Friday, March 28, 2014

School Age Bullying: A New Age of Micro-Terrorism

Edward Brown, M.S.


Bullying has become a hot issue in recent times. According to the web site, bullying is defined as “Unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.” quoted that, When it comes to verbal bullying, this type of bullying is the most common type with about 77 percent of all students being bullied verbally in some way or another including mental bullying or even verbal abuse. These types of bullying can also include spreading rumors, yelling obscenities or other derogatory terms based on an individual's race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Out of the 77 percent of those bullied, 14 percent have a severe or bad reaction to the abuse, according to recent school bullying statistics. These numbers make up the students that experience poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety about going to school and even suicidal thoughts (bullycide) as a result of being bullied by their peers. Also as part of this study, about one in five students admitted they are responsible for bullying their peers. Almost half of all students fear harassment or bullying in the bathroom at school, according to these school bullying statistics. As a result of this fear and anxiety of being bullied, many students will make excuses or find ways around going to school. School bullying statistics also reveal that teens ages 12-17 believe they have seen violence increase at their schools. In fact, these numbers also show that most violent altercations between students are more likely to occur on school grounds than on the way to school for many teens (para. 2).

In a recent focus group conducted by Edward Brown of Core Edge Police Professional Development to high school students ages 16-18 in the metro Atlanta (GA) area, Brown uncovered some interesting opinions that served both as the state of school age bullying and what can be done to eradicate it. Brown defines Micro-Terrorism as “A systematic or pattern of violence and intimidation against an individual or small group to achieve power.”  This report seeks to create a framework as a basis for adopting recommended solutions to the bullying problem.

Statement of Problem

Because of the insular world of young people, adults have less influence or interaction with student daily existence in rectifying school age bullying.  Consequently, victims of bullying have to develop practical means for developing effective assertive and self-confidence building skills. The world of young people is reminiscent of the TV show, “The Little Rascals,” where adults and authority figures are tableau to this world.  Consequently, the thought of going to an adult to report bullying based on this insularity is antithetical to youth psychodynamics. As such, to cope within this environment, students have to be provided the skills to survive and thrive.  One of the key components that came out of this focus group was that bullying centered on the acquisition and maintenance of power. Moreover, in some instances there might be a correlation between subcultural value systems coupled with societal exclusion that perpetuate bullying.


This group consisted of six boys between the ages of 16 and 18. They came from backgrounds within the lower socioeconomic strata. Perhaps two of the six expressed middle class values as well as exposure to higher disposable income. It is important to note that they were participants within a GED program where they opted to attend based on poor academic performance within a traditional high school setting.  This distinction is important, because bullying may take on different characteristics based on cultural dynamics. For example, within certain communities, values like the ability to fight well, attract the opposite sex, play sports, and exhibit a “cool” or trendy persona, are highly regarded. Such values may be a response to limited education, money, and significant professional contacts that lend themselves to traditional factors for acquiring power. Consequently, in this context, power within these communities may be a response to the lack of inclusion within the majority culture. The term “Power” came up several times during the discussion, and was viewed as a response to a lack of empowerment on the part of the bully, as well as a sense of jealousy by the bully for ideal traits seen in the victim. 


The ideal research method encompasses qualitative and quantitative research.  A great deal of this data is qualitative, anecdotal, and subjective. Additionally, the analysis is derived from the statements of participants, personal experience, and the current research on the interplay between power and relationships. Correlations that cannot be quantified will attempt to draw out several options represented through qualitative analysis as a means of exploring and explaining phenomenon.


Students pointed out that both the bully and the victim have a sense of disempowerment. The bully feels that he cannot have an ideal life based on lacking certain financial resources, smartness, or attractiveness. In response, the victim of bullying feels overwhelmed or “terrorized” by the state of constant fear.   

Students noted that due to the insular world of youths, victims of bullying do not reach out to adults or authority figures.  It was felt that such adult intervention only heightened the problem.  Adults are viewed as intruders to the youth world. Any introduction of adults into this world by another youth is a violation of unspoken rules. Also, “ratting out” or reporting the activity of another student to an adult was seen as taboo. 

Students acknowledged that bullying has led to suicides and homicides, but suggested that bullies do not think or consider the “end game.” In other words, the possibility of a victim harming himself or others as a result of bullying never enters the bully’s mind.  Essentially, the bully is lashing out based on internal feelings of inadequacy, not intentionally trying to inflict long-term harm on a victim. 

Some of the students admitted being labeled bullies themselves.  One of the participants shared that the death of his mother made him feel that students with living mothers had an advantage over him. Although he had a reputation as a trendy, popular dresser, he still felt an emotional void due to his mother’s death.  Consequently, he took his aggression out on other students. The subject of low self-esteem and jealousy that caused powerlessness was a recurring theme. Most agreed that bullies simply did not like themselves or their options in life.

When asked what steps could victims of bullying take to ward of bullying, a few solutions were provided. First, the victim can confront the bully.  In some instances, the bully befriends a victim to discover a victim’s soft or weak points. Much like a criminal who looks for easy prey, a bully is attempting to determine the amount of rejection he may receive from a potential victim.  If he does not receive any push back the very first time he lodges a verbal or physical attack, he exploits this perceived weakness within the victim. Students advised that in the very first encounter, the victim must demonstrate resilience and assertiveness by warding off bully attacks. The victim does not have to win decisively over the bully, but has to demonstrate assertiveness, self-confidence, and a will to be independent.

Secondly, students discussed the aspect of “indirect power,” where other individuals demonstrate a high degree of power to intercede on behalf of the victim. These allies may be older siblings, adversaries to an identified bully, or individuals that a bully fears or respects among his peers.  Ultimately, a victim feels that reinforcements are the only way a bully can be effectively dealt with.  A third form of power titled, “Consolidated Power,” involves a victim using his personal skills and talents to leverage these skills and talents in exchange for power.  An example would be a victim, who is proficient in math, leveraging his skills to the school football team in exchange for protection against bullies. This would be no different, in a geopolitical sense, than a small country seeking the aid and protection of a superpower in exchange for access to a small country’s resources or strategic positioning.

Since victims of bullying exist in an insular world, they have to acquire the tools and skills to ward off stronger adversaries. This flies in the face of pundits who place greater emphasis on adult intervention. Adult intervention is necessary, but must be inclusive within a long-term strategy.  This is critical because students postulated that bully suspensions only heightened bullying, because bullies adopt an “Institutionalized” mentality, reminiscent of prison inmates, but reversed. Whereas, inmates become accustomed to being incarcerated and embrace the experience, bullies don’t enjoy school and enjoy the experience of not being in school.  If a bully is not academically inclined, suspending him from school supports his intentions, not thwart them. 

Overwhelmingly, students felt that bullying would always be present. Because of the human need for power and the greed and jealousy that are derived from a competitive world, bullies will find ways to obtain power. 


Students suggested that fear can serve as a motivator for curtailing bully behavior.  Fear has to be a motivator for a bully. Programs like “Scared Straight,” where youth violators are ushered into a prison to mingle with inmates may serve as a deterrent. Inmates are encouraged to threaten, bully, harass, and intimidate student violators as a means of positive behavior modification. This fear serves to instill introspection and reconsideration on the bully’s part.  In addition, since bullies are purported not to be conscious of the results of their actions, they are encouraged to visit morgues to demonstrate the results of their behavior.  Psychologists assert that people are moved more by fear of loss than the hope for gain.  Students also suggested that bullies should seek counseling for low self-esteem, jealousy, and anger management. Much like the U.S. Military, bullies have to be broken down to be built up. 


Currently, it seems that school age bullying is on the rise. If the genesis of bullying is representative of powerlessness, then it will continue to grow exponentially. The reach of the Internet, in a borderless, global economy, will continually evolve where individuals feel even more insignificant and irrelevant.  Consequently, individuals will act out in aberrant ways to seek attention or assuage feelings of powerlessness.  The easy accessibility of firearms coupled with the desensitization of human life via multimedia and computer games, suggests that harming and killing others out of fear will also rise. Powerlessness within an insular world, reinforced through Pop culture, creates an incendiary environment that is consistently exploding.


· Develop assertive and self-confidence building classes for students who have been bullied

· Identify bullies and use behavior modification tactics that restrain bullying behavior

· Create ancillary programs apart from school suspensions for bullying

· Institute sensitivity and diversity training as part of core school curriculum

· Activate psychologists into school systems to address cases of disempowerment, anger and low self-esteem

·  Partner with law enforcement agencies and Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) to monitor households that have been identified as volatile to the psycho-emotional health of children

·  Develop advanced interpersonal relationship skills that encourage students to communicate openly

·  Create personal development seminars for parents to address outstanding problems

About the Author

Edward Brown, M.S., is a researcher and lead instructor for Core Edge Police Professional Development.  Ed is a former Atlanta police officer and has trained command staff and supervisors throughout the U.S. on communication and leadership development skills. He also is an Adult Education instructor for the Atlanta Public School System.

He has advanced legal training from the University of Dayton School of Law and a master’s degree from Mercer University in Public Safety Leadership.

Ed is the author of nine books including: How to Keep the World From Bullying You: Becoming More Assertive and Self-Confident for Smart and Gifted Students and Police Leadership: The Morale Driven Police Department

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why So Many Leadership Models, But So Very Few Leaders?

Becoming an effective leader is a notion bandied about within the private and public sectors, regularly. Leadership pundits from John Maxwell to Jim Collins have created a cottage industry on the subject of leadership. With so much accessible information on leadership development available, is society creating more leaders?

Edward Brown, M.S., of Core Edge Police Professional Development provides questions and answers about the numerous books, training and degrees for leadership development and their impact on producing new leaders.

Q: How do you define a “Leader?”

Brown: defines a leader as “A person who rules, guides or inspires others.” In its most simplistic form, anyone who has followers might be characterized as a leader. 

Q: So, when we say we need or want more leaders. What are we really asking for?

Brown: From a historical perspective, we want epic heroes that capture our imagination.  The philosopher, Thomas Carlyle said that humans are hard-wired for hero-worshipping. If a notion of God didn’t exist, we would create one.  When we think of effective leadership, we are pulling from these traditions.

Q: So, would you say that our notion of leadership has become a fantasy?

Brown: In part, if our traditions of leaders come from politics, religion, military and business, then we will consistently judge leadership by these standards. Often the impact of leadership is viewed through a rearview mirror, and may not be seen in the same vein by the followers of their time. The late Steve Jobs arguably surpassed the achievements of Thomas Edison, by transforming at least four different industries. But, we don’t emotionally feel the legend of Jobs as we do Edison. One hundred years from now, the future generation will mythicize Steve Jobs and he will be that generation’s Thomas Edison.  

Q: So with the phalanx of pundits promoting leadership development, are we producing more leaders?

Brown: Again, it depends on your expectation of leaders. A better question might be, “Do we still need leaders as we did in the past in the same way?” James MacGregor Burns is credited for coining the “Transformational Leadership” model. He rebuffed the charismatic leadership model, because he viewed charismatic leadership as too self-absorbed and personality driven.  The aim of the Transformational Leadership Model is to empower people to become self-governing and self-reliant. As such, have we produced a society of self-reliant, self-governing individuals where leadership becomes less necessary?

Q: You noted earlier that Thomas Carlyle said humans are “hero-worshippers.” Are we trying to have it both ways by placing the responsibility of self-reliance on the backs of leaders?

Brown: It won’t be the first time we passed the buck of self-empowerment to someone else. But, anyone can lead. If more people merely took responsibility for their families and communities, demonstrated fair and equitable work habits, and studied human nature, leaders would be plentiful. We don’t need any more leadership models. We merely need to implement what is already available.

Q: What will it take for individuals to become more self-directed for assuming more responsibilities?

Brown: Good question. Self-reliance and self-governance seem to take place most when individuals don’t have safety nets or unrealistic expectations from others. As long as there are people, either through ego or philanthropy, willing to assume the burden of others, people will continuously look for leaders. More books will be sold. More leadership development degrees conferred. And more people looking for the next Alexander the Great. 

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Using Public Perks as an Incentive for Improving Police Morale

It is often said that no man is above the law.  That all men are created equal and should be afforded extra rights commensurate with the public trust and fair play.  When a police officer receives a free meal, coffee, or donuts, as a paying customer observes, does it affect public trust?

Edward Brown, M.S., of Core Edge Police Professional Development provides questions and answers about the impact of public perquisites (perks) and gratuities to police officers for building morale.

Q: Are you making the argument that minor perks that police officers receive builds morale?

Brown: Certainly. It’s the same good feeling a waiter receives when he has done a good job serving a patron at a restaurant and is rewarded with a generous tip.

Q: Yes, the waiter is paid for doing a job. Police officers are provided a salary. Nothing else is warranted from the public to police officers.

Brown: Yes, but you asked about the impact of perks on morale. Police officers aren’t charging citizens for services or expecting a tip. However, if an on-duty police officer goes to a restaurant or coffee shop and receives a complimentary or discounted meal, that officer feels good about that level of treatment as a sign of appreciation.

Q: You know corruption starts with the little things that are allowed or overlooked. What about ethical considerations that could possibly lead to corruption?

Brown: Is that right? A police officer who takes a free hamburger from McDonald’s is on a slippery slope to the Federal Penitentiary? I don’t think so. Free food is not an entry crime to bigger crimes like marijuana is an entry drug to cocaine and heroin. However, I will say that policing does heighten a person’s proclivities. If an officer is a petty thief, he will become a bigger thief.  If an officer is a drug user, he will become even a bigger user.  A police officer’s character and traits can be heightened by the inducements and enticements that are regularly offered to him. This can go both ways—for good and bad.

Q: So, if this is the case, why tempt police officers with perks?

Brown: What do you think he’s going to do? Take the food, sell it and keep the profits? He’s merely eating food for crying out loud.  We give homeless people food. Can’t police officers get the respect similar to that of homeless people?   I honestly believe that the average citizen does not view perks as an infringement on the public trust.  In fact, police proponents want to do more for police officers.  There have been initiatives by private groups to ensure that every police officer has a bullet proof vest. In Georgia, a private concern bought life insurance policies for police officers in its jurisdiction, in case an officer is injured or killed.  What do you think that act of kindness did for police morale in that jurisdiction?  As long as officers aren’t receiving large financial windfalls tied to specific behavior, I don’t see a problem with taking care of your police department with small acts of kindness.

Q: But, don’t most police departments have policies against police officers accepting gratuities?

Brown: Yes, these policies are in place. Specifically, for the same reasons that concern you.  Are they strictly enforced? Not all the time.  So why have them? Because departments still must maintain a standard of conduct even if all policies governing behavior are not strictly enforced.  It’s a liability “catch all.” Non-gratuity policies are aspirational, much like the Holy Bible.  Some behavior isn’t sanctioned, but you’re not going  to burn in hell for it (Unless you upset the wrong supervisors).

Q: So, if there is a part of society that sanctions police perks, which part opposes them?

Brown: The part of society who has a love/hate relationship with police officers. They love police officers when they need emergency services and hate them when they have to be held accountable for their unlawful actions. These same people say that police officers should make more money for the risks they take, but should not receive any extra benefits for these same risks.  They are the ones who roll their eyes at the officer who receives free french fries, but wouldn’t put their own lives on the line to save their neighbors. They only want equality on their terms. They are greedier than any police officer, but believe their greed is a right and a virtue.

The benevolence behind the perks show an appreciation for an underappreciated profession. Citizens who support their police department should be allowed to express their gratitude without any favorable treatment expected in return. Supportive and responsible citizens can accept these terms without any backlash even when they are at the behest of a police action.

For more information on improving the communication and morale within your police department, visit:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Do Racially Charged Incidents Divide the Law Enforcement Community?

“Stand Your Ground” laws in places like Florida have captured the attention of the country after the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis. Even as of late, a 71 year- old retired police captain, Curtis Reeves, has been charged with killing a fellow movie patron after reportedly being hit with popcorn during a verbal altercation.

Dahlia Lithwick in her article, ““Stand Your Ground” Nation,”reported that “stand your ground” defenses have been hugely successful. Since the law’s inception in 2005, the defense has been invoked a purported 200 times with a 70 percent success rate.

Although, the law does not favor any specific race, the most publicized cases have been between individuals with different ethnicities.  Does this perception of racial discrimination create rifts among the different ethnicities within the law enforcement community? 

Edward Brown, M.S., of Core Edge Police Professional Development provides answers to questions on the impact and remedies of racially charged incidents within law enforcement.

Q: First, do you believe that cases like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis create rifts within the law enforcement community?

Brown:  It can create rifts depending on the response by individual law enforcement personnel at the time of the event.  Anthropologists have noted that individuals do not view the world through their skin color, but through their cultural lenses. In other words, people learn through their socialization and experiences. So yes, a black police officer, who has a 17-year old son, might take offense if a fellow white police officer is dismissive about the death of a young black male.

Q: This sounds a bit peculiar. If a black police officer has worked daily around the same white officer,  whom they have continuously had each other’s back, why would a black police officer think differently about the white officer based on one incident?

Brown:  It depends on how honest and candid the relationship has been all along. Police officers are trained professionals. They can strongly dislike a fellow police officer, but shoot a perpetrator trying to kill that same disliked police officer.  Police training compartmentalizes logic and emotions.  As individuals, police officers are their race first. But, on the job, they are all blue.   At least in theory.  If two officers have had candid conversations that have cleared up misconceptions in the past, there is less likelihood for a rift during controversial times.

Q: So, as a former Atlanta police officer, what is the emotional fallout for you in cases like Trayvon Martin?

Brown: Anytime young people are killed before they are allowed to mature into adulthood, it is unfortunate. I try to see both sides of the story to determine what might have happened based on the personality composites that I can decipher. If anyone has policed for a reasonable amount of time, he can often determine the characters involved. Generally, people are not that complex.  In many instances, it boils down to effective communication. The youth want respect after being under the constant guise of authority figures. Older citizens want respect based on their wisdom and experiences in life. People who dream of being police officers want to experience power to gain respect.  In the end, everyone wants a degree of respect and significance.  If you can disarm people, by decoding their motivation, you can reduce the amount of conflict surrounding law enforcement.

Q: So, is that it? Law enforcement personnel need not get embroiled in the emotionalism of racially charged incidents, but instead behave like psychologists and social scientists?

Brown: In part. Law enforcement officials have a unique experience, education and insight about human nature that no one  has or ever will based on the nature of the job. Remember, psychologists and social scientists rarely see the raw, cold, reality of people in their truest form. These professionals study people under controlled environments that they can manipulate.  Conversely, law enforcement officials see it every day, unadulterated. If you combine these daily experiences, academic education, and a curiosity about power and people, law enforcement personnel know more about people than anyone else does. 

Q: A major rift within law enforcement, during racially charged incidents, is a result of their inability to always be above the fray by understanding the big picture?

Brown: Dick Morris, political strategist for former President Bill Clinton, coined the phrase “Triangulation.”  Morris advised that President Clinton should always rise above the political fray between Democrats and Republicans and choose the best partisan solution, regardless of their origination. During racially charged incidents, law enforcement officials must triangulate, by seeing both sides of the issue, and remaining objective social scientists.  Triangulation is the greatest leverage law enforcement can wield during controversies.  Based on this mastery and unique insight, law enforcement officials can influence the public when the time comes for cooler heads to prevail.

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