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Posted on Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

Bullying: How should new laws & policies define bullying?

By Wayne Baker

Dr. Wayne Baker, creator of, is away this week. He has invited Joe Grimm, a nationally known journalist and author to write a guest series on an emerging problem nationwide: bullying.

Educators and government officials coast to coast are drafting anti-bullying policies. Grimm teaches at the Michigan State University School of Journalism and leads a major new project in which students are reporting on this emerging problem through an MSU student-run website. (Images in this post are from the MSU project, which is called The New Bullying. Click on the images to read more.)

This is Joe Grimm's first of five columns.

0220 ov bullying stories from MSU students.jpg

Bullying is headline news these days — starting with the challenge of simply defining the problem. This is crucial in the process of drafting new laws, developing new programs and organizing anti-bullying events. Anti-bullying games, songs and poems proliferate on the Internet and anti-bullying posters decorate our schools, staking out bully-free zones.

Tell us how you define bullying.

How do you recognize bullying?

Consider some questions we face …

Is it the same as hazing? The term hazing is at the center of some high-profile cases.

"Social exclusion"? This often is described as a harmful, almost secret kind of bullying.

Is it mainly a problem for kids? Bullying apparently isn’t just for children anymore. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory commissioners have accused their chairman before members of Congress of bullying staff. The co-CEO of Archie Comics started an anti-bullying essay-writing program after accusations that she has bullied employees. Newt Gingrich has been accused of bullying the media — and the media are accused of bullying just about everyone.

Are bullying facts overblown? That's one of the issues a group of my students are looking at as they research and build this project that we’re calling The New Bullying. One teacher has told us that bullying has been around since Cain and Abel. She feels helpless in the face of online aggression, where one cyberbullying fact of life is that it happens long after the students have left the school.

Is our focus on bullying just a fad? One retired school administrator told me that bullying is trendy, "the flavor of the month."

This week, we will dicsuss some of the facts about bullying, a recent trove of cyberbullying statistics and new types of bullying. You can make a real difference by the comments you add, this week.

What do you think about bullying?

Help us define these issues, so we can help officials define possible solutions.

Please add a comment below and "like" us on Facebook!

Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue.


Quinn Smith

Thu, Feb 23, 2012 : 3:47 a.m.

I really hope the anti-bullying prevention will work out well, as it will somehow be a relief for students to look forward for a school year with out fear and worries. This will also make parent's be at ease and be assured that bullying will be handled appropriately. As a parent, the idea of my children being harmed or lost is not something anyone wants to consider. I found an article by anationofmoms about a service that can protect your family via your cell phone. And, at the bottom there is an opportunity to enter a drawing for 6 months of that service just by liking them on Facebook. You might find it interesting: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 7:47 a.m.

In grade school, middle school and high school: I was nicknamed &quot;Big Jack&quot; because: I consistently beat the crap out of bullies (even when outnumbered 5 to 1 or when the bully was bigger than I was). So my definition of bullying is: those hostile victimizing actions which will get your butt kicked when the good guys show up. Granting: female bullies are different and do require different handling. They can be &quot;highlighted&quot; and ostracized - and reported to school authorities if their bullying endangers any of their victims. No: focusing on bullies is GOOD, NOT a fad: there's never been a time when bullies were accepted and passing laws MAY help to facilitate their undoing. My own experience has been: that it's often parents who encourage (or even cause) bullying by their children. Cyberbullying: now that's a recent phenomenon. Just a suggestion: in a rational society, such a thing would not exist. The use of computers to provide anonymity is just another way to dodge accountability. Teenage use of computers should be more closely monitored and controlled. These are MINORS who do not yet have the ability to think about personal accountability and their self-restraint is lower than (most) adults. We control their access to firearms, motor vehicles, alcohol and cigarettes. This is just a neglected area that needs to be sewn up.