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Former Bullies Share What Motivated Behavior

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Former Bullies Share What Motivated Behavior

Education

Former Bullies Share What Motivated Behavior

Former Bullies Share What Motivated Behavior

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/125065190/125065167" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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In Georgia, a young man killed himself because he could no longer endure his bullies. And in Mass., bullies left a 13-year-old paralyzed.

These cases and others like them have focused attention on bully behavior: Why do they do it, and do they change?

Guests:

D. Aileen Dodd, education and family reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Rosalind Wiseman, author, Queen Bees and Wannabees

NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington. In Georgia, the parents of a teenage boy who hanged himself believe he took his life because he could no longer endure the bullies at his school. Their lawsuit charges the school failed to protect him.

Earlier this month, Massachusetts passed a bill to protect students just two months after the suicide of another teen who was severely bullied.

Just two of many cases where name calling, taunts, gossip and violence escalated to tragedy. And these days, of course, bullies don't just lurk on the playground but on Facebook and in chat rooms.

We'll hear more about the case in Georgia and the lawsuit, but a fundamental question remains: Why do they do it? So we turn to you. If you were a bully, what did you do? Why did you do it? Did you change? How? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our Web site, at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later in the program, NPR health policy correspondent Julie Rovner on the long months and years of the health-care debate. What moment stands out for you? You can send us email now, talk@npr.org.

But first, Aileen Dodd joins us on the phone from her office. She is an education and family reporter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Nice to have you with us today.

Ms. AILEEN DODD (Atlanta Journal Constitution): Oh, thank you. Nice to be here.

CONAN: And tell us about Tyler Lee Long.

Ms. DODD: Well, Tyler Lee Long, he suffered from Asperger's disorder. So he was a student that he was a great student, actually. He took advanced placement courses. He was ready to graduate early. In fact, next school year, he only needed one credit to graduate.

But he, according to his parents, suffered bullying at school because of his disorder. He was different from some of the other kids. I mean, he didn't like his things to be touched. He was particular, and some of those some kids allegedly took advantage of that.

Tyler was pushed. He was hit. Allegedly, he had boots stuffed in his mouth. He had to have someone monitor him while he changed at gym. His parents said he suffered bullying starting in middle school, and they assured him it would get better in high school. But in fact, according to the parents, it got worse.

CONAN: And it sounds - if there was a monitor in the locker room, the school authorities were aware of this and at least tried to do something about it.

Ms. DODD: Yes, the parents had mentioned that Tyler could change separately, and they had sent emails to the school and also called the school to let them know about what was going on. But according to the parents, school officials could not find some of this bullying on cameras that were monitoring hallways. So they did not always understand the situation.

And the school officials are preparing a response to a lawsuit that has been filed against this child's death. Tyler hung himself in October. His parents had said he was he grew very depressed about school and about the bullying he faced.

CONAN: And is there any suggestion that this is unusual in Atlanta or in Georgia?

Ms. DODD: Well, we have had a similar case last school year. A DeKalb County student, 11-year-old, also took his life after being taunted at school. So unfortunately - you know, we don't see this a lot, but it is something that is, you know, it is growing across the country, the bullying and the suicides that result, the depression that the kids face.

CONAN: Well, Aileen Dodd, thanks very much for your time today. Obviously, we'll wait to see what the school has to say in reply to the allegation.

Ms. DODD: Right. The school maintains that they have done nothing wrong, that they used a proper procedure and that they are not negligent in this child's death.

CONAN: Okay, Aileen Dodd of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, with us today on the phone from her office. Obviously, not all incidents with bullies turn out so badly, but they can also still leave lasting damage. We hope to speak with bullies and former bullies today. What did you do? Why did you do it? Did you change? How? 800-989-8255, by email talk@npr.org.

We got an email today from Laurel(ph) in Chicago about her experience as a bully, and she's been kind enough to join us on the phone. Laurel, nice of you to be with us.

LAUREL: Hi, Neal, nice to be here.

CONAN: Tell us what happened.

LAUREL: Well, this is about in third grade, third or fourth grade, I should say. I was best friends with this girl, and we'd been really great friends for about a year, as far as I can remember. We got along really, really well. We hung out all the time, constantly. We were pretty inseparable until one day, I remember she just rubbed me the wrong way, suddenly.

And it was really little things. Like, I remember really not liking the way she laughed, and that was sort of the "in" that I took to bully her. I started ganging up on her with other girls to make fun of her, and it all I remember looking back at it and realizing how suddenly it had flipped, and for no apparent reason. After I started avoiding her and making fun of her, I joined a clique of another - girls who were more popular.

And the next year she transferred schools and honestly, I don't know if that was why she transferred schools. But looking back at it, I feel like it may have been a cause.

CONAN: You were 8 or 9 years old at the time. Obviously, this is still with you.

LAUREL: Yeah, yeah. Well, looking back at it, I mean, when I hit college, I don't know really why I started thinking about it again, but I realized that I'd been a really mean person, and I'd like to say that I'm not that kind of person now. And actually, we met up again in our adulthood, and...

CONAN: The girl you bullied back in grade school.

LAUREL: Yup, that's right. We're cordial. We're different people so we're not tight friends, but we get along.

CONAN: Has she ever asked you about it?

LAUREL: No, no, we've never talked about it, and I still don't know what happened. I still don't know why literally, one day prior we were great, and then the next day it was me against her. I don't know why I flipped. She didn't do anything wrong.

CONAN: I don't know have you ever been in therapy? Have you ever talked to anybody about it?

LAUREL: No, no, and it was a single incident. I throughout the rest of high school, there wasn't really anybody that, unless I've pushed it out of my memory, that I can remember tormenting that way.

CONAN: Well, Laurel, thanks very much. I appreciate it. I wonder, having taken the step to make this, send us an email and make the phone call, might you talk to her at some point?

LAUREL: Yeah, you know what? Yeah, I think I will.

CONAN: Good luck with it.

LAUREL: Well, I mean, I would, and I've thought about it a couple of times, but I don't know if I kind of don't want to bring it back up. You know, what if it's something that she's dealt with and moved past to the point where we can be friends now? Maybe it was one of those things that she's sort of filed away with her childhood. I dont know. I guess I wonder if it would be more harm to bring it up again.

CONAN: Well, maybe if you asked her to help you?

LAUREL: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's true.

CONAN: Interesting. Thank you very much for reaching out to us. I thank you very much.

LAUREL: No problem, thank you.

CONAN: Laurel with us by phone from Chicago in Illinois. And joining us here in Studio 3 is Rosalind Wiseman, who is the author of "Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip and Boyfriends." And why do people bully?

Ms. ROSALIND WISEMAN (Author): Well, I think one of the things that's the most confusing is what you hear with the caller, which is that it just happens. Or one of the things I think is most surprising, especially for the parents' point of view, is that bullies often think they're in the right.

It's the way the caller described, or it's this person was really annoying me and so it just got under my skin, or they did something to me, so I have to do something back to them.

Now, I work with thousands and thousands of boys and girls, and very rarely, like very rarely, does a bully say, oh, absolutely, I was completely I just did it for absolutely no reason, especially in the moment when you're doing this.

And I mean, I have to tell you that, you know, I wrote "Queen Bees" a long time ago and I had to pretty much overhaul it, you know, and rewrite it for the next generation of kids because the way in which they're going after each other can be really different than the way that we heard in the first report.

CONAN: And we'll get into more detail, and obviously the role of electronics and social media and that sort of thing, but are bullies typically bigger? I mean, that's what you think. Or do they come in packs?

Ms. WISEMAN: No, I think it's actually pretty nuanced, meaning that in order to be a really effective bully, you have to be socially intelligent. You know, the traditional viewpoint of like, a bully who's bigger and throws you down some stairs, that's actually somebody who's usually at the bidding of somebody else.

I mean, one of the things I teach a lot you know, I'm a teacher, basically and one of the things that I always teach teachers, when we're doing professional development, is to say you almost never see the first hit or the first thing that started it. What you see is somebody doing, you know - is the second, it's the response.

CONAN: Retaliation.

Ms. WISEMAN: It's the retaliation, which means that the person who's retaliating, or the person who is getting basically manipulated into starting it, has less social skills and has less social power than the person who actually initiates it, but we rarely see it.

So when we heard from the school that they didn't catch it on the camera, well, one of the things that's really a problem for the targets is it's almost as if, if the authorities don't see it be it parents, coaches, whatever then it doesn't exist. But in fact, of course, it does exist.

CONAN: And you do also see a culture of kids, which is you don't tell adults about these sorts of things.

Ms. WISEMAN: No, you don't. You don't, and there's a couple reasons why. And I think that this is an important issue, and it's nuanced. I think there definitely is a culture of not snitching, and I think that because adults, the truism among young people is if you go to an adult, it's going to make it worse.

And one of the things that I think is really important to be able to say to young people as an adult, no matter who you are, is to say, you know what, there are some adults who make it worse, there are some incompetent adults out there, and I'm not going to take that away from you because that's your experience.

Or I know that you see bad role-modeling. I know you see parents screaming at each other and behaving horribly on athletic fields. I know you see adults apologizing not when they get caught when they get caught for doing something bad, not when they actually ethically believe they've done something bad.

I mean, adults have to take responsibility for why young people think that they should not come forward, because they have good reason for it. At the same time, you can say to young people: Look, not all adults are useless and horrible role models. There are some of us out here who actually really care and want to do something.

CONAN: There's one in Des Moines, I think.

Ms. WISEMAN: Right, exactly. There are every and that's really important when I'm talking to kids about, look, you've got to find a non-useless, non-clueless adult in your life that you can go to, who's going to help you think through these problems so you don't feel like you have to be all alone.

But to not acknowledge what adults do that contribute to the problem means that young people will never, ever take a risk to reach out to us.

CONAN: We want to talk with bullies today. Why did you do it? And did you change? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. We're also talking with Rosalind Wiseman, who is the author of "Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence." Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. Im Neal Conan in Washington.

We're talking today about bullies. After several recent lawsuits blamed schools for failure to prevent or stop vicious teasing, we're trying to understand why bullies do it. So we turn to you.

If you were a bully, what did you do? Why did you do it? Did you change? How? 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also check out our Web site. Go to npr.org and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Rosalind Wiseman is our guest. She founded Empower Program, a national violence prevention program, and she's with us here in Studio 3A. Let's go next to Mary, and Mary's calling us from here in Washington.

MARY (Caller): Yes.

CONAN: Hi, Mary, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

MARY: I'm a bully.

CONAN: Who did you bully?

MARY: You're using the past tense. I used the present tense. I am a bully.

CONAN: And who do you bully, then?

MARY: Anyone who's weaker than me. Just as I explained to you that you used past tense instead of the present tense, that's a form of bullying, and I do it all the time. And it makes me feel more powerful. It makes me feel better than I know I am. It makes me feel in control, none of which I am.

CONAN: Mary, I have to say that as a child, I was bullied. I can take you. That wasn't bullying, from my point of view.

MARY: Are you bragging?

CONAN: No, no, no, no, no. I was saying...

MARY: Yes, you are. Of course you are. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes, you are. Of course you are: I can take you, Mary. What are you bragging about?

CONAN: No, what I was trying to say...

MARY: Don't stutter. Don't stutter. You're bragging. Yes, I am a bully.

CONAN: Now you're getting onto it.

MARY: I'm not happy about being a bully, and to have you say to me, I can take you, Mary, is not the way to handle a bully.

Ms. WISEMAN: Well, if I could interject, I think what's really important is when people get upset for whatever reason, or angry, what I think is most important for everybody is that when you feel those feelings, that you have to treat people with dignity, that you have to treat people with worth.

And I think one of the most and it's not about being kind or in some ways about being nice, it's really about worthiness and that everyone is inherently worthy. And that what bullying is doing is, it strips people's voice away. And it sounds to me like you do believe and I would ask the question of it sounds to me, though, that you do believe that people have the right, other people have the right to speak. They have the right to have an opinion. Is that true, or am I reading that wrong?

MARY: I dont think that has anything to do with the way I with why I bully or why other people bully. What you're saying is not anything new. Of course we will say, oh yes, I do believe other people should be treated with respect. That doesn't mean that's the way we respond to life.

I am a bully, not because I don't believe other people need to be treated with dignity. Whether I believe that or I don't believe it is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that I treat people badly.

CONAN: Do you have control...

MARY: And I treat people badly because I feel badly about myself. That is why bullies, from the time they are children, as I was as a child a bully - I bullied teachers. I bullied a teacher in the third grade until she left the school, and I loved it.

Ms. WISEMAN: Well, I'm sorry to hear that. I mean, one of things I...

MARY: Well, why are you sorry? I mean...

Ms. WISEMAN: I am sorry to hear that because what's important...

MARY: You need to understand...

Ms. WISEMAN: No, I get it. I think I get it. I mean, I worked with a group of - you know, I get it. I work with lots of different kinds of people, and I get it. I think what's important is that, you know, when I'm talking about these issues, this is about competency and about there are going to be people who are difficult in life, and if you're difficult - which you're, you know, saying, this is who I am, this is the deal - then what's important is to be able to say to other people, or to give people the skills to be able to say, to be able to navigate that, to be able to navigate and be present with you and at the same time, not use your aggression as a way to, you know, to be silenced themselves or to go back at you and make it worse.

So I mean, that's what I'm about, is to be able to teach people to be competent in a situation where it's really difficult.

MARY: This is not what you're about. We're talking about what bullies are about. Who cares about what you are about? We're talking about what bullies are about.

CONAN: And Mary...

MARY: Bullies are about understanding everything you're saying, and not being able to control the fact that they are going to bully.

CONAN: Cannot understand - can't control the fact. Have you tried to change?

MARY: Yes, I have. I happen to be a psychologist, by the way, which is a great field for me to be in because I have people look up to me and then I don't have to feel inadequate. But the fact is that outside of that field, I am a bully. I bully people that are weaker than me. I bully...

Ms. WISEMAN: Well, ma'am, with all due respect, there is no way that you would be able to delineate or distinguish what you're doing in your career with what you're doing in your personal life, because if you're bullying in your personal life, then you certainly would be doing it professionally as well.

MARY: But isn't that how we choose our professions to begin with?

Ms. WISEMAN: Well, I hope not. I mean, I hope that I hope not. I mean, certainly some people do, but I hope not.

MARY: See, that's what I'm about. That's what you've done. When you say that's what I'm about, you know, that in itself is saying: I am in some way superior, too.

CONAN: Mary...

MARY: Nobody cares what you're about in this particular program. We care about what bullies are about. I care about what bullies are about. I am a bully. I've always been a bully. I don't want to be a bully. I'd like at some point to grow out of it or to be able to control it, but I to this point in my life have not been able to, and I bully.

CONAN: Mary, thank you very much for the distinction, and thanks for the call.

MARY: Thank you, bye.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Let's go next to this is Brenda, Brenda with us from Sarasota.

BRENDA (Caller): Hi. That was an interesting discussion you had. I'm a psychologist as well. I was a bully in junior high school, not for a very long period of time. In eighth grade, I walked up to a young lady that was one of my best friends from my Brownie troop. So we were in Brownies for like, six years together. And I just walked up to her one day, and flicked her glasses off of her face for no reason at all and broke her glasses.

And I got in a lot of trouble. You know, I was taken to the principal's office and you know, my parents were involved, and it was pretty horrible. And I didn't realize until a couple of years ago - and I dont know why I started thinking about it - but I realized that I was being bullied at the same time that I bullied this friend, and I had been bullied for about a year in seventh grade by another girl, and she would do things like walk up behind me and step on the back of my shoes.

I mean, all this seems kind of minor compared to some of the things that we see in the news today, but she just harassed me horribly. I was miserable. And what occurs to me now is nobody ever asked me. You know, when I went to the principal's office, they didn't ask me, you know, is somebody doing this to you?

And interestingly, I think and I certainly wasn't the kind of bully that Mary, that just spoke, was, absolutely not, but in my line of work now, I work in a juvenile facility, and I tend to get in trouble with my administration because I'm extremely sensitive to officers if they bully the kids.

And in (technical difficulties) in which I've come across bullies in other people's lives, not directly bullying me or anything like that and (technical difficulties)...

CONAN: Brenda, I think your cell phone is betraying you, but I wanted to thank you, appreciate the phone call.

Ms. WISEMAN: And let me say, I think that you saw in both calls, both psychologists said it's your greatest gift, these experiences, your greatest gift and your greatest liability, that you take it with you into the workplace, and you are able to use it as a touchstone for you don't want it to happen, or it has control over you and that you aren't actually you lose out in the process because you are so, you have not been able to let go - that's the way you dominate other people.

CONAN: Here's an email we got from Gabriel. Bullies do it because they can. They do it because their parents allow them, because the schools allow them, and because so many teachers and coaches are themselves bullies.

My son and I have Asperger's, and what I've learned early is that if you will fight, then bullies will leave you alone. I learned that I don't have to win every fight. I only had to be willing to fight every time. I taught this to my children, and it has worked. A few fights, and the bullies leave you alone. Is he right?

Ms. WISEMAN: Well, I think it's a complicated thing because I work with a lot of kids who have that viewpoint. I mean, here's what I think. I think, you know, to a certain extent - I am certainly not somebody who says, you know, never, ever, ever fight or physically fight.

What I think is, you've got to say to the kids, look, if you fight, one of the annoying things about physically fighting is that the school or the you know, whoever whatever organization you're part of, is not going to really see the arguments, the merit of your argument because they're going to be so focused on blaming you, basically, for fighting. They're not going to say, well, why? Why were you in this situation?

And so the merits of your argument get lost in the process. So if you actually want to solve the problem in a long-term basis, because you can't really fight your way, physically fight your way through all of these kinds of experiences. I'm not going to take away from what the dad just said about the with the son, but I just think that we have to put it into the context of, if you want to solve the problem, and you want the other people around you to understand why you're doing what you're doing, then don't wait until you have to fight. You've got to find somebody who actually who is competent enough to be able to help you.

CONAN: Let's go next to Tony, Tony with us from Battle Creek in Michigan.

TONY (Caller): Hi, how are you doing?

CONAN: All right.

TONY: I just, you know, I find so much of what your experts are saying is exactly right. When I was a child in middle school, I was bullied. I was extremely unpopular. I would be - I guess what you would call now a nerd, although this was in the '80s, so we didn't call it so much.

But I was really unpopular, and I was bullied pretty severely by a lot of people, and about ninth grade, you know, I guess my humor and the way I talked and everything kind of caught up with everyone. And I found myself getting a little bit more popular, and it was almost immediately that I started bullying myself, that, you know, I had gone for years of torment, I guess you'd say, and immediately I started finding anyone I could find to make fun of - once I found myself in this more popular clique - and try to make them feel bad.

And when I called in, the screener had asked me if I'd ever apologized for that. And I can picture it so clearly in my mind. It must've been probably late 10th or 11th grade, you know, once - I guess - I'd established myself as being - not popular by any means, but certainly not where I was in middle school, that I felt so bad about a specific girl. You know, she was a little overweight, and it was in my English class. And I just remember, just making fun of her to the point where she cried in class. And I remember at the time feeling - I don't know if it was powerful or just so pleased with myself.

And then looking back on it, how awful that was. You know, I dealt with it myself for three years. And the moment that I felt like I had that power over someone else, I took it and went with it. So...

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

TONY: I dont know, it's...

CONAN: When did you apologize to her?

TONY: How did I, or when did I?

CONAN: When?

TONY: Oh, it would've been about 11th grade. I mean, it happened quickly. You know, like I said, it was about ninth grade, I don't - I mean, its getting a little - you know, older, but...

CONAN: Yeah. No, I understand. But - and did - how did she receive the apology?

TONY: She - actually, she was a very sweet person. And she accepted it. And like I said, I've seen her a few times at reunions since then and, you know, we've gotten along. And I don't know if it was nearly as big a deal to her as it was to me. I mean, she did cry and maybe I - we - I apologized.

I said, you know, I don't know why I would treat you like that. I was always nice you were always nice to me. I was always nice to you. And I just - I let something get ahead of me, and I let the power of the, you know, the clique get ahead of me and I did things I shouldn't have done. And I felt really bad about it. So...

CONAN: Hmm.

Ms. WISEMAN: Well, can I say that it is - I mean, this goes to what the first caller said, too - about, you know, maybe it's too late or I don't know what I would say. I think it's a pretty good bet that it meant a lot to her. And I also think that it's never, ever too late to go back and bare witness to something that you did that hurt somebody else and that that, literally, is transformative.

I mean, for people who are listening to this, who are upset about the stories that we started out with, if you want to be able to address issues in your community or for the children that you love, being able to do things like that is some of - it's the important moments that transform communities into ones that are truly safe for young people because that enables them to do the same.

TONY: It definitely lightened my conscience by doing that, I can tell you that.

CONAN: Tony, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.

TONY: Thank you.

CONAN: We're talking today about bullies. Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. Our guest is Rosalind Wiseman. And you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And, Rosalind, we talked about the Internet as a vehicle for bullying, which is sometimes used. But it's also a vehicle, perhaps, for reconciliation. There is one of those buttons you can push on Facebook that will connect you with any of your classmates from high school or junior high school that happen to be on there as well.

Ms. WISEMAN: Well, I think yes, absolutely. I mean, social networking is not absolutely the most horrible, evil thing that's ever occurred.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. WISEMAN: I think a lot of people look at young people and think, oh, my gosh, like, they just don't - they just behave horribly online. And there's a couple of things I think that are important about that. One is, is that young people really define real life and virtual life as the same, right? It's fluid.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. WISEMAN: So the way they behave in real life is exactly the way they're going to behave in virtual life. And adults, for the most part, don't get that. They don't see it that way.

And so we've got - when kids say, well, that's just normal, that's what we do, I think that's also a reflection of the fluidity between the two. But adults' responsibility is to say, just because it's normal, i.e. something you see every day, doesn't make it right. So I'm going to actually be able to say this to you to say, you know what, if you participate in any way with humiliating or demeaning other people - and this includes forwarding, because nobody talks about forwarding as a contributing factor to this, to these dynamics, that forwarding information that's humiliating, or pictures, is just as if you are contributing to the humiliation of other people. And parents have to be able to hold their kids accountable for that.

CONAN: Let's go to Matthew(ph). Matthew with us from Lansing, Michigan.

MATTHEW (Caller): Hello.

CONAN: Hi, Matthew. Go ahead.

MATTHEW: I used to be a bully. But the way I would do it was, I never had to do anything myself. In middle school, I was rather small, overweight, kind of the kid that you expect to be bullied. But I was great with social norms, social graces, being able to talk to kids, that I would find the proverbial goon squad. I would find a couple kids, maybe a little bit slower, ones with bad self-esteem but have ones that were big, strong, muscular, the kind of defensive tackle football player body type, and build up their self-esteem. I was their best friend. I could help them in school, and I would use them to bully for me.

CONAN: So you were the evil genius?

MATTHEW: Somewhat, yeah, that I could tell them, hey, this kid's kind of annoying me, maybe toilet paper their locker. And it got to the point I wouldn't even need to directly try to tell them to do anything, and they didn't think they were doing anything wrong because they were sticking up for their friend, me.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

MATTHEW: Id say, yeah, that kid picked on me the other day - just letting you know.

CONAN: Yeah.

Ms. WISEMAN: Well, I think this speaks to, right, when you get a bully into a principal's room, he thinks or she thinks that they haven't done anything wrong a lot of the times. They really feel justified. And I also - I called the person a boy because I work with boys a lot and I call - that's like the counterpart to the queen bee, that's the mastermind. But I really want to say that it's really important to me that we don't just talk about how negative - like how - and I really appreciate people like you coming forward because this really is what changes communities. It's taking responsibility for oneself.

And you know, right now, I'm going around the country, and I'm doing these events with mothers and parents and daughters - about these issues. And parents are responding incredibly well. I'm going to Cincinnati tomorrow. It's sold out. We still have Washington, D.C., we still have Denver, we still have San Francisco, but there are - to go to - the parents can still go to. But it's important to realize that there are kids and parents who want to do it differently, and they're coming out to do something about it.

CONAN: Matthew, thank you.

MATTHEW: Thank you.

CONAN: Finally, this email from Daddy04. I was a bully. I became a bully after enduring years of physical abuse at the hands of my father, as well as psychological and physical abuse by my classmates. I never seemed to fit in at school, had no social skills. When I finally identified a child whom I was capable of bullying, I jumped at the opportunity to release my frustration, at the same time perhaps redeem myself in the eyes of my peers, both of which were a success for me at the time.

However, I am still regretful, some 30 years later, of my behavior and angered that the school system was blind to my plight for a tortuous period of five years. And you see that now in these suits that are coming out against some of these schools. These schools were blind to their plight and as you say, very difficult to detect.

FEMALE: And it's difficult to see. There's a lot of well-meaning people who are trying their best, and we just need a lot of help with this.

CONAN: Rosalind, thank you very much and good luck with

Ms. WISEMAN: Thanks for having me.

CONAN: ...The Empower Program, a national violence prevention program, also the author of the book, "Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence."

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