when children are involved. However, I want to point out that the bullies move into positions of power - using their bullying to control adult peers. Sometimes it simply controls workload for the bully, and may be a symptom of that person's limitations with responding to peers. For years I put up with a bully who was assigned as a liaison - and when I complained to a boss, they said I should develop a tougher skin. Only when I had reached my last straw did others get involved. Most colleagues had been putting up with the bully and my final straw put a toe hold on the problem. Then when it was investigated, after years, I finally feel heard, and as far as I can tell, the bully has been given some other job duties. It turns out many people behind the scenes recognized the bullying behavior, and before that, I thought I was alone.

My childhood experience being bullied set the stage for this to occur. I think that my survival mode is typically to withdraw, and that I need to develop skills that take me to the center of these kinds of relationship issues with peers at work.

At previous jobs I had experienced an environment which was more respectful - so every environment and industry tends to absorb various kinds of bullying. I believe that bullies exist everywhere, and some of have mastered the art - so that they are not labeled as bullies - but still exert that control and power.

The workplace needs to recognize bullying is not just for children and that bullies will circumvent the work being done at the office, and it is costing money.

Mar. 04 2013 10:50 PM

I was bullied in middle school and high school, but not by boys or with physical threats. The bullying I experienced was by other girls, in particular one ringleader, with gossip and endless teasing. A friend and I recently discussed our memories of bullying on our blog and podcast What's With The Drama. The episode is entitled "The Way We Were."
We discuss whether bullies in childhood grow up to be bullies in the workplace, and whether victims of childhood bullying are victims when they grow up. Strangely, while I still recall how painful the experience was, now that there have been intervening years of healing, I was able to see some humor in the situation and to have some empathy for my then tormentors.

Feb. 20 2013 08:14 PM

I know a couple going through a divorce. The dad routinely calls the mom a "stupid f***ing b*tch." Constantly. Sexism depends on enforcement techniques to stay strong. Women are demeaned, ridiculed, intimidated and threatened by men all the time. When men talk about women's body parts, as if they were not human beings, that is part of the process. If anybody is serious about ending bullying, they need to look at the relationship between the dad and the mom -- that's where kids learn what it means to be strong, or to be a man. If you don't want kids to bully, you need to stop their dads from doing it at home. Good luck with that. In fact, the only way this will end is if decent men begin speaking out against it in their daily life. When you are around a man who is demeaning women, speak up and say you have a mother, wife, sister, daughters, and you do not accept men speaking in a demeaning way about women. Women can't do this on their own.

Feb. 20 2013 12:08 PM
lee from pro-crow

After moving to a new and grittier nabe (bayside to flatbush),
I was chased home nearly every day and often slapped or punched around by a tough scruffy shameless type of young miscrient.
No one knew ... no systems in school or my home seemed to care about that . After summer vacation my body grew robust... and the first day of school at bustop 7the grade... he bullied me once again and
I musttered the strength., courage driven by my 12 year old raging hormones & pent up frustration to kick the stuffing out of him in front of his bully associate who dragged me off to save his anti-semetic bullying ass. (Part of the bullying revolved around my faith).
As I'm now over 50 years old ... I gloat mostly on remebrring the triumph yet why it went on for 2+ years
and why occasionally I feel sad that I had to resort to pummeling him to the ground. ( perhaps there was a better diplomatic way?

Yet didn't he "deserve" what he got on every level?
In the end the story would have been much better ending had the situation been addressed between the school, my parents and the parents of that screwed up bully.
I'd rather have told a story of non-violence and peaceful mitigation here.
And speaking up louder and more often may have stopped it earlier perhaps at that time.
Nowadays it might be addressed quicker under a similar situation.

Feb. 20 2013 11:13 AM
TJ from NJ

Moral character and empathy are disappearing because they used to be taught by reading fairy tales and mythology to young people at bedtime -- then after WWII situation comedy on TV took the place of bedtime reading --in 22 minutes the characters people came to love weekly tried to do the right thing. Now young people watch reality TV where the "contestants" try to screw one another so they can win. Empathy? Character? I don't think so.

Feb. 20 2013 10:53 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I was hoping to hear more about the "power of character & empathy" on this segment.

Feb. 20 2013 10:50 AM
Susan from North Salem, NY

Thank you for saying what you just said! We are asking teachers to be PARENTS and parents to be TEACHERS! Everyone needs to take back their roles and jobs. Bullying is largely learned behavior. If your kid is being a jerk in school, you need to accept the fact that your precious angel is being a jerk and TAKE SOME ACTION....other than calling your lawyer. If you can't deal with having to step up and be a parent, you shouldn't have kids.

Feb. 20 2013 10:49 AM
fuva from harlemworld

For real, at what point does anti-bullying mechanisms become counterproductive helicoptering that robs kids of valuable developmental, skin-thickening experience?

Feb. 20 2013 10:45 AM

Follow up to my previous posting. One recent example: My son was speaking to a friend and another student kept jumping into the conversation and interupting. My son told him to interrupting and the student began threatening to report him to the guidance counselor for bullying. Absurd!

Feb. 20 2013 10:45 AM
Shoshana from Brooklyn

Please ask the speaker to comment on group attack as opposed to chronic attack. I recently was reading the reviews on a product on amazon and saw that many, many, many, many people were ripping apart a reviewer for his comments. It's not one person repeating the abuse over time but rather many people piling abuse on an individual. How does that fit or not fit into the definition of bullying?

Feb. 20 2013 10:44 AM

The way bullying is handled in schools in NJ is ridiculous. EVERYTHING is lumped into bullying. At my son's middle school, it seems that any singular negative comment is labeled as bullying. It is creating unreal expectations. Children need to learn that life is not Candyland.

Feb. 20 2013 10:43 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I am a geek and I was bullied in school. My mother, who didn't know I was being bullied, had told us long before that if someone bothers you, just ignore them. I tried that in various circumstances and it worked.

Part of the bullying culture is that the bullies want a fear response. If that craving is not satisfied, they eventually go elsewhere.

Feb. 20 2013 10:32 AM
lucy from Brooklyn

Is Rick Bazalon your father?

Feb. 20 2013 10:01 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.