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