Bullies On Parade

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Last week in Lakeland, Florida, six cheerleaders beat another squad member unconscious for reportedly talking smack on MySpace. There were no pom poms or dance batons involved, just lots of punches and angry tongue-lashes.

The attackers, who range in age from 14 to 17, filmed their assault with the apparent intent of posting it on YouTube. And the victim is still recovering from a concussion, and her hearing and vision on her left side have been damaged. As painful as the footage is to swallow, it underscores the intersection of bullying, pack mentality and exhibitionism.

Rosalind Wiseman, founder of the Empower Program and author of the book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence, joins us today to dissect bullying behavior. If you've been involved in a similar incident, on either side, or if you have questions about this story, leave your comments here.



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I was intermittently bullied in a famous eastern US blue-blood private high school, consistently by two persons -- a couple of times in a locker room with various kicks to the groin, and once on a bus under the full scrutiny of the team coach. In the latter incident a fellow sitting on the bench seat behind mine wiped his rear end with his finger and stuck it in my mouth. It was all I could do to refrain from biting this "star player's" finger off, but I knew for a fact that any disciplinary action in this incident would fall heavily on me.

I don't know what else I can offer except that the effects of that sort of thing linger. Mild residual resentment at such instances has stuck with me for years, although subsequent very positive social experiences in college eventually reduced my raging distrust of most to a manageable subliminal instinct. Still, when the high-school Alma Mater calls soliticing contributions, I simply brush them off.

Sent by Name Withheld | 3:07 PM | 4-9-2008

Calling this bullying makes it sound less horrible than the reality of what was happening. This is assault, plain and simple.

Sent by Christine | 3:38 PM | 4-9-2008

One thing that has to be mentioned is the fact that these girls bullied to gain more popularity and "respect" among their peers, and unfortunately, they DID achieve this. The mean girls always end up being the popular girls. (See more here: http://jezebel.com/377308/the-meanest-girls-at-school-are-often-the-most-popular)

Sent by Viv | 3:47 PM | 4-9-2008

The bullies on parade and the story of the detainee are very much related. What are we teaching our children in this country but that to bully others is okay. Our government does it so why can't our kids? This makes me totally embarrassed to be an American and that makes me very sad because in most cases I am proud to be an American. These girls are a symptom of a sick country in my opinion.

Sent by Ellen Ulrich | 3:47 PM | 4-9-2008

I saw a portion of the video on my local news yesterday (Tuesday) and immediately talked to my 12 year old daughter about it. She told me that she wasn't surprised at all about it happening and that she knew some girls at her school that would do the same! After a bit more dialogue, I was happy to hear my daughter say that (among other things) she felt this was a total lack of respect towards others. I couldn't agree more.

Sent by Corina | 3:51 PM | 4-9-2008

The military has blanket parties that were used for correcting the behavior of one individual in a group. Although I did not participate in the activities, I know they did happen. This is just an extreme example of a group correcting the actions of an individual.

Sent by Bob | 3:52 PM | 4-9-2008

I always worry when adolescent problems are labeled "new" or blame is assigned to new technology. In 1968, in an all-girls religious school in NYC, I was chased through the school by a girl whose ex-boyfriend I dared to date. She had three friends and a switchblade with her. I excaped harm by begging a teacher to allow me into a locked classroom. The teacher did nothing because she didn't believe me and no way did I tell my parents about the incident.

Sent by Roberta | 3:54 PM | 4-9-2008

parents, parents, parents!

I've worked in high schools for some time and the students involved in this type of gross misbehavior have too much money, too much time, too much entertainment and too little parenting. (NOTE: divorce REDUCES the amount of parenting dramatically!)
It seems that no one has the courage to declare a VACATION from allowances, mobile phones, and computers--and of course automobile priveieges are OPTIONAL.
Doing ones job in school is getting harder all of the time--it often seems that we're the only ones trying to civilize the feral teens

Sent by Homebuilding | 3:56 PM | 4-9-2008

If the schools and staff don't make reducing violence in school a priority I doubt much will change? We have to accept that some parents will not manage their childrens' behavior.

Sent by Tony | 3:56 PM | 4-9-2008

It amazes me to hear the author advise a teen to find "one adult" that they can trust and confide in. Where are the parents? The humanist agenda that pervades society and the public schools has failed miserably and it is time America wakes up and rejects the ideology that got us to the place we are today. Look clearly at the humanist manifesto from the 1930s and you will see where this thought began. We have never put our children into this cesspool, but the stink permeates the entire society.

Sent by Concerned Mother | 3:56 PM | 4-9-2008

I've been waiting for the topic on TOTN. Thank goodness I'm listening. I have the Queen Bees book and think it should be mandatory reading for parents, teachers, and anyone working with this age group to read. My daughter endured this in 5th grade. The Queen Bee's mother was an "involved" parent and well-liked at school and was in total denial that her daughter was capable of doing this. The principal just looked the other way when I brought this to her attention as did the teacher. He just figured it was "girls being girls" to which I tried to enlighten him. It was an awful year, but somehow my daughter endured this year. She's finally in middle school which, amazingly, seems refreshing even though she deals with other difficulty issues but has found a group of girls she feels comforable with.
In retrospect, I should have taken my daughter out of the school and home-schooled her for the duration, but then I felt maybe I was making too much of something. I was concerned about any backlash she might be subject to if/when she returned to school.
Thank you so much for this very important topic. If you are ever in Benicia, California, please be sure the Superintendent insists on all teachers attend this and address this head-on.

Sent by kimberly | 3:58 PM | 4-9-2008

I agree with the teacher that called earlier that said this happens more often in upper income schools. I transferred to a school across town, when I was in high school, because I could not stand the amount of gossip that was in the school. At the school I transferred to, no one cared and it was great.

Sent by Carol Weaver | 3:58 PM | 4-9-2008

Do parents not raise their kids any more? Too many parents cave to their kids' demands from an early age. Maybe busy parents feel guilty for not paying their children enough attention. The parents attempt to buy their kids' love and cooperation with gadgets. What happened to parents teaching rights and responsibilities? It's unpleasant to live in a society with so many ignorant, self centered, young and old people.

Sent by Bob | 4:00 PM | 4-9-2008

Please tell me that these criminals will get punished. Please tell me they are going to be taken to court and held responsible for this. Please tell me that they will do time. I can't believe so many parents are so incredibly inept. These parents are so clueless it makes me want to do to the parents what these girls did to their peer. These girls don't need counseling they need their asses kicked!!

Sent by Frank | 4:00 PM | 4-9-2008

Neal made a toss off comment that "One would like to believe high school has changed". I would have liked to hear the guest elaborate on that. I am a mid boomer and I most certainly recall incidents every bit as ugly as the one being discussed. The tabloid nature of our culture draws more attention to these incidents but does anyone truly believe this a brand new phenomana?

Sent by bill | 4:02 PM | 4-9-2008

In this program, Wiseman misses the mark right in the first 2 minutes of the interview. Right before discussing the true root of the problem: Parents becoming less and less involved in the lives of their kids, she throws Reality Television under the blame bus. It's not video, and it's not music, indeed.

We need more parents and advocates to push the point that we need to be more involved in the lives of our kids, and not blame the media du jour.

I applaud the fact that this message was put into the spotlight in the interview, but have to blow the whistle on the emphasis on reality TV.

Sent by Matt Synborski | 4:02 PM | 4-9-2008

What effect do you think the video will have on other teenage girls? While the video is being played on news stations, do you think other teenage girls will think, "This is wrong" and cause them to not be so aggresive, or do you think some girls might see this and copy such actions because the other girls have become "infamous"?

Sent by Jared | 4:03 PM | 4-9-2008

I was a cheerleader in high school for a year and a half. After football season during my sophomore year, the gossip and the catty-ness of my squadmates was too much and I quit. I know it's a stereotype, but it generally seems to be true that cheerleaders are mean and self-centered.

Sent by Meghan | 4:10 PM | 4-9-2008

I wish I could have tuned in the whole discussion but caught just a bit during a Post Office run for the office (Board of Education). We were discussing this situation in our school district (our local newspaper did a spread on 'mean girls' just last Wednesday because of bullying as well as bad behavior on myspace,etc., in our small town of Taylorsville, KY - outside of Louisville). When I mentioned that I tried to warn people back when the President started pushing internet and computers for every student that it was a mistake, one co-worker suggested that kids would do these things even without the internet. I agree, but seeing others do these things makes it more acceptable -- just like broadcasting coverage of the school shootings from across the country brought out more. I hope to find Ms Wiseman's book as well as hear the rest of the interview to see what our principals can do to help our kids.

Sent by Bonnie | 4:58 PM | 4-9-2008

after listening to this segament, I looked further into this story reading the related articles and video the sheriff released, and I was left torn and brused, and felt so heartbroken that these children have fallen so far. And yes, I had a visceral anger rage up inside me against these girls. I have a 19 year old boy and one day at his apartment I noticed a marker board with a derogatory " joke/ comment/ graphic" about a female friend in his group. I inquired about this and the meaning of it. He brushed it off and basically scoffed that she was in on the joke and was part of the gang that it was his other friend doing and saying it. I was saddened and angry and calmly expained what i expected of him and how disrespecful it was to her and how he should know.

My son is a responsible young man going to collage, working part time, renting a studio unit from his father next door and has real goals and ambition. I always spoke to him about behavior and responsabilities and thought, between his father and I, we had covered most everything. So I ask how can such a pitfall be within his character? he had no real response to my talk but a sheepish "yeah". After some weeks of being disturbed, and much critical thought , I sarted to see ways in which he had fallen into being part of the pack by default or hiding behind the excuse " It wasn't me...it was him". I decided to sit down and write him a letter. In it I expalined he should not assume the girl was ok with it, told the possible after effects it may have in shaping her self esteem later in life, wether she was aware of it or not. More importantly I felt it was a failure on his part to be a follower by participating or, at the very least, to not do anything(as he claims) and allow that behavior around him and in his house. Worse, was that it was a lost opportunity for him to be a leader and stand for somthing by insisting his friends be respectful and hold his ground if they balk or walk.

Saddly I put this letter aside unfuinished and unsent for other "pressing matters". After this show, I have resolved to finish this letter and give it to him and have a further discussion face to face after he has had time to read and digest what I have to say.
Thank you for reminding me of my responsiblilty as a parent and the ledership I need to show by example, by word, by timely interjection.
Richmond, CA.

Sent by Doris Bergman | 5:33 PM | 4-9-2008

Well, well, well. The parents of these kids must be REAL proud of their young offsprings. Where were they? Hmmm. . . now let me guess, they can't believe their precious "darlings" would do this? OMG! Yep! Video proof! A little late for parenting as these fine young teens must answer assault charges in acourt of law for their action and have their (s)MUG shots for all the world to see. Did it ever occur to these kids how their actions would affect the rest of their lives? Was it ever explained? Maybe or maybe not. What a shame. Hope other teenagers learn from this or face the consequences for their negative actions.

Sent by Max | 5:57 PM | 4-9-2008

Where were the parents? Or any adult for that matter? I have been out of high school for 30 years and bullying went on like this when I went BUT it seemed as though a parent or teacher or some adult was just a scream away back then. I certainly hope this is a wake-up call for some parents - your children do not need to be home alone even if they are in high school.

Sent by Gena M | 6:26 PM | 4-9-2008

If this would have been a story about 6 boys and not girls, would this be such a big story? "the outsiders", "rumble fish" or "west side story". Boys and girls have been fighting all the way back to Cain and Able. The rules of the playground have been around forever. It doesn't make it right, but we have to let the kids know what is right and wrong.

Sent by Dave Schuhart | 8:05 PM | 4-9-2008

Viewing human brutality is an opportunity to see clearly the impact our difficult emotions can have on ourselves each other. Each of us can be a positive model to each other in always choosing speech that our young people can learn from. Radio callers, authors and journalists, especially, can do so much by using speech that supports young people in seeing their emotions clearly and finding a better way to express them. By using "trash talk" themselves, as when the high school teacher described leaving the profession before he killed one of them (a student) and then the author laughing about that, we as adults are missing the effect that speech has on each other, just as is done so frequently as entertainment on "reality" TV. Each one of us can raise the bar for our young people by watching how we speak about difficult situations.

Sent by Hilary | 9:25 PM | 4-9-2008

This is a painful topic for many listeners I imagine. There is nothing new about this, I am in my thirties and was bullied relentlessly all through school. I was particularly enraged by the "find one adult" bit. That adult cannot help unless they have equal power and prestige to the bully's parents. My own father being a teacher at my high school could not even help me. When the choice between believing me and going up against the school board came I was thrown under the wheels. As I was ostracized by false allegations I was told not to make a fuss. When ever I think I have finally gotten beyond this period of my life a story like this runs and I know it will aways haunt me, or at least help put my therapists kids through college.

Sent by Kara | 9:55 PM | 4-9-2008

this is the behavior of girls? what ever happened to raising young ladies? The world has made a very sad turn. Parents cater to their unruly children and discipline is a word of the past.

Sent by Kate | 12:29 AM | 4-10-2008

This is nothing new. I have known several teens that videotape themselves and their friends beating other kids just so they can post it on some video site. Bullying is not going away but IMO sites like YouTube need to start putting limits on what they accept on their sites. Some sort of consequence needs to happen to people that just go out doing stuff like this so they can tape it and put it on the internet. It's easy enough to get people's IP addresses. Pretty soon you're going to start seeing rape and murder videos on YouTube if there aren't any there now.

Sent by Lora | 5:41 AM | 4-10-2008


Sent by ANGELA JOVINELLY | 8:29 AM | 4-10-2008

I am so tired of adults that act like these incidents are new and unusual. kids have been fighting and Bullying for as long as there have been schools. The truth is before the digital age, you didn't see it or hear about it. There was no YouTube or MySpace to connect us, a bully isn't going to go home and say "Mom guess what!?! i beat this kid up so bad he went to the ER!" And who gets the blame for how kids act "now"? Video games, MySpace, text messaging, and reality T.V. When ever i hear these excuses it reminds me of the times when parents and adults would blame bad behavior on "Rock and Roll" music! the truth is, when a child acts out like this, its because they don't know any better. And they don't know because the parents never showed them the way to act.
I'm 24 yrs old and a hard working tax paying citizen, I am this way because of my parents. They paid attention to who my friends were, where i went when i said i was "going out", and what time i was coming home as a young teen. There were rules and consequences, of course i broke as many as i could get away with, but in the back of my mind i knew the right choice and would make the right choice when it really counted.
Talk to your children! not in an awkward "lets have a talk about life" kind of way, make it a common activity. Make dinner and eat as a family and talk at the dinner table. listen to there opinions and points of view, and explain your own. Technology isn't to blame, the break down of communication with our teens is.

Sent by Realist | 9:10 AM | 4-10-2008

I am shocked, angered and saddened by this event. As the father of an 8 year old girl and 4 year old son, I am concerned about the prospects of my children working their way through the public school system.

To even label this a bullying situation is ludicrous. This is a felony kidnapping, assault, and battery. A lesson should be taught to all in this event by treating these girls with the most harsh charges and most severe penalties that can be applied, a minimum of 5-10 years of state prison for all of the young people involved. A school fight is one thing, but this whole event was premeditated and deliberate. Any one of the participants could have spoke up in advance to what happened. With two men looking out so that none could get in or come out this was even worse. I am shocked that anyone has even the smallest amount of compassion for the perpetrators of this heinous crime or their families.

And to the person who mentioned martial arts training, I send my children to that kind of training. But even if this girl was able to fight her way through six girls, there were two men standing watch to stop her from leaving, so not so sure even that training may have helped her in this case, in fact it may have escalated the situation to an even worse outcome.

Sent by Tim Hunt | 11:37 AM | 4-10-2008

Hopefully these kids will get the full legal punishment this assualt deserves. That said, what is it about High School that brings out the meanness, vileness in people? If this is what kids are getting in school, they'd be better off getting a GED. This behavior seems like something from a prison movie.

Sent by Ed | 11:44 AM | 4-10-2008

I honestly hope these girls will learn a hard and ongoing lesson. How dare they thinking that this is a joke, they are a poor excuse for a human being...and let's not even talk about how they will someday have children and will not like it when their children get bullied...they need to be tried to the fullest and may god help their souls...the parents of these girls need to do something as well, an apology is not going to work here,,,,,you need help and get it immediately......

Sent by LEVALIS | 11:57 AM | 4-10-2008

I hope there are no excuses as to why anyone would agree that the girl who was attacked deserved it. Basically the people involved thought it was great to get revenge, where did it get them. And the parents of those involved should be 100% responsible for any and all medial bills and should teach their kiddies some proper techniques in how to handle petty issues.

Sent by ken | 12:04 PM | 4-10-2008

WHERE were the parents?? And why can you hear the mom in the background encouraging this behavior and assault!!!!

Sent by Amy | 2:43 PM | 4-10-2008

Do not study, analyze, interview, promote, or write books about these girls. Put the girls in jail. They are juvenile delinquents in need of discipline.

Sent by Sherree Tannen | 8:56 AM | 4-11-2008

I wish this girls go to jail for long time they make me sick!! I have two girls 14 and 16 years old and is so sad thinking about this can happen to them.

Sent by loren | 10:49 AM | 4-11-2008

No matter what led to the events that date, the fact remains that these young students committed a crime and now they have to pay the price. I hope they get time in prison. What they did is despicable. If these students can show no empathy at such an early age, what can we expect from them in the future? This is just too scary and they need to be stopped now.

Sent by Norma Figueroa | 11:57 AM | 4-11-2008

Bulling started young with my little girl in the 3rd grade. She was going through a chubby stage,and later we found out it was due to diabetes.

My daughter was told she was fat and she looked like the actress that played in Big Moma's house. Then on Valentine's Day she came home with her little box of cards and candy (you know the ones kids make out of shoeboxes and decorate?). I noticed her crying and read one of the cards then another...they said things like, "you're fat","lose weight" etc..

I contacted the school and gave them the Valentine cards. To the school's credit, the children and parents were called in and spoken to about the incident. Later they had a speaker about bulling come to the school and they had workshops.

The problem though is my daughter even in 3rd grade was mortified that I told the school and her so called friends got in trouble. How can we deal with this if our children don't speak up? I know the signs to look for, but I am terrified after seeing that video of those girls so called friends beating her. I don't even want to let my daughter go to sleepovers.

This just makes me want to homeschool. I already have my daughter in a private Catholic School. But the girls are so clickish. I can remember it. We all can, but never this kind of violent behavior.

It happening everywhere.

Sent by nancy burns | 12:04 PM | 4-14-2008

Parents today are far less involved with their children-the majority run two job households because they have to-and this is the result.One way to help stop this is school days 8 hrs long, 11 months a year so children have more supervision (they are'nt needed on the farm anymore) and the other is strict punishment, civil and criminal, for the parents.

Sent by James Fox | 11:41 PM | 4-18-2008

Every single day of the 8th grade I was beat up by the same three guys. Sometimes they just sucker punched me in the hall or caught me in the bathroom. Everyday I was in the principles office with a fat lip, black eye. My school picture was a mess. My father passed away and my mother was down at the school almost every month. The principle was also my PE coach and he just kept telling me to fight back, be a man. Finally I took an axe down from the wall for a fire and hit the worst offender with the pointed end in the collar bone. I ended up kicked out of school, my mother lost $15,000 she didn't have and I ended up in reform school where things were even worse. I ran away and hitched hiked about 700 miles to live with my uncle in Texas. At one point I went without food for almost 6 days and just kept walking. Fear is a motivator. My mother cried on the phone for a long time. When I joined the Air Force this got found out but I got in after appearing in court in Alabama. When I told the judge the whole story he let me go into the Air Force and said "well maybe that will make a man out of you". I'm not really bitter but when I saw that girl in Florida all that rage came back. I could have killed those girls. I really know I would have if I had been there. I guess that rage is still in there. Maybe I will never lose it.

Sent by Billy Burnette | 3:23 PM | 4-21-2008

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