COMMENTARY: The Ultimate Solution to Bullying in Schools: A Student-Led Culture of Kindness

Olivia Gardner was a sixth grader in Northern California when her life began to unravel. It started when she suffered an epileptic seizure in front of her classmates. Immediately, the name-calling began. The hallway insults and ridicule — “freak,” “retard,” “weirdo” — escalated into cyber-bullying when a few particularly nasty students set up an “Olivia Haters” website. One student dragged …

COMMENTARY 973.1: The Power of Words

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Really? Insults, teasing, gossip, and verbal abuse can inflict deeper and more enduring pain than guns and knives. Ask anyone who as a kid was fat, skinny, short, tall, flat-chested, big-busted, acne-faced, uncoordinated, slow-witted, or exceptionally smart. In schoolrooms and playgrounds across the country, weight, height, looks, …

Memo From Michael: Thoughts on Coaching and Integrity

You’ve doubtless heard about the Rutgers University basketball coach, Mike Rice, who is shown on video in serial acts over two years abusing athletes and, quite simply, acting like a complete jerk. He was shown screaming homophobic slurs at his athletes, grabbing and pushing them and throwing basketballs at them from close range. The conduct was so over-the-top inappropriate that the discussion …

OBSERVATION: STIRRING THE POT MORE. The intensity of our belief that we are right does not convert our opinions into truth.

Reading the letters responding to my comments on gay rights  I have found that many of the people who have expressed an opinion — whether for or against gay rights  — exhibit the same tendency (one that I find very troubling) to demonize those with contrary views. I think it is just as bigoted of those who agree with my …

Memo From Michael: Take a Stand on Gay Rights

One thing I’ve learned in the 813 weeks I’ve been writing and posting these commentaries is that some people who love you (or at least say they do) can turn on a dime if you disagree with them on something fundamentally important to them. So I confess I think twice (or more) before I publish a commentary I know will …

COMMENTARY 798.1: We Don’t Need Anti-Bullying Programs

Though intensive media attention on bullying has died down, the problem persists in many forms, and it continues to diminish the lives of tens of thousands of students every day. According to a recent survey, roughly half of all high school students say that in the past year they were bullied in a manner that seriously upset them. A similar …

COMMENTARY 782.5: Power of Words

“Stick and stones can break your bones but names will never harm you.” Really? In fact, insults, teasing, malicious gossip and verbal abuse inflict deeper and more enduring pain than guns and knives. Ask anyone who as a kid was fat, skinny, unusually short or tall, flat-chested or big-busted, acne-faced, uncoordinated, slow-witted or exceptionally smart. In schoolrooms and playgrounds across …

WORTH READING: An Insightful Article on the Scope and Causes of Bullying

This article is somewhat dated (2008) but still is a very useful resource and worth reading. You can read the whole thing at the San Francisco Chronicle. Bullying takes twisted turn for the worse Regan McMahon, Chronicle Staff Writer Sunday, August 17, 2008 Oakland first-grader Zachary Cataldo suffered a skull fracture when a fifth-grader allegedly slammed him against a tree in …

WORTH READING: Letters to a Bullied Girl

From the publisher: Olivia Gardner, a northern California teenager, was severely taunted and cyberbullied by her classmates for more than two years because she was an epileptic who had suffered seizures in front of classmates. News of her bullying spread, eventually reaching two teenage girls from a neighboring town, sisters Emily and Sarah Buder. The girls were so moved by Olivia’s story …

Don’t Miss This One! OBSERVATION & WORTH SEEING: Out of the Closet. I know many of the people who follow my work have a deeply grounded religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. Many fortify their convictions by believing that God would not make any child homosexual and, therefore, that it is a choice to be gay or lesbian. Whether you fall into this group or simply want to better understand the human dimension of this aspect of the bullying problem, please take the time to watch the videos included here. It could change your perspective, maybe even your life.

First, a preface: Young people are harassed, humiliated, and intimidated at school for all sorts of reasons – their looks, the way they talk, their race, and more — but students who are or are perceived to be gay are subjected to the most persistent and pernicious forms of bullying. This has led to more suicides than any other cause …