Advice to Melania Trump on Her Anti-Bullying Campaign–Part 1
The problem of bullying demands a courageous new approach.
Posted Dec 10, 2019
Dear First Lady Melania Trump:
You deserve commendation for taking up the anti-bullying campaign as your personal mission. Unfortunately, it is not going well, and even students are booing you. The news media has had a field day ridiculing you for failing to start your anti-bullying campaign at home, with the man The Washington Post has branded our Bully-in-Chief.
But it's not your fault. There is no reason for you to know why the efforts to motivate kids to "Be Best" and stop engaging in bullying can't work. Your predecessors in the White House, the Obamas, also took up the anti-bullying mission and failed. Twenty years of massive national warfare against bullying, guided by the world's leading bullying experts, has been failing. Bullying has continued to be a growing epidemic, with a steadily increasing number of bullied children dying from suicide and others attempting school massacres, and a proliferation of lawsuits against schools for failing to stop bullying. No, you cannot expect to succeed by doing what has failed for everyone else.
To succeed, you need a totally different approach. Here is my guidance on how to leave your mark on society.
1. Your husband won the Presidency on a promise of change. To solve the bullying problem, you, too, must have the courage to radically change the nation's course. Not only has it been failing, it's actually been making the bullying problem worse.
2. Your anti-bullying efforts must acknowledge the President’s behavior and make sense of it or you will rightfully be branded a hypocrite. Positively integrate what can be learned from him into your Be Best campaign.
3. Realize that changing the nation’s approach to bullying will be the most difficult challenge of your life. Antibullyism is among the most popular social movements in human history. People love the idea that others are responsible for their emotional pain and that it is society’s job to make sure everyone treats them with respect. Furthermore, anti-bullying is a multi-billion dollar industry. Some will see you as a threat and combat your efforts to replace that industry with a free, effective solution to bullying.
4. Delve into the research on bullying. Researchers have convinced us that we must rely on them for dependable information and safe interventions for bullying. So examine their findings.
You will discover that research has shown that the popular approach to bullying, based on the teachings of the founder of the psychological field of bullying, Prof. Dan Olweus of Norway, has dismal results. Olweus’s own program, upon which state policies against bullying are based, barely makes a dent in the bullying problem1 and often makes it worse. Unsurprisingly, the research on state anti-bullying laws shows they are largely ineffective.
You may also discover that the leading researchers are vastly different from those employed by Consumer Reports, that bastion of unbiased evaluation of products and services. Many bullying researchers have vested interests of income and/or professional prestige in the outcomes of their studies. They interpret the data to make the programs they are promoting seem better than they really are. Furthermore, they warn us of the danger of using fundamentally different approaches from their own. Thus, they have been scaring us away from approaches that may actually be successful.
5. Question the beliefs promoted by the anti-bullying field. They are presented as facts rather than hypotheses requiring validation. One of those beliefs is that bullying is “culture,” and that replacing it with a “culture of anti-bullying” will make bullying disappear.
We have succeeded in creating the most anti-bully culture in history. Nevertheless, bullying is a bigger problem than ever.
The real reason eradicating bullying is difficult is that bullying is not “culture” but “nature,” Culture is easy to change. Nature is not.
We are hard-wired to ridicule, condemn and attack those we don’t approve of. However, though we may think it is wrong, we do so without hesitation. We humans have an uncanny ability to justify our own bad behavior while only seeing the evil in others.
The anti-bullying movement is so popular for the same reason it is failing: everyone thinks the bully is the other person.
6. Repeal money-wasting anti-bullying legislation.
One of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises was to get rid of counterproductive regulations that waste taxpayer money while causing more harm than good.
This is exemplified by anti-bullying laws. They are a Catch-22. Meant to eliminate bullying, the very attempt to comply with them may cause an intensification of bullying.
Anti-bullying laws require schools to invest substantial staff time (money) to investigate every complaint of bullying. The schools hope to determine that the incident was not really bullying, because if it was, they inherit legal responsibility for it, meaning they can face lawsuits.
Unfortunately, the investigative process mandated by law tends to immediately escalate hostilities as each side fights to prove they are innocent and the other guilty. The accused bullies want revenge, so they are likely to follow with an even worse attack. They may also spread the message among peers that their informers are snitches, which can be a social death sentence. Thus, even if the initially reported incident did not technically qualify as bullying–possibly being nothing more than a one-time act of teasing–it now escalates into full-fledged warfare.
Furthermore, the anti-bullying laws, while unable to get rid of bullying, make it easy for parents to sue schools for failing to get rid of bullying. There is a rapidly growing avalanche of bullying lawsuits against schools, costing taxpayers many millions of dollars.
End of Part 1
1This journal article, on the most massive research study ever conducted on the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, is a prime example of a study produced by parties with vested interests in the results that puts positive spin on lackluster results. The article declares the program to be effective, when the actual data reveal that the program worked for only one of nine bullied students, while neglecting to inform us for what percentage of students the bullying problem became worse, even though that information could readily be extracted from their data.