When is an insult not an insult?

11 05 2013


I want a poster of this for my classroom.

24 04 2013


‘Cool’ kids in middle school bully more, UCLA psychologists report

29 01 2013

My seventh-grade self would love to jump forward in time just so he can sarcastically shout, “Noooooo!” While I can’t say that all of my scrapes, bruises, broken glasses, and emotional scars came exclusively from the “cool crowd,” I’d say that roughly 90% did. And the other 10% came from those trying to elevate their status and impress the guardians of popularity. Frankly, that’s where all the bullying I participated in came from… trying to “be cool.”

Part of me feels somewhat vindicated by this study, but it’s also sort of silly that they had to do one in the first place. They could’ve asked any of us geeks who it was that did the bulk of the tormenting, and we’d all have answered the same. The only problem is, nobody ever cared to believe us.

– dEV

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ucla‘Cool’ kids in middle school bully more, UCLA psychologists report

Study of seventh and eighth graders finds no difference between boys, girls

By Stuart Wolpert January 24, 2013

Bullying, whether it’s physical aggression or spreading rumors, boosts the social status and popularity of middle school students, according to a new UCLA psychology study that has implications for programs aimed at combatting school bullying. In addition, students already considered popular engage in these forms of bullying, the researchers found.
The psychologists studied 1,895 ethnically diverse students from 99 classes at 11 Los Angeles middle schools. They conducted surveys at three points: during the spring of seventh grade, the fall of eighth grade and the spring of eighth grade. Each time, students were asked to name the students who were considered the “coolest,” the students who “start fights or push other kids around” and the ones who “spread nasty rumors about other kids.”
Those students who were named the coolest at one time were largely named the most aggressive the next time, and those considered the most aggressive were significantly more likely to be named the coolest the next time. The results indicate that both physical aggression and spreading rumors are rewarded by middle school peers.
“The ones who are cool bully more, and the ones who bully more are seen as cool,” said Jaana Juvonen, a UCLA professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “What was particularly interesting was that the form of aggression, whether highly visible and clearly confrontational or not, did not matter. Pushing or shoving and gossiping worked the same for boys and girls.
“The impetus for the study was to figure out whether aggression promotes social status, or whether those who are perceived as popular abuse their social power and prestige by putting other kids down,” she said. “We found it works both ways for both ‘male-typed’ and ‘female-typed’ forms of aggression.”
The research is published online in the prominent Journal of Youth and Adolescence and will be appear in an upcoming print edition of the journal.
The study implies that anti-bullying programs have to be sophisticated and subtle to succeed.
“A simple message, such as ‘Bullying is not tolerated,’ is not likely to be very effective,” Juvonen said, when bullying often increases social status and respect.
Effective anti-bullying programs need to focus on the bystanders, who play a critical role and can either encourage or discourage bullying, said Juvonen, who has conducted research on bullying since the mid-1990s and serves as a consultant to schools on anti-bullying programs. Bystanders should be made aware of the consequences of spreading rumors and encouraging aggression and the damage bullying creates, she said.
Juvonen’s current research is federally supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Juvonen and her colleagues reported in 2003 that bullies are popular and respected and are considered the “cool” kids.
The rumors middle school students spread often involve sexuality (saying a student is gay or sexually promiscuous) and family insults, she said.
Like middle school students, Juvonen noted, non-human primates also use aggression to promote social rank (although gossiping is obviously limited to humans).
Co-authors of the new study are former UCLA psychology graduate student Yueyan Wang and UCLA psychology doctoral student Guadalupe Espinoza.
In previous research, Juvonen and her colleagues have reported that nearly three in four teenagers say they were bullied online at least once during a recent 12-month period, and only one in 10 reported such cyber-bullying to parents or other adults; that nearly half of the sixth graders at two Los Angeles–area public schools said they were bullied by classmates during a five-day period; that middle school students who are bullied in school are likely to feel depressed, lonely and miserable, which in turn makes them more vulnerable to further bullying incidents; and that bullying is pervasive.
“Bullying is a problem that large numbers of kids confront on a daily basis at school; it’s not just an issue for the few unfortunate ones,” Juvonen has said. “Students reported feeling humiliated, anxious or disliking school on days when they reported incidents, which shows there is no such thing as ‘harmless’ name-calling or an ‘innocent’ punch.'”

Spread the Word to End the R-Word

22 12 2012

r-wordI have a rule in my classroom that all of my students are familiar with. They don’t use the word “retarded.”

Every once in a while, a student will ask why it’s such a big deal. “It’s pretty simple,” I reply. “It’s a word that offends or hurts the feelings of a lot of people. You say ‘retarded’ when you mean ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’ or ‘lame,’ and special needs people know that you think they are stupid or dumb or lame. Don’t say it. Take it out of your vocabulary, because it’s demeaning to people.”

Earlier this year, a student thanked me for taking a tough stance on the “r-word.” He lived with a foster child with special needs, and knew how much it hurt to hear it, even if it wasn’t directed at anyone in particular.

I encourage everyone, especially teachers and others who work with young people to take the pledge to end the use of the word “retarded,” and to make sure that kids around them know that even words that aren’t meant to hurt can be very hurtful.

– dEV


TODAY: Are Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang too mean for today’s kids? Good grief!

24 10 2012

Is there a difference between teasing and bullying? Are the pranks and name-calling that he constantly endures a bad example for kids? When I read stories like this, I think we may be taking things a little too far. It does raise some interesting questions about where the line is, and if the things that we enjoy watching with our kids are maybe not as wholesome as we think they are.

As for me, I’ll be watching ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ with my kids this Halloween. How about you?
– dEV


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Are Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang too mean for today’s kids? Good grief!

By Dana Macario

As Halloween nears, many families will gather around the old television set for the annual viewing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” But, one dad says it’s time to retire the classic cartoon because of its taunting messages and unkind words.

“The show is riddled with the kids calling each other stupid, dumb, and blockheads. There is continous teasing and bullying. Charlie Brown is supposed to be the hero, instead he is kicked and demeaned at every turn, even by the adults giving out candy,” Buzz Bishop, otherwise known as DadCamp, wrote at Babble.com recently.

Bishop argues that apart from a sense of nostalgia for parents, the Charlie Brown specials have nothing of value to offer today’s kids. He finds the shows’ acceptance of schoolyard teasing to be antiquated. And, as the father of young kids, he finds the constant use of words like “stupid” “dumb” and “blockhead” to be a bad message for those little ears. “Charlie Brown is always an outsider, the cool kids continue to play tricks, and nobody is ever held to account. In an era of hashtags like #RIPAmandaTodd, these types of attitudes are no longer appropriate,” Bishop wrote.

As the gang goes trick-or-treating, Charlie Brown is repeatedly given a rock while the other children are given treats. Bishop points to this as evidence that even the adults are in on the bullying. Of course, since Charlie Brown is wearing a costume, it could be argued that the adults aren’t intentionally singling the poor kid out.

Throughout life, most of us have times when we feel like everyone else is getting treats (or bags full of candy, if you will), while we get nothing but a sack of rocks. Maybe it’s helpful and reassuring for kids to know that everyone else has those “sucks to be me” moments once in a while. Admittedly, old Charlie Brown seems to have more than his fair share.

Although Bishop believes it’s time for a new era in children’s programming, not everyone is on board.