Saturday, August 12, 2017

Announcement: archiving of all postings on the 2016 elections

All personal postings on the 2016 elections have now been archived. Thank you.

Quick Summary of Cyberbullying for Parents & Guardians


Today bullying has reached a point such that the different arenas of school, workplace, media, and politics operate as multiple sites of intimidation. Operating synergistically, together they produce a public culture of intimidation that links the most personal, individual experiences with those of public life itself. The example and achieved legitimacy of behaviors in one arena (say, media or the workplace) can have the effect of authorizing analogous conduct in other domains of civil society (for example, school or politics).


In my view there are important aspects of bullying as a phenomenon that are not always acknowledged as much as they should be in public discussions:

·      no one individual or group has a monopoly on bad or good behavior
·      virtually every child has the potential to become a bully or at least to engage in bullying behavior
·      bullying often erupts between friends
·      unfortunately, parents are rarely able to recognize their children as bullies or responsible for committing acts of bullying and intimidation
·      schools are where children first encounter sustained bullying and learn to be bullies
·      bullying behavior is not simply part of a developmental stage restricted to childhood and K-12 but can return in adult life or even happen for the first time in adulthood. Bullying and intimidation can be viewed as the eruption of life-changing emotional trauma in daily life at any age.


What are the main factors that put a child at risk of being bullied?

·      Expert consensus has been that children who are "different" are commonly singled out for not only teasing but aggressive bullying.
·      The question is "different" from what? 
·      Answer: different from stated or tacit norms in the local school or community environment concerning a wide array of things: 1) physical appearance and body type (height, weight, hair, skin, make-up, clothing [especially matching what is considered gender-appropriate attire]); for teenagers undergoing anxiety-causing changes in their physiognomy and appearance, this is perhaps the most important factor along with # 2; 2) gender/sex self-presentation (esp. LGBTQ students); 3) physical or cognitive ability or disability; 4) "uncool" tastes, demeanor, etc.; 5) excellence or mediocrity in academics; "too" smart or studious (anti-intellectual climate) or too "slow"; 6) lack of athletic ability; 7) retiring or timid personality; 8) appearance of being alone; 9) new student. 
·      consequently, schools need to inquire as to what the local norms that students seem to follow.
·      strength of local school culture of aggressive cliques and macho sports programs
·      tolerance of bullying by teachers and administrators
·      absence of acknowledgment of bullying as a problem by teachers and administrators
·      thoughtless or heavy-handed application of bullying prevention policies
·      disparities in student family income
·      volatile, overly intense student friendships (potentially explosive sense of betrayal when they end)

What are the main factors that contribute to a child becoming a bully?

·      previous target of constant bullying
·      volatile, overly intense student friendships (potentially explosive sense of betrayal when they end)
·      underlying sense of insecurity
·      member of an aggressive clique
·      caught up in strong conflicts between cliques
·      member of an overly aggressive sports team
·      overly competitive school environment
·      local school's tolerance or even inadvertent encouragement of bullying

How can parents protect their children against cyberbullying in our socially connected society?

·      use of parental controls over Internet devices, social media accounts, and apps 
·      control over computer and smartphone settings
·      work out with child limits to time online and number of "friends"; the greater number of "friends," the greater the risk of possible misunderstanding and conflict.
·      educate the child to the fact that cyberspace is not private nor protected space. In this respect it is little different from the school cafeteria, schoolyard, or locker room. Moreover, messages and postings are distributed at lightening speed and can't be erased or retracted.
·      work out with child how to report any instances of cyberbullying or aggressive behavior
·      inquire with the local school how administrators handle offline bullying by students (on or off the school campus) that continues online 

Originally posted Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Silicon Valley reactionary models of government

As a follow-up to the conclusion of the Trump as corporate folk hero think piece that predicts that the next charismatic right-wing populist politician will come from Silicon Valley, see Corey Pein's 2014 article on the political vision of Sillicon Valey CEO, "Mouthbreathing Machiavellis Dream of a Silicon Reich":