Do anti-bullying programs turn kids into wimps?

As parents, we want our kids to be able to stand up for themselves, to be resilient when faced with problems, and to overcome obstacles. A Rhode Island school psychologist says that, instead, we’re teaching them to be easily hurt by words and to be dependent on parents to solve their problems. Isreal Kalman believes that school systems are bullying the bullies… by doing so, they turn bullies into criminals and other kids into victims.

Kalman estimates that 90% of bullying is verbal – name-calling and insults. Most of the other 10% is pushing and shoving that causes no actual hurt. Kalman believes that aggression can’t be entirely eliminated from schools, and that punishing bullies for minor behaviours fosters a dislike for other students, teachers, and the school system that leads to a negative spiral. Punishing the bully teaches the victim that people deserve punishment even if they didn’t hurt you, and turns minor upsets into major crimes.

The first question Kalman asks students following name-calling is, “Do you believe it?” If the answer is “No,” then there’s no problem. If it’s “Yes,” school staff needs to work with the victim to address self-esteem issues.

You can read more here. [UPDATE: Link repaired]

Subscribe to The Family Anatomy Podcast by clicking here.

3 Responses to Do anti-bullying programs turn kids into wimps?
  1. […] bullying in the future. But what about the victims? At least one school psychologist believes that working with victims is more important than punishing the bullies! An article in the current issue of the British Journal of Developmental Psychology looked at […]

  2. […] of striking that is the bullying behaviour. I have some personal sympathy with those who say that bullying is what happens to those who deserve to be bullied but one of the things that society regularly fails to do is to stand up against those who […]

  3. Dr. Brian MacDonald, C. Psych.
    February 22, 2010 | 11:24 am

    I wasn’t able to set up an account and reply to AD Blogging’s article – my comment would be off-topic anyway. This article was interpreted to mean “bullying is what happens to those who deserve to be bullied.” I don’t think Isreal Kalman believes people “deserve” to be bullied, only that victims of name-calling might need some help to learn to be thicker-skinned.