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Bullies and Bystanders: Why There's Never A Hero Around When You Need One

Adam Blum

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There are a huge number of anti-bullying programs being instituted in our schools based on very flawed theories.

Central to these programs is the magical thinking that clever slogans featured on posters and wrist-bands and entertaining assemblies with plays and puppet shows actually do any good at all. Another laughable core idea these programs share is the idea that teachers have the ability to play “case investigator" or discern which interactions constitute bullying - and then have inclination to stop everything they're doing to write a report on each incident.

Another common thread is the idea that peer-abuse can be stopped by ‘deputizing’ witnesses to stand up and intervene. This idea is so defective that only the intellectual elite (or the government) could support it. Here's why:

Diffusion Of Responsibility or “The Bystander Effect" - One person is likely to assist someone who clearly needs help. In a group, (3 or more) no one person feels it's their job to take action (Darley & Latane did the first lab experiments on this in 1968). In groups, our individual judgment is subsumed; we monitor others for their reaction, and figure that if they deem the situation is serious, some one else will step forward. If no one takes initiative, that's enough social proof to justify our inaction.

Schadenfreude - Defined as “taking pleasure from the misfortune of another". Yes, its unattractive. Yes, we've all been guilty at some time or another. A witness to a bullying spectacle has to come to terms with what they're seeing. If they see an innocent or helpless person being tormented, then they have to accept that by doing nothing, they're cowards at least, or even complicate. If they see the victim as somehow ‘deserving’ or ‘asking for’ bad treatment, then their self-image as a good person is preserved. Either way, an observer thinks, “better him than me".

Fear - The intense emotional state brought on by danger.

* Fear of Embarrassment from saying or doing the wrong thing
* Fear of Injury- if they come to the target's defense, they might incur the aggressors wrath for meddling.
* Fear of Rejection - their peers might turn on them. Social stigma, like cooties and viruses are contagious.

In the heat of the moment, when a child is being made fun of, threatened or shunned, its wonderful when a brave soul defies inertia and calls a stop to the abuse. But let's face it - being courageous isn't easy. Considering the obstacles and risks, its completely understandable why more children don't come to the rescue of a classmate who's being ganged up on.

And while a guardian angel may save a peer from a particular incident of abuse, it doesn't help the targeted child to develop the tactics and techniques to handle or prevent the next incident.
Hoping that a bystander will become a hero isn't a success strategy for a kid who's being bullied . “Hope" is not a strategy.

For school officials make bystander interventions the foundation of their anti-bullying programs is deplorable.

Fortunately, in most cases, with a little training, the targeted child can effectively stop bullying by themselves. In just two weeks, any parent can prepare their child to handle everything from name-calling and vicious gossip to actual physical confrotations.

Go to The Total Bully Solution and instantly download your Free Report.


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