Recreating cool – Stop Bullying Now

by Cynthia Roebuckcool to be kind

Bullying happens everywhere in classrooms and playgrounds in our youth’s lives, but also it is happening on our college campuses and even workplaces and our personal adult lives. Bullying has gained lots of recognition in the media with schools implementing anti-bulling programs. But most of these programs seem to attack the already developed behavior whereas addressing why the behavior was allowed to develop into a problem for society has less attention. In letters shared between Einstein and Freud, Freud argued that aggression was natural (Einstein & Freud, 1932), but behavior can be modified through social learning principles. Bandura posits that situational, cognitive, and reinforcement controls should be targeted instead of focusing on traits or historical reasons and brings to the topic Ackerman’s beliefs that the child acts out not because they are not loved, but because they cannot trust (Bandura, 1973, p. 245).

This points to the importance of the moral climate in a classroom, because this is where youth develop an understanding of what the social norms are for aggression, and it is an area in much need of research when considering the commonality across the world of school violence occurring (Alexitch, 2012, p.210).  Because most emerging adults socialize primarily in an electronic environment via text, chat, social media, and video games, they are faced with forms of indirect aggression in the form of social bullying called cyberbullying. This form of bullying involves directly telling a person they are not wanted, excluding them from group activities, ignoring, spreading rumors, keeping other friends away, and creating situations where the person will be embarrassed. This is understood to be a form of psychological violence carried out to inflict psychological harm onto another (StuartCassel, Terzain, and Bradshaw, 2013; Taki, Slee, Hymel, Pepler, Sim & Swearer, 2008).

Taki et al. did a longitudinal comparative study to determine the long-term effects of indirect aggression in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, and the United States (2008).  They found there to be long lasting psychological harm caused from indirect aggression, but because the scars were not visible proper attention to the seriousness of this behavior are not considered thoroughly enough ( p. 4).  They identify three forms — “membership, power of exchangeable status, and frequency of victimization” (p. 6), and it occurs in several scenarios — taking something away, teasing, ignoring, and exclusion (p. 7).  Interestingly enough, collectivist societies have given this type of bullying its own name — Japan: ijime and Korea: wang-ta.  Is cyberbullying a version of this in America?

Interventions to prevent bullying behavior from developing should be set in place at grade schools to encourage a collaboration amongst students in order to break down the social barriers by modifying aggressive behaviors in individuals through showing alternative ways to work together. This is why the jigsaw classrooms have been invited into places like Columbine in Colorado to try to counteract the negative effects of cliques (Gilbert, 2001).  Aronson was invited to Columbine to advise on a collaborative learning environment called the jigsaw classroom that restructures the classroom environment into smaller groups with students engaging with each other to collectively accomplish the requirements of the lesson instead of competing to be better than one another (McNulty, 2004).  The jigsaw classrooms have shown to change the attitudes of students and lead to behavioral change as stereotypes are discarded as classmates begin to see more than the one dimensional stereotype through interaction with one another (APA, 2015).  This approach to learning has also been found to be successful in undergraduate studies (Lom, 2012).

Together we can better identify and make known what bullying is, so we can remove any ambiguity surrounding recognizing direct and indirect aggressive bullying behavior.  If we do, then, the bystander effect where someone may not help will be reduced, because recognizing that a person is being bullied will easily be seen for what it is.  In the meantime, take a moment each day to do one random act of kindness through engaging with your environment.  Set an example that it is okay to care, and speak up…



Alexitch, L.R. (2012). Applying Social Psychology to Education in Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.) F.W. Schnedier, J.A. Gruman, & L.M. Coutts (Eds.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381.

APA. (2015). How to Build a Better Educational System: Jigsaw Classrooms. American Psychological Association. Retrieved 30 January 2015 from

Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression. Prentice-Hall. ISBN: 0-13-020743-8.

Einstein, A & Freud, S (1932). Why war? Einstein’s letter to Freud and Freud’s Response. Sequoia Free Press reprint 2010. ASIN: B003NZ932K.

Gilbert, S. (2001). A CONVERSATION WITH/Elliot Aronson; No One Left to Hate: Averting Columbines. New York Times.  Retrieved 23 March 2015 from

Lom, B. (2012). Classroom Activities: Simple Strategies to Incorporate Student-Centered Activities within Undergraduate Science Lectures. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 11(1), A64–A71.

Maryland GovPics. (2014). It’s Cool to be Nice. First Lady Katie O’Malley Attends a National Anti Bullying Event at Mother Seton Academy. Retrieved from

McNulty, J. (2004). Preventing Columbine: Psychologist Elliot Aronson delivers Faculty Emeritus Lecture February 11. UC Santa Cruz Currents Online. Retrieved from

Stuart-Cassel, V, Terzain, M, & Bradshaw, C. (2013). SOCIAL BULLYING: Correlates, Consequences, and Prevention. Safe Supportive Learning.  Retrieved 18 Feb 2015 from

Taki, M., Slee, P., Hymel, S., Sim, H-O, & Swearer, S. (2008). A New Definition and Scales for Indirect Aggression in Schools. International Journal of Violence and School. Retrieved 2 Feb 2015 from

Working Word. (2009). Anti-bullying Respect Tour 2009. Retrieved from

by Cynthia Roebuck
April 19, 2015

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1 comment

  1. Paul Michael Pozzi

    This topic has come up numerous times in our household as my wife is a teacher and has taught both regular education students at the secondary level and special education students at the elementary level. In stating that, we have had discussions on how bullying has evolved and changed in the 21st century and now encompasses technological social media that has yielded what we now know as cyberbullying. While I agree with almost all of the research and discussion here, through my discussion in our home I find there are other key elements that must be discussed as well in relation to this paradox our society faces. One of those key factors that my wife has brought up time and again is the role of the parents in the home.
    The dynamic of the “nuclear family” has been obliterated or abjectly disregarded on multiple levels and in undeniable ways. The youth of today are faced with more challenges and hurdles in their home lives than ever before. Divorce, abuse, single-parent homes, disengaged parents, and alternatively-lifestyled parents proliferate in children’s lives and our school systems. Not that any of these are inherently bad, or even less-than-ideal parenting strategies in the case of divorce, single-parent situations, and alternative lifestyles, but they do present additional hurdles for the children to overcome and challenges of understanding when considering the bulk of research seems geared toward addressing how schools can counter cyberbullying. Children see more violence on television and in social media, learn from parents who are abusive and known themselves to bully, or come home to parents who are disengaged and uninvolved on a daily basis. The list could go on and on. “Studies indicate that bullies often come from homes where physical punishment is used, where the children are taught to strike back physically as a way to handle problems, and where parental involvement and warmth are frequently lacking” (Banks, n.d.).
    I believe that in order to counter cyberbullying or any kind of bullying, we must seek to address the issue both in the school system through various programs as you addressed and also in the comfort of our own homes whether they be whole, broken, or something else entirely. The latter two are more difficult, since many times the very homes and families that need reached are the very ones that isolate themselves from the community due to expected cognitive dissonance (we all know abuse is wrong, yet some perpetrate it anyway) or social stigmas borne of public unfamiliarity. Homes where bullying is the norm itself.

    Banks, R. (n.d.). Bullying In Schools. ERIC Digest. Online, accessed 4/26/15 at

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