TruthToTell Jan 3: BULLYING-ONLINE & OFF: It's Hurting, Killing Too Many - AUDIO BELOW

On-air date: 
Mon, 01/03/2011

Bullies have plagued our homes, streets, parks and playgrounds for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Today, the schools and streets remain infested with them. Why is this?

The psychology of bullying is probably pretty easy: an unhappy kid who has seen how his father teats his mothers or watches the powerful abuse the powerless in almost any of life’s many arenas, and everything in between.

It’s a sad commentary that, unlike the days when a kid like me found himself ducking down alleys after school to avoid a team of bullies who saw weakness in my unwillingness to do street battle, to fight over anything unless it was against another vulnerable classmate, an entire area of law enforcement as well as an industry of advocacy has grown up to confront bullying.

Too many victims have taken that final step in reaction to bullying even as the bullying itself has taken on edges once unheard of between what are usually young people: they taken their own lives.

Unbeknownst to those guys who plagued me back in grade school, two of whom I admired greatly for their clear artistic talent as far back as kindergarten and first grade, the damage they did to my self-image was devastating, and, despite the advice of others to stand and fight as a way of ending it all, I refused to sink to that level without any real reason to do so except to prevent myself from suffering a bloody nose. I was as much afraid of hurting one of them as getting hurt myself. But my psyche suffered the real damage. I never quite entertained suicide because of it – at least I don’t recall that I did.

How many of us have been victimized by these wretchedly twisted young people? How many of us have stood by while it was happening to someone we knew and did nothing to intercede. Worst of all, how many of you have engaged in this senseless preying on someone we didn’t like or disrespected – for whatever reason – and either hurt them physically or driven them into self-destruction?

How have we come to that place in society that bullying has become an epidemic worth focusing billions of hours and resources, and marshalling the forces of respected celebrities in some attempt to understand and put a stop not only to tragic individual incidents.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN probe the reasons and the remedies for bullying – either on playgrounds and in gymnasiums or online in emails and Facebook. All of it is dangerous – not just to the body but to the minds of mostly young people, even very young children.

Important sites for young and old:

PACER Center National Center for Bullying Prevention

Teens Against Bullying

Take 25

Minnesota's Take 25 site

St. Paul Police ICAC Page

GetNetWise

Jacob Wetterling Foundation

NetSafekids

NetSmartz Workshop

NetSmartz 411

Qwest's Incredible Internet

Stop Bullying NOW! (US Department of Health & Human Services)

Phoebe Prince and the Demons of Bullying (How bullying drove a 14-year-old to suicide)

On-air guests: 

• JULIE HERTZOG, Director, PACER's National Center for Bullying Prevention

• KARINA BERZINS, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA)

NANCY SABIN - Technical Trainer for Sector Synergies; FBI Citizens' Academy Alumni Association