She’s Not Actually A “Doctor” Doctor….

"I think I'd like a second opinion"

From an article posted on Suite 101:

“Bullying At School- Tips For Helping A Child Dealing With Bullies”

Okay… I’m on-board, maybe there’s something new or useful I can learn. The article establishes that bullying is a problem (we’re all agreed)  and it can be ‘vexing’ for parents (yea – got it).

The article then goes on to provide some specific strategies that a parent can use to help their kid.  (Getting to the good stuff now!) The ‘expert’ they cite is Dr. Michelle Borba,  described as a “child expert, educational consultant and author”. The lady is clearly well educated, and she’s been on TV, so you know she’s got some mojo, right?

Her tips are as follows:

  • Encouraging the child to stay with groups of friends as much as possible
  • Building the child’s self esteem
  • Explain to the child that fighting back is not a sensible option (aggression tends to feed more aggression from the bully)
  • Ensure the child understands it is not his fault

Now I’m thinking, “come on, you’re kidding, right?” So I do some research. Ms. Borba isn’t a doctor, she holds a “Ed.D” degree. I don’t know if she’s intentionally trying to mislead people by pumping up her credentials, or if she’s just really that full of herself, but I find it irritating and less than truthful.

Yes, technically a PhD is a doctorate degree.  To every PhD who introduces themselves as “doctor”‘…. let me clue you in.  It’s meaningless outside of your organization.  Everyone thinks you’re a pompous tool. When I answer the phone or make a dinner reservation or meet someone socially, I don’t refer to myself as “Sensei”.  (To my fellow martial arts brothers and sisters – when you step out of your academy, drop the “sensei”  bit. Seriously.  No one cares. And if you go around calling yourself “Master” or “Grand Master”, you need a reality check)

Let’s apply the light of logic and common sense to her suggestions and see how well they hold up.

*  “stay with friends” – a large component of bullying is social isolation and exclusion… so we can strike that one.
*  “build a child’s self-esteem” – contrary to pop psych cliches, self-esteem is not a magic bullet. Bullies themselves have high self-esteem. (strike 2)
*  “fighting back is not a sensible option” – passively taking a beating IS  a sensible option? Would she personally allow an attacker to batter her and just wait until they get bored and stop? Of course not.  So why would she advise a vulnerable child to do it? (strike 3)
* “its not his or her fault”.  It may not be that child’s fault, but it certainly IS their responsibility to handle it. Not the responsibility of a friend, or bystander, or teacher or lawmaker. And its a parent’s responsibility to ensure their son or daughter is equipped to cope with life as it happens.

To paraphrase Maxwell Smart – There’s a doctor who can instantly solve all your child’s bullying problems. Okay, would you believe there’s a Ph.D of education with some practical advice?  No? How about a Girl Scout selling cookies?

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