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Why anti-bullying policies hurt more than help

"Bully Nation," by Susan Eva Porter

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As the public looks at adolescent development to make sense of violent tragedies, anti-bullying programs and policies are growing. However, an educator and clinician for 25 years asked herself a question: “Why have our views toward aggression changed when the kids haven’t changed?”

Her answer was Columbine. Educator Susan Eva Porter said that the nation considered the shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as victims of bullying, and the nation quickly and fearfully adopted zero-tolerance policies to prevent future victims of bullying.

In “Bully Nation: Why America’s Approach to Childhood Aggression is Bad for Everyone,” Porter argues that labeling children as bullies is equivalent to calling them “stupid” because it gives them a “fixed mind-set” about how they perceive themselves.

Do anti-bullying programs cause more harm than help? Is bullying in schools a problem? What’s the best way to help victims of bullying? Are children more aggressive today than in the past?

Susan Porter, Ph.D, author of “Bully Nation: Why America’s Approach to Childhood Aggression is Bad for Everyone” (Paragon House); Dean of Students at The Branson School in Ross, California; she has worked in schools for 25 years.