Assorted links

1. The McDonalds tasting menu.

2. Purva paksha.

3. Some more on those new service sector jobs. “”I bet there are many more people who are unfaithful than are Jewish,” Biderman remembers thinking.”  Washington D.C. is a clear number one for membership.

4. “Your vacuum might rent an attachment from the neighbor’s vacuum without telling you.”

5. Are anti-bullying programs actually “how to” courses?

Comments

#5: Reverse causality would probably be confounding things here. Schools with more bullying would be more likely to implement anti-bullying programs.

This is possible I would think, unless the studies control for it in some way. However, I have a different thought- when I was a kid, the surest way to increase one's misery in the school social order was to tell the teacher that one was being bullied- or telling the parent who then intervened.

Or maybe the type of schools that implement anti-bullying programs are also the schools that also create a victim mentality among the students. At the extreme end, think of how wacko Oberlin is, the most "anti-racist" school in America is also ground zero for all manner of racism.

The study did not control for it. See http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jcrim/2013/735397/. The researchers were careful in their conclusion to stipulate that " the cross-sectional nature of the study limits one from making a causal inference about the relationship between individual- and school-level factors and likelihood of peer victimization" and that "[f]uture studies need to utilize a longitudinal design in investigating the temporal ordering between the preventive measures and peer victimization in schools." On the other hand, they do not seem to have made any attempt to correct their university public relations department's highly misleading press release.

It's not clear to me why Tyler bothered to link to this, accordingly.

Or schools which implement anti-bullying could be better at detecting bullying/getting bullying reported.

Except that you can also look at the programs and the history of school bullying and realize a prior that they are not really anti-bullying, so they either don't matter or make it worse, and my money is on they make it worse.

An actual anti-bullying program can be summed up with "we don't punish bullying victims for defending themselves." These programs don't do this. They simply add an additional layer of window-dressing on the school's pre-existing ass-covering system.

5. Here's a theory: anti-bullying programs make bullying an act of rebellion.

#5: I echo Evan's thought. It's very likely that the schools with the anti-bullying programs are the schools where bullying was already prevalent. Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised by the finding of this study. But, on the outside chance that the programs currently in place don't work, I have a suspicion that is because the focus is on the bully rather than on the target. If we teach our youth strategies for standing tall in the face of ridicule and deflecting attempts at bullying, then we're filling our schools with bully-proofed students. No victim = no bullies.

At BaffleThatBully.com we're building content right now for elementary school students to teach them how to refuse to be victims of bullying.

" on the outside chance"

I have kids in a district that is heavy into the ant-bully program. It's an upper middle class district that adopted it because it's trendy. There's no outside chance. The program doesn't work.

In the hands of school leadership, your valid and admirable efforts will be turned into an excuse to blame the victims.

You should carry on, of course. But I wouldn't expect results from higher ups. For example will the schools ever teach victims last resort tactics (defending yourself in a fight you didn't start)? Nope. Obviously nope. The best they will do is be neutral, which they don't even do that yet.

One of my kids' kindergarten classes a kid felt what we would call bullied, so he hit the other kid (no damage, he weighed about three pounds) and threatened to stab him with a pencil if he didn't leave him alone.

The school called the police. Who showed up. Yes, kindergarten.

Love the McD's tasting menu. Look forward to the day in which I am not the only human on earth who considers McD's perfectly healthy faire.

There are at least two of us. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's the "McDonalds isn't food" shtick.

#5: check out the prologue here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/27/the-cruelty-of-children
The kid thinks that bullies are getting their ideas from school library how-to books. Maybe he's right!

Do such books exist? If not, maybe I should write one. There may be an underserved market out there.

#5. All anti-bullying initiatives (programs, speeches, fundraisers,etc.) are simply exercises designed for school boards to cover themselves from lawsuits. God forbid a student commits suicide, and the grieving parents get a lawyer and go on the warpath.
School: "Sue us?! You can't sue us! look at all of this anti-bullying s@#$ we do every year"

So the only item people are commenting on is the anti-bullying one. While in the previous Assorted Links no one commented on Penelope Lively's comments on aging.

From this can we deduce that MR's readership is made up of thirty-ish nerds who were beaten up a lot at school?

That is probably a demographic a lot of advertisers would like. They should sell it that way.

I'll go. She's wrong about many things in the first half of the article. Have to move on, I'm afraid.

She's wrong about much of her take on history and she overgeneralizes about mindset. I

From #3:

> There are four times as many 39-year-old men on the site as there are 38-year-olds. "Why is that? Is it about the fear of turning 40?"

I'm betting that anyone just over 40 is pretty likely to lie and say they're 39.

The most unfaithful place: DC. The professions with the most cheaters: finance and education. Ha.

Purva paksha is awesome.

It is the job of adults to stop bullies and others who are violent towards children.

When a school (or other institution) sets up a program that is supposed to "train" kids to protect themselves, that betrays a mindset in the adults at the institution -- they are abdicating their responsibility, and laying it at the feet of the children.

In an institution where the adults telegraph that the kids need to "work it out themselves", there is certainly going to be more brutal pecking order arrangements. This goes for the schools where the kids are told to tell on bullies, too -- it's not the kid's job to be information sources. The adults should be paying attention. Present, and paying attention, and willing to take action.

Plus, you should see the posters teaching kids what to do about bullies -- one example? Positive self-talk. It's like they're training the kids to get beaten up.

Yes, adults should prevent bullying when possible, but adults cannot completely supervise and control all of children's interactions. Indeed, it would not be healthy to do so. I think children need to be given skills to deal with bullies themselves.

I agree that the approaches you describe sound misguided, though.

Kids do need to be taught how to deal with conflict as they mature, and then they need to exercise those skills.

But with bullying, what you are talking about is a strong power disparity. In the real, adult, world, we don't expect people to be able to resolve a situation from a position of extreme weakness -- like by relying on their ability to talk the powerful into good will (well, we've tried that a couple times, it doesn't turn out well).

It's a golden rule of human relations, giving someone responsibility without authority is a trap. Unless you can give a kid being bullied the authority to resolve the situation with effective means (which you usually can't do because, well, he's a kid and that's too much authority), you have to retain the responsibility yourself.

Adults don't have to be there every second and entangled in every conflict. What they have to do is be present and aware, and when we do catch them, we have to be decisive. I've seen teachers deal with bullying by having the whole class listen to a counselor talk for an hour -- then punish not bringing a folder from home with a missed recess. In the end, many don't care if a student is making life hell for other students, as long as he's not making life hell for them.

We also have to overcome our instinct to ourselves side with the bully -- adults sense the pecking order, also, and everyone wants to be on the side of the strong. In one of my kids' kindergarten class, the teacher looked like an adoring lap dog every time the alpha dog boy in the class talked. No way she was helping out any of the betas in that room.

I've sat on playgrounds watching a kid with a daycare class being horribly mean girl bullied. The supervisors were right there, and good people, but they were interacting too much, fixing and diplomatizing too much, talking to each other too much, observing and disciplining too little, and they wound up dressing down the bullied girl, whose frustration was leading her to pouting anger. Bullies know better than to be an irritant to adults.

the concluding para of the wikipedia entry on Purva Paksha seems to be an example of how some of my my fellow Indian intellectuals either suffer from an unnecessary inferiority complex and so keep abusing western thought, or they are trying to persuade whoever matters that "Indian" thought is still as relevant as western philosophy so that their jobs are secure.

In my somewhat limited experience with bullied kids in Japan. I have noticed that they seem to have personal behavior characteristics that would tend to make other kids shun them at best and torment them under certain conditions. In other words, they weren't selected at random to be victims. They lack friends and allies, and even the teachers (basically) don't like them (due to their behavior).

In Japan kids spend all of their school hours with the same group. They can't escape, which is why some crack up or never leave their rooms. One solution, according to one Japanese researcher, which won't happen because it would be "difficult" and un-Japanese, would be to let students enroll in classes they want, so at least they don't have to be stuck with the same bullies all day long for three years.

I had parents bring their bullied kids to me, thinking that I could teach them certain skills that would bail them out. But the kids were beyond my abilities and patience to reach (I'm not qualified to help troubled kids, that isn't my expertise). I thought literally that if I had to be with them all day everyday I might be tempted to bully them myself (I know that's horrible and I wouldn't actually do it, but I did understand the impulse that less mature people might experience).

Leaving it to adults won't work. They can't be everywhere all the time, and sometimes participate in the bullying.
Teaching the bullied kid to "stand up" won't work. They don't have the wherewithal to do it. That's why they are getting bullied in the first place.
Telling the bullies to be more nice won't work. They already do "self-reflection" in class all the time. They don't think they are doing anything wrong.
The French solution to not liking where you are is to go somewhere else. Letting bullied kids do that might be the best way. They do it themselves in any case, by staying at home. Or jumping in front of a train (which to my regret I have witnessed).
I have nothing to say about the problem anywhere else.

Yes, a big part of the problem in the U.S. also is that we force young people into unnatural situations -- 35 hours a week with a same-age group with very little adult modeling. Of course they develop and enforce a pecking order, and then conform to their roles, which can make the alphas into bullies when in a healthy situation they might develop into leaders, and makes the last in order neurotic (which is irritating to everyone and reinforces his position) when in a healthy situation he might just be weak.

But that's not changing in the U.S., either. We'd rather put them in an unnatural, unhealthy situation and when they get stressed tell them "it gets better".

Oh, and the "it gets better" campaign is based on just what you suggest -- the idea that if you can just endure, soon you'll be able to make a choice to escape.

#2: I recall a prof at uni who said the Brits used to mistake the use of purva paksha in classical Indian texts like the Laws of Manu for incoherent self-contradiction, when merely it was a statement of the position to be refuted.

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