Self-reported bullying and the cult of zero personal responsibility

21 Feb





This just in: Some people are assholes and some of those people are kids. Also, water is wet and it’s never a good idea to release killer bees at your wedding (yeah, I’m talking to you, CleverGuy).


killer bees


Ever since Oog and Gork were little cave babies, playing happily on the rocks until Oog decided to beat the crap out of Gork with a stick because hey, why the hell not?- kids have been assholes to one another.




Pile up anything – rocks, leaves, snow, recycling, whatever – and some kid is gonna get up there and starting singing “I’m the kind of the castle and you’re a dirty asshole rascal” and shove every other kid down the pile.




Gork has a couple of choices once Oog picks up that stick. He can go find something else to do and take the fun out of being an asshole. He can go get his own stick (and probably get an even worse beating), he can turn around and beat up some other kid who is even smaller, he can suck-up to Oog and try and cajole him into being less of an asshole, or he can just take it and hope things gets better.


The one thing he CAN’T do is go crying to his mommy, because that will make him a pussy and a crybaby and a suckhole and he will be in for even WORSE if he does that kind of shit.


Gork is fucked.


Ooga and Gorka don’t have it any better. They don’t hit each other with sticks very often, but words can carry a sting sharper than any willow switch, and that’s how the girls beat the crap out of each other. Ooga has the nicest hair. Everyone else’s hair is ugly, especially yours, Gorka! Damn, you are one fat, ugly little bitch.




How in the hell did we ever survive all these tiny little assholes terrorizing the weak and the vulnerable?


What’s that you say? Adult supervision? Grown-ups involved in their children’s lives, monitoring and noticing and taking action to keep the assholes from getting out of control?


Shut up! That won’t work.


Here’s a study out of Duke University that tracked the effects of bullying over the course of 20 years. None of it is particularly surprising. Victims suffer lifelong pain and depression and are more prone to suicide. Bullies are more likely to have anti-social personality disorders (another word for permanent asshole) and the kids who were BOTH victims and bullies have the most problems.


What I find most interesting about this study is the conclusion the researchers came to: we need to focus more on children’s peers than on what’s happening in their families. Children, who clearly do NOT have the maturity, empathy or experience to understand what the longterm consequences of being an asshole are going to be SHOULD have the maturity, empathy and experience to manage themselves in a complex world with little to no adult supervision.


This is the same stupid argument the anti-slut shamers use: teenagers do NOT have the maturity and experience to critique their peers in constructive ways, but they DO have the maturity and experience to understand the implications of dressing like a prostitute.




Here: Eat this cake. Now have it, too.


There’s something else nefarious buried in this little study, too. Bullying was self-reported. That means as long as a kid FELT like they had been bullied, it was treated as an episode of bullying. That’s a nice little trick, isn’t it? Let’s quietly remove all objective standards of what does and does not constitute bullying and then encourage our special, special snowflakes to take only their own perspective: what you FEEL is the only thing that matters. If you feel like you were raped bullied, then you were.


Self-reporting as a research methodology is flawed for precisely the above noted problem: in the absence of objective measures, people can cast themselves as victims as long as they FEEL like victims. The fact that they may themselves be gigantic assholes disappears down the rabbit-hole, and all they’re left with is a label:




Here’s the problem with this kind of research: allowing individuals to cast themselves in their own little narratives based on an emotional reaction while ignoring or denying how they may have been complicit in their treatment removes any concept of agency or responsibility. The idea that human interactions are complicated and nuanced disappears. The researchers allow for children who are both bullies and victims, but it comes in the form of A bullied B and then B bullied C.


Not that A is sometimes the aggressor and sometimes the victim, and that B is sometimes the aggressor and sometimes the victim in their RELATIONSHIP TO ONE ANOTHER.




Madysen started a rumor that Shelby sucked off the whole rugby team which makes Madysen a bully and poor Shelby the victim! Shelby tweeted pictures of Madysen puking up her lunch in the ladies room and Shelby is STILL the victim. Why? Because she feels like she is.


Let’s be clear: I’m not saying there are NO situations in which one person is a complete and total asshole to another person who has never responded with aggression or done anything to invite such treatment other than simply exist. There are a whole lot of fat people/short people/ugly people/mentally challenged people who can tell harrowing stories of being the target of straight up bullying.


This is not a denial that bullying exists. Not at all. But in order to define and identify bullies, we’re going to need some objective standards. Some way to monitor and intervene in what kids are doing, because they WILL BE ASSHOLES at some point or another.


How did Madysen get that rumor about Shelby out so quickly and so thoroughly? Oh, she used Facebook? She wrote some clever tweets to back that up? She pinned a bunch of lollipops on Pinterest and tagged them all “Shelby”?




What a bitch!


Who is responsible for Madysn’s behaviour? Well, Madysn, obviously, but she needs to be taught that. She needs to have standards set for her, boundaries enforced and consequences applied. And who should do that?


The teachers! Wait, no. Shelby! Shelby should have to do that! Madysn’s friends? Yeah, them, too. They should all be monitoring Madysn and making sure she’s not as asshole. Let’s throw in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, too.


They are all responsible for teaching Madysn not to be such a fucking cunt.


Obviously, Madysn’s parents are the ones who should be monitoring and guiding the little asshole they have created. It’s probably pretty safe to assume they don’t give a rat’s ass about her, would never “violate her privacy” online and they let her sleep with her iPhone so she can send heinous texts about other girls at 2AM and maybe a few topless photos to that guy she likes.




Madysn’s parents aren’t the only grown-ups who have some responsibility here: WE ALL DO. The girls who giggled over Madysn’s lollipop board? They’re assholes, too. The ones who retweeted Madysn’s clever missives about what a slut Shelby is? Yep – assholes.


All those girls have parents. It is our responsibility as parents to notice what our kids are up to, especially on line. And lest you think I’m only trashing girls here, let me assure you: boys get up to this shit as well, but it usually takes the form of PHYSICAL bullying, which does not absolve parents whatsoever.


Logan and Perry need guidance and instruction and boundaries and consequences too.


It is completely absurd to think that OTHER CHILDREN can be held responsible for what kids do. Peers may have a huge influence on our children, but ultimately, we are the ones responsible for them, for their health and safety and happiness, both mental and physical. The epidemic of depression and anxiety crippling young people is a direct result of parents refusing to accept responsibility for their own children, and refusing to take a stand and shut their kids down when they’re being dicks.




Your children are not special, you can’t make other people responsible for them, and if you look closely, you might just discover that your special little snowflake is actually, oops, an asshole.




Do your job. Teach your kids to be human. To accept responsibility for their own actions. Make them face consequences for poor behavior. Start by looking in the mirror and accept a bit of responsibility yourself.


In other words, don’t be an asshole.


Lots of love,




33 Responses to “Self-reported bullying and the cult of zero personal responsibility”

  1. Kai February 21, 2013 at 16:16 #

    I suspect the reason these things are suggested is that we unfortunately can’t rely on parents to teach their kids to be decent. If all parents parented properly, we’d have few issues.
    But what are we supposed to do in a world where some parents do not control their children, and some of those children are assholes?
    All you can do is try to affect how much time your kids have with the asshole kids, and how they respond to it. I think that’s where these suggestions come into play.

    Personally, I suggest a return to ‘anyone who says that shouldn’t be allowed to define your self-worth’ and ‘suck it up and solve your own problems’. Which, of course, only work in a larger culture of kids solving their own problems.
    I’m not convinced there is any more bullying today than there used to be. Older people usually have far more vicious stories. The difference is that kids today have been trained to go to an adult for the tiniest problem, and never been permitted to deal with adversity, so they don’t know how to handle anything and end up killing themselves over things that previous generations would simply not have considered.

    I was bullied a bit as a kid. In the sense of being shoved around and taunted. It never took off, because I didn’t react. I didn’t feel like a victim then, and I don’t feel like a victim in hindsight. Everyone got something at some time, but the kids who showed they weren’t going to lose themselves over it usually caused the other kids to lose interest and move on.


  2. Erin February 21, 2013 at 17:10 #

    I think your point about there not being anymore bullying now, but kids not having the coping skills they used to is spot on. This has been my take as well. And just look at how parents now are going to their grown “kids” job interviews and college professors to still make sure they don’t feel anything but joy at all times. As someone who has recently gone back to college while her kids are in full-day school, I am really appalled at how my fellow younger students are inept at the smallest things…I kid you not, one prof had to actually show the class how to use the brass tabs in a disposable folder because so many of the young students didn’t know how to.

    Back to the bullying…I remember a girl twice my height trying to pick on me in fourth grade. I was scared, but I was also angry, and that anger caused me to yell at her to leave the me hell alone and not back down, and she never did it again. But then, I was taught to fight my battles. I don’t know if that would have been the case if I was born a generation or two later.


  3. judgybitch February 21, 2013 at 17:21 #

    I think this comes from teaching children that their’s is the only perspective that counts and that they are always a victim and not responsible for the things that happen to them.

    Combine that with rigid scheduling (out to daycare on mommy’s schedule basically from birth) and other people making most of your decisions for you, and voila! Utterly helpless adults who are still waiting for someone to tie their shoes and get them a snack.


  4. Kai February 21, 2013 at 18:47 #

    I definitely think we have been teaching children to be victims, and teaching them to run for help at the slightest provocation.

    I’m not sure I see the impact of scheduling, other than as one in a long list of factors that could contribute to feeling powerless.
    I grew up in daycare, and I definitely can’t think of feeling controlled by it in a bad way. If anything, I would have thought it might contribute to self-sufficiency, but then, my younger sister was mostly in daycare, and completely dependent. I attribute those traits in us mostly to nature.
    (I do wonder why people have kids if there isn’t at least one parent interested in spending most of the time raising them, but having been born to the woman I was born to, I am personally extremely thankful to daycare and after-school programs which did a much better job than she could have.)


  5. Mik February 21, 2013 at 22:45 #

    I fucking love how JB is potty mouthed throughout the whole article than at the end its “lots of love JB”. Haha. Another great article, keep em coming.


  6. Scratch February 21, 2013 at 23:48 #

    Holy shit, JB, I’m 25 and until I read your blog I just thought my opinions were common goddamned sense. Apparently I’m an anti-feminist. You’ve gained a reader for as long as you stay pissed off and funny.


  7. judgybitch February 22, 2013 at 00:05 #

    I’ll try, Scratch!

    I hope I can always find something to laugh at.

    Laughter is love, love is life and as long as you love, you live.


  8. Kai February 22, 2013 at 00:46 #

    feminists are anti-commonsense.


  9. Alex February 22, 2013 at 00:53 #

    notice how all this comes after a generation of women that were taught they were victims of something that doesn’t exist? funny how that leads to a bunch of fucked up kids. i really do wish sometimes that we would have a cataclysm that would cause all the feminist stupidity to go away.


  10. LostSailor February 22, 2013 at 01:33 #

    we need to focus more on children’s peers than on what’s happening in their families.


    It is completely absurd to think that OTHER CHILDREN can be held responsible for what kids do.

    I agree that parents have the ultimate responsibility to mold their childrens’ behavior, but, let’s face it, a lot of parent either don’t know, don’t know how, or don’t care if their kids are bullies. Bullies tend to learn this attitude if not behavior at home.

    And I also agree that in our current culture, kids are over-coddled and taught to be victims and taught to run to mommy and daddy at the slightest incident.

    Now, I’m not a parent, sorry to say. But I do talk often with friends and their kids. And I–and my friends–agree that kids are the more likely solution to the “problem” of bullying. It’s the way it used to be, anyway.

    And I’ll use a couple of personal anecdotes to illustrate.

    I was bullied in elementary school by a guy I’ll call K. At recess (do they still do that anymore?) he used to beat me up in ways that wouldn’t leave marks. I wasn’t his only victim, but I saw what happened to those who ran crying to the teacher: they got it worse. I never went crying to anyone. I never told my parents. But I had friends; geeky friends to be sure, but when we banded together, the harassment stopped. (It came back in high school, but the denouement will come later.)

    In junior high school, I was once “bullied” into a fight. I didn’t want to do it and tried to slip out of school early, but a group of guys met me at my locker and “escorted” me behind the gym to fight. I was still a kind of geeky kid, though starting to get better and was expected to get the crap beaten out of me. Instead, I got angry and ended up beating the crap out of my opponent. Got detention and my parent were called (Mom: I’m so ashamed! Dad: Me, too! Did you at least win?). And I actually became good friends with that opponent.

    The lesson I took, and apply here, is that peers can make a difference, probably the most effective difference. And standing up to bullies is also effective. In my experience, they are cowards.

    Ah, the denouement. As a freshman in high school, I was on a school ski trip when I came down with flu. On the bus ride back, all I wanted to do was sleep. My elementary school tormentor K apparently thought it a good opportunity for fun. He and a couple of his friends decided to switch off in the seat next to me and poke me hard to keep me awake. After a couple of rounds of this, K took the seat and I planted my elbow with my entire weight behind it and all the force I could muster directly into his crotch. That was the last time anyone ever tried to bother me. K was over time dropped by his buddies and I, again, became friends with some of the other guys.

    As I said, I don’t have kids. So take it for what it might be worth. But the best way to deal with bullying is to give kids the courage and backing to stand up to bullies and stand up for their peers. I agree they’re not equipped at the moment, so why not equip them? It has major benefits later in life…


  11. Liz February 22, 2013 at 14:22 #

    I liked this post, Lost Sailor. 🙂 I’m accustomed to my boys fighting (not that it’s ever exactly appreciated). I think the bullying of males and females is different in general. The boys scrap, and then get over it…girls hold on to their outrage FOREVER.

    I still remember the day my second son was in a full blown fight with his best friend (they were both about five then). I heard the commotion outside, intervened and asked why they were fighting, and my son said, “He won’t allow my soldiers to have a water source!” They were playing with toy soldiers, we lived in the desert (on base housing) and it had rained so there was a slow trickle of water and he wanted his men on one side of it, his friend wanted it all and it was fisticuffs. I told them to play nice or I wouldn’t give them cookies and it was over within 15 minutes. If girls had scrapped like that over barbies, they’d never speak to each other again.

    There was a real bully the year or two prior, at a different location in a different state. This kid was only four but huge…he used to try to hit everyone over the head with a snow shovel and even kicked his gradmother when she tried to correct him. My second son hated that kid, and though he was about four inches shorter he gave him a beatdown one day when he tried to hit a smaller child with a bat. After that, the bully was on his best behavior and considered my son his best friend. The bullying stopped until our family left the neighborhood (after which a friend confided that it returned worse than ever).


  12. Kai February 22, 2013 at 16:42 #

    I agree that girls tend to draw out rather than getting physical and getting it over with, but I think the principles still apply. It was mostly girls who ‘bullied’ me, but they stopped doing it quickly when I made clear that I wasn’t going to get upset about it and act like a victim. Whether it’s physically or verbally defending yourself, bullies generally don’t continue when you aren’t the victim they’re looking for.


  13. Athan Nyx February 22, 2013 at 18:10 #

    I agree… Part of it is personal agency. I reported one instance of personal bullying and the person stopped but my school was stupid. When I went into a gym class that bully was in the same gym class. So I appealed to some popular kids that I became friendly with to not cause trouble for the person but make sure they would keep in line. It worked out fine and the bully and I became amiable from the bully just hating me for no reason.

    Sometimes reporting can cause trouble though. I had one instance of a person who would tease me. He’d do some back drawings of my drawings with prominent dicks. Now… I was more offended he was defacing my work but our passing notes was amiable. I mentioned it and my parents called it sexual harrassment, reported him and then the females in the peer group social pariahed the formerly popular guy. I thought that was over kill and I feel guilty that although my name did not come up in who was reportedly sexually harrassed… That because I complained about a drawing a guy got in trouble for stupid shit.

    Really bugged me too because I was treated like a damn girl then. I was holding my own. I can hold my own and ignore words as long as they aren’t every day harassment like the first bully (It was a weird situation). Even then… The first bully I just left the situation after it escalated and only told for my peace of mind that she wouldn’t try to find me to pick on me. The problem is sometimes this stuff gets reported without input and other times there is a need to report but no one is teaching kids when stuff should be reported, to parents or teachers, and when stuff is typical shit they should just deal with themselves.


  14. Erin February 22, 2013 at 22:01 #

    Speaking of bullying…How messed up is this troll picking on a six-year-old who has a rare disease? It made me sick to my stomach.

    For once Gawker wrote a decent article.


  15. LostSailor February 23, 2013 at 00:21 #

    Thanks, Liz.

    I don’t really condone fighting, and my parents certainly didn’t, but they–and I–firmly believe that kid or not you should be able to defend yourself. (In the incident I described, my mom was almost more upset that I tore my shirt.) I ended up being a wrestler in HS and college, and I can still hold my own if necessary (even after all these years) but fortunately haven’t had to in a long, long time. But I’ve taught some moves to my friends’ kids that allow them to disable an opponent without trading punches.

    Last time I can remember a physical altercation was in the early 90s in my local pub. It was a small, divey place owned by a woman and with mostly middle-age women bartenders. Two guys playing pool in the back got into it and were on the verge of whacking each other with pool cues. Without thinking, I found myself between them telling them firmly to take it outside. They did (much to my surprise) and while they were scuffling the police were called so they both left in cuffs.


  16. Athan Nyx February 23, 2013 at 16:23 #

    -blinks- Does that downvote count as “I said something stupid” or in the same way it does on A Voice for Men? Could I at least know the why for the down vote?


  17. Mike Hunter February 23, 2013 at 17:34 #

    I was bullied a bit as a kid. In the sense of being shoved around and taunted. It never took off, because I didn’t react.

    No offense but if you’re a guy then that’s some of the worse advice you can give someone. I was bullied in middle school and that’s what my mom told me. I naively followed her advice and it led to two years of torment. If you’re male, and you’re being bullied then you need to FIGHT. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; just do as much damage to them as you can. Bullies don’t want to brawl they want victims. Once you actually fight them they won’t want any part of you after that.

    Also I find that my definition of bullying differs from other peoples. To me bullying doesn’t mean talking trash about someone, or making fun of them. It means physically assaulting them: punching, slapping, spitting on, etc.

    I’m into jiu-jitsu now and I wish I knew 1/10th of what I know now back then. Not because I wish I would have broken a bullys arm, but because I would have had the confidence to fight them much sooner and would have saved myself years of torment. Also If I would have known that I don’t feel anything during a fight because of the adrenaline that would have helped too.

    I’m teaching my son grappling basics now. Although no submissions. He’s not mature enough to learn chokes or jointlocks yet. When he gets older his instructions are going to be: take the bully down, get mount; then drop punches, elbows and hammer fists until he’s unconscious or someone pulls you off of him. If I had a daughter I’d give her the same advice. What bitch is going to talk trash about her if she knows it will mean two black eyes, and a split lip?


  18. princesspixiepointless February 23, 2013 at 20:36 #

    What’s a down vote?


  19. Erin February 23, 2013 at 21:14 #

    Someone has been down voting all the comments for the few days. I noticed it a couple of posts back.


  20. judgybitch February 23, 2013 at 21:41 #


    Pixie? Can we do anything about that? Some little hater troll has been busy, it seems.

    Shona? Is that you?


  21. Athan Nyx February 23, 2013 at 21:41 #

    Ahh… Ok.. Duly noted.


  22. princesspixiepointless February 23, 2013 at 22:46 #

    anonymously down voting comments? Whose pole does that go on?
    I meant poll. I think? So are we being judged?
    is that why there is horsemeat in everything?
    Ok, will have a look into that.
    That means we can UP vote to right?


  23. princesspixiepointless February 23, 2013 at 22:46 #

    Is this like attempting to be in the FB vibe and LIKing a comment…
    hmm, I thought only the Daily Wail did that.


  24. princesspixiepointless February 23, 2013 at 22:52 #

    I will look into it later, if beings can hate, then beings can love.

    I need to find me some copyright free pictures of Daniel Craig coming out of the
    water topless to add to the Schrodinger’s rapist segue way I am working on for the
    JB-youTube.the Jbube? Thanks for the heads up Erin & AthanNyx peeps. ttfn.


  25. Erin February 24, 2013 at 00:47 #

    Anything for someone who bags on Jezebel!


  26. LD February 24, 2013 at 05:20 #

    Thank you…


  27. princesspixiepointless February 24, 2013 at 08:48 #

    Ok, I might have fixed it. I’ve lost the thumbs I think. Anyone care to let me know? ta.


  28. Liz February 24, 2013 at 14:45 #

    The thumbs are gone. Yeah!


  29. Liz February 24, 2013 at 14:58 #

    I agree.
    If you give in to a bully in any way, he’ll keep coming back to take your lunch money. Until you punch him in the nose. You might come off badly in that one fight, but next time, he’ll be more likely to pick on someone whom he considers an easier target.

    That’s how Finland kept a portion of its land when the Soviets invaded, and came out of it looking like Leonidas at Thermopylae, which changed the course of the war in many indirect ways.


  30. princesspixiepointless February 24, 2013 at 20:47 #

    Cool. Thanks Liz.


  31. Lovekraft February 24, 2013 at 22:02 #

    Wondering if you have a comment on how anti-bullying posters are in the color pink which, to me, denotes the gay camp. My take on this is that there is a subtle message being sent here: that if you are bullied, you must go along with the LGBT agenda. Also, that if you do not support that agenda, you are a bully.

    That, or this color has been chosen completely by chance. Yeah right.


  32. Passerby September 13, 2013 at 03:21 #

    Agree with dang near everything up there, but if I may pick a nit:
    “That means as long as a kid FELT like they had been bullied, it was treated as an episode of bullying.”
    If they were studying the long term psychological effects on victims, this is actually the correct definition to use; there have been studies, focusing on child abuse by parents, that show the effects of abuse are the same weather the treatment was “really” abuse as long as the child perceived it as such, likewise, children that were genuinely abused but didn’t think so (think children photographed naked who truly never cottoned on to something being amiss) showed the same psychological profile as unabused children.

    None of this is supposed to influence or supplant legal definitions of abuse, of bullying, but it is a necessary distinction if you’re going to study the emotional effects of victimhood.


  33. AvenueX April 21, 2014 at 22:34 #

    The posters are supposed to be in rainbow colors to denote gay camp.
    What is LGBT agenda? If we mention the radical notion that they deserve to be treated as equal human beings, that is a normal agenda.
    Opinions on same sex marriage may differ, though this topic is irrelevant to the problem of bullying.


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