Understanding Bullying

Bullying is a distinctive pattern of deliberately harming and humiliating others. It's a very durable behavioral style, largely because bullies get what they want—at least at first. Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age, if the normal aggression of two-year-olds isn't handled well.

Bullies couldn't exist without victims, and they don't pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear long before they ever encounter a bully. No one likes a bully, but no one likes a victim either. Grown-up bullies wreak havoc in their relationships and in the workplace.

Many experts believe that bullying behavior is on the rise because children increasingly grow up without the kinds of experiences that lead to the development of social skills. It has been well-documented that free play is on the decline, but it is in playing with peers, without adult monitoring, that children develop the skills that make them well-liked by agemates and learn how to solve social problems.

Recent Posts on Bullying

On-Air Shooting Raises Specter of "Bullying"

Before we are content to establish Flanagan’s ‘underlying mental instability,’ or situate the tragedy at the intersection of graphic video games and life, we must consider the ways in which our culture is fast paced and unforgiving.

Does Psychology Reveal Why Women Stay With Abusive Men?

Every minute, one case of domestic violence is reported to the police in the United Kingdom. This often hidden crime is frequently 'normalised' or made light of, by perpetrators.

Amazon and Toxic Workplaces

By Ray Williams on August 26, 2015 in Wired for Success
A recent expose of Amazon’s work culture in a New York Times report brings into focus the growing problem of toxic work cultures in North America, one that will take a huge toll on long term productivity and employee well being.

More Music, More Empathy

By Robert H. Woody Ph.D. on August 25, 2015 in Live... In Concert
Music is often called a universal language because it seems to speak to the emotions of disparate groups of people. In this light, some believe music has almost magical powers toward helping people find common ground with others seen as unlike themselves. So is music a uniquely powerful tool in building human empathy?

The Secret of Behavioural Control

By Tim Carey Ph.D. on August 23, 2015 in In Control
It’s our own private collection of goals that determines what will be sticks and carrots for each of us.

Inside the Mind of the Twitter Troll

The latest scientific study on internet trolls finds them to suffer from a unique constellation of manipulativeness (cunning, scheming, unscrupulous), sadism (pleasure from inflicting pain on others) and psychopathy (lacking empathy and remorse), which may only be properly illuminated by psychological testing.

Women Held for 30 years in Slavery - 'Traumatic Entrapment'?

Three women rescued from horrific conditions after allegedly being held as slaves for 30 years, are described by the British Metropolitan Police's human trafficking unit as 'highly traumatised'.

What Differences Do Bystanders Make?

By Sherry Hamby Ph.D. on August 11, 2015 in The Web of Violence
A study in Psychology of Violence found that a witness was present in nearly 2 out of 3 instances of victimization, and that helpful bystanders had long-lasting impacts on the victims.

Where Are The Helpful Bystanders?

By Sherry Hamby Ph.D. on August 11, 2015 in The Web of Violence
A new study in the Journal of Community Psychology finds that social environments—friends, family, and neighbors—all affect how likely a bystander is to step in and help and to stay safe in the process.

Donald Trump, Political Correctness, Ignorance and Comedy

Political correctness is like spell-check for your mouth. Trump means to sound the way he does-- and he wants everyone else to echo him; that's why Trump’s name needs to be erased from the political chalkboard. PC stand for "perfectly civilized," which is what any American leader must be.

Grid Irony? Taunting Initiatives and the NFL

With taunting penalties on the books since the mid 1980's, the NFL has the opportunity to take on much more than jeers, derision, and game-related 'in-your-face' posturing. By modelling and showcasing what it already proclaims—that ridicule, disparagement and discrimination will not be tolerated—the league reinforces social, anti-bullying agendas.

The Worst Years of Our Lives

By Steven Mintz Ph.D. on August 06, 2015 in The Prime of Life
Why the middle school years are so difficult.

6 Reasons Teens Won't Tell Parents Their Violent Thoughts

By Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. on August 04, 2015 in Just Listen
What struck me from reading about rampage killers was how common it was for caring parents to not know about the dark suicidal and violent impulses that lived within their teenage sons (nearly all the rampage killers have been male).

The Trouble With Facebook

We need Facebook etiquette rules.

Fundamentalist Masculinity

There is a fundamentalist American form of masculinity that is dangerous and misogynist. At the very same time, it is weak and shaky, fragile and demands constant proof in order to Trump more civilized forms.

Is the Taboo Against “Blaming Victims” Over?

By Izzy Kalman on July 27, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
The politically correct anti-bullying academic anti-bullying field has been shunning approaches to bullying that focus on teaching victims how to solve their problems because they don't want to be accused of "blaming victims." Researchers, discovering that the bully-focused approach doesn't work, may finally be ignoring the taboo against blaming victims.

My Mother Is Holding Me Hostage

What To Do About An Oppressive Mother

Fragility, Thy Name Is Child

The avoidance of trauma and traumatization will one day be the whole business of upbringing.

10 Tips for More Efficient Listening

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 16, 2015 in Ambigamy
Better listening isn't more listening, it's listening more efficiently to what's worth heeding, not what's worth ignoring.

A Better Way to Combat Anti-Semitic Bullying

By Izzy Kalman on July 16, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
A recent settlement of $4.5 million in the anti-Semitic anti-bullying lawsuit against the Pine Bush School District in Upstate New York is a questionable cause for rejoicing. The taxpayers will pay, the lawyers are the biggest beneficiaries, and it will probably do little to reduce bullying and anti-Semitism. My free manual can do a much better job with less effort.

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Some 44 years ago, I conducted a research experiment that could have been the bane of my existence. Instead it spurred me on to research several topics: good vs evil, how our personal time perspectives affect our lives, and the self-imposed "prison," shyness. Now, The Stanford Prison Experiment is an award-winning feature film that has viewers questioning: What would I do?

My Daughter Paid Her Boyfriend To Be With Her

What To Do When Someone You Love Is In A Dreadful Relationship

Helping Children Stay Safe Online and Offline

Parents' fears about cyberbullying victimization increase with each news headline. But there is research to suggest that rather than worrying too much about the latest app, we should be focusing on helping children build skills to protect them wherever they are.

“That Thing is Huge!”

By Deborah Carr Ph.D. on July 08, 2015 in Bouncing Back
The surprising ways we're hurting our friends and family who struggle with their weight.

Funny… or Bullying?

In his Comedy Central special, Ari Shaffir viciously took on a female comic for being fat and having only one arm - even mentioning her by her full name. Is this comedy or bullying? Is this OK? What are your thoughts?

"Bullying Fiction" Top Picks

Adolescence. At times synonymous with daily dramas…. until she takes her own life or he brings a gun to school—and uses it. This blog contains a list of books, fictional and/or autobiographical, that speak to these tragic scenarios, as well as to dysfunctional behaviors (including cutting and eating disorders) that are often linked to bullying.

Why Are People with Disabilities the Targets of Violence?

Why do offenders target people with disabilities? Are there links between types of disability and type of victimization? The Data Doctor answers a question from the aunt of a former student.

Will Kennedy LeRoy’s Suicide Have Been in Vain?

By Izzy Kalman on June 25, 2015 in Resilience to Bullying
I recently suggested that our anti-bullying efforts are failing LGBTQ kids. The truth is that they are failing all bullied kids. Sixteen-year-old Kennedy LeRoy committed suicide in the hope of preventing other bullied kids from doing the same. But the suicides won't cease until we stop trying to protect kids from bullying and start teaching them to handle it on their own.

The Impact of Cyberbullying: 3 Strategies to Help

Cyberbullying is a general term used to describe a form of bullying that takes place via electronic technology, such as blogs, chat rooms, emails, and other social media sites. It’s such a devastating form of bullying because it can happen literally at any time—24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Your Old School-Days Bully Wants to Friend You

On the one hand, you can finally have your voice heard, even dish back a moment of—pain? Doubt? Regret? Humility? (while reminding him or her what a little shit s/he was). On the other hand, what’s the point? Reminding them of their cruelties may feel good, in the moment, but after hitting “Send” are you really able to move on? What is it you want?