Archive for the ‘News & Commentary’ category


December 20, 2010

The new blog is located here:

See you there!


Bullied On School Bus

October 4, 2010

Its all over the news again.  Horrific stories of children being mercilessly bullied, sometimes to the breaking point.

Recently, an Orlando man, outraged by the bullying abuse of his 12 year old disabled daughter (being smacked, spit on, being pelted with open condoms), stormed on her bus and verbally vented some of his fury at her tormentors. You can watch the video here:

Predictably, he was the one arrested, and school administrators are doing the denial dance, saying they had no idea there was a problem.

James Jones, the father of the bullied girl, has apologized for losing his temper and retained an attorney.  His family now faces financial destruction as a result of the legal battle he now faces.

In my opinion, apologizing was a HUGE mistake.  His daughter (and now his entire family) are the victims here.  I believe he acted in a way consistent with what any parent would do when their child faces a serious and imminent threat.  But he was probably acting on the advice of council who told him that the legal system is sometimes more lenient on people who supplicate themselves.

The school administrators aren’t losing any sleep- after all, they’ve got the “ignorant and blameless” defense in full force, and they can show that their school has a “tough anti-bullying policy” in place.  For all the good it does.  Which is no good at all.

The bullies are yucking it up, and still doing their thing.  I’m sure the bus is still looks like a kennel of dogs on crack. No consequences there, either.


Here’s a clip from the Jones family appearing on the Today Show.  Heartbreaking, pretty much as you’d expect.  But pay special attention to Mat Laurer’s comment at 4:32

“… we’d all like to wrap our kids in a protective bubble… but isn’t there a time when we have to let them fend for themselves?”


Are you suggesting a 12 year old girl with Cerebral Palsy “fend for herself” against a pack of vicious thugs?  Seriously?

Sharks In The Pool

August 24, 2010

I just read an EXCELLENT article in Psychology Today.  Author Kevin Arnold (Director of the Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy of Greater Columbus and a Clinical Faculty member in the Dept. of Psychiatry at Ohio State University) relates a bullying incident his kids were involved in at the public pool.

Its the kind of story we can all relate to- someone holds someone else under water, name calling, shoving, angry parents, older siblings out for revenge.  What makes this particular story so engaging is how Kevin handled the situation, taking appropriate action while still considering everyone elses point of view, their dignity, and his own emotions.


Calm Your Physical Reaction: When someone threatens your child, you will have a physical reaction. Your heart will pound, your muscles will tense, and your “father bear” reaction kicks in. When you’re upset, it’s easy to forget the opportunity you have to teach your children the skills they need. A “protection” reaction is normal, but losing control is not OK. My reaction was automatic, so I created an automatic counter-reaction. I concentrated on breathing to calm my body down. I took five deep and slow breaths, focusing my thoughts and counting out each breath. When bullying happens, parenting demands we be calm before we react. Breathing focuses your mind and will help you to remain calm. You can teach yourself to calm down if you practice this relaxation strategy whenever you feel that your children are threatened: breathe, focus, and count.

I encourage you to read the entire article.

Bullies Tattoo Boy With Learning Disabilities

May 25, 2010

From The Smoking Gun:

MAY 20–A 14-year-old New Hampshire boy was tattooed against his will by a group of fellow high school students who told the victim that they would no longer pick on him if he agreed to the inking. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, on May 10 the teenager was enticed to a Concord home, where the words “Poop Dick” and a drawing of a penis were tattooed across his buttocks. The boy told investigators that one of his assailants warned that “he was going to get the tattoo whether he liked it or not,” and that “he would not be picked on anymore if he got it done.” When the boy asked what would happen if he tried to flee, he was told that he would be caught and beaten up, police reported. The victim, a ninth grader at Concord High School, suffers from “learning disabilities and self-esteem issues” and has been “frequently targeted for ridicule by upper classmen,” investigators noted. A probe of the bullying incident led to the seizure of the tattoo equipment used on the boy, and the bust of four of the victim’s assailants, who have been charged with a variety of crimes, including assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, criminal threatening, and tattooing without a license. As seen in the mug shots below, police have arrested (clockwise from upper left) Donald Wyman, 20; Ryan Fisk, 19; Travis Johnston, 18; and Blake VanNest, 18.

Additionally, its been reported that:

The mother of one of the suspects says the boys acted stupidly, but not maliciously.

“They told me about it. They were joking about it. They thought it was something funny. And I believe there wasn’t an animosity or hatred,” said Patti VanNes.

* Imagine how much premeditated planning went into this attack.  Think about they held him hostage.  Consider how long it must have taken to drive the ink into this kid, as he was crying and trying to get away.  How they must have laughed as they were disfiguring him… and how proud they were! They actually took pictures and shared them with friends!

These young men have dishonored themselves and grievously  injured another human being “for fun”. They’ve shamed their families and friends. They will stand trial.  The legal costs will wipe out their family savings.  And if they’re found guilty (and there doesn’t seem to be much doubt about it), they need to go to prison where they belong.

This isn’t just bullying.  It’s sadism.

Weight Control / Bullying Prevention

May 10, 2010

Headed For Serious Problems

Want to cut your child’s chances of being bullied by over 60%?

Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than tripled. (That in itself is a national disgrace). And the latest research indicates that overweight kids are bullied 63% more than their peers.

According to the CDC and the NIH (and other independent studies), this is a very complex problem with numerous interrelated causes, including environmental factors, socio-economic conditions, lack of education, inherent genetic tendencies).

Forget that nonsense.  Its exactly the kind of babble you’d expect to find padding a well-funded report where the problems / causes / solutions are very obvious.

Don’t cry genetics.  You wont find anyone in a famine zone complaining that they balloon up from eating 1 grain of rice. Don’t cry poverty – it doesn’t cost a nickel to skip a meal, put on sneakers, and go for a run. Don’t cry lack of information – its not a mystery that eating too much packs on the pounds.

In addition to heart crushing social stigma, obese kids face  a variety of immediate and long-term health issues, including:

  • Joint and bone problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Increased cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Increased odds of becoming an obese adult and potentially getting heart disease,  cancer and stroke

Obesity isn’t a disease.  Its a decision.

We don’t really need more studies, or more statistics, or more dire medical predictions, do we? Eat more than you burn off and you get fat. Its simple. Fortunately, ending childhood obesity is quite straightforward as well.

  • Never reward or punish kids with food. This will warp a child’s relationship with food forever.
  • Portion control.  Every meal isn’t a buffet.
  • Eat slower, always use utensils.
  • Don’t drink calories.  Replace high sugar drinks with water or zero calorie beverages.
  • Encourage physical activities that your children enjoy. Each child is unique and may have to experiment with a number of activities until he or she finds one they like. Exercise one hour each day.
  • Less TV.  Less computer.  Less video games. Set limits and enforce them.
  • Remind your kid that THEY are in control – not their stomach.  Only babies cry when they don’t get their bottle.  A growling tummy is NOT the end of the world.
  • Help children develop a positive self image. Focus on the positives instead of the negatives. And remember, a kid’s self-image depends more on their actions than anything you say.

And the big one: practice what you preach. You have to set the example.  The life you lead is more eloquent and convincing than the words you speak. Spend active time with your kids… take walks, go swimming, throw a football around, ride bikes together.

Now you’ve got the information. Consciously make a new decision, come up with a game plan and put it into action.

Be Excellent!

Bullying and Obesity

May 8, 2010

Regarding the study that just came out in Pediatrics, demonstrating that obese kids get bullied more than their peers: There’s something that wasn’t as widely publicized.

Fat Kids Also Become Bullies. When compared to their normal weight peers, the overweight children in the study were 6 times more likely to become bullies.

Humans are social animals.  Pack animals.  And the “Us vs Them” mentality is deeply programed in our primate heritage. Anything that makes you stand out from the group draws attention – how you deal with that attention will determine your social standing (or isolation).

Being fat definitely distinguishes a kid from his or her peers.  And makes them an easy target for bullying. If it’s handled with strength and confidence, the pack will (sometimes grudgingly) open its ranks, or at the very least, cease hostilities. If the bullying is met with weakness (fear, emotional instability, etc), the pack unites against the ‘outsider’.

A bullied child who doesn’t get proper guidance will make the obvious and primitive leap of reasoning that to get in with the pack, they’ve got to act like the pack. They’ll try to elevate themselves by trampling someone else. To paraphrase Newton, “Shit will continue to roll downhill unless acted upon by an outside force”.

Parents- that outside force is YOU.

Next Post: What you CAN do – positive action steps you can take immediately.

Bullying and Obesity

May 4, 2010

Wedgie Warning!

Before anyone gets their thong in knot, please take the following inoculation: The measure of a man (or woman) is NOT their physical attributes, their temporary personal circumstances, or their material belongings.  I have a spacious heart, full of love. And to the best of my ability, I do not judge others.  But I do EVALUATE.  It’s not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings by sharing my observations and opinions.  But as Benjamin Franklin said, “The sting in any rebuke comes from the truth”

From Professor Obvious and the crack research team at “Duhhh” University…

According to a major study just published online in the journal Pediatrics: fat kids are targeted for bullying  significantly more often than  their peers. Up to 63% more.

Shocking, right?

Every news outlet reporting on this breaking story (*ahem*) then went on to quote experts on the  serious and detrimental effects of bullying, including damaged self-esteem and arrested social development.  Several of the cited authorities then cited how complex obesity is- even going so far as to describe it as a “brain disorder”.

My Turn:

It goes without saying….
Bullying Is NOT Cool.  Or acceptable. Or excusable.  It doesn’t matter if a kid is fat or skinny or nerdy or “gay”. No one has the right to right to kick another person in their human dignity. Social cruelty is bad behavior and it needs to be corrected. Adults don’t have to micro-manage every childhood interaction, but they do need to play the part of a good coach – standing on the sidelines, and pumping the plays onto the field.

Raising an Obese Child = Child Abuse. If a neighbor or teacher noticed a kid who appeared underfed, you can bet that Social Services would be notified to investigate.  If there was any evidence at all that the parents in question were withholding food, they would be criminally charged and their kid would be taken away.
Why is it that a parent can gorge a child, over-stuffing them until their skin strains to contain them, and no one makes a peep?
Fat kids develop diabetes.  Arterial plaque and other cardiovascular diseases. Breathing problems.  And of course, they’re lightning rods for peer abuse.

Allowing this to happen to a child  is shameful, bordering on wicked.