Can We Talk About Bullying?

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Bullying is one of those things that when it happens to the degree that a bullying incident goes viral, people are quick to comment, and rightfully condemn the act.  But when the judgement is done.  When the venting is done.  What has changed?  Maybe a policy here or there?  I don’t want to minimize that.  I’m appreciative of efforts to put a stop to bullying.  However, like many issues, when the next story hits, bullying recedes to the background. 

What is inspiring me to write this today is  not long ago I had the opportunity to observe a martial arts class at Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts as part of a web show I am hosting called Destination EB.  I was looking forward to the training aspects of the episode as I had studied Tae Kwon Do in college.  I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Sensei Andrew Katz incorporate confidence and self-defense against bullying into his teaching.  These are worthwhile messages for boys and girls to learn.

Around the time of the filming, there was an anti bullying commercial/PSA from Burger King that had gone viral.   It’s a good one and worth watching if you haven’t seen it.  In the commercial, the bullying is done by actors, but the “spectators” don’t know this.  In the ad, a high school junior and some hamburgers get bullied.  To our collective shame, 95 percent of the customers reported their damaged burger, while only 12 percent came to the high school junior’s aid.

That sounds really bad, and it is, but the truth is humans can have a predictable reaction when it comes to potentially dangerous, or simply situations where they don’t know what to do.  They can freeze.  Observing a bullying situation, psychology may trigger the fight or flight response, and in this particular situation, the safe thing may be to do nothing.

  • What do I do?
  • What if the bullies start verbally assaulting me?
  • What if it leads to a fist fight?
  • What if they’re a minor and they attack me and I hit them in self-defense and am accused of using too much force?
  • What if they have a weapon?

These are just an example of a handful of questions that may consciously or unconsciously race through a person’s mind, when witnessing bullying, that can paralyze an otherwise good person from taking action.

In clinical groups that I lead I have often said the worst time to prepare for an earthquake is in an earthquake.  I think that message applies to anti-bullying.  If we want to lower that 95% number we have to arm people with information.  The “see something, say something” of the Burger King PSA is a simple message.  It is a start.  But the conversation needs to continue.  More scenarios need to be thought and talked through with what is and is not an acceptable response.

For example, I recently was certified in CPR/First Aid for the first time in over ten years.  First thing the instructor does when I tell him when I was last certified is, he spreads his arms as wide as he could and said, ten years ago I could teach you this much.  He then narrows his arms to where his hands are practically touching, and says now I can teach you this much.  Why?  Because when good Samaritans make mistakes or are overly aggressive, bad things can happen.  People can get hurt or die, and well intended people, who were trying to help, can get sued.

That last sentence could just as easily apply to a good Samaritan responding to a bully.  It is not offered as an excuse to do nothing, rather as reason why some may not.

The dialogue and education have to continue as to how to appropriately intervene AND follow-up.  Follow up, (by the parents, guardians, teachers, etc.) is extremely important.  Otherwise, you can unintentionally make a bad situation worse.  How?  Bullies don’t like getting in trouble.  When they do, they may blame their intended victim, and intensify the bullying behavior the next chance they get.  This includes threats to the victim to keep quiet or else.  If the victim doesn’t trust whoever is in authority to adequately deal with the bully, then the victim will stay quiet.

What the bully and the victim have in common is the ability to put on a good front.  Parents, teachers etc., must be diligent to see through it and follow-up even if there isn’t any evidence on the surface.

The victim needs to feel safe.  The bully needs to be held accountable for his behavior.  Both need to be educated in their own way moving forward or each will face emotional and psychological ramifications effecting present and future relationships.  But we can’t educate either until we educate ourselves.

Here are some links to learn more:

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Material placed on this website by Jeff Schubert is for the purpose of providing information only. It is not intended as the practice of medicine or the provision of medical services. This site and it does not provide medical or mental health advice. Jeff Schubert makes no representation, express or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the information. The content provided by Jeff Schubert is not meant to be a substitute for medical or mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your provider or other healthcare professional with any question regarding any medical or mental health condition.

This website provides links to other websites. This website and its author, Jeff Schubert, have no control over these sites and makes no representations whatsoever about the accuracy of the information they contain. The fact that this website links to another site does not mean that this website or Jeff Schubert endorses or accepts any responsibility for the content of that site. If you choose to access any site for which this website provides a link, you do so at your own risk.

You Wished Me A Merry Christmas And It’s Okay!

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It is Saturday, December 23rd, 2017.  I just got back from the gym.  As I was leaving, the young man behind the counter wished me a merry Christmas.  Within half a second, he raised one hand, put the other over his mouth, and profusely apologized as if he uttered a slur of some kind, and said happy holidays.  He went on to say something about not being able to tell what I am or celebrate.  (I am more of a Festivus kind of guy these days)

Well, for the record, I am not Christian, and I do not celebrate the religious aspect of the holiday.  Growing up in New York City, I just knew Christmas as a time of year where:

  • Everyone seemed friendlier.
  • There were great cartoons.
  • There was a vacation from school.
  • And yes, presents.

So, even after I became aware of Christmas as a religious institution, I still looked it as holiday that you didn’t have to be Christian to like, appreciate, and enjoy!  I never viewed the wishing of a merry Christmas as an attempt to lure me into Christianity, or ignore the religion of my birth.  I received it with the intention that I perceived it to be given.

Now, there are racial and ethnic slurs that I understand why they’re so offensive, and why parents would raise their youth to understand why.  A well intended Merry Christmas does not fall into that category.  Nor should it be treated or responded to as if it were.  This young man behind the counter at my gym didn’t need to react as if he committed an unforgivable sin.

The country is still predominantly Christian, his intention was to wish me well.  If I didn’t want to recognize Christmas, I could have and would have politely pointed it out, but there would not have been any need for me to take any great offense to it.

Yes, over the years I have transitioned to the philosophy of when in doubt wish someone a happy holidays over a Merry Christmas.  And while I do think there is a time and a place for political correctness, I believe this would be an example of it going to far.

With that, and to all who celebrate it:

Merry Christmas!

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And to the rest,

Happy Holidays!

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The Religion Of Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry Neil deGrasse Tyson And Devotees of Science, but…

Just because Science doesn’t have a God.
Doesn’t mean it is not a religion.
Doesn’t mean that it is free of misinterpretation or miscommunication.
Doesn’t mean that it is free of bias.
Doesn’t mean that it is free of corruption or fraud
Doesn’t mean that it should not be questioned (even by the “uninitiated”).
Doesn’t mean that it is incapable of prejudice.
Doesn’t mean it speaks the truth because it says it speaks the truth.
Doesn’t mean that there is not a reliance on faith.
Doesn’t mean the phrase absolute power corrupts absolutely doesn’t apply.
Yes, Science deserve recognition for all of its accomplishments.
Yes, Science deserves a prominent seat at the table.
Just don’t tell me that nobody else can sit there.
That nobody can question you.
That your methods (even peer review) are beyond reproach or flaw.
Because then Science… Kinda of what you’re asking for…Is that we… the unenlightened… worship you.
Can you see the irony in that Science?
For even if Science is or ever becomes perfect…
Scientists are still human.
And all humans, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, are not.

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If you like this post some others of possible interest:

Why Science Is Never Settled by Robert E. Hampson PH.D.

The 7 Biggest Problems Facing Science According To 270 Scientists by Julia Belluz, Brad Plumer, and Brian Resnick

Peer review: a flawed process at the heart of science and journals by NCBI PMC

And here is a previous blog I wrote on my other website, ComingTogetherToFightCancer.Com: Respect Science But Do Not Worship It

What We Can Learn From Ellen Page Coming Out

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(c)kathclick/Bigstockphoto.com

Ellen Page’s coming out speech at the HRC’s Time to Thrive conference about her sexuality was moving, heartwarming and refreshingly authentic.  (See the video below) Among other things, she said:

“I’m tired of hiding and I’m tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered. My mental health suffered. My relationships suffered. I’m standing here today with all of you on the other side of that pain.”

These words are a reminder of the pain society is capable of inflicting on others.  And the pain we are capable of inflicting on ourselves.

This isn’t just about Ellen Page’s sexuality, or sexuality period.  Page provides a good reminder of society’s need to protect and perpetuate itself by conditioning its young to believe and behave in a certain way.

In opposition is the individual’s desire to express and be accepted for his or her uniqueness.  It’s an age-old battle born out of the need for survival, and of fear.  It will not be settled today.

When the conditioning doesn’t take or feel right to the individual, he or she is left to question:  do I, or how much of myself do I suppress for the sake of fitting in?  For the sake of survival?  Do I risk scorn?  My ability to provide for myself and my family?  Or  hurting the ones I love by expressing my individuality or that which I have felt the need to hide?

In her speech, Page alluded to years of succumbing to social pressures to behave and “represent” as being a person she was not.  She took responsibility for her fear and her lie, and admitted what the cost was.  She then courageously stepped forward.

Tomorrow, it may or may not cost her certain acting roles, and it may adversely affect a relationship or two.  But in the moment I’m guessing it felt quite liberating and a relief.

Hiding and lying by omission is not exclusive to sexuality.  Society puts pressure on us in many ways and in many forms.  Exerting pressure directly and indirectly on us to make certain choices and to look and behave a certain way.  It can be malevolent or benevolent, depending on the person or circumstance.  The intention is irrelevant from the point of view that when we succumb to this pressure, consciously or unconsciously, we give away a part of ourselves.  As was the case with Page, our spirits suffer, and our mental health suffers. That is the high price we pay if and when we disregard our emotional needs and our authentic self.

This isn’t a call for extreme selfishness, renouncing compromise or to break laws.  It is an invitation, to search ourselves and to be honest about who we are.  To see and measure if there is difference in who we are and what we put out in the world.  Where do we possibly sacrifice ourselves?  Not out of give and take compromise, but out of fear?  Out of selling ourselves out.  Not for survival but a superficial need.  What do we think we need to survive but in truth do not?  How in or out of sync is our internal and external self?  If we are out of sync, the questions are: by how much? At what expense?  Are we deluding ourselves with negotiations that state something to the effect of, “I’ll be myself when…”  However, does that “when” date always seems to get pushed down the road?

“Coming out”, is a phrase typically reserved for a woman or a man announcing that she or he has a same-sex sexual preference.  However, any of us that hide a true part of ourselves is capable of having a coming out moment.

It doesn’t always have to be a speech, and it doesn’t always have to be public.  It starts with you.  With being honest with yourself.  With weighing the cost of coming out, and doing what is right for you, when it is right for you, and with whom, versus living a life as someone or something less that what you want to be.

Depending on one’s circumstances, coming out can come with emotional, social and financial risk.  These consequences should not be taken lightly.  Nor should the consequences of not coming out.

The result of assuming one’s true self does always have to be negative.

Perhaps Ellen Page will experience an inner peace she has never known.   Existing relationships with some maybe become healthier and stronger.  And or new ones may form as well.  Those acting roles she might miss out on?  I am guessing there will be new roles and opportunities that will come her way that would not have otherwise.    Whether they will pay as much or do as well at the box office I do not know, but I’ll bet they are  more fulfilling, and without the spiritual suffering.  How much is all of this worth?

**THE ABOVE REPRESENTS MY PERSONAL OPINION.  I AM NOT A LICENSED THERAPIST.  ANY WORDS IN THIS BLOG ARE NOT MEANT TO, NOR SHOULD THEY REPLACE THAT OF A DOCTOR OR LICENSED MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.**

Stupid Facebook Post

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I was scrolling down my facebook page and read the following:

“For those of you having a drink tonight in Santa Monica we have a DUI checkpoint on ******* just south of ******* Blvd. You’re welcome!”

I intentionally left out the streets because I do not want to be guilty of the same act as the author of the post. 

You see there is a reason why drinking and driving is illegal.  There is a reason there are checkpoints.  And it is not to be a buzz kill.  It is to prevent people from killing others while driving intoxicated.

Maybe tonight, maybe someday in the future, someone will die because of this facebook post.  Am I being overdramatic?  Perhaps.  But fates could be changed by this post.  With all of the “likes” and comments received by it, there could be those altering their routes home tonight.  An accident that may not have occurred, might. 

Some, who may have received a ticket, will not.  Maybe if they had received a DUI, or DWI, this person would never drink and drive again.  Not receiving it, this person may go on to drink and drive for years, and one day get in an accident that takes out an individual, or maybe a family.

Fate is a strange thing.  I must acknowledge, that any fate altering comment or event has the potential to change things for “good” or “bad”.  Someone who otherwise would have gone out, could read what I call a stupid facebook post and for whatever reason decide not to go out.  Or decide not to drink since they can’t avoid that particular intersection.  Thus maybe saving a life.

However, we collectively come up with mores and laws with the greater good in mind.  Remove all DUI checkpoints and do you think that would have a positive or negative impact on fatalities due to drunk driving?

I get it.  Many of us don’t like rules, laws, or paying taxes.  But if we knew every enforcement mechanism in advance what would that do to the stability of our everyday life?  To our overall safety?  To our economy?  To our survival as individuals and as a society?

Sadly, it is the randomness of legal enforcement measures, not a moral sense of right and wrong, that keeps many of us in line.  Remove that randomness from the equation by telling us where all of the “checkpoints” are and things will break down.

Tonight, there is at least one checkpoint that will not be as effective as it might have been.  And for this we should thank the person who posted it on Facebook?  Somehow I don’t see anyone associated with Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers “liking” this post.

I hope it’s worth the cool points he’s getting with his FB “friends”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Would You Do? A Question About Guns

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Fox NewsBill O’Reilly asked NBC’s Bob Costas if he was in that movie theater in Aurora Colorado when the mass shooting occurred, on the night of the last Batman premiere, would he prefer to have had a gun to protect himself or be defenseless hiding on the floor, hoping not to be killed?

Before I go on, here is the back-story:

In the wake of the murder suicide perpetuated by Kansas City Chiefs football play Jovan Belcher on December 1st, comments were made by NBC analyst Bob Costas during the broadcast of Sunday night football that has since sparked more debate and controversy than the heinous crime itself.  Costas was paraphrasing parts of an article written by FOXSports.com writer Jason Whitlock in which he talks about the culture of guns and that if Belcher didn’t have a gun, two more people would be alive.

Without taking sides on gun control, I can say that I do think it was inappropriate for Costas to comment when and how he did.  He was in fact “politicizing” an issue in a moment of mourning when the wounds of the tragedy were still open and sensitive to the touch.  Regardless of how you feel about the gun issue, in grand moments, when an issue captures national attention, and is of emotional concern, to borrow a sports term, it is time for a timeout, from where we disagree.

It should be a moment of coming together.  With the right sensitivity, the togetherness of the moment could then possibly be used as a means of having that serious conversation of how we can learn and improve things.  In this case, not only as it pertains to guns, but also mental illness and domestic violence.

If you’re reading this and are anti-gun or in favor of repealing the second amendment, imagine how you would have felt if instead of stating that Belcher and his girlfriend would still be alive if he didn’t have a gun, Costas spent a minute stating that Kasandra Perkins might still be alive if only she had a gun to protect herself?  Those comments would not have been appropriate either.

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I applaud Costas’ intentions.  The criticism he has faced is overstated but that is a byproduct of the sheer volume of the transmedia we have today.  It is just the way it is anytime someone veers off the politically correct course.

This criticism landed Costas in a chair opposite Bill O’Reilly and the question O’Reilly posed at the beginning of this blog.  Costas said he wouldn’t want a gun.  O’Reilly said he would.

Now that the proverbial can of worms is open, I will dive in.

My comment is this, the question posed by O’Reilly is incomplete and I would like to add another scenario.  Your choice is: to not have a gun, or for everyone in the theater to have a gun.

In this scenario maybe James Holmes never attacks that night.  But for the moment since he had body armor and superior weaponry lets assume he did.  My next question for the gun carrying audience is how well trained are they with their guns?  How accurate a shot are they?  How do they respond under this type of pressure?  Do they have an itchy trigger finger?   How will each individual respond to the shock of initial gunfire?  Will they know, immediately, who the attacker is, or might they mistake a fellow theatergoer as the attacker and shoot at them?  Or maybe they know who the attacker is but a stray bullet finds an unintended target.

The pro gun crowd likes to talk about personal responsibility and remove blame from guns.  Okay Bill O’Reilly.  If you’re in that theater and you’re carrying a gun and stand up and shoot me instead of James Holmes, you should go to jail for involuntary manslaughter and my family is suing you for wrongful death.  While I do respect your right to bear arms, you do also bear the responsibility of your actions.

Like many issues, spanning from dependency on foreign oil, social security, and immigration, gun control and its myriad of issues keeps getting kicked down the road.

And while Costas’ timing was admittedly off, he and Whitlock raise valid points about the gun culture, so rather then let that timing obscure the issue, can we have that conversation now?  Can we take action now?  Not to repeal the 2nd amendment, (I support it) but to evaluate and update its regulation, education, and enforcement?

Last question.  If you were in a movie theater.  One that was going to be attacked by a man in bulletproof body armor and assault weapons.  Would you rather everyone in that theater had a gun or that everyone did not?

What Do Guns And Marijuana Have In Common?

In the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora Colorado, at the midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, early Friday July 20th, I couldn’t help but notice the back and forth twitter and facebook chatter regarding gun control. Good, passionate people on both sides using the events of the shooting to prove their point. On the one side, “if guns were illegal or harder to get, this wouldn’t happen”. On the other side, “if you make guns illegal, criminals and nuts will still get their hands on them leaving innocent people unable to defend themselves”.

Generally speaking, it is my friends on the left that support gun control, and it is my friends on the right that support the full expression of the 2nd amendment to the constitution.

This is where marijuana comes in, and where we see a reversal of logic used to argue in favor for or against.

With marijuana, it is my friends on the left that point out that:

  • The war on drugs has failed.
  • That we cannot stop those who want to use marijuana from using it.
  • That by legalizing it, we can greatly reduce the influence of drug dealers.

Further, we can tax it, regulate it, make it safer to consume, and so on. However, my friends on the right point out the ills of marijuana and how it hurts people, contributes to the moral bankrupting of America and on and on.

So, if prohibition didn’t work. If according to the right, gun control wouldn’t work. And if according to the left (and most others) the war on drugs is not working, why do we have this inconsistency in applied reasoning?

Perhaps those that support easy access to guns would argue that there are valid legal uses for guns such as hunting and defense. However, marijuana does have medicinal uses and is capable of being used in moderation.

The point here is if regulation, taxation, and legalization are good for one, because it makes it safer, more controllable and produces revenue, while a ban is impractical, because those who want it would get it anyway, how is it not so for the other?

I’m not saying you can’t argue for or against marijuana or guns for other reasons. Nor have I expressed my opinion on either in this blog. I just felt it necessary to point out this glaring hypocrisy of reasoning.

In the absence of, or while in pursuit of stricter gun control, and in light of the failing war on marijuana, perhaps some of the energy put forth to criminalize the behavior and demonize those with whom you disagree would be better spent looking for warning signs of abuse, disengagement or aberrant behavior. Or to put it more simply, guns and marijuana aren’t going anywhere, so the question is, what is the best way to deal with it, regulate it and keep everybody safe?

Doesn’t that seem more prudent than slinging arrows or pointing out extreme nonsensical statements hyper partisans posted on their twitter and facebook pages?

What Angers Me About Jerry Sandusky and the Penn State Scandal

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Before I get to a point I do not hear anyone talking about I must begin with what everyone is talking about. What Jerry Sandusky was convicted of are heinous crimes that should never happen. And if everything alleged in the Freeh report is true, it is doubling sickening. A violent crime against an innocent child breaks my heart. A preventable violent crime against a child enrages it. I hope the victims have found or will find peace and are able to move forward in their lives in a positive way.

Now that I said what must and should be said, here is what I really want to add to the discussion. Physical and sexual abuse of children occurs on a daily basis in this country. Where is the outrage for all of the other Sandusky’s of the country and those that enable them? Where is the sympathy and calls for justice for all of the other victims?

In the Penn State scandal, there is seemingly as much or more outage directed at the late Joe Paterno, and the Penn State administration that enabled and or could have prevented what transpired, as there is for the perpetrator himself. I am not here to defend them. But what about judges in states like Vermont and others that do not have Jessica’s Law? (Mandatory sentencing for child sex offenders) That give no, or minimal prison time to convicted child sex offenders who repeat their offenses? Where is the outrage towards them??? Where are the calls for change??? These are judges!!! Not a football coach. Not an athletic director. Judges!!! I am not suggesting we lower the standard that we hold the people of Penn State, rather that we elevate the standard we hold judges that are too lenient.

I do not want to debate Jessica’s Law specifically, but can we agree that it is reprehensible for a judge to give zero prison time, or a few months to a convicted child sex offender? Can we agree that states that do not already do so, implement laws that prevent this?

Understandably the Sandusky case has received a lot of coverage in the sports world because it occurred at a major college program, seemingly and disturbingly with the knowledge of a legendary football coach. I believe that the outrage expressed by all to be sincere. However, lets not let it go when this news cycle ends and the next story descends upon us.

Yes bringing this case to light is good. Punishing Sandusky is right, as is compensating the victims. But the calls to give Penn State “the death penalty”, which I do not have a problem with, will not help the children in states, without adequate laws, become victims of tomorrow.

While the spotlight is still on the issue and has the public’s attention and outrage, I call upon the worldwide leader in sports, ESPN, to take a stance outside of its realm. First Take, Skip Bayless, Steven A. Smith, PTI, Mike and Mike, and all the rest to join with child advocates like Oprah Winfrey, John Walsh and Bill O’Reilly.

Perhaps if sports, entertainment and news… people of different political ideologies can come together on this, not only will we protect children on major college campuses but also we can protect more children everywhere.