RR Groups Oppose Anti-Bullying Bill

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller testified yesterday at a Texas House Public Education Committee hearing (archived video of the hearing here) in support of legislation to help schools better protect their students from bullying. Tragically, unrelenting harassment and bullying have led some Texas students — like 13-year-old Asher Brown last September — to take their own lives. Religious-right groups opposed to the bill, however, decided to put politics ahead of protecting Texas students from harm.

Supporters of House Bill 224 by state Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, pointed out that bullying has become a serious problem and that school administrators are practically begging for the training and legal tools they need to deal with it. In her testimony Kathy pointed to a TFN Education Fund poll last year that found overwhelming support among Texans for requiring schools to protect students from bullying. (You can read Kathy’s testimony at the bottom of this post.)

But lobbyists from religious-right groups offered a variety of disingenuous arguments against this common-sense bill. Texas Eagle Forum, for example, argued that bullying is a problem best handled at the local level. But some local school administrators are not handling the problem — Asher’s suicide should have made that clear. Too often administrators simply ignore bullying, excuse it or believe they don’t have enough authority to act effectively to stop it. Asher’s parents, for example, said they repeatedly told school officials about the bullying that tormented their son in the 18 months leading up to his suicide.

But perhaps the most cynical and odious testimony came from Liberty Institute, the Texas affiliate of Focus on the Family. LI’s argumentative and often rambling lobbyist appealed to anti-gay bigotry in his effort to defeat a bill protecting all kids from bullying. (The tragic irony of that strategy apparently escaped him.) He repeatedly insisted that the purpose of the anti-bullying bill was simply to provide “special rights” to “homosexuals” and the transgender community. Then later yesterday, the same lobbyist actually mocked the bill’s supporters, boasting that the bill would fail to win legislative approval — as if the issue were simply a political contest rather than a serious effort to protect students from harm.

The House Public Education Committee left the bill pending for now.

Here is Kathy’s written testimony from the hearing:

I’m Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, an organization of  45,000 religious and community leaders who support religious freedom, civil liberties and public education.

My two daughters attend public schools here in Austin. Like other parents, I know that bullying is a serious problem in Texas schools. And I strongly believe that all schoolchildren deserve a safe place in which to learn. But it’s clear that too many students today are burdened not just by heavy textbooks, but also by harassment and violence at the hands of their peers. And too many administrators and teachers apparently lack the training they need to identify and protect those students who need their help.

Last year we asked the national polling firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner to survey Texans across the state on the issue of bullying in Texas schools.

What we found confirms that House Bill 224 represents basic common sense to the vast majority of Texans. In fact, 88 percent of Texans said they support requiring public schools to protect all children from bullying, harassment and discrimination in school, including the children of gay and lesbian parents or teenagers who are gay.

We found that overwhelming support across ideological lines: 94 percent of self-identified liberals and moderates, 82 percent of self-identified conservatives and 81 percent of self-identified conservative Republicans said they supported such a requirement.

In short, an overwhelming majority of Texans agree that bullying — no matter the reasons for it — should not be tolerated in our schools. This legislation would be an important step forward in addressing this critical problem.

25 thoughts on “RR Groups Oppose Anti-Bullying Bill

  1. The problem with the proposed bill is that it attempts to criminalize free speech that is related to a perceived sociological difference regardless if positive or negative. Free speech that is abominable is still free, as the Supreme Court just ruled in the case of the abominable Westboro Baptish Church and it’s abominable curses at the funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

    This is a case of mistaking freedom from speech as freedom of speech.

    Bullying is bad news, and as the shortest and skinniest kid in school I had more than my fair share of it. I don’t reommend my solutin to the problem which worked like a charm which was to go berserk in the fashion of my Viking ancestors. I blaned out, and when I came to, the bullies were running. Not a solution that works for all, and it did cause some administrative difficulties.

    My oldest son was also skinny, but studied Tae Kwon Do, which came in handy when so Stiff Kicker Doper tried to bully him in the usual Crackerite fashion. He did a swift turning kick to the Stiff Kicker’s jaw which ended all subsequent bullying at his school.

    I recommend martial arts training for both male and female, not because of any phsical ability or combat technique, but becasue of the calm and confidernce that comes from knowing how to fight, or to evade what comes. It is a mental ability.

    For those that dont’ choose that path, schools can and should teach the skills and strategies of dealing with bullying. Bullies don’t bully those who don’t take to it.

    There is an old Japanese tale of the baddest cat in the province who had never been defeated. As this reputation spread, the hep cats had to challenge the old cat and streamed to the provice to try their skills. One cat after another would approach snarling, spitting, and strutting about. The old cat would lay calmly, as if unaware of the threat. After a while, the old cat would yawn, and cast a stern eye at the youngser, who fled immediatly.

    Finally one cat asked another old cat what the old cat’s techniques were. The other old cat then said, “I don’t know, no one has ever seen him fight>”

    One must learn to be like to old cat, as there will always be some whippersnapper cat that will be there. An that applies to the whippersnapper dog as well. I have seen more than one dog come charging after a sitting cat expecting the cat to run. On realizing the cat wasn’t going to run, the dog slams on the brakes skidding right into range of the cat,who, with one swift swipe, rake the dogs nose.

    Life is full of bullies, the earlier to learn how to handle them is more valuable than some doomd effort to pre-stifle them

  2. Gordon, you have a one dimensional perception of bullying. Bullying is something that can go on for years and can evolve and can really interfere with the healthy development of an individual. Like you, I grew up in an earlier time where we were somewhat prepared for bullying.
    Also, students who disturbed class or acted out could expect to get some “licks” from the coach’s paddle, in addition to other sanctions, and a firm response at home.
    Our society is not like that now. For better or worse, it’s changed. Teachers need legal authority to manage discipline. This is one of those tools. It’s also about education. If you pretend a problem doesn’t exist, or that you’re living in a bygone era, you won’t be able to use the most effective tool. Education. As for transient incidents like you’re talking about, I agree, it’s part of growing up. Also, I don’t think we can make a perfectly risk free world for our kids to grow up in. That would ill-equip them for the future.
    However, we have destructive social pathologies at work because of …well, future shock. We’re changing faster than we can handle, and the answer to it is not to pretend we’re back in the “Ozzie and Harriet” or “Leave it to Beaver”world that never existed. Remember, the ’50’s also gave us “Rebel Without a Cause.”

  3. The issue of bullying defined as destructive social pathologies is beyond the capacity of teachers to deal with, as defined in the act so described herein. What is lacking are effective sanctions, something that disappeared with the aformentioned yard stick and paddle approach. What was effective in the auld days will be considered felonious child abuse today, even by a parent.

    Absent a codified authority defining and authorizing an effective sanction, all that is left is suspension, expulsion, and detention the bully takes as a form of knighthood.

    Bullying in Texas does not meet the devastating effect of bullying in Japanese high schools something that seems odd in such a highly disciplined nation. S Suicide is not uncommon, and that is in a country where physical sanctions are rare. The discipine of their schools depends less on the teacher than upon the class as a whole, something that starts in primary school. The teaher in Japan or China is not expected to meet out discipline.

    The difference in Japanese, Chinese, and in German school systems and parentage from ours is that young children are allowed to be brats. Our schools introduce discipline at an age when children can adapt to it, and ignore it. This is not to say that we should adopt foreign standards, but their experience should be taken into account when attributing absolutes.

    I went to high school in the Netherlands.

  4. Hi David.

    I think the the Religious Right does not view the current goings on in our schools as bullying. Instead, they view it as positive peer pressure. The idea is to passively support wholesale shame, defamation, and harassment in hopes that the young man or young woman will “turn from their seeyuns” and become straight arrows acceptable to the peer group—and if a few of those little faggots die along the way—well who gives a day-old coprolite. They were headed to hell anyway, so why not just punch their ticket and get them to their destination a little earlier than usual.

    I wish the good people in Texas would wake up to the reality of these heartless monsters on the Religious Right.

  5. Charles, I would agree with your assessment of the rr.
    The 800 lb gorilla in the room with them is their insecurity about their own faith. This makes them externalize the blame and fear and look for someone to blame the perceived threat to their faith on.

  6. The Constitutional guarantee that freedom of speech and of religion shall not be infringed is under attack from both flanks. One should consider a provison to restrict it in the name of one side without considering what might happen if the other side was in position to restrict things their way.

    Check the latest in repression theology by G. Gordon Libby:


  7. Frankly, Gordon, all I hear from the non religious community is that they want the religious, (usually Christians, more specifically, right wing fascist Christians,) from forcing that religion onto their lives.

  8. Once in a while the right-wingers (I mean raving right-wingers, not conservatives) show their true colors, and here they come out of the woodwork, to say they actually believe that schools should allow bullying. At least they’re finally being honest about what all their talk really means.

  9. The assertion that schools should or should not allow bullying goes to the question whether schools have the Constitutional authority to psdmif, prescribe, abolish, punish, or proscribe whatever bullying is supposed to be. So far, attempts to define bullying/hate crimes based on subjective grouns have been perforated by the Westboro decision which allows abominable bullying of mourners at a funeral.

    There exists some precedent in civil law regarding threatening speech or action that depends on the perceptions of the bullied. If one fells bullied, one is, and subject to relief in court. Those precedents are on thin ice as eventually any speech becomes illegal regardless of intent, but only of effect.

    Given the present campaign by the Divine Right to abolish the threat of Shariah law by criminalizing material support to any advocate of Shariah law. That’s a law that can be turned and trained on any advocacy group, including the RR. As one well place advocate of the crusads against Islam said:

    “We have to be ruthless within the law here (which means making exceptional new laws), like being ready and willing to torch every mosque in the country and rounding up the Believers (and every blasted collaborator who stands with the Believers) and sending them to anywhere else but here.”

    There are a lot of “beliefs” out there, and letting a public employee make decisions of what beliefs should be rounded up and sent anywhere (gulag, resettlement camp, etc). In a seriously conservative school district, this could mean advocacy of evolution or godless socialism as subject to arrest and deportation.

  10. Of course the religious right is for bullying. After all, isn’t their abortion sonogram bill just a form of bullying women of whom they disapprove?

  11. As a victim of bullying while in elementary and high school I’m very aware of the damage it can do given that on more than one occasion I came quite close to suicide and on the other hand if there had been a gun in the house homicide. I don’t know a lot about the tragedy at Columbine but there was a time when I could have participated in something like that. I’ve never even considered being gay so I don’t know where the RR’s get this idea that bullying only happens to “undesirables” and the notion that they won’t consider protecting people like me because it would also protect those “undesirables” chaps me to no end. No one whether gay or straight, Christian, Muslim or atheist should be bullied and the RR’s position just further hardens my determination to see them run out of town on a rail.

  12. JC, I’m in agreement. I was the victim of classic bullying in elementary school in the 60’s, partly because I was the smallest, weakest kid in the class, then in jr high I started growing. I was ostracized and ridiculed in high school because I wouldn’t join the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was opposed to the Vietnam war, voted for McGovern, etc. So I locked down, and dreamed of graduation when I could leave, which I did promptly my freshman year in college. The isolation made the next several years more difficult though, and I dived into the alcohol and drugs for social reasons. I survived.
    There is a legitimate argument that a “law” to prevent bullying goes too far in trying to legislate human nature. However, the nature of the beast in the age of social media, rapid change, etc. calls for some kind of clear sanction. It won’t change human nature, but at least it might make a kid think, “Hmmm, what I’m thinking about doing could cost me or my parents dearly.”
    That might be the moment he or she needs to think, ” It’s just not right.”
    Beyond a law, we need to teach our kids sociology as well as psychology as well as civics and history.

  13. I have read all the posts–all from men, some posting more than once–I guess you all have nothing better to do. I have much to do today, but I got interested in all the posts and the issue itself.

    So many times those who are bullied are bullies for things beyond their control–size, race, gender, etc. etc. There have certainly been– more than just the one mentioned–suicides because of bullying. Boys as well as girls have killed themselves because unrelentant bullying. As parents, we should be able to inocculate our children against the bullying; but sometimes our children are the bullies. This is one of those times where there are no easy answers!

    My “family business” is education. My husband, I, and two of my children have been/are teachers. Educators are expected to correct all family problems in the classroom today. It is a “no win” situation for teachers in all areas. Parents do not automatically support schools nowadays, and discipline at school is not reinforced at home very often. (Of course, my children told us that they could get away with nothing at school because their father would know about it before they got home.) Teachers need all the tools they can get; and if anti-bullying legislation is needed, let’s do it.

    There are serious issues before the Texas Legislature, and I am seriously pissed that whenever there is a problem with money in this state, the first cry heard from so many is, “Cut funding for Education!” Schools have NEVER been properly funded, and I am afraid that so many in Austin for this legislative really believe that old saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” It wasn’t true when I first heard it; it’s not true now.

    I am getting off topic. I’m sorry for that. If the parents won’t/can’t teach their children how to treat others and that diversity is a good thing (you can learn something from everyone you meet, etc.), teachers have to try to do it. Again, they need all the tools/help (legally and otherwise) to do the best job for the kids they are responsible for eight or so hours a day.

  14. “I guess you all have nothing better to do. I have much to do today”

    You can cross “Be condescending” off your to-do list.

  15. Suzy, you’re right, I don’t have anything better to do at the moment. I appreciate your remarks and appreciate the under-valued efforts teachers are making to keep our civilization afloat.

  16. Despite my snarky comment, I will second David’s appreciation for teachers. Likewise, I appreciate committed parents, and I think there are many more of them than there are parents who expect the schools to do the child-rearing.

  17. Suzy Q:

    I have a whole different hypothesis from the usual mish-mash about why public school teachers do not get any respect. This hypothesis is based on my own 12 years of experience in the public education system. It is, simply stated, as follows:

    “Teachers today do not get any respect because they gave us none when we were students in their classes.”

    Quite frankly, the day I graduated from high school was one of the happiest days of my life. I was not celebrating successful matriculation that day. Instead, I was celebrating my escape from a 12-year run in a concentration camp and the odious people who administered and taught in it. I despised that school system and the people who taught in it—and still do. A few years ago, I learned of the old-age death of my high school principal. My first inclination was one of joy that finally children were safe, trees could grow in peace, and the birds could sing again. Up until a few years ago when my own children entered school, I was absolutely furious at public school administrators and teachers. As far as I was concerned, whatever nefarious fate that might befall them was richly deserved.

    I know what you are thinking Suzy Q. No, I was not one of those incorrigible students who was constantly in trouble with the principal and teachers. I was the quiet, good-natured, well-disciplined, and attentive student that avoided such trouble very successfully. However, even as a kid, I was a close observer of the human behavior all around me at school. What I saw was an unjust environment that no kid should have had to endure. I could tell you numerous stories, but one sticks out big-time for me.

    When I was in 6th grade, a nice, well-groomed, and fairly smart girl by the name of Patty Kelly sat in front of me. Patty was the kind of kid who always got her homework done, turned it in on time, made good grades, and never gave the teacher any problems in class. One day when we were doing math exercises, the teacher sent Patty and several other students to the blackboard to do math problems for the class. Everyone up there finished their problems early and went back to their seats, except for Patty. She was stuck on her problem and could not get through it on her own. After about a minute or so, my teacher became absolutely enraged at Patty, started screaming at her, and was tearing her down with insults that no adult could utter without precipitating a fist fight. This was happening in front of a class with 40 kids, and we were all taking in the horror along with Patty. I remember the chills that ran down my spine, and the prickly heat of fear piercing my skin all over me as I witnessed this. Cornered like and rat and with tears flowing like Niagara Falls, Patty looked as best as she could for an opening, bolted past the teacher, out the open school room door, and down the hall in absolute terror—with the teacher chasing after her.

    I wish it were possible to tell you otherwise Suzy Q, but this was just one of many such things—great and small—that happened throughout my 12 years in that school system. In my opinion, it was an unjust, despicable, and awful place for any child to be. If I was only an innocent and fearful bystander who had merely observed this frightful environment for years, I have to wonder about the feelings of the many students on the receiving end of the abuse—like little Patty. How did they feel about their administrators and teachers? Would they be kindly disposed to the way a state legislature treats its school teachers? I do not think so. They would be either indifferent to the sufferings of teachers or would think that they are merely getting now—at long last—the punishment that they so richly deserve.

    I am almost 60 years old now. At least one more generation of students went through those same school administrators and teachers after me. In addition, I suspect that most of the public school systems in my state were little different from my own during that period of time. Therefore, the way I figure it, most of the still-living people in my state between the ages of 40 and 90 matriculated through this abuse and came out disliking public school administrators and teachers. This includes the entire Baby-Boom generation. In light of that, it does not surprise me that the public school teachers in my state live in a low-pay environment where they get no respect and have abuse heaped upon them in coal truck loads by citizens and politicians. From their perspective, be it conscious or subconscious, justice is being served—and it is being served cold—just like the justice little Patty got that awful day. You need to remember this Suzy Q, and I hope you will remember it until the day you die—and your children who are also teachers. The student you scream at or otherwise belittle in class tomorrow will be stepping into a voting booth one day, and he will be pulling the lever for the politician that will give him justice against you and your kind. Children remember abuse!!!!!

    And here is the sad part—I think. I have two children in public schools now. Best I can tell, the children in their school system are not being subjected to the daily dose of terror and abuse that the children were in my school system. I think times have changed for the kids—and certainly for the better. However, I think we old people who vote (and so many of us do vote) are long detached from our local public schools and have only memories of our abuse there. Because those memories are so powerful and painful, we cannot help but think that the school room environment today must still be the same as the one we experienced. As a result, I think today’s teachers are suffering so greatly because of the sins of their teacher forebears in the public schools. When my generation dies off and the 20-year generation right behind me does so, I feel that public school teachers may finally get fair and respectable treatment—if they keep their noses clean and be good to their students. Personally, but I know it will never happen, I think it would go a long way towards healing if every public school system in my state were to issue a formal apology for the classroom abuse that was heaped upon my generation and the one behind me.

    And Ben is right Suzy Q. You can cross “be condescending” off your to-do list. That sort of attitude was one of the key drivers of the abuse that my generation experienced at the hands of teachers.

    Here in my state, not Texas, the majority Republican state legislature is really putting the screws to the public school teachers all over the state. Apparently, the statewide teacher’s society, which is the state-level equivalent of the National Education Association, donated almost all of its political money to Democrats in the recent elections. Because of that, Republicans all over the state are extremely angry at teachers. They have sworn painful payback and are making good on it already with bills passed to rescind teacher rights and privileges on all sorts of fronts.

  18. Well gee. I was not really trying to do so, but it appears that I have brought up a couple of new facets of bullying in our public schools. How about teachers who bully students? How about students who bully teachers? I have seen both in my time. However, I hasten to add this. I have only seen a student bullying a teacher one time, and I am not sure that it was not deserved. It occurred in my sophomore Algebra I class in high school. The names are changed to protect the innocent.

    Billy Red had apparently not completed his math homework again and was not doing well in class. Our teacher, Ms. Xylophone, took it as an occasion to loose her cool, get really angry, and start denigrating Billy in front of the whole class. Worst of all, she used Billy’s older sister (who she considered to be a model A student) for comparative purposes. Of course, if you know anything about sibling rivalry, you know there had to be some academic bad blood there already, and Ms. Xylophone resorted to smearing Billy with all that bad blood—again in front of the whole class. Well, as you might expect, that lit Billy’s fuse. Just as in the movie “Christmas Story,” Billy responded by hurling back forms of of verbal obscenity that had not been previously heard on this planet—and may not have been heard again since that time.

    Well, in real life, both Billy and Ms. Xylophone were actually pretty nice folks. However, I think it was wrong to bully Billy about his grades in front of the whole class and use his sister the way she did. This was the sort of thing that should have been handled one-on-one after class. Watching this little spectacle was no fun for the rest of us sitting in class, and it was more than a little bit frightening because it looked as if the two of them were going to tear into each other physically at any moment. Who was going to break it up? Who would get hurt in the process? Would some of us have to sacrifice our Hanes white tee shirts to wipe up the blood? It was just crazy to put a whole room full of students through this sort of ordeal, and I think it further underscores what a sordid school system we had.

  19. I am puzzled by attempts in these comments to compare bullying in schools to the WBC decision. However odious, WBC is making a statement concerning a matter of public interest, i.e., the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bullying a kid because he is littler is not such a case.

    Another aspect is that children are required by law to attend school. This is why the free speech of kids in schools can be curtailed (one reason anyway). I teach (public school) in a behavioral treatment center for felonious youth, and I (we) stand for no bullying of our kids. The problem, unforunately, is that many of the kids have fairly criminal mindsets, and they consider standing up for themselves by telling staff about bullying to be tantamount to “snitching.”

  20. What is WBC? World Boxing Congress? Where did you come up with that and what do you mean? Is that used somewhere above—or elsewhere?

    I think you have a special case that is sort of outside the range of the discussion here. Basically, if I understand it correctly, you are saying that if General Zod is bullying Lex Luthor, it would be snitching for the Joker to tell the warden about it. If you put three bullies in a room together, how do you prevent them from bullying each other? Beats me, and I’m not sure I care because:

    1) It is precisely what you would expect from three bullies.

    2) One bully bullying another bully sounds like justice to me.

    3) What idiot would put a weaker person in the same room with a known bully or put three bullies together in the same room. I would think that the major impetus would be to isolate the bullies from each other and everyone else so they can do no harm.

    It occurs to me that some of your bully kids are what clinical psychologists refer to as “fried.” This means that their dysfunctional environments have so fried their brain development, social development, emotional development, etc. that they are lost causes—-put another way—-rabid dogs who know nothing else but how to hurt people—and no amount of therapy in the world can help them. In a society like ours, the best one can hope for is to treat them as humanely as possible in a holding environment where they cannot hurt anyone else.

    The Chinese kill them. I recently read a story about a girl in China who went through the most horrendous slavery, beatings, horrors, etc. that any child could ever go through—from birth to her teen years. She ended up being a teenage sex slave who was regularly beaten and tortured by her tormentors. She found a break every once in a while and had managed to kill a couple of these tormentors.

    The Chinese government gave her the death sentence because they recognized that she was “fried.” I saw the gruesome execution photographs. When they shoot them in the head, they tell most of them to open their mouths so the bullet will not shatter the face when it passes through. This was not the case with her—not sure why. It looked to me as if they were using something like a World War II Browning automatic rifle on her at close range. It blew the entire top of her skull off and ripped the brain completely out of it. It was horrible.

    I guess that is my way of emphasizing that we should treat people like her humanely in our society because there really are kids who had NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER. Their current condition really is no fault of their own, but they are so fried that they are dangerous to other people. Therefore, humane also includes keeping them and their predatory instincts away from regular people who are at extreme risk when they are around. I think we also need to recognize that a few of the incipient bullies in our public schools ARE IN FACT some of these fried people who are only beginning to manifest their predation on their fellow man. Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and assorted other historical barbarians were once 4th graders. We tend to forget that. The time has come to remember it and be on the lookout for the seeds of it in our schools. This proposed anti-bullying law allows that process to begin.

  21. As previously posted, the revised definition of bullying includes:

    •Expand the definition of bullying to include actions “motivated by a perceived imbalance of power based on another student’s actual or perceived personal characteristics, behavior, or beliefs or by another student’s association with a third person and based on the third person’s characteristics, behavior, or beliefs”.

    Does this mean that bullying includes actions that treat perceived imbalances that are based on perceived superiority of power and/or inferiority of power of the bully or that of the bullied?

    The harassment of the F average students by A average students, and harrassment of A average students by F average students equally fit. High school bullies bully the student who is both inept at sports and stellar in grades, so a shouting contest between jock and geek could wind up punishing both. If an average athletic student and a C average student got into a squabble touting the mediocrity of the other, a case for bullying? This provision is gobbledygook, givbberish, and unenforceable.

    •Except in certain circumstances, mandate that the school district superintendent provide notice to the parent or guardian of the victim of the alleged bullying. This provision also mandates that the school principal inform the victim of their right to not have their parent or guardian notified of the incident.

    This provision encourages the bully and he bullied not to call for parental support. This provision suggests that there is behavior that is intended to keep the parents in the dark.

  22. First of all, something I’ve observed in our social and political discourse in this country is that two or more sides of an argument or issue can be simultaneously wrong and right. Think about it for a second, maybe on a subject that you don’t have a strong personal emotional investment one way or the other.
    Secondly, my brief study in the history and philosophy of sociology indicated that both sociology and psychology are new sciences, and are “soft” sciences in that there’s a big gap between what is demonstrable in rigorous experiments and what conclusions can be authoritatively extracted from the data. This fact argues for caution across the board.

    We are just now coming to an understanding of behavior, of social behavior, as being a language or a complex set of languages between people between groups of people, between the individual and a group, etc. We’re just a few decades into observing individuals and their behavior not just as a manifestation of their psyche but as a manifestation of their semiotic relationship with the world. The “psyche” includes their self in the moment, their externalized self projected in the world, their objective perception of the world, the “group”, society, etc, and their internalized characterization of that “other” that stands before them in the world.
    We’re just now beginning to understand this in other social animals. We have sociobiology programs on Nature, on PBS, etc.
    This understanding has changed our understanding of “deviant” behavior. We don’t so much to Freudian theories about our relationship with our mother and father, and we look more to a calculus of “power” between the individual and another individual, or group.
    There is something going wrong with our society across the board, an infection, or epidemic, or dysfunctional pathology. It’s a product of change. Our society is changing faster than we can handle. There are many individual causes for the problem, the fact that the primary caretaker of so many kids is the tv set is one. That shows up in our passive/aggressive polarity in our behavior, our obesity, our declining literacy.

    Let’s look at this sentence from SC Cyclist:
    The problem, unforunately, is that many of the kids have fairly criminal mindsets, and they consider standing up for themselves by telling staff about bullying to be tantamount to “snitching.”
    You’re attributing their resistance to “snitching” to a “fairly criminal mindset”.
    Isn’t that a fairly normal response that a labeled “deviant”, member of the incarcerated “deviant” community, is going to have to the establshment or control community? It’s normal even in a boarding school for well-socialized nerds or at Camp Gitcheegooomee.
    Seems that the solution to figuring out the Bundy’s and the Laudner’s before they become the latest headline is to turn off the autopilot and look at these people, look “into” them, as individuals, not as “good” or “bad”, but just as individuals.
    The causes of these problems and these problem individuals are beginning long before they attract attention. They begin in the womb, in early development, etc, on up. That includes when they start to bully. It’s an investment not in a nanny state but in a future world that is worth living in.