Page 1




A Too Silent Majority: Bullying at School and in Life. Published on Wed, October 20, 2010 by Robert Spinks, MA, MS

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and NBC Nightly News recently broadcast a series of reports on bullying. An interesting factoid is that 85% of all school kids are neither a bully nor a victim, they are bystanders. Research supports the fact that if just one student in a group where a bully is at work steps up to challenge the bully, sticks up for the victim or takes that all important first step of leadership, then there is a huge drop in the bullying behavior. Schools across the nation have embraced training students in diffusing situations, in developing communication skills and I guess you could say in teaching empathy. According to its reported that each day an estimated 160,000 children refuse to go to school because they dread the physical and verbal assaults of their peers, and the loneliness that comes from being excluded and made the target of rumors and cyber-bullying. Bullying tends to peak in middle school, but starts as early as preschool, according to the web site. Bullying is no longer about just the strong picking on the weak in the schoolyard. Physical assault has been replaced by 24 hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week online bashing. Savvy students are using instant messaging, emails, chat rooms and web sites they create to humiliate fellow students. BULLYING JUST THE BEGINNING According to research bullying behavior has been linked to other forms of antisocial behavior, such as vandalism, shoplifting, skipping and dropping out of school, fighting, and the use of drugs and alcohol. In fact, 60% of males who were bullies in grades 6 through 9 were convicted of at least one crime as an adult. Rates that were far above the general population. 35% to 40% of these former bullies had three or more convictions by age 24 – about a 150% higher rate of arrest than non-bullies. Other research makes a connection between bullying and more serious assaults and future incidents of domestic assault.

Page 1 of 2

Locally, juvenile arrests in Sequim dropped last year to 140 verses 150 the year before. The seven year high for juvenile arrests in Sequim peaked in 2006 with 176 arrests. Countywide, these numbers grow substantially into the four figure range. These were total arrests or juveniles being referred into the juvenile system, and cover all arrest types. How many of these incidents involved bullying, or assaultive bullies we don’t know. Sit back and think about those bullies that you encountered during your school years. How many times did you as a student stand up to confront a bully or protect a bullying victim? Remember, that NBC News Report, I first mentioned . . . 85% of students are neither a bully nor a victim, they were just bystanders.

empathy, the look in the younger kid’s eyes, the arrogance of the bully, I’m not sure. I did throw the bully off the jungle gym, and reclaimed it for the rest of the kids to play on and enjoy. The bully and I had a new understanding for the rest of that school year. I ended up in law enforcement, which was fun, exciting and lead me through nearly three decades of a diverse and rewarding career. But, that day in sixth grade confirmed to me that in life there still needs to be referees, that in life folks still need to step up and take a stand, and that in adult life it can still be costly when you stand up to a bully. Are we as a community, teaching our children to intervene, be good communicators, and be something much better than just a bystander?

Now a bully doesn’t usually just ‘grow out of it’. That’s a pattern of behavior that continues to grow and is part of that individual’s personality as they grow up into adulthood unless there is some type of intervention. If we collectively didn’t do anything to intervene when we were all in school dealing with a bully, did we as a society give that potential future criminal a free pass into adulthood? Have we been enabling bullies right through most of our lives? I was lucky growing up in the 1960’s. While I was born in Washington, I spent most of my school years growing up in the Bay Area of California. Most of the time that was a rich and diverse experience. And fortunately, I grew quicker than most of my classmates giving me an advantage – the school yard bullies just never seemed to bother the tall kid.

In our lives as workers, supervisors, and community leaders, are we acting as bystanders or real leaders. Are you sitting on the sideline or are you confronting those same insecure, uninspiring bullies who have failed to grow beyond their school yard bullying days? To learn more check out the US Department of Health and Human Services web site . Robert Spinks is former Sequim chief of police. Reach him at

TAKE A STAND I recall a defining incident for me in 6th grade; it probably lead me toward policing as a career years later. The school yard bully tossed a couple of 4th and 5th graders off of the jungle gym and claimed it as his own domain one Spring afternoon during lunch recess. I hung from the nearby monkey bars and I was struck by the event. Whether it was Page 2 of 2

A Too Silent Majority: Bullying at School and in Life  
A Too Silent Majority: Bullying at School and in Life  

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and the article explores the prevelence of bullying in schools across the country. Research ha...