Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence

Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence

Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence

Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence

Synopsis

The first book to integrate shame research into a single overarching theory• Why are some kids magnets for bullying?• Why do gay teens commit suicide four times as frequently as "straight" teens? • Why do we have more men and women in prison than any other country in the world?• Why are school shootings and acts of domestic terrorism on the rise? What could possibly be the theme that ties all of these questions together, which provides a window into so many aspects of the darker aspects of human behavior? In a word, shame. Shame is a powerful and complex emotion, capable of producing dramatic reactions from even the most mild-mannered people. While shame can be employed in positive ways, such as teaching children good manners, other types of shame can be devastating, or even lethal. However, few people truly understand the role of shame in acts of bullying, violence, and discrimination. In Beyond Bullying: Breaking the Cycle of Shame, Bullying, and Violence, veteran professor of social work Jonathan Fast deftly weaves together research from the fields of psychology, sociology, economics, and history to create a single overarching theory of shame. The book introduces the concept of "weaponized shame," a toxic and intentional attack on another person, noting that weaponized shame is often at the heart of bullying situations. With clear, straightforward language, Dr. Fast traces the nuances of shame through several common types of bullying, highlighting bullying based on sexuality, gender, and race. Noting the pervasive presence of weaponized shame in American culture, Beyond Bullying extends shame theory to acts of domestic violence, racism, school shootings, and domestic terrorism. The issues that cause bullying are not limited to the schoolyard, but rather are responsible for horrific acts of violence across the nation. Beyond mere theory, the book provides concrete suggestions for healthy ways of dealing with shame, including techniques for diffusing potentially harmful situations. An invaluable resource for parents of bullied children, Beyond Bullying will also appeal to teachers, counselors, and social workers.

Excerpt

In the 1990s a rash of school rampage shootings changed the landscape of American childhood. While the victims were relatively few, their tragic deaths made the public feel as though school was no longer a safe place. The public demanded immediate action: Stop the killings! Make schools safe again! Investigators sifted through the debris searching for characteristics shared by the shooters in the hopes of creating a profile that might help them find the next shooter before he or she did any harm. Some similarities were obvious and unsurprising. Nearly all the shooters were boys, and all were between the ages of 11 and 21. All lived in rural or suburban neighborhoods. All were unpopular. Most of them loved guns and violent video games. But that was where the similarities ended. Some were from dirt-poor homes; others were well-to-do middle-class kids, the children of teachers, lawyers, and engineers. Some were good-looking; others were skinny or chubby, with thick glasses or bangs. Some lied like conmen, but others were socially inept. Some were brilliant, and others had learning disabilities. Some suffered from serious psychiatric problems while others seemed relatively sane. Eventually, from this sea of randomness, one single factor began to overshadow all others:

They had all been bullied.

Suddenly bullying, an activity that had been more or less ignored for centuries, or praised as a way of toughening up the next generation, took the spotlight as a source of personal misery and potential public menace. Further research suggested that the problems created by being bullied did not necessarily vanish after graduation but often foreshadowed lifelong depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Nor did the bullies fare well in adulthood. Statistical data showed them committing crimes four or five times as frequently as their non-bullying peers.

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