Scientists who dare to criticize anti-bully teachings deserve support.
Published on November 4, 2011 by Izzy Kalman in A Psychological Solution to Bullying
Ever since Columbine brought the psychological field of bullying to worldwide prominence, I’ve been warning about the problems with this field and been vilified for it by anti-bully activists. Once in a blue moon, a political reporter writes something critical about the anti-bully movement. They understand politics well enough to realize that no one, including the government, can force bullying to disappear.
Within the world of mental health, though, I’ve been a lone voice in the wilderness. The place with the absolutely greatest absence of criticism is the world of academia. The professors, researchers and leaders of psychological organizations have unanimously and enthusiastically approved of the anti-bully psychology despite the fact that it repudiates the most basic psychological and philosophical teachings and, not surprisingly, has been dismally failing in solving the problem of bullying.
Recently, some academicians have been waking up to the problems with the anti-bully teachings. When these brave contrarian voices speak up, they deserve to be applauded.
1. Prof. Helene Guldberg. I wrote last year about the groundbreaking book by Prof. Helene Guldberg, Reclaiming Childhood. Its chapter, The Anti-Bully Bandwagon, made the book the first published work in the entire world to criticize the basic premises of the anti-bully movement. You can revisit my blog about the book here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-bully-witch-hunt/200905/v…
2. Dr. Eric Caine. Whenever a young person commits suicide out of despair over being bullied, everyone, including mental health professionals, urge state legislatures to pass tougher anti-bullying laws. I’ve explained in numerous online articles why anti-bullying laws are bound to fail. Last week, Dr. Eric Caine, a psychiatrist and researcher at the University of Rochester, NY, and one of the country’s leading experts in suicide prevention, wrote an article declaring that anti-bullying laws cannot prevent suicide. You can read it here: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/A2/20111022/OPINION02/110220309/Bullying-laws-off-target-
So please, when such a prominent scientist says laws won’t prevent suicides, society should pay attention. We need to stop reflexively calling for tougher anti-bully laws as the solution to suicide.
3. Dr. Janice Harper. I give my most hearty support to anthropoligist Janice Harper, who is currently the target of intensive and vicious attacks for her recent–and excellent–article in the Huffington Post against the use of the label “bully.” For years I’ve argued vociferously against this word, as it is an insult, not a diagnosis, and by calling people bullies we are engaging in the very behavior we are condemning. You can read her Janice Harper’s powerful and right-on article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/janice-harper/the-bully-label-has-to-go_b_1068456
I urge you: If you like what she writes, leave a comment about it on the page. I know very well how it feels to be attacked for expressing criticism of anti-bully teachings, and Dr. Harper deserves all the support she can get. Do what you can to balance the nasty comments about her article.
To get my own take on the use of the term “bully,” please go to: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-bully-witch-hunt/200902/biased-researchers-fuel-bully-witch-hunt-part-two