Bullies Twice as Likely to Have Mental Disorder

Mental disorders plague many adults who were bullied as children, but a new study suggests that those who had mental health disorders during childhood are three times more likely to become bullies.

Researchers at Brown University analyzed survey responses from parents of nearly 64,000 children ages 6 to 17 who were identified as having a mental health disorder, and those who were identified as bullies.

An estimated 15 percent of U.S. children in 2007 were identified as bullies by a parent or guardian, according to the responses, which were part of the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health.

Those who were considered the bullies were more than twice as likely to experience depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder. They were also six times more likely to be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, characterized by ongoing episodes of anger and hostility, especially toward authority figures, such as parents, teachers or other adults.

“This study gives us a better understanding of the risk profiles of bullies,” said Dr. Stefani Hines, director at the center for human development at Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.
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Hines was not involved in the study, which was presented Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting in New Orleans.

The findings do not surprise many experts, who say the symptoms of these disorders characterize many bullies.

According to Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonedes Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the disorders, such as ADHD, “often lead to impulsive and at times aggressive behaviors” that are common among bullies.

Bullies often continue the cycle of social abuse that they have experienced themselves, he said.

“They can be depressed, fearful, and they often take out some of their anger and frustration on others down the pecking order,” said Hilfer.

Support is often given to the bullied peers who are seen as victims, the researchers said. Many bullies should also be viewed as victims and offered help to change their behavior, they said.

“This finding emphasizes the importance of providing psychological support to not only victims of bullying but bullies as well,” the researchers wrote.

The study did not look at the likelihood that bullies would have a mental health disorder, only that some children who have a disorder were more likely to be identified as bullies.

According to Hines, the findings call for children identified as bullies to be screened for mental health disorders.

Some experts agreed, adding that it is also important for parents, clinicians and teachers to identify the root of the children’s anger, and to help the children channel their aggression in a better way.

“Parents of bullies who are made aware of their child’s behavior should take the concerns seriously and seek help and treatment for their child, hopefully in the earlier stages so that alternative behaviors can be taught and reinforced before some of the more negative ones become entrenched,” said Hilfer.

Why telling bullying victims to ‘just fight back’ doesn’t work

Fall is upon us, and that means the school year is in full swing. Along with the stress of homework assignments and extracurricular activities, unfortunately some students bear an additional burden — bullying. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, pushing the issue to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness.
Educators and legislators are under pressure to prevent bullying, and many schools are implementing programs such as A Classroom of Difference, Steps to Respect and Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports that teach empathy, interpersonal skills and respect for those who don’t fit into the mainstream.
But not everyone agrees with this approach to managing bullying. There are vocal groups of naysayers who believe that focusing on social emotional skills training and urging students to be accepting of those who are different is leading to the weakening of America. They argue that bullying is really a form of socialization, asserting that kids who do not conform to society’s expectations are bringing on their own troubles.
And when a child does end up being bullied, this same group of people advises that the victims should just fight back.
For example, the following comment on a recent CNN.com article about gender neutral toys (for which I shared my child’s bullying experiences): “Communities demand relative conformity, it is what makes them communal. Nonconformity, therefore, naturally results in exclusion. Children are callous in this respect, and if parents wish to ensure their children find acceptance, then find them a suitable community. As for self-expression, all humans are welcome to express themselves, but I reserve for myself the right to point and laugh, as should you too.”
Or consider this comment, which was made on a Fox News Magazine article about tips for ending bullying: “I went to Catholic school. Got bullied. Told Dad. He said, knock him in the mouth. He will leave you alone. Next day I got bullied. Punched Billy in the mouth. End of story. We are best friends today and I haven’t been bullied since. Write letters, document facts? Make school aware? Whaaaat? How political we have been? What a shame. One slap can change things for sure!”
This type of “superior force” advice shows a lack of appreciation for the complexities of the bully-victim dynamics of today’s world, where bullying often takes place in new arenas, such as on the Internet. Sure, if a victim fights back and flattens his bully, the bully tends to back off. But what if the bullies are hiding behind computer screens? What if the target is physically incapable of taking down the bully, which is more often the case?
The truth is that there are many bullying situations in which the victim cannot simply beat up the bully and end the problem. The very nature of bullying renders victims fearful, frozen and incapable of defending themselves. According to bullying researcher Dan Olweus, bullying is characterized by three factors: 1) It is repetitive (not a one-time event in the hall, but a regular ongoing problem). 2) It is unwanted (not two-way teasing where both parties are having fun, but instead a situation where someone is on the receiving end of taunts and aggression). 3) It takes place in the context of a power imbalance (a bigger kid against a smaller kid, or multiple kids against a single kid, or a kid with more social capital against a kid with less social capital).
When multiple kids are targeting one child, the situation can feel completely overwhelming. Felicia Garcia, a 15-year-old New York student, threw herself in front of a train in October, allegedly after being taunted by multiple football players at her high school. How would it have helped her to simply punch one of them? It would not have done anything, except possibly put her at risk for physical harm.
And earlier in October, Canadian teen Amanda Todd committed suicide after making a YouTube video detailing her history of being bullied mercilessly, online and in person. Both girls were allegedly the victims of sexually explicit bullying, which is not something easily combated by punching the bully in the face.
Kids who are already suffering from psychological conditions such as panic attacks or depression are particularly vulnerable to the negative emotional effects of bullying, Barbara Coloroso, who speaks internationally on bullying, told me: “As severe bullying continues, an element of terror is created. The bullied child is rendered so powerless that she is unlikely to fight back and she will not even tell someone that she needs help. The bully, who can act without fear of retaliation, counts on bystanders to either join in or at least do nothing to stop it.”
In trying to get the bullying to stop, targets may avoid the location where the bullying is happening. They might change the way they dress or act in order to minimize the bullying, but then they suffer pangs for not being true to who they are. Kids who are afraid to be themselves can become anxious and depressed.
When a parent or a teacher tells a child who is being bullied to stop tattling and fight back, it can make the situation worse. Those kids who are unable to fight back may end up feeling blamed for the bullying. Their already fragile self-esteem is further weakened, as they wonder, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I make this stop?”
Even if a child does succeed in hitting back (whether through physical intimidation or verbal taunts or cyberbullying), what message does this send? It teaches kids to out-bully each other, rather than to focus on restoration and restitution.
As a result, the antisocial behaviors simply continue into adulthood, where they play out in a different arena. In Massachusetts, lawmakers are working to make workplace bullying illegal. Research from the Workplace Bullying Institute estimates that as many as a third of employees endure bullying in the workplace. This bullying can take the form of sabotage and undermining, as well as the more obvious yelling and screaming.
The costs to society extend beyond workplace bullying, because chronic bullies are also more likely to end up in prisons, and our already taxed budget will end up paying for their care, according to Michele Borba, author of several parenting books, including Building Moral Intelligence.
“A repeat bully by age 8 has a one-in-four chance of having a criminal record by age 26,” Borba said.
It is a lot easier to inculcate kindness and acceptable social behavior into an 8-year-old than an 18-year-old, and the earlier our schools implement social emotional skills building and bullying prevention, the better.
The focus of bullying intervention needs to shift. Instead of teaching the victims to hit back harder, let’s teach the bullies not to hit in the first place.

via CNN

Instagram Monitoring with Social Firefly Parental Intelligence

Instagram Monitoring

Social Firefly announces a new Instagram monitoring service integrated with its parental services. Social Firefly already offers social media monitoring for parents to keep their kids safe on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Instagram is a photo sharing application that is very popular with teens, kids, and adults across the world. The applications allows users to upload any type of photo, and share the photo with people who follow them. Instagram provides filters that the user can apply to their existing photos giving the photo effects such as black and white.

The new Instagram monitoring service offered by Social Firefly will monitor what your kids or teens are sharing on the social network. It will be good for parents to keep an eye on their children to make sure they are not sharing nude photos, or explicit content, and to see if older individuals are attempting to contact or solicit.

Create a free account to monitor your child on social networks today. Protect them from digital dangers and sexting. Sign up today.

 Instagram Monitoring is coming soon!

Prevent Cyberbullying

Parents and kids can prevent cyber-bullying. Together, they can explore safe ways to use technology.

Be Aware of What Your Kids are Doing Online

Talk with your kids about cyber-bullying and other online issues regularly.

Know the sites your kids visit and their online activities. Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.

Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern. Installing parental control filtering software or monitoring programs are one option for monitoring your child’s online behavior, but do not rely solely on these tools.
Have a sense of what they do online and in texts. Learn about the sites they like. Try out the devices they use.

Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites or ask another trusted adult to do so.
Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.

Establish Rules about Technology Use

Establish rules about appropriate use of computers, cell phones, and other technology. For example, be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they’re online. Show them how to be safe online.

Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. Once something is posted, it is out of their control whether someone else will forward it.

Encourage kids to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online. Should complete strangers see it? Real friends only? Friends of friends? Think about how people who aren’t friends could use it.

Tell kids to keep their passwords safe and not share them with friends. Sharing passwords can compromise their control over their online identities and activities.

Understand School Rules

Some schools have developed policies on uses of technology that may affect the child’s online behavior in and out of the classroom. Ask the school if they have developed a policy.

To monitor your child online for free using Social Firefly, create a free account today.

via: StopBullying.Gov

Anonymous Hunts Down Alleged Bully That Pushed Teen To Suicide

By now, the world is aware of Amanda Todd. The 15-year-old committed suicide after struggling with depression and being bulled. It was an unfortunate event that could have been avoided if more people had seen the warning signs and stepped in. Anonymous thinks that Todd’s case was special, however, and has tracked down the man they feel is responsible for her death.

Anonymous is usually found targeting governments or corporations, but the group has recently turned to targeting online predators and pedophiles. The group posted a dox to pastebin yesterday that reveals the identity and address of who they claim extorted Todd for nude photographs. Those photographs were eventually leaked online, and Todd was soon subjected to bullying from the dark corners of the Internet.

The bullying is most likely the main contributor to Todd’s death, but the original extortionist is the real villain in the eyes of Anonymous. The group issued a statement to CTV News after the network tracked down the alleged bully with the information provided:

“We generally don’t like to deal with police first hand but were compelled to put our skills to good use protecting kids. Ironically we have some good people in Vancouver who brought this to our admin’s attention. It’s a very sad story that affects all of us.”

As for the man accused by Anonymous for bullying Todd, he told CTV News that he knew Todd and thought of her as a friend. He also told the news network that he’s already cooperated with the Mounties by identifying a man who was harassing Todd.

Anonymous can, and will, get things wrong. We can’t speak on the innocence or guilt of any person until formal charges are made. The investigation into Todd’s suicide is still ongoing with the Royal Mounties looking into any and all leads. For their part, Anonymous has started #OpRIP to hunt down those who bullied Todd.

Yes, I’m Fat, and You’re A Bully, Anchor Declares

Jennifer Livingston, a local morning anchor in Wisconsin, responded on air directly to a viewer who sent her an e-mail telling her she was an unsuitable role model for young people, especially young girls, because she is overweight.

Ms. Livingston’s response, which has gone viral on the Internet with almost 2 million views on YouTube alone, said she had initially dismissed the criticism but then decided to speak up to raise awareness about bullying behavior.

“The truth is I am overweight,” said Ms. Livingston, 37, during the morning broadcast on WKBT-TV, a CBS affiliate in Lacrosse. “You could call me fat and yes, even obese on a doctor’s chart. But to the person who wrote me that letter, do you think I don’t know that? That your cruel words are pointing out something that I don’t see?”

“You don’t know me,” she continued to say during the next four minutes in what was billed as a broadcast editorial. “You are not a friend of mine. You are not a part of my family, and you have admitted that you don’t watch this show so you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside – and I am much more than a number on a scale.”

Ms. Livingston, a mother of three, then used her experience to remind viewers that October is “National Anti- Bullying Month,” and that bullying is rampant on the Internet and growing every day in schools and must be stopped.

She said she tried to laugh off the hurtful attack on her appearance but that her colleagues, especially, her husband, Mike Thompson, an evening anchor for the station, could not do the same.

Last Friday, Mr. Thompson posted the contents of the e-mail on his Facebook page, adding that he was infuriated by the attack on his wife and it had made him “sick to his stomach.”

The e-mail, written by Kenneth W. Krause, a lawyer, who did not answer multiple telephone calls made to his home in LaCrosse, said:

Hi Jennifer,
It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.

The Facebook post prompted hundreds of comments over the weekend from people around the world, with many offering support and others sharing their pain over having been bullied because of their weight.

Ms. Livingston, the sister of Golden-Globe nominated actor, Ron Livingston, said during her broadcast on Tuesday that the outpouring on Facebook inspired her to take a public stand against bullying.

As a grown woman, she said that she was able to dismiss this man’s remarks. But she worried that children targeted with similar messages were not able to do so. She said she was also concerned about what children were learning about bullying at home.

“If you are at home and you are talking about the fat news lady, guess what? Your children are probably going to go to school and call someone fat,” Ms. Livingston said.

In closing, she thanked her friends, family, colleague and the many people offered their words of support. “We are better than the bullies that would try to take us down.”:

Then, looking directly into the camera, she said:

“I leave you with this: To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face, listen to me right now: Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience – that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”

During an interview with NBC’s Today Show, Ms. Livingston said that she is not opposed to talking about obesity but she does not think that personal attacks should be part of the conversation.

Mr. Krause was invited to be interviewed on WKBT-TV, a programming director said. Instead, he issued a statement, which was shared on the air. The statement concluded with Mr. Krause saying: “Considering Jennifer Livingston’s fortuitous position in the community, I hope she will finally take advantage of a rare and golden opportunity to influence the health and psychological well-being of Coulee region children by transforming herself for all of her viewers to see over the next year.”

This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.

PHOTO: ”I am much more than a number on a scale,” Jennifer Livingston of WKBT in La Crosse, Wis., said on the air on Tuesday. (PHOTOGRAPH BY WKBT-TV, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Source: NY Times

National Bully Prevention Month 2012

This month, groups across the country committed to stop bullying will release new resources, campaigns, and efforts aimed at bringing awareness to this important issue facing our youth.

Bullying Prevention Month is not new. In fact, it has been around for several years. What started as an awareness week initiated by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in October 2006, the event has evolved into a month’s worth of events and activities to raise awareness and provide the latest resources to those who need it. National partners in 2006 included the National Education Association, National PTA, American Federation for Teachers, and National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education. PACER recognized that students, parents, and people throughout the country needed to become more aware of the serious consequences of bullying. The point of National Bullying Prevention Month was to transform a society that accepts bullying into a society that recognizes that bullying must – and can – be addressed through education and support.

Over the past several years, the event has grown in awareness and reach. “It has grown beyond our expectations,” says Paula F. Goldberg, PACER’s executive director. “It has become a major event.” National Bullying Prevention Month is now recognized in communities across the United States, with hundreds of schools and organizations signing on as partners with PACER.

Unity Day, on October 10, is a time when people across the country will wear orange as a show of support for students who have been bullied. Ellen DeGeneres wore orange on her TV show during last year’s Unity Day. In addition, the Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying event on October 6, encourages communities to stage events to show support against bullying. This year, organizations from Las Vegas, Nevada to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and from Jonesboro, Arkansas to San Diego, California are staging these events to raise awareness in their communities.

This year, Bullying Prevention Month features many new initiatives. For example, PACER is releasing several new toolkits and public service announcements at PACER.org/Bullying.Other organizations, such as the NEA, DoSomething.org, the Bully Project, Stomp Out Bullying, and Hey U.G.L.Y. will all hold events or make announcements this month. And, our “Be More Than a Bystander” campaign with the Ad Council will officially launch.

With all of these new resources and attention, it is a great time to consider how you can help raise awareness about bullying and take action to stop it. Tell us what you are going to do by engaging on Facebook and Twitter.

National Bullying Prevention Month: When your child is a bully

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and in the coming weeks organizations and schools across the country
The documentary film “Bully” traces the lives of those affected by bullying. (Danny Moloshok – Reuters) will raise awareness around the issue. It’s a time when teachers, parents and administrators hope to turn the tide on a subject that has been around as long as children themselves.

I’m a father of four, three of whom are between the ages of four and 10. While I encountered bullies growing up in elementary school, bullying hasn’t been something that I’ve focused much of my attention on as a parent. That all changed one day recently when my family was confronted with the issue. But not for the reason that you might think: To my surprise, my child was the one doing the bullying

One evening after school, we received a call from our daughter’s teacher. She told us that several girls at the school had formed an exclusive group with the express purpose of excluding another young lady in the class. When a disagreement between two classmates turned ugly, our daughter, who is 10, wasn’t strong enough in the moment to resist the temptation of joining the crowd.

Thankfully, one of the students in the group was bold enough to approach a teacher to alert her to what was going on. The teacher immediately pulled all of the girls in to find out what was the source of the disagreement. She then informed the parents so we could all have candid conversations at home to ensure that this behavior didn’t continue.

As parents, I think there’s often an inability to see our children as the ones on the wrong side of situations like this. So at first my wife and I were surprised. Could our sweet, tender child really be involved in such an activity? The answer is yes. Like in so many bullying situations, our daughter was caught being a follower instead of a leader. I’m sure our daughter had a deep-seated feeling of wanting to belong with the larger group of girls, or perhaps feared being next on the list to be ostracized.

We sat our 10-year-old down and explained that her behavior was unacceptable. At first, she didn’t see herself as a bully. She reasoned that somehow the victim was responsible because she was not well-liked. Our initial discussion with her seemed to fall on deaf ears.

We took more time to explain that starting a club with the sole mission of excluding another student is mean-spirited. We also reemphasized the importance of being a leader and making decisions that may not be popular with her peers. As the conversation evolved, she slowly started to see the source of our concern and how the actions of her and her friends were so eerily similar to the mean girls who appear on episodes of her favorite TV shows.

Meanwhile, as we reached out to other parents to see what they heard from their children, we became concerned that some didn’t see the incident as a big deal. But it was a big deal for us. Physical intimidation is not the only form of bullying. We know that gossiping and intentionally alienating a classmate can also be emotionally damaging. More than 160,000 students stay home from school each day because of bullying. We wanted to make sure our daughter did not cause another child to be included in that number.

For other children, who may be afraid to alert adults, or who may face the rising incidents of cyberbullying with no place to go, this month is for you. As adults, we have the obligation to make sure that the children in our families and around us don’t get bullied, and also that they are not the ones carrying out the bullying activities. We have to be the voice of the village that lets them know that we care about them and that, although children are mean, their lives will become so much bigger than what they were experiencing in their early education years. We also have to provide them with enough trust and confidence that, if they do come to us, we all take the situation seriously.

In my personal effort to lend my voice, I recently partnered with actor/rapper Tray Chaney (best know for playing Poot on the HBO drama “The Wire”) to create the visual for his anti-bullying anthem, “Mike Bully (Stand Up For Our Future)” (see below). We hope that this song will reach children and provide that courage when adults are unable to reach them.

Along with his wife, Ronnie, Lamar Tyler is co-creator of the award-winning Web site BlackandMarriedWithKids.com. They have also created several documentaries, including their latest release, “Still Standing”, in an effort to provide positive images of marriage and parenting in the African American community. Lamar is the father of four children and currently resides in the Atlanta area.

NYPD to boost gang unit over social media violence

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department is planning to double the size of its gang unit to 300 detectives to combat teen violence fueled by dares and insults traded on social media.
Rather than target established street gangs involved in the drug trade, the reinforcements will focus mainly on “looser associations of younger men who identify themselves by the block they live on, or on which side of a housing development they reside,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in prepared remarks.
“Their loyalty is to their friends living in a relatively small area and their rivalries are based not on narcotics trafficking or some other entrepreneurial interest, but simply on local turf,” Kelly added. “In other words, ‘You come in to my backyard and you get hurt. You diss my crew and you pay the price.’”
The remarks were provided in advance of Kelly’s appearance Tuesday in San Diego at a gathering of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
[Related: Man talked to Dr. Phil before confessing to police]
Under the new plan, the NYPD gang unit will work more closely with other divisions that monitor social media for signs of trouble.
Kelly cited a recent case in which investigators used Facebook to track a turf war between two Brooklyn crews named the Very Crispy Gangsters and the Rockstars. The case resulted in dozens of arrests for shootings and other mayhem.
“By capitalizing on the irresistible urge of these suspects to brag about their murderous exploits on Facebook, detectives used social media to draw a virtual map of their criminal activity over the last three years,” Kelly said.
Detectives have seen instances where a gang member has taunted rivals by circulating a photo of himself posing in front of their apartment building. Orders of protection also have been posted as a means of intimidation, Kelly said.
[Related: Philly officer caught on video hitting woman]
The NYPD has developed strict guidelines for investigators using social networks “to instill the proper balance between the investigative potential of social network sites and privacy expectations,” Kelly said.
The rules allow officers to adopt aliases for their online work as long as they first get permission from the department. They also will use special laptops that protect their anonymity.
Staffing for the expanded unit will come from gradual redeployment from other areas of the department, not from new hires.

via Yahoo!

Social Media Safety

Social media is all the rage today among teenagers and older adults as well. For many people, the bulk of their daily communications is done via platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media has truly revolutionized the way we communicate, enabling multiple users to instantly get in touch with each other regardless of distance or time zones. We have started to connect with each other in new ways. Compared to older times when one would have to wait months for a single letter, today users keep in touch on a micro level. They get to know what their friends and family are doing on a daily basis. In this way, people on opposite sides of the world can maintain close bonds despite not being able to see each other face to face.

Like most things, social media does have its pitfalls despite all of its incredible advantages. Protecting ourselves and children online is a prime concern when it comes to online security. Social media is notorious for opening up facets of our lives that we might otherwise never dream of sharing with strangers. There is also a risk that certain types of information could be seen by employers or school authorities, and thus paint the user in a negative light. In some extreme cases, it could even be used as grounds for firing or suspensions. An easy way to get around this is to simply be careful about what types of information we publish online and to tighten security settings in each account. Adults should also be aware of cyber bullying or online harassment that children may face. Often, this type of behavior may persist under the radar. Another type of danger that exists in any Internet setting is online predators. It is very easy for malignant individuals to hide their true identities and try to lure children or even trusting adults to reveal personal information or to agree to an in-person meeting. A general rule is to only allow people you know in real life and trust to be included in a social media friends list. When strangers send a friend request, find out whether they may simply be a safe, mutual friend. If not, ignore them or block the request. Remember that there are plenty of online tools available specifically to help users maintain their privacy and stay safe. Don’t be afraid to use them! Even technophiles can easily get help by contacting customer support or asking someone they know to help out. Browse through the following resources to learn about social media safety on a more in-depth level. With a little effort, adults and younger users can enjoy their online experiences safely!