Were You Ever a Bully? No Job for You!

Hi Folks! Too soon to know if this is a trend or just an outrageous blip, but over in New South Wales — the Australian state Sydney is in — the authorities have passed a law that if you’re under 22 and want to work in one of the local “clubs” (that is, casinos), you have to pass a “BullyCheck.”

Yep. They call your old school to ask if you were a bully. If you were (or at least appeared to someone to be one), you won’t get the job. Ostensibly this is to convince kids that bullying has real consequences — though I’ve heard that it might just be window-dressing, to make the casinos look oh-so-upright. Either way, it’s a terrible idea, as this editorial notes.

First off, who decides what bullying is? At some schools, not inviting all the kids to your birthday party is already teetering on the edge of cruelty.

Then there’s the problem of assuming people don’t grow and change. My friend just got an apology from a girl who tormented her in high school, lo, 35 years ago! People mature at different rates. Punishing a 22-year-old for what he or she was like in high school is not only wacky, it’s profoundly pessimistic.

Worst of all is the treating bullying that never rose to the level of a crime  as if it did. It is giving perception and hearsay legal weight, the same as if the job applicant had been convicted of forgery or embezzlement. And in this era of heightened bully fears, MY fear is that we will start defining it downward, and someday someone will be denied a job for calling his friend a doody-head.  - L.

The teacher heard me call Pete a pinecone brain! My future is gone!

53 Responses

  1. This is so over the top. Kids grew up, bully mature, and we learn from our mistakes. If we were all judged by what we did or didn’t do in High School we would all be unemployed.

  2. Obviously bullying is BAD, but this is not okay and sounds like it could potentially lead to some serious unemployment issues.

  3. Because if a 14 year old was considering being a bully they are going choose not to because it will prevent them from working in a casino in six to eight years. Yeah. Sure. No way that won’t work.

    Do they think the citizens of Sydney never mature beyond their teen personalities? Does the law specify what constitutes bullying or does the least popular person in the office get to decide? Shouldn’t the punishment for bullying be a little more timely? Has anyone considered what is going to happen when the bullies don’t have employment to keep them busy?

  4. Call me crazy, but wouldn’t you WANT the bullies to be working in casinos? At least as bouncers?

  5. Because employers shouldn’t be doing reference checks on the character of a potential future employee. No sir.

    I would think that it’s fairly straightforward that people with a record of behaviour problems with their references (be they school or a past employer) are always less likely to be employed by someone for a new position than those without.

    Bullying is not like the sex offender registry – people who have a behaviour pattern of hurting other people generally re-offend throughout their lives – people who bully as adults can usually be found to have a history of abusing people or animals.

    Personally I’d prefer that the position in my work environment is filled by somebody without a history of hurting people for fun, rather than with. Plus, I’m generally in favour of punishing bad people for bad behaviour.

    D’worry, this is Australia. Our unemployment rate is a lot lower than yours, and being unemployed is a lot less painful here (or so I gather).

  6. Sera, I agree on many of those points, but how is “bullying” being defined?

  7. Way to label people and cast their identities in stone! What a great way to support reconciliation, understanding and growth! Not.

    I cringe, actually, when people use the words “bully” and “victim.” Labelling folks doesn’t do a whole lot to explain what it is exactly that they did that we don’t enjoy, and what aspect of life we care about that their behaviour has threatened for us.

    I guess for me, it’s about compassion and clarity. Compassion, because all human behaviour, including what others label “bullying,” is something I myself am capable of— and clarity, because I want to be able to identify and talk about what was actually said or done, not some vague label we slap on it.

    When my kids say someone is a “bully,” I say, “What exactly did they say or do that brought up these strong feelings for you?” And then, “Oh, okay, so I guess that was about safety, and to know that all people matter equally?” And then, “And what do you imagine that person was aiming for when they did / said that, since everything anyone says or does is an attempt to meet a need we all share?”

    Usually it comes down to three or four of these things: belonging, power, connection, safety, and fun. And once we see what that person was aiming for, well, it’s hard to think of them as the enemy anymore. We just see them as someone whose own strategies are quite tragic and ineffective, and we hold the space for them to find new ways to enrich their lives, ways that work for everyone.

    Once kids are labelled “bullies” or “victims,” the chance of their finding self-empowerment drops dramatically.

  8. And before anyone says, “But the behaviour is unacceptable!” I will add that you don’t have to condone the behaviour to see the humanity behind it. And it’s more likely that people who are acting in ways that are traumatic for others will be inspired to change when they come to see that they are falling well short of what they are aiming for instead of being labelled, punished, or forced into inauthentic apologies.

  9. Sera, yes employers should check references. However how is bullying being defined? If it was serious enough to warrant a denial of employment why wasn’t it addressed at the time rather than years later? What about the bullies who didn’t make it on the school’s radar? What about the ones who have changed, how is that measured to prevent them from being punished for their positive changes? And how on Earth is this actually going to prevent bullying since those are exactly the kids who aren’t going to be concerned about the impact of their decisions?

    As you said, these people are less likely to be employed anyway so why is the law, and money and time spent, necessary? Don’t businesses already act in their best interest and thus would already have policies in place to weed out the bullies who continue into adulthood? It seems to me like this is an idea that sounds great when you first think of it but really isn’t going to address the real problems.

  10. I’d be more worried about this if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a casino, where I wouldn’t want my kids etc working anyway…..

    But on the bullying thing as a whole, it is a worry. The 15 year-old got his basketball nicked off with at school yesterday, and after a minute or so of hanging around waiting to see if Jerk would return it of his own accord, the eight playing with it took off in all directions to track down Jerk. The player who got to him first shoulder tackled him into the mud and effected the return of said ball, eliciting aggrieved mutters from Jerk, along with a little shock from bystanders, as ‘player’ is about half ‘Jerk’s size. Anyway, ball was recovered, and basketball resumed. Everyone happy, except maybe Jerk’s mum, who probably had to clean a muddy jersey.

    So, my point is, who was the bully in the above, extremely normal teenage boy incident? Jerk, for taking the ball in the first place? Player, for the shoulder tackle, which probably bruised Jerk’s ego, as well as his stomach? My son, for no doubt inciting his friends in the first place to ‘get the ruddy thing back’ (though they probably needed no encouragement, as he is the only one mug enough to bring his own ball along to school in the first place, hence it’s ‘their’ ball too, LOL!) Am sure that if someone had complained, one of them would have gotten the label…..And had their employment prospects buggered up in the future?

    Ridiculous…..

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  12. I’d argue that what’s worse than a bully is those who observe the reprehensible bullying activity and do nothing about it. So will these kids be denied jobs too?

    What a stupid, stupid law!

  13. If you have good work policies defining what is and is not acceptable behavior and the means to enforce them – you don’t need to worry about what your employees did or did not do when they were children and young adults.

    I sometimes feel like saying ‘bullying’ is the nice way of saying, “You’re an a-hole.”

  14. I’m so sick of this new fascination with bullying. Kids have been bullying other kids forever, it’s only today’s generation of kids that can’t seem to take it. Bullying is not right, but it is a fact of life, just like the backstabbing that goes on in offices later in life. Kids used to build up a resistance to it and get on with their lives, now they run to mommy and the teacher. Didn’t anyone ever see A Christmas Story? You beat the snot out of the bully once and life goes on. Bullying isn’t worse than it used to be, it’s just that everyone talks about it now!

  15. Regarding the Just regarding the bullycheck initiative, I think it’s a trial program, not a law per say. Also ClubsNSW doesn’t run casinos. Yes there may be gambling in some clubs but they are also community/sports centres under ClubsNSW – so this is very concerning especially in regional areas.

    In any case bullying is terrible and should be addressed at the time of the incident. If they have bullied others, you would think they have been pubished and it is unfair to punish them again, especially if they have changed or the incident was years ago.

    I fail to see how this would stop kids from becoming bullies or really, does anything positive at all. Perhaps these employers could teach these youngsters some values instead of turning them away?

    Very disappointing.

  16. This is a knee-jerk reaction that sounds good until you think about it. Exactly what politicians specialize in- quick balms to whatever social ill is currently in the news.

  17. Kc is right, this is not legislation, just an idea being tried out. Just to set the New South Wales record straight, I live in Sydney and this is the first I have heard of this initiative. Clubs NSW is the association that covers the licensed clubs – like retired services and sports clubs in NSW. They like to fashion themselves as very community focused and grass roots based, looking after the little guys while supporting massive poker machine “casinos”. I would really take this with a massive grain of salt, as Clubs Nsw likes press that shows how community focused they are while avoiding the press that demonstrates how much they support problem gambling and gambling addiction.

  18. @Nanci: I was bullied incessantly in grade school, and yes I took it, but I sure don’t think I should have had to be in that sort of environment from third to seventh grade. Every single school day and some weekends I was bullied by boys and girls in my school because I was not only geeky but I had a cleft lip.
    So, yeah, there’s bullying and then there’s teasing and personality clashes. And there’s a lot of districts and parents who are over the top and don’t realize what’s what, but I think this awareness is good.
    However, going and looking to see who was bully and who wasn’t in high school isn’t a very logical way of going about hiring bouncers. I think a wise person can tell who’s good and who isn’t in an actual interview.

  19. Mollie, I got a call from my daughter’s principal the other day because there had been some “issues” in the playground. Apparently my child and her friend “ran off” on some other kids. (I am not sure why I was called about this, but that’s another story). When I asked my daughter why she had done something that she finds very hurtful if others do it to her, she insisted that the kids were “chasing them”. I could not determine who was the victim in this situation at all. So I just shrugged and let it go as obviously it wasn’t anything serious.

  20. I thought Bullies grew up to be middle managers …

  21. I think that under the current definition of bullying, everyone in my elementary school, junior high, and high school would be considered bullies. As the first commenter said, we would all be unemployed. Everyone got teased about something: the short kids (myself included) got called “circus midgets,” the tall kids were always asked how the weather was up there, fat and skinny kids were teased about their weight, the smart kids were called, “eggheads,” girls and boys who seemed to be inseparable from their same-sex best friends were teased about being gay, redheads were teased about being on fire. I don’t think that anyone escaped being either “bullies” or “victims.” There was also a lot of reciprocal teasing going on. It seemed to be a normal part of growing up. Nobody went to their teachers or parents about it. Now it seems that if a kid gets called a “dwarf” because he’s short, he runs to his teacher or mom about being bullied.

    Because I was small, and somewhat uncoordinated, I was usually one of the last people picked for team sports. Now I run marathons. I have gone back to my home town and seen some of the athletic “team captains” who chose who played on their teams. They are very out of shape and look like the last time they had any physical activity was as a high school senior. It just goes to show that we don’t stay how we were in school.

  22. I wonder if some bosses ever bully their employees?
    Some people think parents bully their kids. It might just be parenting.
    I wonder why we all do not take responsibility for our own behaviour and treat others as we want them to treat us. The Golden Rule.

  23. Sounds to me of the ongoing trend (at least in the english-speaking world) of infantilizing adults and ‘adutlerizing’ kids.

    Adults/parents are no longer deemed mature enough to make their own decisions or judge wether something is ‘safe’ or not, and kids are expected to have the maturity to realise that whatever it is they do when they are 8 might bite them in the bum fifteen or twenty years later.

  24. About the subject of bullying…

    There is a book you can download free at this website

    http://www.gulbenkian.org.uk/publications/publications/42-NO-FEAR.html

    called ‘No Fear – Growing up in a risk averse society’ by Tim Gill, where the author made an interesting observation in his chapter about anti-social behaviour and bullying:

    “It may be difficult for adults to judge whether or not a particular incident is bullying, and to decide how best to intervene. However, simply redefining all deliberately unpleasant behaviour as bullying does not solve this problem, it merely brushes it under the carpet. The unintended side-effect of such redefinition is that adults are likely to feel under growing pressure to step in whenever children fall out or argue with each other, causing confusion in the minds of children, parents and school staff. In an atmosphere of heightened media and public awareness of the problem, there is a real danger that adults will overreact and suppress behaviour that, unlike bullying, has a key role in helping children to learn for themselves how to deal with difficult social situations.”

    I utterly agree. Establishing the pecking order in a group, finding out where the limits are, learning how to react to other kids, these are all very valuable lessons which kids need to learn BY THEMSELVES. Sure, if things get too bad, adults should step in, but people are now so uber-sensitive (and not just to ‘bullying’, but that’s a rant for another day), that EVERYTHING is deemed ‘bullying’, with the result that the word is blurred beyond recognition.

    If 90 percent of the people on the ‘sex offender list’ are former 17 yo’s that had consensual sex with their 15 yo girlfriend, the word ‘sex offense’ has lost its meaning and that ‘sex offender list’ is useless.

    If 90 percent of the kids who now get marked as ‘bullies’ turn out to be kids who did not invite Melissa or Tracy to their birthday party because they didn’t like Melissa or Tracy, then the word ‘bullying’ has been redefined and has become useless.

    Anyway, I can heartely recommend Tim Gill’s book. It’s the ultimate Child Free thesis and, as I said, it a free download. What’s not to like!

    PS Please excuse my english. It’s not my mother tongue.

  25. Oh, and by the way, I was bullied mercilessly by my older sisters (and my parents were unable to stop it – but that’s another rant for yet another day), which left decisive psychological ‘scars’. (to this day, nearly forty years later, it is difficult to dress up nice – it feels like a victory when I do – because my sisters have firmly implanted the notion that I am an ugly freak in my head to which I responded with growing an ‘I Don’t Care About How I Look’ shield).
    I’ve even been beaten up by two older girls at school (for no other reason than because they were bored and I happened to be there)

    So yes, I know how awful it can be to be bullied, even (or because) when it’s not about being openly nasty (my sisters were always verrry careful to keep ‘under the radar’).

    It is BECAUSE I know how awful and destructive bullying is that I object to this inflation of the term.

  26. Imagine a couple of big guys hanging around the hallway saying “Give me your lunch money or I’ll push your head in the toilet.” Go ahead, imagine it for a moment. Now, honestly…aren’t you picturing the 1950s or 1960s? I didn’t say to put yourself in the past, but you probably did, because that kind of thing went on a lot more then. As Steven Pinker points out, bullying is *down* but most people think it’s *up*. And part of the reason, of course, is the new and more expansive definition of the word. The problem is that people use “bullying” to mean very serious problems that lead to suicide, and they use the same word to mean normal kids-picking-on-kids behavior, with no distinction. So of course they see bullies everywhere, hence a national crisis!

  27. The whole thing has nothing to do with bullying or kids. It’s a hollow political gesture designed to bolster the casino’s image. Period.

  28. This is completely different from checking references. This is checking up on CHILDHOOD behavior, which if it actually WERE criminal, would be sealed records anyway! (At least in the U.S.) How is it that there isn’t a confidentiality issue with this anyway?

    Nearly all adult bullies may have been childhood bullies, but the converse is not true. A large enough percentage of childhood bullies (especially depending on how broadly you’re using the term) grow out of, or even regret, the behavior by the time they’re of working age, that it’s completely unfair to rule out every person with this in their past from a job.

    Nanci, your method doesn’t really work very well when the victim is significantly smaller and physically weaker than the bully. I really couldn’t just decide to suddenly become bigger, stronger, and braver, so I could beat down the bullies and get them to leave me alone. The school really does have a duty to protect the weak from the strong — it’s a school, not a savannah. Not all situations are as neat as fictional stories.

  29. What I’d REALLY like to hear about is how many schools, when called, tell the casino “That isn’t any of your goddamned business. We aren’t going to tell tales on our graduates. Please piss up a rope and stand under it while it dries.”

    Probably not many, but the ones that do are the ones I’d want to send my (hypothetical) kids to.

  30. I certainly agree that this law is shortsighted and useless, but I’m also concerned about some of the comments. Let’s start by eliminating the word bullying; we don’t need to change the name of an action because it’s commited by a younger individual. Why not just stick with “abuse” or “assult”?

    As others have pointed out, it is sometimes difficult to determine when a specific incident is ‘bullying’. This is because we’ve gone zero-tolerance and started labeling including the first name-calling incident under the umbrella. This makes the term meaningless, but that does not mean the issue no longer exists. Bullying is a sustained, directed pattern of abuse against a given individual, either by another individual or a group.

    If I need to I will look up the statistics and post a link for others, but I’d like to think we’re all informed enough that we know a lot of kids perform substandard at some or all tasks, potentially affecting years or decades of their lives, and some even commit suicide, because of ‘bullying’. Considering they are clearly not the ones at fault (some cases aren’t clearcut, but many are), for what reason would we not address the situation and attempt to rectify it?

    A few thoughts:

    >> This is so over the top. Kids grew up, bully mature, and we learn from our mistakes. If we were all judged by what we did or didn’t do in High School we would all be unemployed.

    I would not. Nor would any of my friends. In fact, my only experience with a bully in my youth was at the age of 14. He was bullying other people; not me. I rectified the situation. I saw this as my civic and moral duty, and as a chivalrous act. Why don’t others (adult or child)? As much as I’d like to think I’m a special little snowflake demi-god, I’m not.

    >> Personally I’d prefer that the position in my work environment is filled by somebody without a history of hurting people for fun, rather than with. Plus, I’m generally in favour of punishing bad people for bad behaviour.

    Good point in favor of practicality. Regardless of punishment or social implications, don’t we sometimes just want the safest and best person for a given job?

    >> Bullying is not right, but it is a fact of life, just like the backstabbing that goes on in offices later in life. Kids used to build up a resistance to it and get on with their lives, now they run to mommy and the teacher.

    I’m sorry, but this isn’t 1950 anymore. I have been in two offices where backstabbing occurred. They had massive turnover and I left rather quickly. The other six offices I have worked in during my life had little-to-no drama. Businesses realize backstabbing has an economic cost; the free market has begun to eliminate it. And if I see one of my employees even showing traits that might lead to thoughts of backstabbing you’d better believe I already have candidates lined up to replace them; acting like a 12 year old in a 30 year old’s body is not acceptable.

    >> I’m so sick of this new fascination with bullying. Kids have been bullying other kids forever, it’s only today’s generation of kids that can’t seem to take it.

    I’m so sick of this new fascination with murder. People have been murdering other people forever, it’s only today’s generation of adults that can’t seem to take it.

    Sounds silly, doesn’t it? We are talking about people attempting to harm other people for fun or personal gain; That is about the best definition of ‘evil’ I could imagine. Whether it has happened or not, or for how long it has, is irrelevant in consideration of whether it is wrong or just, or if anything should be done about it.

    By your logic that pesky woman’s right movement should never have occurred (after all, they were considered second-class citizens for centuries). Race discrimination fits that description too. As does religious discrimination. Kings and Queens ruled from on high for millennia, and for millennia before that leadership was attained via cowing or killing the existing leader in a display of physical might; perhaps we could eliminate this representative democracy idea (yes, I know that’s been around a few thousand years too).

    The short of it is: If something is wrong we should address it as a society. If someone is doing something wrong that harms an innocent, we should take any and all steps neccessary to protect the innocent and minimize its impact on their life regardless of what effect is has on the offender. We can consider the effect on the offender once the innocent is removed from harm’s way, but not before.

    I have to ask, because I’m getting confused: I was drawn to this community because everyone seemed to have the impression that kids were not helpless twits who needed infanticized for life. However, several have commented here on high school students being young, impetuous, and unable to understand that tormenting another for enjoyment is wrong. These two ideals seem at odds. I certainly had a solid understanding of physical and verbal abuse, and it’s affect on others by the time I was finishing middle school. Many others I know did as well. How have things changed?

    I find it hard to believe that we’re defending abusers because of their age when at the same age I was starting a business performing photographic restoration and reprinting making double minimum wage, buying my first car for an inflation-equivalent $20k of my own money, first putting hundreds of hours a year into community service projects, buying my recently divorced teacher furniture for his apartment for Christmas, shoveling neighbors’ driveways simply because I knew they had physical problems, all without parental involvement…I don’t consider my actions at the time all that unusual. Were they? If not then why are we giving free pass to someone the same age who hasn’t learned the basics of social interaction that my nine year old should have?

    I’m very confused. Are children capable of responsibility, compassion, empathy, and the bare basics of maturity? Or are they entitled brats who are incapable of interacting with society on any meaningful level?

  31. Funny thing you touch this subject today… My 5yo misbehaved yesterday at school; he took a girl’s glasses and handed them over to his sidekick (his parents and we’ve been asking their teacher to keep them away from each other all year). One thing led to another and the girl’s glasses were scratched.
    We had an impromptu meeting with the Principal, and the girl’s mother was understandably upset (so were we, of course).
    The boys were severely scolded at school and at home. Next day, they read deeply felt excuse-me letters they wrote themselves, aloud, in front of the whole class. The offenders’ parents have “bought” their favourite toys from them to pay for the ruined glasses. They can “buy” them back at the end of the year with certain community work the principal has established for them.
    You could say all aspects of the matter have been adressed, and everyone has done everything possible to prevent anything like this from happening again (at least concerning these kids). But the girl’s mother isn’t satisfied. And I understand (to a certain point), because the only thing that would do for her is that nothing had happened in the first place. And that’s impossible.
    But the truth is that the girl has learned that she can overcome bad things, and that justice exists. And the silly boys have learned that you never, ever pick on a classmate (and that glasses are fragile, expensive and necessary).

  32. Nicholas, just because kids are capable doesn’t mean that all exhibit the behavior at the same age. Just as some kids take longer before they are ready to go to the park on their own others take longer to develop empathy, compassion and responsibility. I do not believe anyone is defending a sustained pattern of abuse, but as you and others have pointed out the word bully has come to encompass so much it’s pretty useless. I think we can all agree that we need to stop using bullying to describe every negative interaction between kids (I’d say all together) and call incidents what they are. And I think we can all agree that we need to deal with these incidents *when* they happen and in a manner appropriate to to facts of the incident.

  33. To Nanci, Nicholas, and those others who think the ‘bullying’ problem is overblown:

    In some ways, yes, it is overblown. There are plenty of people who run to mommy for the littlest thing, and that is wrong. Those are called ‘tattle-tales’, as they have been through the ages, and people don’t like them. They are rare.

    But I graduated high school in 2008, so maybe my bully experience is a bit more recent. I was in middle school when cell phones were getting popular, not everyone had one. That is why, at least every other week for six months, my family got prank phone calls. If by ‘prank’ you mean ‘Is (my name) home?’ followed by swearing, description of sexual acts, or farting noises. And fine, prank calling once in a while is normal… but I’m talking about two people, taking turns with a cell phone, so we were getting a phone call from them every five minutes or less for hours on end. It went on overnight, or from the end of the school day until nearly midnight, more than once. We had a police officer talk to them on the phone, at one point; I don’t believe anything was ever followed up on. That was called ‘bullying’ because it was two people under age 14 calling another person under age 14 names. It was not called harassment for making my entire family lose sleep, and there was never any punishment.

    In high school, somebody was taking pictures of different students during an activity day. Mine was blown up, put on a t-shirt with several rude words, and worn to school a few days later. No one else’s. Because she wore a jacket, no teacher knew about it until after lunch, when two of the dozens of students who saw it felt bad and reported it. The shirt was confiscated, given to me– I still have it– and the girl given a detention and made to apologize. That was it. For all I know, there are still copies of that shirt out there, and I am extremely wary about letting anyone take my picture now.

    Cell phones, computers, the internet, and other technological advances have made it possible for kids to track down their target and humiliate them any where at any time. Because they’re children, things they do that would get them arrested if they were older are laughed off or pinned to ‘bullying’ and not treated seriously. I hate that friendly name-calling, roughhousing, and so forth are being vastly overblown. But I cannot be upset if things that happened to me are taken seriously.

  34. It only affects people 22 and under who are applying for jobs at casinos? Eh…sounds good to me! If they weren’t assholes in High School, then they’ve got nothing to worry about. If they were, serves them right! Better yet, ask the school who they were bullying and offer the job to him/her!

  35. Ok, so I just read your Reader’s Digest article and it’s super awesome. My question is, why is it filed under “jokes” and “funny stuff”? The extreme media hype surrounding possible death and dismemberment from all sorts of things we grew up around without incident is not a joke, it’s a serious issue that we as human beings, and especially as parents, have to put up with every day.

  36. I think this is great, enforcing some real-world consequences to bullying in school. If you are a bully at a job, that can get you fired and/or it can prevent you from getting another job. But in school, there are pretty much no consequences; you won’t get kicked out, the people you are bullying won’t leave, etc. Maybe you’ll get a few days of vacation (suspension) but you are both going to come back eventually so that you can bully again.

    Yes people can change, but they usually don’t do so spontaneously. Over 35 years, yes a person is probably going to encounter many things that get them to change. Over the first 4 years out of highschool, probably not as much. A few years of being unable to get the job they want could be just the thing to make them see the need to change.

    Bullying IS a problem. Sure, it’s been a problem for a long time. But it doesn’t have to be a problem, it can be stopped. It does NOT have to be a fact of life. Yes you can learn things from it, but deep down what you learn is to not trust people, and that you are powerless to stop people from treating you that way, that you just have to get through it, which is bull. I’m glad that bullying in schools is being addressed now, though people are taking the completely wrong approach to ending it.

  37. Amanda brings up a good point that schools usually can’t/won’t give any real consequences to bullies. When I was teaching 4th grade, there was a girl in the class who assaulted other kids on almost a daily basis. The principal reached the point where she told me to stop writing her up. She felt there was nothing more we could do, so our hands were tied. It was so frustrating.

    I agree with others, though, that bullying needs to be clearly defined for a policy like this. It should involve only incidents of true physical assault. (Yes, I know psychological bullying exists, too, but proving that would be very difficult.) If they include incidents of every little conflict that may have happened in school, it would get out of control in a hurry.

    It’s an interesting idea . . . really, I think better consequences need to be implemented by the schools at the time of the incidents. Schools need better, clearer policies. I wish I had the solution as to what kinds of consequences they could reasonably implement, though. It seems these days so many parents stand in the way of the schools trying to actually do anything.

  38. Defining bullying:

    To me the difference between assault or abuse is that by definition bullying persists over a matter of weeks or longer. For me, bullying also includes abuse in public to humiliate and the intent to have others join the assault.

    I agree with efforts to end bullying. I hate that the term bullying is being used to label a wide range of behaviors which are not really bullying.

    I feel the same way about hate crimes–great idea to punish someone who spray paints a swastika on a grave for more than just a simple property crime of spray painting; bad idea when it is tacked onto a mugging which is going to be tried as an assault anyway.

  39. Amanda – The problem is that it gives consequences several years too late. A 7th grader is not going to not bully because he might not get a job in a casino when he is 21. 7th graders are not making their decisions based on their future career options. When you are 12, 20 is ancient.

    And even if a 12 year old is thinking ahead to the future, do you really think bouncer at a club is what he is planning to do with his life? Working in a club is generally a job you do to pay the bills while going to college or a job you happen into and not a life goal unto itself.

    And who does the club talk to for this check? Much of the worst bullying is swept under the rug by school administration. We have this picture of bullies being marginalized thugs. Most of the worst bullying that I remember seeing was cheerleaders, football players and other popular kids versus unpopular, socially awkward kids. The school always backs the popular kids who they see as contributing to the school rather than the awkward kids who are viewed as a negative for the school. You are far more likely to get a bad report on the BULLIED than the bully from school administration.

  40. LOL typical Eastern States :P Go Dockers!!!!!!!!!

  41. I was bullied senseless in school. I was a different kind of child and for various reasons grew up fast. It asn’t that I was being beaten, I was ignored, all over just ignored. Looking back I can’t say that there was anything I could have done differently – or would have done differently but the price was very high.
    I can’t say that I have much of anything positive to say of those who excluded me. The internal machinery of thought that goes into bullying is equally complex as it is simple. The bullies select victims at random, or whomever that’s not behaving according to the norm.
    Bullying is no matter what NOT a matter of growth and development. It’s a pact mentality which should be broken up by adults in the school.

    This said, this all sounds very weird. What is a bully-check after all? By the time you are 20, you are passed the school-yard brawling and going after someone with the tossing of an orange. I was flourishing after finishing high school and didn’t really care what happened to them. However, when I run into one of them, I casually change to the opposite sidewalk.

  42. Interesting point of view, somehow I agree most part of it. Nobody likes bully, so regardless whether they will come into their senses in the future and know what they did is wrong – ppl tend to try and get the message across now so they won’t repeat the ‘mistake’.

    Some even go to the extent of ‘bullying’ the bully without realizing it.

  43. Hey Lenore, I can’t find an email address for you, but I’m a student in NSW and I wrote an article on this when it was in the papers here. I offered it to a major news blog but they didn’t seem interested. If you’re interested in reading/posting the article as a guest blog, is there any way I could contact you?

  44. [...] As Free Range Kid founder and advocate, Lenore Skenazy says[3]: [...]

  45. [...] Free Range Kid founder and advocate, Lenore Skenazy says: Worst of all is the treating bullying [...]

  46. Bullies are awful and rotten and some are really, really bad. But if there weren’t so many kids tied to their mother’s apron strings, it wouldn’t be such a problem. There is a generation that has been raised that cannot fight their own battles and their parents have to be involved in everything. Not only can’t these kids fend for themselves, there seems to be a lack of any strong enough to stick up for the underdog. Back in my day (which wasn’t that long ago!) the bullies usually got their clocks cleaned by someone who had enough of their nonsense.

    You’re not going to get rid of the bullies. The best way to stop bulliying is to raise confident, self-reliant children.

  47. @Donna it’s a start. Those 12 year olds may not be thinking about their futures (I would think some are, but I guess my view on that is a little skewed because I WAS thinking about my future at that point, and already working to save up for college, which I started at 15), but their parents probably are, and therefore will take bullying more seriously. Since the schools are not really in a position to stop bullying (especially with the fact that they are paid based on how many kids are in attendance, so kicking out a kid would mean a loss to them, and they are so tight on money), the parents taking it more seriously would be a good thing. And we’re talking about highschools being called, anyway – the average 12 year old isn’t in highschool, right? Isn’t it generally 15 – 18, maybe 14? Isn’t the importance of thinking about your life after highschool stressed in highschool?

    Yes bouncer is probably not what they are planning to do with their lives – nor what their parents hope they will do – but the idea that bullying can affect your future job prospects, whatever they may be, is a truth that should be taught early.

  48. @Maureen imo you CAN get rid of the bullies, as long as you raise children with the ability – both the physical ability and the self-esteem to do so – to go away from bullies and not have to return to spending time near them. Kids in schools usually are not given the physical ability to do this (moving a kid across the room or to another class doesn’t count). But when people are given that physical ability, watch how the amount of bullying plummets.

    I’ve seen bullies get their “clocks cleaned” and not stop bullying, but instead switch to bullying only children too small to physically fight them, or switch to bullying only in a group, to outnumber the “victim”. Even the strongest, most confident kid is not going to be able to clean the clocks of 5 kids the same size or bigger than them – nor should he be doing so, an eye for an eye makes the world go blind.

  49. Amanda – Kids who have the foresight for this to mean anything are probably not bullies to start with. Many other teens are sexting and posting drunken pictures of themselves on Facebook – things we know effect your future – without a care in the world. Worrying about not being able to get a job several years down the road that they don’t currently want, and can’t imagine ever wanting, is not high on their priority list. Heck, it’s not high on adults’ priority lists. I can’t recall the last time I changed something that was working for me because I might get shut out of a job I don’t anticipate ever seeking.

    Nor is it going to be high on parents priority list. No parent is dreaming of a future as a bouncer for their child. If they know their kid is a bully and are doing nothing to stop it, what the heck is the kid being prevented from doing a job that the parents don’t actually want him to do going to change? No parent of a bully is going to be suddenly motivated to intercede because his son’s future career as a bouncer is limited. In fact, most parents who don’t care that their kid is a bully were/are bullies themselves and have done just fine in the world.

  50. Oh please, sexting and drunken pictures do not affect your future, or even your present beyond older people making a big deal out of it. It’s not about the bouncer job – it’s about ANY job. Yes this is only affecting the bouncer job, but it would make people stop and think – what other jobs could this affect in the future? I would think parents would want more for their child than doing “just fine,” but maybe I’m wrong.

  51. Amanda, you just showed how skewed your view is about what really matters in the world. I’m guessing that you are very young.

    Our office has seen several teens ARRESTED for sexting. But I suppose in your world going to prison and being on the sex registry for life doesn’t impact your future. Even ending up in juvenile court over this is going to be a serious bump in the road to your future if only mentally.

    Your internet footprint matters greatly in the work force. Many people don’t get jobs or lose the ones they have over Facebook. What you post on facebook is viewed as an indication of your judgment, or lack thereof.

    Just a few weeks ago there was a story in my hometown paper about a lawsuit by a teacher fired for posting what the school deemed to be inappropriate pictures on Facebook (drunken pictures while on vacation in Europe). An assistant district attorney I worked with was fired over his Facebook posts (not pictures, just words that he was told to remove and refused). The entire office has now been put on notice that they will be fired for any facebook posts made from 8-5 or that in any way reference work regardless of when made. My coworker was just reprimanded and placed on probation at work for several things, including a Facebook post (and she hasn’t friended a single person in the office but she did have an unknown mutual friend). And you won’t get a security clearance with anything remotely questionable online. I was reading a list of reasons people were denied clearance for the foreign service and several were for internet activities deemed inappropriate.

    Today EVERY employer will google you prior to employment. Some are now requiring that you turn over your Facebook, et al, passwords during the application process. I don’t really understand the obsession over Facebook but employers have made your life there very relevant to employment.

    And it is not about EVERY job. No other job is checking with high schools to find out your classroom behavior. I don’t expect most to ever do so. I can’t speak for Australia but I can’t imagine that you would find any high in America willing to participate. No way that they are giving out this info to employers. There is no reason that a bully can’t be anything they want in the world except a bouncer in NSW. Since bouncer in NSW is not high on any dream job list, I don’t expect the possible failure to qualify at 21 has a big effect on your behavior at 14. Thus is a typical let’s-make-it-look-like-we-doing-something-but-it-is-really-meaningless action.

  52. I think Donna’s point about “doing just fine” was that the parents, because they are the kind of parents who raise bullies, think that, bouncer job or not, growing up into an adult bully or not, their kids are “doing just fine” because they don’t perceive bullying behavior as a definite negative, the way you and I and presumably Donna do. The point is, no parent who is already tolerating a bullying kid is going to crack down because they think that someday their kid might not be allowed to become a bouncer. This move just won’t accomplish what you think it will accomplish, and it’s wrong on other levels.

  53. I grew up in the Bronx during the 1970′s, and I was bullied due to being smaller than most kids of my age group, however I also learned how to take care of myself as well. I’ve learned how to negotiate, as well as fighting, that’s the way of life. By threatening a kid with lost prospects of future employment is not the answer, this is actually a form of bullying in it’s own right. The better solution is to teach our children how to stand up for themselves, and each other. Kids are resilient, they’ll learn self reliance,discipline, and respect for themselves. They will also learn how to make friends.
    If I may add I’m still considered squat in height, but I’m large in heart, I’m a United States Marine, Semper Fi!

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