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Anti-Bullying Entrepreneurs on the Job After School Shooting

Their "solutions" may be adding to the problem.

by
Mary Grabar

Bio

March 2, 2012 - 12:02 am
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Now Blanco and her colleagues push the envelope even further, equating being “left out” with bullying because “it hurts!” as she proclaimed on national news.

Such consultants are riding the gravy train of anti-bullying legislation that bullies school administrators into hosting their workshops lest they be sued should some student commit an act of violence or suicide.

But two days after the Ohio shooting, on Wednesday, T.J. Lane, the 17-year-old who had confessed to the shooting, had not yet been charged, according to the New York Times.  In that day’s article, prosecutor David P. Joyce insisted the case was not due to bullying or drugs, but the effect of “one lone gunman.”

In fact, in an article a day after the shooting, news reports quoted students who say Lane had not been bullied.

According to the February 29 article, Lane was described by a classmate as a middle school “’teen therapist,’” someone who would listen to his peers’ troubles — a practice that anti-bullying consultants promote in their workshops. Since at least the 1990s, teachers have been sliding away from adult-directed punishment towards such peer-counseling. Today, the kid who fights back against the bully is the one likely to receive punishment. Instead of learning how to work out their problems and fight back, kids are put into adult roles as “counselors,” and then forced to listen to blubbering adults like Blanco.

Is it any wonder that they have problems we have not seen in the past?

In fact, Tina Trent, who blogs at Crime Victims Media Report, wonders if anti-bullying programs are doing more harm than good.  “I suspect,” she says, that “the anti-bullying industry, while creating fat paychecks for the adults involved, is driving some vulnerable children to harm themselves, encouraging them to dramatize their pain and social alienation and make that their permanent identity.”

Our school culture certainly elevates the victim. History is presented as a story of victims and victimizers. Literary works are chosen for their depictions of such victimization. Seeing oneself in the role of being bullied is tempting, especially for the child not in one of the pre-approved ethnic or gender victim groups. Kids are now encouraged to identify with bullying victims “on a visceral and deeply personal level,” to quote from Blanco’s own promotional material. Those already troubled might go to the next step and commit suicide. Others might take the other tack and kill.  Either way they will gain attention as victims.

The only ones benefiting are those reaping large consulting fees.

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Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at www.dissidentprof.com. Her writing can be found at www.marygrabar.com. Subscribe to dispatches here.
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