Saturday, November 05, 2011

On The Air with Tom Anderson - Where Can Bullies Get Help?

Last year, when Healing Racism in Anchorage brought Tim Wise to Anchorage he spoke on two conservative talk radio shows.  His topic was racism, which a lot of people still don't believe exists, and he was treated pretty shabbily by the hosts and some of the callers - and one of the hosts, right after he left, did a whole homophobic riff that was truly disgusting.

Tom Anderson on air
So when I put up the previous post, I was thinking of that experience.  In hindsight, I was overreacting.  Friday I knew that Tom Anderson would treat us with respect - he was a graduate student of mine long ago and I've kept in contact with him after his trial.   (There's too much stuff to write about the whole political corruption trial and aftermath to fit in here, to fit in any blog post.  The facts are out - at least in terms of trial results and prison sentences - but the best interpretations of what it all means are yet to be written. )  But I wasn't sure about the callers.

Tom now has a talk radio show and Brent Scarpo needs to get the word out about his talk next Monday at East High at 7pm.  So he called in from California and Tom asked if I'd come to the studio.  But I was just Brent's backup here.  This was about Brent and his work against hate and bullying and he was the main focus.

Chris, the technician who did all the work
I thought Brent was an interesting guest and he clearly knows a lot about the topic of hate and bullying.  Tom was a gracious host, but also conscious of trying to make things more interesting by being provocative in his questions.  There were no calls.  Because it was drive time?  (5-6pm)  Because it was boring for this audience?  Because people are shy about bullying an anti-bully expert?  Because no one was listening?  Because Tom wasn't antagonistic toward his guest?  Or maybe it's just because it's hard to stand up for bullies and hate.  At one point, Brent said he'd come to realize that bullies essentially were people who didn't like something about themselves and took it out on others.  And some take it out on themselves.  I asked where someone like that, who hears this and realizes Brent was talking about him or her, could go to get help.

Help for Bullies?

As I look online now, there's lots of stuff for victims of bullies, but it's hard to find stuff for bullies who want help.

Here's part of an article by Charles R. McAdams, III and Christopher D. Schmidt from the Journal of School Counseling on how to help bullies, but this is aimed at counselors, not at bullies:
Bullying is one of the most widely practiced forms of aggression in American schools. It is broadly defined as the actual or attempted infliction of injury or discomfort by one student on another student that is intentional, abusive, and based on an imbalance of power between bully and victim (Olweus, 1994; Sullivan, Cleary, & Sullivan, 2004). According to the National Center for Education Statistics--2002, almost one third of public schools have reported daily to weekly occurrences of student bullying (Hall, 2006). Research suggests that nearly half of today's students will experience some form of bullying during their education; however, rates of bullying as high as 81% for school-aged males and 72% for school-aged females have been reported in some studies (Casey-Cannon, Hayward, & Gowen, 2001; Charach, Pepler, & Ziegler, 1995; Farrington, 1993, as cited in Sanders, 2004). In a survey by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 1.7 million children (one in five) in grades 6 through 10 admitted bullying their classmates (Cole, Cornell, & Sheras, 2006). On the basis of current statistics, Hall has concluded that school climates nationwide have been dramatically altered by the actions of bullies.

It goes on to distinguish between reactive aggression and proactive aggression.  

Reactive aggression is characterized as a "hot-blooded," automatic, defensive response to immediate and often misperceived threat (Hubbard, Dodge, Cillessen, Coie, & Schwartz, 2001; Wood & Gross, 2002). Youth exhibiting reactive aggression are characterized as seeking but lacking close interpersonal relationships with significant adults such as parents--relationships they need to learn how to effectively attend to, understand, and take into account others' intentions (Dodge, 1991).  .  .

Unlike reactive aggression, proactive aggression does not characteristically occur as an emotion-laden, defensive response to immediate threat. Instead, it is described as organized, purposeful, and often premeditated rather than automatic (Galezewski, 2005). Aggression for proactive aggressors has, over an extended time, become an internalized means of achieving personal security, competence, and control in their lives (Cottle, 2004; McAdams & Lambie, 2003). In the real or perceived absence of affirmation from significant others (parents, in particular), they have come to derive a sense of self-efficacy from their ability to succeed without, and often at the expense of, others. The propensity of proactive aggressors toward generalized hostility and antisocial behavior appears to have two origins: one being an overt manifestation of internalized resentment and anger over frustrated needs for security, and another being a mechanism by which they keep others far enough at bay so as not to endanger their desired autonomy and self-sufficiency (Arsenio & Lemerise, 2004; McAdams, 2002).   [emphasis added]

Here's an article titled "Help for Bullies and Victims"  but I didn't see where it offered help for bullies.

Here's a piece by a clinical psychologist, Karen Cairns, who, after giving a list of statistics (ie 160,000 kids who stay home from school due to bullying every day!) and programs being set up for victims of bullies, goes on to say that bullies are usually victims of bullies themselves.
But, I would like to see this issue treated at the root of the problem: Bullies are bullied. With the exception of mental illness, bullies are usually victims of bullying. The cycle of violence usually goes back generations. If you were beaten or verbally abused, it becomes an option for you to become the aggressor. I’ve worked with offenders who think there are only 2 choices: be the victim, or be the bully. They feel strong and in control while bullying others. They hate the abuse they have suffered, but feel no compassion for their own victims. I would like to see programs that address the reason they became bullies. Anger management is effective, but it doesn’t protect the bully from the abuse they may be receiving at home or elsewhere. Bullies are abused, and sometimes they become abusers. Then they get punished for their behavior. We need to intervene at the beginning of this cycle. I would like to suggest that if a student is accused and proven to be a bully, he or she should be referred for a psychological evaluation to determine the root of the cause. Bullies need help. Without help, without intervention, the cycle will continue.
Near the end of page 2 of my google search, I found this, apparently new (oldest entry is Oct. 29, most recent is Oct. 31) website offering Help for Bullies.  But there isn't too much there yet.  The header says:
This is a site for bullies! I am a school counselor. There are hundreds of websites and resources for victims of bullies. That's a good thing. But there are few resources for bullies. That's NOT a good thing! Bullies ae human too–bullies need help, just as their victims need help. If you are a bully, or if you sometimes find yourself engaged in bullying behaviors, then this site is for YOU! If you are a victim of bullying, this site will help you understand your offender.
Bully Free Kids is aimed at parents, teachers, and employers.   But not at kids.

I went through google page seven with the search words "Help For Bullies".  I'm sure there must be more out there than the two - Karen Cairns' piece and Help For Bullies.  But if I were a bully looking for a way out, I'd have to work pretty hard to find it on line.

J and I watched the Shawshank Redemption Friday night.  Brent Scarpo was one of the casting directors on the film and there's plenty of bullying in there.  I can see how it got Brent's wheels spinning on this topic.  

I hope readers will get a chance to see or hear Brent at one of his events.  The main public event is Monday Nov. 7 at 7pm at the East High Auditorium.  It's free.

There's a workshop for trainers, teachers, supervisors and others who want more detailed work on how to stop bullying in their sphere of influence.  That's Tuesday, 5:30-9 at Credit Union 1 in Mt. View.  It's limited to 30, so reserve a space by emailing Healing Racism in Anchorage. 

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