Narrow Search

  • Show Only

  • Category

  • Narrow by Date

    • All
    • Today
    • Last 7 Days
    • Last 30 Days
    • Select a Date Range

Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Raising the Bar

Re: “The Anti-Bullying Movement Misses the Mark

Focusing on developing empathy and compassion as a cultural value is fine, but how the school or workplace responds to complaints is the only fair and effective way to reduce the harm to individuals and society.
This commentary sums it up better than anything I have read.

What works to stop bullying
Steve Johnson
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
SF Chronicle

We've had a year of polarized debate about bullying. On one side we have those who believe the bullying that resulted in the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi is a form of anti-gay discrimination and that those who disagree are homophobes. On the other side are those who are convinced that liberals and gay rights groups are advancing some kind of "homosexual agenda" under the guise of an anti-bullying curriculum.

One thing is clear: We're not going to stop bullying in our schools until we stop bullying each other over how to address the problem. Let's make a New Year's pledge to talk about bullying the way we'd like to see our kids talk to each other. Let's focus on proven strategies that can accomplish what all people of goodwill want: an end to the harassment of vulnerable children.

Here's what we know works to reduce bullying in schools:

-- Educating, not just punishing, the perpetrators

-- Training bystanders to be allies of the victim

-- Not allowing the isolation or taunting of any child for any reason.

But these simple steps seem not to satisfy those who must fit bullying into their preconceived ideas about what is wrong with American education. They tend to be divided into two camps:

Camp 1: Bullying is an anti-social, aggressive act by an isolated individual, which should be dealt with as an individual behavioral offense by punishing the bully. The call for more of a systemic response is just an excuse to smuggle a homosexual or other left-wing "tolerance agenda" into the schools.

Camp 2: Bullying is all about the culture of the school, and school culture is a reflection of intolerance in the larger society. What's called for is a complete re-socialization of the students through a tolerance curriculum.

Were there any evidence supporting either of these positions, we might be able to declare which camp is right and then proceed to conquer bullying. But in fact, a long history of research on bullying shows neither is an effective approach.

Bullies do, indeed, engage in anti-social behavior. They need to be confronted with that behavior and told why it is inappropriate, and they need to experience negative consequences for what they have done.

But punishing them is not enough. Children need to be told what they should have done instead of bullying, and they need to commit to doing that in the future. Unless aggressive children go through this kind of process, their anti-social behavior will increase rather than decrease.

By the same token, a strategy of re-socialization is also insufficient. Yes, bullies often reflect the prejudices and intolerance of the larger society. But a re-socialization approach assumes that we can change people and their beliefs in a way that no social science tells us we can do. Most of the anti-bullying programs based on re-socialization have no social science behind them; there's no valid research that suggests that they are helpful.

Unlike approaches based on ideology, successful anti-bullying programs are quite practical and concrete: They use anonymous surveys to sample the current climate within the school. Then they go about changing the culture of the school by working primarily on bystander behavior. They make it OK for students to report bullying by altering the notion of what students consider tattling.

Successful anti-bullying efforts address precursor behaviors to bullying, like exclusion, with rules that children understand - "You can't say, 'You can't play.' " And, while good programs do not blame the victims, they do include social skills instruction for children who are picked on to help reduce the chances they will continue to be victimized.

Most important, successful programs change the bystander behavior of adults. They challenge false beliefs among teachers and parents about the nature of bullying - that being bullied "builds character," that "boys will be boys." In short, they make clear that adults must not stand by when bullying takes place.

None of these components of a successful anti-bullying program is particularly difficult to learn or expensive to implement. What these programs do require, though, is for both camps in the debate to put their ideologies aside long enough to put the proven strategies to work.

Steve Johnson, a former teacher and principal, is director of character education at Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. He is the creator of the Character-Based Literacy Curriculum, which is widely used in California counties.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Laura Menard on 05/04/2012 at 1:56 PM

Re: “The Anti-Bullying Movement Misses the Mark

just to say, i got bullied all through mid-high school, it was horrible, i even willingly put my self in a mental hospital cause i thought something was wrong with me, only cause i got to the point of wanting to kill my self, cause i couldnt handle it any more. it was/ too much hate all at one time, and i had to deal with that for what, 4-6 years?! that was just rediculous, but yeah ive been tere, done that and i never want to be in that situation ever again.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Travis Jackson on 05/03/2012 at 6:23 AM

Re: “The Anti-Bullying Movement Misses the Mark

There used to be a time when you could get away from bullying. But it's not that way anymore. For kids that are being bullied, it now follows them home and everywhere because so much of the bullying happens online. Lots of kids turn to drastic measures to either protect themselves or hurt themselves. It is so tragic. A 13 year old from my hometown just committed suicide this weekend as a result of bullying. I talk about online bullying and suicide here:…

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Heather Harrison on 05/02/2012 at 10:53 AM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

Well, having known Mike Godwin since before he coined the term, I regard it as a major pain that it is now impossible to make legitimate comparisons of anything, however deserving, to the Nazis, because of the proverbial law. And I also think the Occupy terminology, however handy, is a vast oversimplification that lends itself to sloganeering and tantrum-throwing rather than thoughtful discourse and actual solutions, so I tend to think it's considerably overused already.

Posted by Mary Eisenhart on 04/05/2012 at 2:54 PM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

Mary -- Thank you for the comment. I have been thinking about this issue myself; it is really quite important. Language matters; and, certain phrases get improperly devalued or improperly elevated in today's culture. As to Godwin's Law itself, my quick Google search found a healthy debate about it.

For me the most important issue is how do we characterize the root problem in today's society. (Of course, inquiring minds can certainly disagree as to what that problem is, and whether the arguments that follow the use of the phrase have merit.) I think the "One Percent v. 99 Percent" is the best way to quickly explain the underlying reality of the mess we are in, crystallizing this root problem in a culturally understandable way. Here, the Occupy Movement has done a great service. So, this is why I use it.

Thanks for your reading and thanks again for taking the time to write.


Posted by Jay Youngdahl on 04/05/2012 at 9:58 AM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

"One percent" and "99 percent" are rapidly attaining Godwin's Law status in that as soon as they crop up in a discussion you know it's been given over to facile cliché and it's time to turn the page. Surely it is possible to express the concepts in fresh language.

0 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by Mary Eisenhart on 04/04/2012 at 11:06 AM

Re: “Where Is Our Katniss Everdeen?

The point that the health care debate is about us and them is well written and logical. They are the one percent who control and of the rest are us. The poor are exploited and marginalized in favor of the rich. We are moving toward a world in which human life is not valued except monetarily. I agree, human life is more important than money.

That which I find missing in this analysis is that the health care bill provides for the largest expansion of abortion in the US ever. Human life is more important than money, so, you may add me to those who want the health care bill rescinded.

Matthew Vogler

3 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Matthew Joseph Patrick on 04/04/2012 at 9:01 AM

Re: “Barbara Lee Gets It

Staff Sgt Bales was making $68,000 a year including combat pay. When our young men and women have no other economic opportunity but to expose themselves multiple times to trauma from which they will not likely recover, can we really call ourselves a just society?

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Lisa Lindsley on 03/26/2012 at 11:22 AM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

Strobe, you continue to ignore what is said in rebuttal and jump into a dogmatic and erroneous rant against anarchists.

The system is fatally broken and can only be fixed by direct democracy from citizens. Representative government has failed. A direct democracy run socialism is acceptable to me.

You're a socialist, so how are YOU pushing the system towards socialism? You have plenty of criticism towards those of us trying to push this country towards direct democracy. Where's your creative solutions and actions toward that end?

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Sandy Sanders on 03/24/2012 at 5:15 PM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

Anarchists refuse to channel the protest energies they attract, systematically obstructing calls to craft meaningful economic demands. Occupy activists first said it was too soon to introduce demands. Then, after a month passed, anarchists dismissed these calls as an attempt by corporate media to discredit the movement. We wondered about demands, the media echoed that, and suddenly Occupy anarchists dismissed us as media-brainwashed goons trying to infiltrate or undermine their movement. Such dissembling arguments keep Occupy stagnating in a miasma of provocation, where grandstanding anarchists breathe most freely.

They stare back with credulity, asking, What do our critics want?

I have no ties to Stand Up Oakland. I am the 36 percent of Americans who view socialism “favorably” (according to a 2010 Gallup poll taken before anarchist shadows were glimpsed at the edges of the spotlight). My case, since Sandy asks, is a humble history beginning in the anti-apartheid movement and writing for leftist publications. During this time, I broke bread with anarchists of varying stripes and know what they read, how they think, and how they delude themselves.

O, the childish sophism! Did you know that there's really no such thing as a "flower"? No, there many different kinds of flowers, and each one is different! Anarchists love to confuse their debate opponents by disallowing any generalization about their ideology. Simultaneously, they peddle grotesque caricatures of media workers, police, and agents provocateur. (Certainly law enforcement agencies have infiltrated Occupy to gather information, but what capable detective or intelligence agency would waste time hiring agents provocateur into a movement lead by people who sanction throwing bottles at riot policemen?)

Many socialists just dismiss anarchism as an aside, liberals have no familiarity with the tradition at all, and few journalists have shown the intellectual capacity to even identify its influence, though sometimes good reporting captures a whiff of their stench. (Easy, that's only a metaphor, Stinky.) Many fine activists, commentators and writers are addressing issues of economic inequality and police abuse, and I'm happy to leave this to more able hands. But there is a gaping void of focused literature about anarchists written by non-anarchists. I will do my small, independent part to change that.

Listen, Anarchist! Make some demands or get out of Oakland's streets!

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Strobe Fischbyne on 03/24/2012 at 11:12 AM

Re: “Barbara Lee Gets It

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Editor on 03/23/2012 at 10:38 AM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

"Those of us frustrated by the anarchist journey"...?... Strobe what's your "journey" look like? Critique but no point of view? Anarchism is not anarchy. Anarchism is more democratic than anything we have in this corporate oligarchy they want to make us think is a republic. And Black Bloc is a tactic not a group of people. Hedges did not understand this distinction and had his pants down because of this and also that he went over the top on the "violence" thing which so many SOFO writers here want to repeat over and over hoping it will stick.

I'll say this one more time and you can ignore it like the others have in previous comments, but the violence of OPD on HUMAN BODIES, sending people to the hospital with life changing violence, false and trivial harassment arrests on a continuing basis, now at times daily, court charges that are absurd on the face of it, and the OBLITERATION of the ability to assemble, freely speak and redress grievances is 100x the RARE property damage, NOT violence (Webster's: 1a: an exertion of any physical force so as to injur or abuse (as in warfare or in affecting an entrance into a house) b: an instance of violent treatment or procedure.), that occurred on only a FEW march events. This is the truth you folks refuse acknowledge.

And by the way, if you want the same change Occupy does, how do YOU suggest going about it, and if so why aren't you doing what you are saying should be done?

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Sandy Sanders on 03/22/2012 at 10:50 PM

Re: “Barbara Lee Gets It

Name a US puppet that wasn't "evil"...that's not why we killed Saddam but it's why we left him there after the first oil war when Iraqi Ambassador April Glaspie gave him a green light to invade Kuwait, distracting us from Poppy Bush's Iran-contra/drugs-for-guns scandal...the 2nd oil war came as he was about to drop the dollar and followed PNAC 9-11 plan to demolish socialist Iraq, Libya, Syria...
We murdered Gaddafi along w/ over 100,000 Libyans because WE were evil and for giving enough free health care, education and housing to his people to bring them from Africa's poorest to wealthiest with longest life span and earning the enmity of the colonial powers enough to frame him (in Mossad's Operation Trojan) for blowing up the airliner w/ the hostage release team that had run across CIA heroin traffic (but w/o Pic Botha who cancelled at last minute along w/ 'our guys' who were in the loop...

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by greg allen getty on 03/22/2012 at 10:21 PM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

Sandy (below) tries to rebut the charge that anarchism is an echo chamber by citing two anarchists, Graeber and Solnit. Graeber is an influential Occupy leader who himself participates in Black Blocs, joining the actions a non-violent participant to run cover for his violent counterparts. Graeber would like us to believe that Black Blocs never provoke the police, and that we only think they do because the police and media say so — an old anarchist ploy that’s wearing thin in the age of video phones and livestreams.

Solnit lends her mellifluous prose to the notion of “spontaneous order” — that fuzzy anarchist future wherein everyone will live free of authority or laws of any kind. Chris Hedges is not even mentioned in the linked article, as Sandy promises, but the article’s title does capture the spirit of the moment: “Mad, Passionate Love — and Violence: Occupy Heads into the Spring.” (Solnit has peddled a more ethereal, diluted form of her anarchism in Harper’s magazine, where she claims to be a contributing editor, which she is not, lest it be spontaneously.)

Admittedly, Chris Hedges’ article was good but not great. Those of us frustrated by the anarchist journey to nowhere have waited for a more vibrant flash point from the militant left, but we’ll take what we can get. Hedges doesn’t acknowledge the degree to which anarchists are at the core of Occupy, credit that Graeber rightly claimed in his rebuttal. That said, Hedges certainly was not “proven to be wildly off base” about the dead end of Black Blocs.

The February 8 KPFA discussion Sandy cites hardly showed Hedges with his pants down, either. Hedges held his own with Occupy Oakland leader Kristof Lopaur. You can hear the two agreeing on multiple points, including the difference between Black Blocs and traditional organized militance, with Black Blocs being confrontational toward police and militance being a defensive posture. Here again, however, Lopaur blames the media for making Black Blocs representative of Occupy tactics; the KPFA comment section suggests a genuine popular outcry.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Strobe Fischbyne on 03/22/2012 at 9:56 PM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

Hedges got caught with his pants down on that one. Thorough discussion ensued and he is proven to be wildly off base, just like the critiques by the SUFO propaganda squad. See the articles by David Graeber and Rebecca Solnit...…

...and the KPFA "Letters & Politics" debate a few weeks ago with Hedges and OO.

1 like, 4 dislikes
Posted by Sandy Sanders on 03/19/2012 at 12:32 PM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

Youngdahl mentions Chris Hedges’ article, “The Cancer in Occupy,” without discussion. Too bad. Hedges sees much of what’s going on in Oakland. “Black Bloc adherents detest those of us on the organized left and…confuse acts of petty vandalism and a repellent cynicism with revolution,” Hedges wrote in TruthDig on February 6. “Because Black Bloc anarchists do not believe in organization, indeed oppose all organized movements, they ensure their own powerlessness. They can only be obstructionist.”

Let’s be clear. Hedges is not initiating another tired debate about violence versus non-violence. He supports militancy within the left. Instead, Hedges is pointing out what many already know, that Black Blocs participants are childish. “They hear only their own voices. They heed only their own thoughts. They believe only their own clichés,” Hedges wrote. “And this makes them not only deeply intolerant but stupid.”

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Strobe Fischbyne on 03/19/2012 at 11:22 AM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

I think East Bay Express Occupy article comments are being swarmed by "Stand Up For Oakland" campaigning. These agruments against OO are the same no matter what evidence is brought against them. Their facts are erroneous or highly exxagerated and follow the typical Chamber of Commerce attacks on the 99%.

1) I did not believe SUFO claims re: warning non-violents to stay away and just did a google search with NO results. If this is true please post a link or desist.

2) "unsanitary conditions of the Occupy camps" was caused by the City not allowing portapotties, or multiple other food and health facilities serving the homeless that have always lived in the neighborhood. The City made this impossible and kept watering the lawn into a lake to drive us out. Snow Park was clean as a whistle as we had a portapottie and WE actually mowed the lawn and mainatined the park left fallow by the City. And the local workers and residents supported us with sandwiches,coffee and verbal support.

3) While the camp was up at the plaza local crime went down 14% (police chief statement). Law breaking ratio of police to OO?... 100 to 1. They almost killed a couple of people whereas a 1% of marchers (provacatuers? or who knows) go off on their own and break a window or spray grafitti.

4) "not yet heard nor understood one logical solution from the movement"... Okay...we say the equivalent of this at every march, every speech, every meetup but here you go.... The system is fatally broken. Representative government has not, and exhibits that it will not, make the global changes necessary to create a sustainable, egalitarian society for the 100%. There is a list of problems as extensive as the 47 pages of changes listed in the Green Party Platform or Peace & Freedom Platform. The list of problems is huge and completely and universally oppossed to the composition of the existing corporate oligarchy for the 1%. Single demands won't solve anything...a comprehensive solution like direct democracy organized block by block needs to be created by ALL OF US GETTING TOGETHER. And we can't get together if the police smash us, the politicians lie and cheat, the Chamber lies and cheats, and the 1% lies and cheats. This is why a public presence by The People via OO is necessary.

5) "to enroll school or reinvest in education in some practical capacity, muster some discipline and 'true grit,' and get to work on changing the corrupted system from the inside out as an educated and reputable citizen" ...The City pays Goldman Sachs $5 million a year for a closed contract, shuts down 5 schools because this amount goes to Goldman Sachs instead of the kids and the 1% aren't paying their fair share of taxes as they did decades ago; The City spends millions in violence against OO to repress the above universal demands for change when if they had facilitated... allow us to operate, even give us the 5 year vacant Kaiser, we would have relieved the City of countless dollars and provided services for the homeless at a fraction of the cost.

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Sandy Sanders on 03/18/2012 at 11:34 AM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

@Juliet, thank you for your incisive analysis of what's really going on at OO despite what their prpogandists might have you think. As Richard Pryor said when caught red-handed: "WHO YOU GONNA BELIEVE? ME OR YOUR OWN LYING EYES?"

On the one hand, OO takes umbrage that they could conceivably be considered violent; on the other hand they tell their own activists when violence is likely at an event and everyone knows its because of the flagrant taunting of police and destruction of property by OO activists that precipitate the violence. I've been to the rallies, I've seen the videos, I've been to their online forums. The denial and/or hypocrisy of this movement is a shame, because what they (claim to) stand for is so important. They have not only hijacked a cause dear to us all, but their childish behavior is bankrupting the city of Oakland. What's worse, as your letter implies, OO's violence and hypocrisy might dim the energy of optimism of a generation in danger of losing faith in direct political action.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by David Livingstone Fore on 03/18/2012 at 7:13 AM

Re: “Real Change is Complicated and Messy

After witnessing, first hand, the unsanitary conditions of the Occupy camps in Oakland in addition to random acts of violence and vandalism, and reading updates on the Occupy Oakland website that warn people who support non-violent means of protest not to join certain marches, I cannot agree with the movement nor this article. As a staunch liberal, inner-city high school English Language Arts teacher, and musician, I fully support young people gaining the necessary education and correspondingly earned employment opportunities. I understand the tragic consequences of the achievement gap among ethnically diverse youth and young adults, the socioeconomic inequities that remain pervasive for so many individuals in our supposedly egalitarian society, and the gross abuse of power by the wealthiest, which has persisted since the dawn of our nation. I too had endured the perils of a poor economy until I was finally hired this last August as a full-time, contracted educator. I empathize with the frustration of feeling slighted, undervalued, and outright ignored. However, I cannot, in good conscience, support a reactionary, conceptually fractured movement that breaks multiple laws, traumatizes small businesses, schools and the local environment, and jeopardizes the well-being of others. Protestors have displayed signs yielding contradictory messages such as "All my friends are cop killas" alongside anti-war slogans while disseminating advocacy pamphlets for anarchy as the best form of government in various marches throughout the downtown area. These messages express antithetical ideals and worldviews, and do not speak to the focused message of reigning in corporate avarice. I disagree with the author's suggested ultimatum that we 'passive liberals' have to invent an alternative solution to the problem of capitalist imbalances and executive abuses, or should otherwise, placidly accept the forced representation of a disjointed movement that fails to offer sound and plausible solutions itself. I, like many Oakland professionals, have not yet heard nor understood one logical solution from the movement. Overtaking abandoned buildings by force, throwing rocks through supermarket windows, unlawfully camping in parks and trees (of all places), and tagging on every building within range of spray-paint can, are not viable solutions to any problem of socioeconomic injustice. Such acts conversely propose new detriments to the myriad the Oakland community already confronts. While it may be true that not every member or even the majority of the Occupy Oakland movement participates in these criminal acts, a collective group will be judged by its very worst, rogue elements; consequently, the Occupy Oakland's methods as I have witnessed them do not represent the 99%, but merely themselves at this point. Perhaps the best solution for the youthful population that seems to dominate the present movement is to enroll school or reinvest in education in some practical capacity, muster some discipline and 'true grit,' and get to work on changing the corrupted system from the inside out as an educated and reputable citizen rather than from the precarious position of one who alienates the general populace with brutish demands and rancorous rallies for unmerited handouts and reckless retribution.

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Juliet Hawk on 03/17/2012 at 5:52 PM

Re: “Apple's Dirty Money

There are "conflict mineral" provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act designed to prevent payments to warlords in the Democratic Republic of Congo where minerals for cellphones are mined. But no protections for the Chinese workers. Some folks would say that it is the responsibility of the Chinese government to protect their workers. What do you say to those who think that "maximizing profit" is the only job of a corporate CEO?

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Lisa Lindsley on 03/07/2012 at 2:03 PM

Most Popular Stories

© 2016 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation