FGF E-Package
The Confederate Lawyer
August 6, 2012

Harebrained Ways to Deal With Bullies
by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation

GLEN COVE, NY — A recent cartoon in a Sunday newspaper depicted two happy, cheerful, good-looking boys. They were busy talking with one another in the middle of the waiting room of a child psychiatrist’s office while their mothers sat gloomily along separate walls of the room. One boy said to the other, “No kidding! I’m a bully, too.”

The boys had a more wholesome view of life than those who think bullying is a psychiatric problem.

A recent study by Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology at Yale University, finds that 30 percent of the victims of bullying are picked on because they will not fight back. This 30 percent represents only those whose main reason for being victims is that they will not fight back, not those for whom it is a secondary reason. The truth is that bullies tend to pick as their victims those who will not try to defend themselves much more often than those who cannot defend themselves effectively. Bullies also tend to avoid victims who have someone to defend them.

There was a time when these facts were common knowledge. They were constantly repeated in children’s novels. Parents taught them to their children. Now common sense measures to defend victims from bullying are often forbidden or condemned, and psychiatric charlatans are called in instead.

Remarkably, Professor Kazdin condemns fighting back as one of the worst ways to stop bullying. What could be more illogical? Bullies pick on people who will not fight back, so fighting back is the wrong way to stop bullying?

Schools frequently institutionalize this absurdity in the form of a zero-tolerance policy that punishes both the bully and the victim equally — the bully for his offense and the victim for his defense. In one school, a teacher lost her job for allowing the victims of a bully to hit him.

The zero-tolerance policy also snares the altruistic defenders of victims of bullying. One girl was punished for coming to the defense of a disabled girl who was being attacked by a group of girls on a school bus.

School buses are a prime site of bullying, since they lack a means of imposing immediate discipline. The person who administers discipline for school bus offenses is seldom an eyewitness. The deck is stacked in favor of bullies, who usually are much more ready to accept a bad disciplinary record than either victims or heroes.

Self-defense is morally acceptable and sometimes praiseworthy. Defense of the helpless is always morally praiseworthy. More often than not, both work as remedies to bullying. Moreover, children raised to fight bullying will often grow up to be good citizens. Children brought up to let themselves or their helpless friends get beaten up and wait for justice from a public school principal will often grow up to be statists and socialists. We need to teach our children to stop bullying on their own, rather than wait for psychiatrists to come to the rescue.

The Confederate Lawyer archives

The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2012 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

This column may be forwarded, posted, or published if credit is given to Charles Mills and fgfBooks.com.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

To sponsor the FGF E-Package, please send a tax-deductible donation to the:
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation
344 Maple Avenue West, #281
Vienna, VA 22180
or donate online.

@ 2024 Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation