Monthly Archives: March 2012

A new bullying: social exclusion

By Dustin Petty
Staff writer 

Bullying has taken a new form on playgrounds across the county.  Instead of the child being teased, pushed around or called names, they are shunned and not invited to join games and activities.

The child is being socially excluded.

According to Dr. Lynn Todman, the term “social exclusion” was initially used during the 1970s by a French politician trying to describe those excluded from the labor market.  Todman, the executive director of the Institute on Social Exclusion at Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, studies the subject in terms of socioeconomics.

“Social exclusion is actively created by the structures and systems that organize and guide the functioning of our society,” said Todman.  “These structures and systems determine the allocation of rights, resources, and opportunities such as food, safety, education, health, due process and shelter.”

Second look at Bully, the video game

by Dmitri Barvinok
Staff writer

Bully, a video game produced by Rockstar Games, was first greeted by panic and protest by many organizations. Jack Thompson, an infamous anti-video game activist, went as far as to compare the game to Columbine. Bully made both the Yahoo! list of Top 10 controversial games, and PlayStation Magazine’s Top 10 Games of 2006. Lawsuits were filed in order to prevent the sale of the game.

Two years after the original game went on sale, an extended version titled Bully: Scholarship Edition was released, and this time around, it was greeted with praise, not subpoenas.

The game follows the story of Jimmy Hopkins, a boy from a family with a re-marrying mother and an absent father, who ends up at Bullworth Academy, a no-nonsense private school teeming with bullies in every corner.

Daniel Moon picked the game up after it went on sale. He doesn’t believe it warranted the controversial press that accompanied its release. You are not required to be a bully in the game, he said, it’s a choice for the player to make.

“[However], the content in the game does require violence,” he added, “because, well, it’s a Rockstar game.”

Boys are the more physical bullies

By Sam Schmitt
Staff writer

The behaviors of boys and girls that bully can be similar, but spotting bullying among boys is much easier than it is with girls.

David P. Farrington, professor of psychological criminology at Cambridge University, says that boys that bully are more physical than girls.

Psychiatrist Ann Ruth Turkel says boys are more physical because of they way they are raised. Boys are encouraged to kick their negative feelings away, while girls are taught to avoid direct confrontation.

She also says that boys usually bully strangers or acquaintances, while girls bully within their group of friends.

Alex Schmitt, a college freshman at Michigan Tech University, talked to me about his experiences with bullying during high school.

The case for bullying legislation

Kevin Epling talked about some of the ways bullying has changed in recent years. Photo by Hayley Beitman



By Tony Briscoe, Nicholas Roddy and Dmitri Barvinok
Staff writers

If lockers and linoleum tiles could talk, they would tell an unpleasant tale of students around the United States.

Bullying has become an increasingly popular topic to a major research group that indicates 28 percent of all students between 12 to 18 years old are victims of maltreatment.

More than 47 percent of bullied students have reported that they have been victimized specifically in school hallways and stairwells, according to the U.S Department of Education’s National Center for Education statistics.

Another nine percent of victims said they were bullied in the bathroom or locker room while another six percent are harassed on the school bus.

This comes as no surprise to high school teacher Carman Smith. An English teacher at Wylie E. Groves High School in Beverly Hills, Mich., Smith said he has to intervene in bullying altercations at least once a day.

“A lot of times it happens in between classes in the hallways, it happens in the locker rooms, it happens in common areas, before school, after schools, on the bus, at the bus stop…I would say most happen outside of the classroom.”

While many students reported being bullied in transition, 33 percent of victims identified the classroom as a bullying focal point.

Smith said that Groves teachers are more than capable of handling bullying in the classroom. The school, roughly 1,400 students, has anti-bullying policies as well as prevention programs such as peer mediation.

“It is a part of our house rules that we report any type of hazing or bullying or someone being treated unfairly,” said Smith. “Each individual case is handled separately, so the actual consequences depend on the situation.”

The district also has had seminars where teachers undergo training on how to resolve bullying situations.

One of the biggest problems the group is struggling to manage now is cyberbullying. According to a 2011 Pew Internet report, eight percent of students have been bullied online in the last 12 months. Smith, who’s been teaching since 2002, said bullying has become unmanageable problem because issues online now spill into the classroom.

Celebrities use platforms to denounce bullying

By Seth Beifel
Staff writer

“Baby, I was born this way” is one of the lyrics of Lady Gaga’s hit song, Born This Way. The song highlights what it means to be different or unique and how it should be less of a faux pas and more of a norm. A growing number of celebrities have started to speak out about how they were picked on as children and to speak up for people who are bullied today.

Raising awareness of bullying has led to people speaking out regarding the topic; celebrities are no exception.

“There are many celebrities that are now openly talking about their own bouts with bullying, it is THE popular topic,” says Bully Police USA Co-Director Kevin Epling. Celebrities ranging from the aforementioned Lady Gaga to former President Bill Clinton to TV host Ellen Degeneres all experienced bullying and are now talking candidly about it.

Degeneres has recently used her television program to communicate this message: “teenage bullying and teasing is an epidemic in this country.” Referencing the death of former Rutgers student, Tyler Clementi, who was bullied and would later take his own life, Degeneres uses her personal bout with bullying to emphasize the reality of the topic.

Teens’ online world can be mean

By Joe Grimm
Staff writer

In November 2011, a report on teens’ impressions of social media gave a glimpse of what it feels like to be young and online.

“Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites,” was written by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

The study asked teens about their online experiences and how they respond when they see mean or unkind behavior. The targets of cyber aggression report that it affects their whole lives, making them anxious about going to school or leading to physical fights. Although some teens pile on and others turn to each other for help, most just don’t get involved when they see it,

The study was based on telephone interviews with a representative sample of 799 U.S. teens aged 12 to 17 years old and their parents.

While most teens report positive online experiences, according to Pew, “some are caught in an online feedback loop of meanness and negative experiences.”

Twenty percent flatly responded that their peers are mostly unkind, and an additional 11% responded “it depends.”

Girls aged 12-13 active on social media were considerably more likely than other teens to say that people seemed to be mostly unkind. Thirty-three percent of them reported this to be their experience.

More than a quarter of all girls at this age said that they felt anxious about going to school the day after a bad online experience. Teens in other group reported anxieties, too.

While bullying continues to happen mostly in person, Pew reported that a substantial number of teens said they are bullied with technology. The study showed that 9 percent of teens aged 12-17 said they had been bullied by text, another 8 percent reported bullying by email, a social network site or instant messaging, and 7 percent said they have been bullied by phone.

A large majority of teens said they see digital bullying, even though they may not be its target. Eighty-eight percent told Pew they have seen peers being mean or cruel to others online. Twelve percent said this happens frequently. The report said teens who were not aware of much online cruelty are the ones who do not use social media very much.

About 55 percent of all teens said that the most frequent response of their peers to mean behavior online is to ignore it. Almost equal numbers — about 20 percent in each camp — said the responses they see to cruel behavior are to either tell someone to stop being mean or to join in the harassment.

The Pew report said teens might ignore mean behavior because it can be difficult to know what the aggression is all about and that some teens might ignore meanness to discourage it. It might also be that teens are intervening in private ways, such as direct messages

Bully documentary challenges relationships

This is the trailer for Bully, a documentary film to be released in select theaters on March 30.

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — The documentary film Bully tests relationships, just as school bullying does.

After an advance screening March 10 at the Uptown Film Festival in Birmingham, parents, school administrators and children had a strained but civil exchange.

One mother told a school superintendent that schools had done nothing to stop the bullying of her daughter, who watched the film with her. Seventh grader Ethan Wolf and his father, Richard participating on a panel, accused schools of inaction. Ethan Wolf said he had been bullied.

Greater parental responsibility, by parents and of bullies and their targets, was raised in the film and resonated in the discussion afterward.