Welcome to my blog.

I am currently a graduate student working on a dissertation that will research the long term effects of bullying on the victims. Who do the victims become in adulthood and what impact did the victimization have on the choices made in adulthood. Most people can point to anecdotal examples, i.e. the skinny/obese child who became a bodybuilder/martial arts expert or the “ugly duckling” who underwent plastic surgery to become the beautiful swan, but is that the norm or outliers?

At this point in my search I haven’t found much research covering this topic or information about support for adults who were victimized as children.

It is my hope that out of my research I will be able to not only open doors to further research in this area, but also uncover replicateable interventions that can be used to help those children currently suffering from victimization and hopefully to launch support group and treatment methods for those adults who were victimized.

As I read through the different journal articles, Masters thesis’s, Doctoral dissertations, published books, and intervention programs I will post my thoughts, comments, and critiques. I welcome any constructive input from the readers, as well as any stories of your personal experiences that you don’t mind sharing. I do want to note, that while it is my hope that anyone reading this site will benefit from it, this site is in no way a replacement for therapy, is not a formal support group or therapy group, and I am in no way your therapist.

This forum offers NO CONFIDENTILITY.

If you would like further information on finding support in your area, I would be more than happy to help you look, though at this point my searches haven’t turned up a whole lot.

That all being said, it is now time for me to begin.

Thank you sincerely,

R. Brian Salinas, MA
Psy.D. (candidate)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review: Why School Antibullying Programs Don’t Work

By: Stuart W. Twemlow and Frank C. Sacco
Citation info:
Twemlow , S। W. & Sacco, F. C. (2008). Why School Antibullying Programs Don’t Work. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield

The authors of this book set out to explain why even the best anti-bullying programs have only met with moderate success (see 12-19-08 blog post). The authors have extensive experience researching this topic, having studied schools in the United States, Jamaica, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally, they have studied affluent public and private schools as well as low socioeconomic status (SES) schools.

The authors introduce a new theoretical approach, which they have dubbed “community psychoanalysis.” Twemlow and Sacco (2008) explain that Community Psychoanalysis uses psychodynamic principles in the understanding of tendencies and instances of social deviance in large groups. This theoretical approach was developed to understand the power dynamics as they occur in the larger social context (Twemlow & Sacco, 2008). They posit that in order for any changes to be sustainable, a process needs to be implemented and consistently followed over time (Twemlow & Sacco, 2008).

In their book, Twemlow & Sacco (2008) discuss thirteen fallacies around bullying. The fallacies they discuss are: (1) This school is too good or too bad; (2) School violence is someone else’s problem; (3) Zero tolerance reduces destructive decisions; (4) Size of school matters; (5) Today’s kids are no different from when we were young; (6) Eliminating the bully solves the problem; (7) More money leads to more peaceful schools; (8)Lack of physical violence means a school is safe; (9)Bullying is just a kid thing; (10) Focusing problem kids will improve school climate; (11) Quick fixes , cookbooks, and programs can solve problems; (12) One program fits all; and (13) Violence is an infection that must be eliminated (Twemlow & Sacco, 2008).

After the fallacies, Twemlow & Sacco (2008) explain the critical steps necessary for the creation of an effective violence protection program. The steps discussed were titled: (1) Buy in; (2) Feeling Safe; (3) Understanding power issues, power struggles, and power dynamics; (4) Pathological bystander; (5) Natural leadership, Mentalization, Altruism, and school change; (6) Hidden Problems: the Undiscussables; (7) Evaluation, Communication between disciplines and accountability (8) The people we work with (Twemlow & Sacco, 2008). For a detailed description of these topics please refer to their book.

To summarize the message of the book, to stop the violence in schools you need the active buy in, of not just the teachers, but students, administrators, parents, and the community. Ultimately, the issue of school violence, be it overt or covert, direct or indirect, is the responsibility of the community. Twemlow & Sacco (2008) point out that teachers can be bullied by students, parents, and administrators; and this needs to be addressed as part of the plan for creating a safe environment. If the teacher doesn’t feel safe, then how can they help the children feel safe.

At no point in this book do the authors push any particular plan over others. Their main point is that you need to work with your team to find, or create, a plan that best meets the individual needs of your school. They stress there is no short term fix, that all efforts must be done with the idea of a long term commitment, and all members of the team must work to create an atmosphere in which each team member feels free to discuss the issues at hand, no matter how undiscussable they may be.

A community created the situation, and a community will change it. Twemlow & Sacco (2008) point out that by creating an environment where coercive behavior has been reduced or eliminated, then you will find racism will significantly decline. Finally, throughout the entire book, the authors stress to create the program before something drastic and potentially fatal happens.

I would recommend this book as part of any person’s library if they are serious about helping in the fight against bullying.


  1. I agree to what is said here, it really comes down to a community problematic atmosphere. However, the school should always try to protect what is within its doors and school property. Schools can implement a program, and they don't use it well enough to achieve a goal. Teachers can also be bullies to the children, and vice versa. I have encountered many different situations that bullies related back to a drug problem and were venting, or abuse at home and they needed to release that stress, it just so happened it was a child in their way. Females as I have come to learn are far more ferocious with the psychological aspect of bullying and harrassing behavior. I do think it stems from abuse, I agree with Elizabeth Bennet when saying that peer abuse needs to be known for what it is. Peers range from administration on down to students. We are all peers in a community, but it takes active willingness to look at this issue to its depths. So many excuses for why this abuse is appropriate in the school setting, it will toughen them up, yet when you study psychology, we learn that some kids grow up to be more sensitive, and they just lack the ability to stand up for themselves. Is it a parents fault they raised a loving child, who might be a little more shy, maybe. But it doesn't excuse the abuse they endure in the school setting. And just to be clear here, not all the abuse happens from peers at school. Some happens in the community at large, and filters into schools. The biggest thing I have seen so far is laws that get passed, school boards that pass policy due to the law, but are not following through with the process. Most schools here in Iowa send out a letter to parents advising them of their policy that is set and those schools tend to handle things well. Others that aren't proactive in knowing their students, are falling behind. Things change over time, if enough persistence is visible and there is no quick fix, only through education and time can we truly fix this problem. These children have to be educated about what it is, and how it affects people. We don't want something to happen at all in our schools, and some I have pointed out simple steps to find those that are hurting. The simplicity of finding those students was rather amazing to them. Most school officials just don't find the time to get out there and know there students. It is so easy to notice differences in a child, if you are actively involved, if you promote a safe place. As I say that I also realize that has to come from home too. They share some good point here. Thank you.

  2. Hello PCH,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and for posting your comments/feedback. All comments and feedback is appreciated.

    Schools are the front line in the war against bullying. You are correct that teachers, counselors, and administrators in schools aren’t fully aware of what is happening. Hazler and Miller (2001) conducted a study researching how effective school personnel were at recognizing bullying behavior. Their results indicated that the school personnel tended to rate physical conflicts as bullying even when they didn’t fit the definition (Hazler and Miller, 2001). I will be posting a full critique of the article later this week.

    The community aspect of the problem is the harder piece to fix. Our society is built on competition and there is a social and economic hierarchy. These elements create power differentials, and once you have power differentials you have the appropriate element needed to create the breeding ground for bullying. So, with things the way they are, how do we implement change? How do you change a whole city, county, state, or country?

    In my opinion, and this is only an opinion, I feel we should start with providing teachers the support they need to feel safe in their schools. I believe, and hopefully will come across the research to support this, that if teachers felt safe in their schools, there would be a reduction in the incidents of teachers bullying students.

    For a number of the cases, on both the bully’s and the victim’s sides, there is research to support the thinking that home troubles lend themselves to being a bully or a victim, but there are also studies that encountered different results. Since I haven’t finished reading through those articles yet and don’t as of now have any strong ones to reference I will refrain from going further on this particular topic.

    Again, thank you for dropping by and posting your comment. Please feel free to continue doing so.



    Citation Information:

    Hazler, R. J., Miller, D. L., (2001). Adult recognition of school bullying situations. Educational Research Vol. 43, No. 2, pp 133-146

  3. Hi, I appreciate this article. I am seeing many try and tackle this problem but are looking for quick fixes. How are we to try and solve something that we have no understanding of?

    Yes, this is a community issue and I mention this in my book. We are so focused on the school setting and bullying that we are not looking outside of that. This occurs anywhere two or more peers congregate. This is at work, church, soccer, Civitans.....its not just school. As a result, communities need to start getting educated. Take this seriously and see this for what it is: ABUSE! As long as we use this term "bullying" I feel people are not going to take this seriously. It gets put in terms of abuse like rape and child abuse and whala! We have a clinical situation here and not just "Johnny taking milk money from Susie. Now lets give it back and make nice". We need to be reaching society itself. Not just limit it to schools. I have said this over and over and OVER ad nauseum and maybe one day, someone will hear me.

    I appreciate what is being done and those taking the initative have their hearts in the right place. However, to solve anything, you have to understand what you are dealing with in the first place.

    As for zero tolerance, don't even get me started. Ever seen the movie "Bang Bang! You're Dead?" I highly recommend this as it shows what a load of crap this really is. I do not buy into zero tolerance whatsoever.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your blog. Its much appreciated.

  4. How do you get a community to change? Yeah that remains a hard topic. The government within a city has to take a stand for one, and it will filter down. Everything today is motivated through politics. However, not everyone is going to view the change as good, but if you have a majority, then change can happen. Brian my blog is I am I guess what everyone refers as a survivor to this type of behavior. I have sent my story out to the main group, but it is getting closer to done. Good things will come in time, and with a stance from our government. What is important is that we are able to identify these victims of this behavior before worse things happen. I think schools need to be shocked to support their staff as well, but not all teachers should teach either. and youll see why. Anyways, if you ever want an interview with me feel free. I have nothing but time, and everything to say.