Friday, September 26, 2008

A Culture of Psychopaths?

This past Monday, I was bored and had a sore throat so did not have a lot of energy. I was flipping through the tube and stumbled upon The CW’s Gossip Girl at 8pm. As I follow some of these teen dramas from time to time because of my work, I watched this and was nothing short of appalled. Why do we watch this and why do we want more and more?

The show begins with the first day of school. One character named Jenny is scared to go because of a fallout she had with some girls the year before and declares that last year she was a “project“ but this year is a “victim“. Soon, we see a group of girls sitting on the front steps. The obvious Queen Bee named Blair is sitting with a group of minions leafing through some folders of different new girls in the school. We also see these new girls being “interviewed” by this group and these newbies are classified as either “projects” or “victims” based on the decision of this girl Blair. Later in the episode, we see the same group along with one named Serena barreling down the hall. One new girl, Amanda, has attached herself to Serena’s somewhat ex boyfriend Dan which upsets this little beehive. They invite Amanda to lunch only to warn her to stay away from Dan. Serena seems to be a nice kid who warns Blair not to be so horrible about the situation. Well later, Serena, Dan and this new girl are on a “date” which is very awkward. Serena and Dan of course have a huge blow up. Blair is nowhere to be found but her minions are there. A guy named Chuck who would make a great candidate for the Anti-Christ shows up to the minions with some gel to put in Amanda’s hair and burn it off. So, these minions do so and Serena lets them know not to let anything happen again without going through her first. After this, we see Chuck paying Amanda for a job well done. A job well done? It seems that Chuck set this whole scenario up to shake up Blair’s standing as a Queen Bee and have Serena de-throne her. He does so because he loves Blair and wants her upset so she will run back to him. Then we see these girls together the next day at school where Serena is the obvious Queen Bee and Blair has been de-throned as Chuck wished. In the meantime, these same minions are making Jenny’s life hard by throwing her belongings on the ground and letting her know that the fun is just beginning. Jenny is now skipping school and showing up at a design shop where she interns.

First off, when is burning someone’s hair off a form of entertainment? I am really trying to wrap my head around this one. Second, interviewing people as possible projects or victims? This is school, not a battlefield! Wait, school is a battlefield and this show makes no bones about it. Also, this Chuck is nothing short of a psychopath and will probably be in prison for some white collar crime or become a politician when he becomes an adult. What is entertaining about a smart girl skipping school? A girl who could have a bright future but is being ripped apart by a group of vipers? Most importantly, why does there need to be a Queen Bee? This show is nothing more than a group of kids seeing life as a game of chess. Why must life be a game?

I find this show to be disturbing on so many levels. It glorifies bullying and peer abuse. Kids not even in college are already scheming, plotting and manipulating. Several of them have no conscience. One exhibits sadistic behavior for the love of a girl. This is how they express love for one another? It also proves my theories and what I have said all along. Bullies are pathological, narcissistic and even sadistic. They are mean, selfish, void of compassion and see life as a game. Is there a bright light at the end of this vicious tunnel? Lets face it, we are becoming a culture of psychopaths. There is no other way to say it.

Resources Cited:

Elizabeth Bennett is the author of Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From A Psychological Perspective and resides in Los Angeles, California. To learn more, visit .

Thursday, September 25, 2008

As we all know, cyber bullying is a serious problem amongst our nations youth today. It takes the problem of abuse by peers to a whole other dimension. A place that adults today never had to visit. Recently, I learned of two different sites here online that enable online safety for children and also, a place to anonymously report any bullying both on and offline.

A couple by the name of Deborah and Steven Schechner founded a website called Safe Wave. Safe Wave is a site that is set up for children to go online and not have to deal with any cyber bullying by their peers. They require signature on documents for parents and children to sign and agree NOT to cyber bully or bring any other danger on the site. Also, they have a verification process which goes through the school of the child to make sure this child who is applying is who she says she is. Children are learning to use the internet everyday and in learning, we want them to have a place to go that is safe without worrying about bullies around the corner. There is so much on here that brings danger and many kids have encountered them as some have taken their lives as a result. Also, the site welcomes law enforcement which I think it great. These are people who need to be on top of this problem more than anyone.

A Bingham Young student by the name of Justin Berenger created a site based in Utah entitled Schooltipline. This site takes anonymous reports by students of bullying and abusive situations both off and online. Each report is taken seriously and reported to the school in which the complaint is being made. As many children fear being labeled “snitches” and a lot of times do not want to “rat anyone out”, they feel much better reporting without anyone finding out that they are doing the reporting. I am grateful for this young man to step up and see that others are safe from this problem. Many times this abuse does go unreported because kids fear repercussions from these bullies. Or, as stated before, do not want to be known as someone who rats others out. There is a huge difference in reporting what should be considered criminal behavior and ratting someone out. I hope with this site, the bullying will be handled by the school personnel in an expedient manner and taken more seriously.

I commend both websites for taking action against this problem. I wish them both much success in their endeavors. It is good to see folks out there who are doing the right thing for a change. Lets keep these safe havens going. Our children deserve it.

Resources Cited:

Elizabeth Bennett is the author of Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From A Psychological Perspective and resides in Los Angeles, California. To learn more, visit .

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Subtlety a Dangerous Thing

As I was going through some of the articles on bullying, one really stood out to me. The article discussed a couple of movies. The first being a personal favorite of mine entitled A Christmas Story which is set in the late 1940’s and despite the movie being a good one, there is a bully in there. A older, stronger boy who lives in the neighborhood. Everyday, he lies in wake to taunt the main character Ralphie and two of his friends. Of course, Ralphie and the others run scared of this menace and his sidekick who is not much bigger than Ralphie. Eventually, Ralphie tires of this daily abuse and attacks this bully back by ferociously hitting and hitting him until his nose bleeds. Then there is a movie that came out in 2004 entitled Mean Girls which starred Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams. A group of popular girls did what they could to tear one another down. The backstabbing, lies and sneaky behavior was shown and the sad fact was these girls were suppose to be best friends! At least with Ralphie, his bully let him know his distain for him but these girls were each others best friends!

I have to say, what kind of a world do we live in where our own best friends are our worst enemies? The people we are to trust and know are there for us besides our own family? These are our people we rely upon to keep our secrets, listen to our problems and basically support us in any endeavor. Maybe this is why people have been used the term frienemies when referring to their friends. Have we become so selfish as people that even our own friends are people we cannot support, help and love? Do we take our friends for granted and feel that we can do whatever we want despite how our behavior affects others? As a nation are we that self centered? Why do we set out to tear one another down instead of build one another up? Relational Aggression has a way of filtering into our daily lives. Its sneaky, deceiving and a great cause for stress in our daily lives.

As for Ralphie, in many ways, I can understand why he became so angry at his bully. He was tired of the daily torment this little punk gave him and his friends. He was tired of running from him. Tired of the taunts and ridicule. It all came out when he sat on this bully and punched him over and over until his nose bled. A person can only take so much until everything bottled up inside is going to come flowing out. When it comes flowing out, its not always pretty. Those who have never experienced peer abuse are not going to understand this. This is why in the school shootings, everyone is so surprised by these actions, never saw them coming then run to declare the shooter mentally ill or a psycho. Folks, a person can only take so much! In A Christmas Story Ralphie’s mother found him outside hitting this bully and came and brought him home. Of course, he was punished for behaving in such a manner. However, what happened to the bully? Was he punished and did it ever come out that he was tormenting others on a daily basis? Not that I can recall and that’s typical in these scenarios.

The article also mentioned a study published in the Denver Post. There have been 260 violent deaths in our schools since 1999 and 71% were a result of bullying and peer abuse. Also, 75% of those between the ages of 8 to 11 have been victims of this abuse. Why am I not surprised?

I understand that both of these movies are pure fiction. However, sometimes life imitates art and these problems are all too real in our society. People need to stop blaming the victim and start punishing the real instigator. As friends, we need to love and support one another, not go and do things that hurt one another. We are all people just trying to get through the day. Can’t we try and respect instead of destroy each other? Is it too much to ask?

Resource Cited:

Elizabeth Bennett is the author of Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From A Psychological Perspective and resides in Los Angeles, California. To learn more, please visit .

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I was reading an article about two teenage girls from Northern California. They are Emily and Sarah Buder and they wrote a book entitled Letters to a Bullied Girl. The inspiration for this book was a girl in Northern California named Olivia Gardner. Olivia was experiencing severe bullying and peer abuse at the hands of her peers. She suffered indignities such as having her book bag dragged through mud, peers creating an “Olivia Haters” page on the internet and tormenters would always tell her to die. Needless to say, Olivia was suicidal which comes of no surprise to me. When the Buder sisters found out about Olivia and what she was dealing with, they decided to write this book. The project grew as they started to hear from other bullied kids, kids who did bully and felt bad about it, adults who bullied growing up and felt bad and adult survivors who still struggle with the affects of being bullied and abused by their peers.

I commend these two young ladies for reaching out to Olivia who was a complete stranger. Today, it is so rare to see teens have empathy and reach out to others in a compassionate manner. I have the up most respect for these sisters. They probably do not realize how many other kids and teens they helped in their project. Sometimes, hearing these things from a peer rather than an adult or someone in authority can make a greater difference. I hope this book creates a wave with other kids out there and they learn something from it. Kindness can go a long way.

Olivia being suicidal is not uncommon. Many who are bullied and abused by their peers develop depression which leads to suicide eventually. We refer to it as bullycide as this is suicide as a result of peer abuse and bullying. How can we expect someone to grow into a well adjusted and balanced adult when as children, they suffer these indignities and have nobody there to help them? Or, the kids are told to just ignore it and stop taking it personally as it is a fact of life. Schools put so much emphasis on test scores and grades. How can someone excel when they are constantly told they are scum and need to die?

School is starting back in many places. We need to enforce these programs and laws so our children are safe and safe from each other. So they can score high in grades and become productive citizens some day. Emily and Sarah already know kindness and they exercise it. I hope others use these ladies as an example and not think of them as a joke. They both have hearts of gold and a powerful message to share.

Most importantly, I was glad to see the book was dedicated to Corrine Sides. Corrine was an exceptional young lady who did die of bullycide. May her spirit live on through this book. Angels do exist after all.

Resource Cited:

Elizabeth Bennett is the author of Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From A Psychological Perspective and resides in Los Angeles, California. To learn more, visit .

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bullying Over Obesity According to a Recent Study

Well, a little late on the blogging but as they say “better late than never.” I tend to write about the articles and events that grab me right off the bat and at first this one did not. But as I did something thinking, I realized the value of the article and the fact that the contents involved need to be addressed.

I read an article on the Health Digest website entitled Parents Battle Bulge, Bullying With Overweight and Obese Kids. At the University of Michigan, they have taken the results from a poll taken at Motts Children Hospital. According to this, parents who have overweight children are more concerned about them being bullied rather than their children being obese themselves. Yes folks, you read that correctly. The parents have a greater concern about the bullying factor rather than the overall health of their child. To be honest, I can understand that completely. Bullying should be a strong concern not only with parents but with schools, workplaces and within the community as a whole. Unfortunately, people are more concerned with Steve’s soccer shorts, what President Bush had for dinner and of course, the national election we will be having in November.

I have to say, this bullying over a child’s weight does bother me. All forms of bullying get under my skin but bullying someone over their weight? Many children are chubby because they carry what is known as baby fat. This cannot be helped at all. Some children have a genetic predisposition towards obesity and again, cannot be helped. Yet, because of this sick rite of passage, other kids have to make their lives completely miserable as a result. Why? Because they can. They know where, when and who to bully and they know for the most part, nobody in authority will do anything about it. What ever happened to teaching children some kindness? Manners? To respect others? Has anyone noticed that we are a nation without empathy? If someone does not learn this early in life, they will have greater problems later in life. Yet I hear “kids will be kids” constantly. True, kids are kids but does that mean we forget to teach them to be decent human beings? We live in a world now where the norm is wearing a size 0 in clothes. Everyone strives to be thin. As a result, we have people with eating disorders and other problems. Why is it so important to be thin? Can’t we teach people that its okay to be comfortable in ones own skin?

This article speaks volumes. It says a lot when a parent is more worried about their child’s safety than their own health. The article also suggests that anti-bullying programs add something about obesity in them. Why is this a new revelation? Why are they not already in the programs? Haven’t we been teaching our children all along not to give people a hard time for their weight? Or is this part of the “kids will be kids” mantra? Again, kids will be kids but kids can also be taught empathy and respect. The concept is easy to grasp. It’s a matter of putting it into action.

Resource Cited:

Elizabeth Bennett is the author of Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From A Psychological Perspective and resides in Los Angeles, California. To learn more, visit .

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Must We Feed the Bully?

Recently, I heard about this new book entitled “101 Facts About Bullying: What Everyone Should Know” and even though I have not read it, I do commend the author for taking a stand against the problem. Every bit helps in educating on this serious subject.

One point made in the book is that bullies can become victims and visa versa depending on situations and circumstances. Also, that it is not always good to fight back with bullies as that keeps the problem going. I have been saying both all along. The only time I advocate any fighting back is in the case of self-defense. Bullies have no limits whatsoever. Physical or psychological limits and will go the distance regardless. If a bully is trying to murder someone then yes, I do advocate fighting back out of protection and defense alone. Otherwise, I do not agree to fighting back either. Let the bully take the rap and let his actions be shown to everyone. Peer Abuse creates all sorts of problems in victims such as depression, social anxiety and PTSD. Its high time they pay for their crimes instead of the victim doing it for him.

Also, from what I understand, the book mentions that bullies can enjoy high social status. Oh isn’t this so common! Bullies are socially sophisticated and pretty much set the bar for their social environment. Therefore, they are charming and charismatic and people are drawn to them. As a result, they are given a lot of social power because people are so drawn in by them. It reminds me of one selling their souls to the devil. What bothers me is that we are learning this yet we continue to give in to them. Give them a lot of power they do not need. Instead of just saying “that is just the way it is. It is what it is” then why don’t we start educating them and rise to the occasion here? Teach them to use their powers for good instead of bad. They are given these social gifts and why do we have to allow them to misuse them? These gifts could be used to help those peers who are not blessed in these areas. Why does kindness have to be such a bad thing?

Once again, kudos to Dr. Kervokian for taking this initiative and writing the book. As a society, I wish we could learn to take the high road and stop feeding these bullies. Take the time to teach them kindness instead. After all, kindness is not really a bad thing.

Resource Cited

Elizabeth Bennett is the author of Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From A Psychological Perspective and resides in Los Angeles, California. To learn more, visit .

Monday, September 01, 2008

California is Cracking Down!

As I am located in Los Angeles, I try and keep up with the ins and outs of the bullying and peer abuse problem in this state. Recently, a bill entitled AB86 introduced by Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance would finally crack down on the cyber bullying that so many of our young people face today. Finally, we are cracking down on this never ending and ever growing problem. California’s Education Code already has something in the books about harassment at school. Taking this next step is the best news I have heard in weeks.

Cyber bullying is bullying that occurs on the internet, cell phones and anything used electronically. Kids will go to social sites like My Space and Facebook to set up these pages against their classmates and send bulletins and other messages slandering their good name. Or, they may go to these websites that offer free hosting and make horrible pages about each other. If the internet is not enough, they use the cell phone to take pictures or make videos and put them up on You Tube which is a free site to post videos. Also, the use of text messaging is used and it goes on and on.

Its time that we crack down on our kids and teach them the seriousness of this problem. We can put laws on the books all we want but it is about education and enforcement. Are the schools taking this seriously? What about the parents and others in the community? Peer Abuse is not just a school and workplace problem but a community one as well. Bullying affects everyone in the community; not just the bully, bullied and bystander. If bullying in person is not enough, now we go to the internet.

I commend Assemblyman Lieu on his efforts and lets keep rooting for this bill to become a law. I know he has my vote in the next election.

Resource Cited:

Elizabeth Bennett is the Author of Peer Abuse Know More! Bullying From A Psychological Perspective and resides in Los Angeles, California. To learn more, please visit .