COMMENTARY: If You Can’t Say Anything Nice

Tragic stories and new data on the prevalence and harmfulness of bullying have made us all more sensitive to the ways our words can hurt others – merciless criticism, nasty sarcasm, hurtful nicknames, malicious rumors, and careless gossip. In Words That Hurt, Words That Heal, Joseph Telushkin writes about the moral implications of what we say. He points out that …

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, …

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 …

COMMENTARY 770.2: Establishing a Culture of Kindness

Though intensive media attention to bullying has died down, the problem persists in many forms, and it continues to diminish the lives of tens of thousands of young people 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 …

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 …

OBSERVATION: According to a 2010 study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, half of all high school students admit they bullied someone in the past year, and nearly as many, 47 percent, say they were bullied, teased, or taunted in a way that seriously upset them in the past year. That’s an awful lot of kids who are inflicting and suffering serious emotional injuries, some so serious as to cause deep depression and even suicide.

Read the Josephson Institute’s 2010 study here. At the root of all this misery is the willingness of our sons and daughters to say and do mean and awful things that humiliate, embarrass, intimidate, or degrade others. Most of the perpetrators of all this pain are not brutish thugs with severe self-esteem issues. Many are intelligent, highly confident teens good at …