Betty Greene Salwak

Greensburg Billboard: "No Bullying"

Filed By Betty Greene Salwak | September 30, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-bullying, Billy Lucas, Bullies to Buddies, bullying, Greensburg, Izzy Kalzman, Stop Bullying Now, suicide, teen suicide

Indianapolis's NBC affiliate reports that a billboard has been erected on a main thoroughfare in Greensburg, Indiana. Greensburg is the hometown of teenager Billy Lucas, who took his own life after years of being bullied. Sponsored by a local organization called "Angels and Doves," the billboard makes its message clear: no bullying.

No bullying (

The recent tragedy has caused many across the nation to respond. Local residents like Kim Harvey, the founder of Angels and Doves, are stepping up to prevent another heartbreak like Billy's death. Another billboard is scheduled next week for downtown Greensburg. Steps being taken by the local school district include an action plan for schools and the community to prevent bullying; an advisory committee comprised of students, parents, teachers, counselors and mental health experts; a new counseling position for dealing with social and psychological issues; and training for staff, using "a nationally recognized anti-bullying program." That program is not specified, and there is no indication that Harvey's program is being considered.

Under the news article, three resources are linked:

Stop Bullying Now is a kid-friendly site from the federal agency Health Resources and Services Administration. My admittedly cursory examination shows a site that is good for a few visits from children, but it is not a curriculum to change thinking.

Teaching Tolerance, a website supported by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a huge and deep resource for adults who work with children. It includes pages and pages of activities and information for four developmentally-appropriate age groups of children grades one to twelve. Of the three sources linked on the article, this is the one to explore more fully.

Bullies to Buddies is written by Dr. Izzy Kalzman, who goes to great lengths to convince his audience of his pedigree and the perfection of his methods. I spent some time on his site, considering that this link might be here because the school district is using it. (Who knows where these links came from?) I was concerned with a sub-link labeled "Columbine," which declared a diagnosis of the cause of that disaster within months of its occurrence. I am acquainted with the author of the excellent best-selling book Columbine, Dave Cullen, and it took him ten years of exhaustive research to reach his complex and layered conclusion that bullying had nothing to do with that massacre. It is on Kalzman's Columbine page titled "Solution" that I found unsettling and unorthodox philosophy that makes me concerned. He states that laughter is the solution to bullying:

Teasing is not a bad thing--it is a wonderful thing. ... Our lives would be much happier if we spent more time learning how to tease and be teased in real life...

Kalzman goes on to state that "kids who get picked on are more than glad to let you know about it" - not in my considerable experience in dealing with children and youth. The bullying continues in part because the victims are ashamed and silent. Kalzman states on the prior page about Columbine entitled "The Missing Element" that "teasing is a biologically ordained instinct that we all enjoy." Where do I start with such a flawed premise? The mind boggles.

While I applaud the district's actions--that are sadly too late to help Billy--I pray that Kalzman's school program is NOT the one they are using to help those kids who remain. If the link is a result of a casual Google search by the news channel, shame on them for not doing their homework. That's sloppy and irresponsible journalism.

Photo courtesy of WTHR Channel 13, Indianapolis

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The most ironic (read: "hypocritical") thing about the Southern Poverty Law Center is that NOT ONE of its top ten, highest paid executives is a minority.

In fact, according to the SPLC's hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, despite being located LITERALLY in the back yard of Dr. Martin Luther King's home church, the SPLC has NEVER hired a person of color to a highly paid position of power.

So much for "tolerance"

Regan DuCasse | September 30, 2010 1:11 PM

Well, actually...although of a noble idea, it's NOT clear.
There is a special sort of complication with bullying to do with anti gay epithet. The targeted child may or may not actually be gay. And suffer similar abuse at home from family members. Few parents of gay children have ever been known to come to the sort of defense of that child to be effective.
As we know, these parents are ill equipped, or mores the point, unwilling to defend their gay child.
That gay people are fair game for torment and ostracism goes up the chain into the adult world.

How our country deals with anti gay prejudice, isn't even well articulated by it's presumably most articulate leaders, like our current President.
Defending gay lives and equality is radioactive to those running for elected office.
And the push against that equality by influential religious and political leaders is alarmingly cynical and bullying unto itself.

The character assassination of GLSEN's Kevin Jennings and the same campaign by the AG of Michigan is an example of that too.
Same also for how the military has defended DADT.

Mention any comprehensive and effective teaching in the schools about homosexuality, the resistance to it is loud, angry and almost single minded in the obsession with gay SEX, not orientation.
Clearly, the parents and adults involved with resisting this, need an education on homosexuality and it's reality ,themselves.
Being fearful of not placing the issue where it belongs and having the necessary conversation, defeats the purpose of having it in the first place.
The most vicious, virulent and intractable bullying has roots in anti gay sentiment. Period.
The more in denial anyone is about it, nothing will change.
The more people see it as a selfish focus on 'the homosexual agenda' more children will be tormented and die.

Doing not enough, is the same as doing nothing in my estimation.
Because of the result is the same, more dead kids, then why keep this issue as just bullying, rather than a SPECIFIC kind with a wider range and more devastating results?