Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jay McGraw's Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies

Author: Jay McGraw
Title: Jay McGraw's Life Strategies for Dealing with Bullies.
Publication: New York: Aladdin, 2008.
Description: Includes an Introduction by Dr. Phil McGraw. Illustrations by Steve Bjorkman; 172 pages, hardcover.

This book was introduced Tuesday Oct. 28 on the Dr. Phil show on cyberbullying. The book, by Dr. Phil’s son, is written in middle school language to help kids deal with being bullied, be able to communicate to their parents or teachers, and also addresses kids who feel the lack of self-control associated with bullying.

Actually, only one of the eleven chapters deals with cyberbullying. It does go into the bad things that happen. The most common is the placing of malicious gossip about other students on one’s profile or website, but it has also included creating fake websites, impersonating others, stealing passwords and spreading viruses. All of these activities can carry criminal penalties. But the law does not always make it easy for parents to go after kids who bully their kids online; school districts may believe they cannot act if it happens off campus. As I noted on my television reviews blog on Oct. 29, there is some effort in a few states to tighten the law. Eventually, there could be serious restrictions on who can have an account (minors at least), more downstream liability, and, I personally think, the requirement for insurance. This is a very serious problem.

But most of Jay’s book deals with the “real world” problem. He tries to explain the motives of the bully and mentions the examples set by parents at home. Boys are often taught that they have an obligation to prove that they are “stronger” than other boys and more capable than others in (given a presumably dangerous or unstable external world) potentially protecting other family members, and that kind of thinking can, in an immature mind, rationalize the practice. (It can also rationalize totalitarian ideologies, especially fascism. This sort of residue was very much impressed upon me when I was growing up in the 1950s.) In retrospect, I would add that when I was growing up neither I nor the school officials completely understood that this kind of behavior was morally wrong if, for no other reason, it represented unprovoked aggression, in the sense that a modern libertarian understands the concept. McGraw, however, talks about the desire to feel “special” or “important” (by striking at those who are “different” – actually ironic).

McGraw provides some model conduct codes and also some quiz exercises and encourages students to write private journals on their experience with this problem. Handwritten journals (not blogs) are common in many English classes.

It is important that all schools deal with perpetrators of this problem promptly and decisively with discipline. Their failure to act on incidents in many parts of the country indicates cultural bias that does not excuse inaction. Schools do need some leeway in the law to interpret malicious (and especially false) online posts by students (about students or even teachers) as potentially disruptive to security on campus, so that they have the authority to discipline students for online abuse, too.

Update: Dec. 8, 2008

The "Sunday Read" Magazine (essentially a "family section") of the Sunday Dec 8 Washington Times has an article by Barry Brown, "Attracting bullies: 'Aggressive behavior' and oversensitivity linked to victimization," link here. Brown feels that children who become targets of bullies are often hyper-sensitive and even in subtle ways aggressive themselves, making themselves unpopular even with some adults and teachers who see them as whiny or non-competitive. There are behavioral factors in the home that set up this feedback loop, but there is a bit of a moralistic tone to it.

Roland Warren has a column on the same page (15) of the magazine, "Dad must help deal with bullies," link here.

1 comment:

Bill Boushka said...

Anita Moore asked me to publish this comment for the "Truth on Earth Band":


I noticed you've been involved on the subject of cyber bullying. This is a very exciting and relevant release I thought you should see.

Anita Moore
Reveal Multi-Media

Truth on Earth Band

For Immediate Release: December 2, 2008 Contact: Reveal Music at

Social Action Rock Band Shoots Down Cyber Bullying Issue with ‘Bulletless Gun'

Offers Up Front Line Solution to Growing Problem with Heavy New Song


Invites Organizations, Schools, and anyone fighting this problem to partner with Band & Song

Humble, TX: The progressive social action rock band ‘Truth on Earth' announced today the release of new original music to further their fight against the fast growing cyberbullying problem. Using the power and universal language of music, Truth On Earth have released two versions of the song "Shot With a Bulletless Gun" a 70's style folk/rock anthem compared by a Janis Joplin site to experiences the famous star would have certainly understood and wanted to sing about if she'd been a teenager alive today. The song, which is released as a full studio version and an unplugged version with Bongos, describes in harsh detail the experience of today's young people who have been tormented online by cowardly cyber bullies.

First Verse Last night I died a thousand deaths Ondalay Blindsided in the dead of night

Whadahey I try to explain what it feels like - When you're shot in the back of

your mind with a bulletless gun by a kid that you don't even hardly know.

Notwithstanding that most of today's parents have a naïve and near total lack of awareness about the potential dangers this problem presents; Cyber bullying is quite different than traditional bullying at school. It penetrates the walls of a home, a place where victims could once feel safe and seek refuge. This "new" type of attack is potentially much more dangerous. Unlike physical bullying, electronic bullies can remain virtually anonymous using temporary email accounts, pseudonyms in chat rooms, instant messaging programs, cell-phone text messaging, and other Internet venues to mask their identity.

Third Verse As I walk down a busy hall I'm invisible Dismember my love cuz you're not even

real. What kind of a coward would victimize someone who can't see what happened

yet has to endure all the pain of the loneliness and all the shame of the crime?

More than half of all teens now admit to being cyber bullied but the actual number of victims by some accounts is estimated at well in excess of 90%. In fact, two of the band members have already been cyber bullied. "Rumors and bad things, usually always lies, can be spread about you to hundreds of people, in a matter of seconds. I was cyber bullied by a group of teenage girls who didn't even know me. People who do this are cowards who can't control their emotional problems in manageable ways so they instead hide behind the computer and say things they would never have the guts to say to your face. Unfortunately, perception is reality and other kids often believe what they hear whether it is true or not. Before you know it, whole groups of people are against you. It can be a very scary thing. Especially for people who don't have anyone to talk to about it", said Serena, T.O.E guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist.

Fourth Verse Deep down inside your little brain ya you blew it. Every dog has their day of reckoning

And u knew it. I kill myself and minors get sent away. Suicides and beatings and

big phony meetings should never have happened if someone was minding the store.

"There is a new psychosis developing in the minds of kids today where their alter-ego personality makes them think they are safe to hide behind technology and that it somehow immunizes them from their criminal acts" said Kiley, T.O.E guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist. "Through partnering our music with everyone on the front line who cares about this issue, we are planning to help the world march forward in the counter assault against this unacceptable behavior. Together, we will create enough awareness over time, using the ideals of our idol Gandhi who used truth and non-violent protest to create peace. The bullies out there are starting to get busted and pay for their crimes. They can run but they can't hide."

"Serena, Kiley and Tess are inspired young women who are bringing their voices to the issues that matter - and they're not afraid to say the tough things that need to be said. But they don't stop there. Rarely do you see a website that is as comprehensive as the one that Truth On Earth has built. Their Take Action section speaks volumes about how seriously these three take their message. This is a band that walks their talk," said recording artist, composer & philanthropist Peter Buffett who recently launched a new social action and resource website with Akon at

Sixth Verse Here's one for the ages - where the yell did they come from. Now get off of the stage

and stand at attention. If some of us care - to stand and be heard - then there's hope

for the planet and everyone on it who takes off their mask and divulges their true self to all...

"Most of the adults we talk with about cyber bullying have never even heard of it before. They have a hard time understanding the negative impact and the overwhelming feelings cyber bullied teens feel. If adults don't take this seriously, more teens will take matters into their own hands, like Megan Meier, and four other recent high profile cases in the U.S. where the abuse led to suicide." said Tess, T.O.E Vocalist/Keyboardist.

Music & Lyrics for Shot with a Bulletless Gun:

T.O.E's Video interview:

Truth on Earth - Cyber Bullying Take Action Page

About Truth on Earth:

Truth on Earth is a 1970s influenced rock group writing, producing and performing music calling for social action. Their current 12 song recording "Peace through Non-Violent Protest" is inspired by Gandhi. T.O.E.'s mission is to unite people around the world, with the universal language of music, and inspire social action to create a better world so future generations will have a planet worth inheriting. The Band is available for performances, interviews and charitable appearances and can be contacted through their website, email T.O.E. music is available for download at iTunes, eMusic and 70% of the group's profits go to causes they support through their songs such as starvation, animal abuse, cyber bullying, child abuse, the effects of war, media violence and substance abuse. Future topics will include the homeless, poverty, and environmental issues such as global warming, among others. ###

Below read what others are saying early on about Truth on Earth and you can use whatever quotes you want from them.

"Thank you - you made my day! Bless you and your sisters! "

Ed Begley, Actor & Environmentalist

"This is a band that walks their talk. I am really impressed with all that they've accomplished so far!"

Peter Buffet, Recording artist, Composer & philanthropist

"Very cool. Really dig what u r about and will check out your videos. Peace, luv and Gaia!"

Woody Harrelson, Actor & Environmentalist

"I'm very impressed - especially for a group so young. If you ever come to LA, I definitely want to go to your show."

Raegan Payne, Actress & founder of ‘The Good Muse'

"Wow, I am so moved by the song and video.... Such great and worthy work you and your family are doing."

Kathy Freston, New York Times Bestselling author.

"You guys are quite amazing and I love your idea of teaming up to further the cause!!"

Julie, Founder of Girls Gone Green

"I'm impressed with their music and what they have accomplished."

Jo Stepaniak, Author

"You guys were awesome and quite inspirational. Keep it up!"

Nicole James, Whole Foods

"Serena, Kiley, three have a wonderfully fresh energy! Your sound is inviting and sacred. Keep working hard, while holding fast to your own Truth."

Siena & Toast from Makena Music

"For a band of teenage girls, they are carrying a powerful message that just slaps you in the face with truth and a firmly grounded standpoint."

Keith Hannaleck,

"I wanted to tell you all about an all-girl band made up of three sisters, called Truth on Earth. Serena, Kiley, and Tess do all they can to help animals. Music is definitely a great way to spread a message, so keep doing what you're doing, Truth on Earth! What a wonderful song! We're really excited about the song and about your band in general."

Marta Holmberg, PETA blog review

"It's so great to here that you guys are out there, doing what you do for the animals, the earth, and human beings! Truth on Earth has an amazing sound and all your ethics are in the right place. Thank you so much for all that you're doing. "

Heather, Mercy for Animals

"Glad to see that you are out there making a stir with your voices."

Holly Near, Recording Artist and Philanthropist

"It sounds like you are doing a wonderful thing for the world using music as a means of communicating hope and enlightenment."

Allegra Klein, founder of Music 4 Harmony

"Your work is very impressive."

John McDougall, MD

"I just discovered a very cool band made up of three sisters in their teens. They're serious activists, trying to change everything in the world from child abuse to 3rd world hunger to substance abuse to factory farming and environmental destruction. This is usually a recipe for corny, heavy-handed folk music that I personally can't relate to at all, but these girls are actually really talented. Great voices, strong music, and apple-pie faces to die for. Check them out and download some of their music. A whopping 70% of the proceeds goes to charities that support the principles of their fave philosopher, Mahatma Gandhi."

Dan Piraro, Founder and Cartoonist for Bizarro

"I definitely love what you are all about! It's really great that you care about the big picture."

Wanda, Founder of Vegan Peace

"Serena, Kiley, and Tess-better known as Truth On Earth-rock. And that's not just because these vegan, Jewish, teenage sisters sing in a rock band. Truth On Earth's lyrics-which the sisters write themselves-are hard-hitting and deep. Truth On Earth is all about social action set to music."

Michael Croland, Jewish/vegan blogger

"Reading about your values and your commitments, you seem like three remarkable and very devoted young women. I'm excited to help you get your voice out there!"

Hugo Schwyzer, Professor, Pasadena City College & blogger

""Holy Mack! You are all so inspirational! I'm very impressed with what you have all put together, it makes for a very good introduction to who you are and what you seek to achieve through your music. Many of your topics are difficult to talk about, and having this video will make it easier for me to open up the dialogue with my children. As a Mom who worries about the world her children live in, I want to thank you for giving me a good starting point to talk with my children about these things."

Chantal Roy, Vegetarian Blogger

"What a noble mission you have undertaken. Great song, and certainly great lyrics."

Ipek, Vegetarian blogger from Turkey

"The work you and your sisters are doing is inspiring. It's great to know that there are others out there speaking up on such important issues."

Jesse M. National Outreach Coordinator

"I'm real impressed by all the stances you and your sisters take! You three are fantastic and an inspiration for all...and being a good band and singers will really help draw attention to some very important social causes. You Rock! Taking action on issues so many just ignore or are unaware of."

Mike, ASPCA member

"Your music speaks for itself!!! The vocals are so true and clean."

Renee, ASPCA member

"I played the Truth on Earth CD on my computer while I was working away in my office. In doing so, I realized the vocals just kept grabbing my attention. Serena, Kiley, and Tess sing so well that it pulls you into the song. Both the standard and unplugged versions sound equally inviting because of the passion of the vocals. The songs have a lot of heart and soul, and it definitely comes through in their performance. They're awesome young women, and I hope they continue to pursue making music together, as they'll get even better. In whatever they do, they I'm sure they will be a positive influence to those around them, particularly their peers. Mom and Dad have raised some fine young people."

Brian, TOE Fan