Category Archives: Social Issues

The Race to Incarcerate: Black and Latino Prisoners in America.

The Race to Incarcerate: Black and Latino Prisoners in America.

The number of persons in U.S. prisons is more than 2 million—roughly equal to the entire population of Houston, Texas. The massive U.S. prison population does not mirror the demographic profile of U.S. society, however. The vast majority of U.S. prisoners are poor, uneducated, unskilled, emotionally or psychologically troubled, drug and/or alcohol dependent, and either Black or Latino.

The racial disparity between prisoners and the general population is particularly profound.  Blacks and Latinos together comprise less than 30% of the general population but nearly 70% of the prison population!  How can this be?  Conventional–that is, uninformed–wisdom suggests the reason Blacks and Latinos represent the majority of the prison population is that they commit the majority of all crimes in the U.S.  That is simply not the case.  The reality is that Blacks and Latinos are differentially targeted and processed by the U.S. criminal justice system.

Consider these facts: Blacks alone make up 12% of the U.S. population and comprise 14% of all illegal drug users, but they represent 35% of all drug arrests, 55% of all convictions for drug crimes, and 75% of all those who go to prison for drug crimes!  Disturbingly, racial disparity in justice system processing exists for other crimes as well.  The startling statistics reveal that racially biased processing is common throughout the criminal justice system in the U.S.  Perhaps this should not be surprising, however.  After all, one must remember that the police, district attorneys and judges all have tremendous discretion in whom to arrest, prosecute and sentence.

It is time to pull the blindfold off of lady justice and admit that she is not blind after all. She sees quite well, indeed. Her acute but sometimes prejudiced and biased vision unfortunately leads her to differentially target and process many poor Blacks and Latinos.  The result is a prison population that does not fairly or accurately reflect the true picture or color of crime in the U.S.  Let’s put an end to such practices and deliver justice fairly to all citizens.

Join “An hour to kill with Doc Bonn” with special guest Dr. Tina Maschi, Associate Professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, and President of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work.  Her research interests center around the intersection of aging, mental health, and the criminal justice system, particularly the influence of life course trauma on later life health and well-being.

Listen to the podcast:  An Hour to Kill with Doc Bonn

Follow criminologist and media analyst and consultant Dr. Scott Bonn @DocBonn on Twitter and visit his website www.docbonn.com  Listen to Doc Bonn’s bi-weekly segment on Wednesdays at 11pm ET on  The Roth Show

Dr. Scott Bonn is located in Manhattan and is available for live on-air commentary, expert consultation and speaking engagements. More information about his experience and past media appearances can be found at his website, DocBonn.Com   Please call (843.808.0859) or email (contact@imaginepublicity.com) to discuss media opportunities

The Race to Incarcerate: Black and Latino Prisoners in America.

“Holding My Hand Through Hell” by Susan Murphy Milano is Must Reading!

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so the timing of the release of this inspiring new book from Susan Murphy Milano couldn’t be more perfect.  This poignant and well-written book tells the story of a police officer’s family and a daughter’s quest for justice long after the heart-wrenching murder of her mother. Susan Murphy Milano embraces a legacy of unconditional love and faith to triumph over a life plagued with unspeakable abuse and pain.

Based on a true story, told with the flow of a novel, spiced with frank wisdom and wit, “Holding My Hand Through Hell” encourages the reader to immerse themselves into this family s life and is an inspiration to become an advocate for change in this world we all share. The book also features a lovely foreword by Diane Fanning, the award winning true crime author of “Mommy’s Little Girl.”

“Holding My Hand Through Hell” will incite discussion, debate, and heightened awareness about hope, survival, abuse, murder, and its impact on our society. In the end, it will leave readers both applauding this woman as well as wondering how she escaped, sometimes at the eleventh hour. Twenty years later, she has realized that God must have been holding her hand through hell, delivering her from the evils of her life in order to save others.

Best-selling author Steve Jackson says, “Raw and riveting ‘Holding My Hand Through Hell’ starts fast and never lets up. In this powerful memoir, author Susan Murphy Milano throws open her personal closet so that we see what drives this woman to tirelessly champion voiceless victims and the people who love them.”

My friend, Susan Murphy Milano, is a specialist in intimate partner violence and works nationally with domestic violence programs, law enforcement and prosecutors providing technical and consulting services in “high risk” domestic violence and stalking related cases. Her principal objective is to intervene before a victim is seriously injured or killed. Susan is the creator of the important and powerful Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit© procedure for domestic violence victims.

Susan’s quest for justice was instrumental in the passage of the Illinois Stalking Law and the Lauternberg Act.  She has been prominently featured in newspapers, magazines, radio and television including: The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Radio, ABC’S 20/20, Justice Files, E-True Hollywood, CNN, Sunday Today Show Profile, Women’s Day, Family Circle, US News and World Report to name only a few.   She has frequently participated in guest media commentary panels on major news programs.

To learn more about Susan and her work, visit the following sites:

SusanMurphy-Milano.Com

DocumentTheAbuse.Com

HoldingMyHandThroughHell.Com

To purchase copies of Holding My Hand Through Hell:  IceCubePress.Com

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Do you know the signs of partner abuse?

 

It can be hard to know sometimes if you’re being abused.  Abuse takes so many forms—emotional and physical.  For example, you may think that your intimate partner is allowed to force you to have sex. That’s not true. Forced sex is rape, no matter who does it! Also, you may think that cruel or threatening words do not constitute abuse. They do.  And such emotional or psychological abuse can be an early warning signal that your partner will become physically violent in the future.  Know the signs of abuse.

Below is a list of possible signs of abuse. Some of these behaviors are illegal and can be prosecuted. All of them are wrong. You may be abused if your partner:

  • Monitors what you’re doing all the time
  • Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful all the time
  • Prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family
  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school
  • Gets very angry during and after drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Controls how you spend your money
  • Controls your use of needed medicines
  • Decides things for you that you should be allowed to decide (like what to wear or eat)
  • Humiliates you in front of others
  • Destroys your property or things that you care about
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets
  • Hurts you (by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)
  • Uses (or threatens to use) a weapon against you
  • Forces you to have sex against your will
  • Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant
  • Blames you for his or her violent outbursts
  • Threatens to harm himself or herself when upset with you
  • Says things like, “If I can’t have you then no one can.”

If you think someone is abusing you, please get help.  There are useful links below.  Abuse can have serious and even life threatening physical or emotional effects. No one has the right to hurt you.

Are you in an unhealthy relationship?

Sometimes a relationship might not be abusive, but it can still be unhealthy for you. If you think you might be in an unhealthy relationship, you should be able to talk to your partner about your concerns. If you feel like you can’t talk to your partner, try talking to a trusted friend, family member, or a professional counselor. Consider calling a confidential hotline to get the support you need and to explore next steps. If you’re afraid to end the relationship, call a hotline for help now!

Signs of an unhealthy relationship include:

  • Focusing all your energy on your partner
  • Dropping friends and family or activities you enjoy
  • Feeling pressured or controlled a lot
  • Having more bad times in the relationship than good
  • Feeling sad or scared when with your partner

Signs of a healthy relationship include:

  • Having more good times in the relationship than bad
  • Having a life outside the relationship, with your own friends and activities
  • Making decisions together, with each partner compromising at times
  • Dealing with conflicts by talking honestly
  • Feeling comfortable and able to be yourself
  • Feeling able to take care of yourself
  • Feeling like your partner supports you

If you feel confused about your relationship, a professional counselor can help. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.  For immediate help or more information go to:

National Domestic Violence Hotline http://www.thehotline.org/

Womenshealth.Gov http://www.womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/mental-health-effects-of-violence/index.cfm

Tune in for “An hour to kill with Doc Bonn” on Friday, Oct. 19 at 12pm ET when he will discuss domestic violence with Sandra L. Brown, M.A., CEO of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education.  Brown is a psychopathologist, program development specialist, lecturer, and author. Sandra Brown also works closely with Susan Murphy-Milano and Pastor Neil Schori in the development of Document the Abuse utilizing the Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit©.

 Listen to the show live www.groups.drew.edu/wmnj

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq”and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers. 

 

What can we do about the serious bullying problem in the U.S.?

 

 

 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  Recognizing that bullying is the leading source of violence in U.S. schools, it is important that we all understand the dangers of bullying, as well as, where and how to get help.

 

What causes bullying?

Bullying is a behavior that is often learned in response to stresses in the bully’s world. These stresses can include strained parental relationships or abuse, poor academic performance, unsupportive peer networks or anxiety regarding physical appearance. While bullies give off the appearance of confidence, it is often the case that their actions are driven by insecurities.

 

Harassing and overpowering others gives bullies a sense of superiority, making up for the lack of control in some other part of their lives. Surprisingly, many bullies are often motivated to abuse others because they have been victims of abusive behavior. The anger that they feel as a result of being hurt is directed toward other individuals.

What effect does bullying have on children?

 

Every day children suffer the devastating consequences that result from bullying in our schools. Bullying affects not only the children involved, but also has a negative impact on the entire school environment. Bystanders who witness bullying may either fear that they will be the next victims or deduce that this abusive behavior is tolerable.

Bullying causes both short and long term damage related to:

  • Mental Health: shame, fear, low self-esteem, depression, and suicide
  • Physical Problems: obvious bruises or wounds from harassment, sleep disruptions, bed wetting, psychosomatic pains
  • Social Difficulty: inappropriate social behavior, social isolation, inaccurate social perceptions
  • School Setting: difficulty concentrating, poor academic performance, absenteeism, overall school climate and breakdown of school connectedness, escalating school violence
  • Society: alcohol and drug abuse, gang involvement, violence and crime

Bullying is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. Statistics show that:

  • When asked about the major issues affecting youth today, more 8-15 year olds picked bullying than those who picked drugs, alcohol, racism, AIDS or peer pressure to have sex.
  • Victims of bullying are 5 times more likely to be depressed than their non-victimized peers.
  • Bullied boys are 4 times more likely to be suicidal and bullied girls are 8 times more likely to be suicidal than those who have not been affected by bullying.

The problem has become so serious that bullying has been increasingly considered as a public health issue plaguing our entire nation. Approximately 60% of the boys in grades 6-9 who are classified as bullies are later convicted of at least one crime by the time they are 24 years old and 40% have three or more convictions. It is imperative that we address bullying with school-age children in an effort to keep our schools and streets safer.

General advice for parents

 

As a parent you have the power to help your children whether they are being bullied or victimizing others. When faced with bullying, children need the support from an adult they feel comfortable confiding in. Although you may be unable to directly monitor the situation in your child’s school, you are not powerless. You can be the support your child needs and the voice calling for change in your child’s school.

Specific advice for parents:

  • Spend quality time with your child at home. Talk and listen to them.
  • Be a positive role model and surround you child with other positive role models. Respect others and stand up for yourself when people don’t respect you.
  • Teach your child at an early age not to be a bystander.  Encourage your child to tell a bully to stop, to de-escalate the situation (where appropriate) or to walk away and get help from an adult.  Teach your child that it is never appropriate to: 1) put down others, 2) escalate situations by responding “in-kind” to bullies, or 3) allow others to take videos/photos of personal moments or compromising situations.
  • Help your child to feel good about himself or herself in a healthy way. Encourage your child to set and reach goals.
  • Use positive discipline and teach non-violence.  Teach that using violence to solve problems or deal with anger only makes things worse.
  • If you’re worried about your child or yourself, seek help from school counselors, school support groups, private therapists or your family health-care provider.

To learn what you can do as parents or concerned citizens and for immediate help go to http://www.stopbullying.gov/

Dr. Scott Bonnis Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers.  He is deeply concerned about the dangers of bullying. He is @DocBonn on Twitter.   

 

 

 

 

Doc Bonn asks, are you a family caregiver? There is help for you.

Family caregivers are special people who step in to help friends, relatives, neighbors or life partners with health problems or disabilities.  This help ranges from grocery shopping, help with personal grooming, and meal preparation to providing financial support and basic assistance with medical needs.

 

Important facts:

  • About 25 percent of American families (nearly 66 million Americans) serve as unpaid caregivers to adult family members, special needs children, life partners and others in need. Most provide care to a family member, typically a parent who is over the age of 50.
  • Fourteen percent of care recipients are between ages 18 and 49.
  • If caregivers were paid on the open market for their services, society would have to spend about $375 billion.
  • More than half of caregivers are women and nearly four in ten are men.
  • Caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week on caregiving—additional time is needed when the care recipient has more than one disability.
  • Caring for a person with disabilities can be physically demanding. This is especially true for older caregivers.
  • One-third of all caregivers describe their own health as fair to poor. Caregivers may have depression and are more likely to become physically ill.
  • Caregivers often worry that they will not live longer than the person they care for.
  • In 1900, average Americans could expect to live just 47 years. Today, life expectancy is 75 years, but chronic illness is common in the later years. As a result, older people now require about two years of care prior to death.

Sometimes, caregiving can seem overwhelming and even burdensome.  If you are a caregiver and you feel that way, please recognize it is a natural reaction and you are certainly not alone.  Caregiving, while very rewarding, is also hard work.  You must take care of yourself so that you do not become run down and sick.  There is help for the caregiver.  Remember, asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.  Reach out.

For more information and helpful resources visit: http://www.emblemhealth.com/default.aspx?Page=702

Visit Care for the Family Caregiver on Face book: http://www.facebook.com/careforthefamilycaregiver?ref=ts

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq”and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers. 

Sources:
National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Caregiving in the U.S. Funded by MetLife Foundation. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. RAND White Paper,. Living Well at the End of Life.

 

Doc Bonn Explains the Dangers of Bullying and Offers Advice.

bullying, Dr. Scott Bonn, Doc Bonn

 

What causes bullying?

Bullying is a behavior that is often learned in response to stresses in the bully’s world. These stresses can include strained parental relationships or abuse, poor academic performance, unsupportive peer networks or anxiety regarding physical appearance. While bullies give off the appearance of confidence, it is often the case that their actions are driven by insecurities.

Harassing and overpowering others gives bullies a sense of superiority, making up for the lack of control in some other part of their lives. Surprisingly, many bullies are often motivated to abuse others because they have been victims of abusive behavior. The anger that they feel as a result of being hurt is directed toward other individuals.

What effect does bullying have on children? 

Every day children suffer the devastating consequences that result from bullying in our schools. Bullying affects not only the children involved, but also has a negative impact on the entire school environment. Bystanders who witness bullying may either fear that they will be the next victims or deduce that this abusive behavior is tolerable.

Bullying causes both short and long term damage related to:

  • Mental Health: shame, fear, low self-esteem, depression, and suicide
  • Physical Problems: obvious bruises or wounds from harassment, sleep disruptions, bed wetting, psychosomatic pains
  • Social Difficulty: inappropriate social behavior, social isolation, inaccurate social perceptions
  • School Setting: difficulty concentrating, poor academic performance, absenteeism, overall school climate and breakdown of school connectedness, escalating school violence
  • Society: alcohol and drug abuse, gang involvement, violence and crime

Bullying is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. Statistics show that:

  • When asked about the major issues affecting youth today, more 8-15 year olds picked bullying than those who picked drugs, alcohol, racism, AIDS or peer pressure to have sex.
  • Victims of bullying are 5 times more likely to be depressed than their non-victimized peers.
  • Bullied boys are 4 times more likely to be suicidal and bullied girls are 8 times more likely to be suicidal than those who have not been affected by bullying.
  • The problem has become so serious that bullying has been increasingly considered as a public health issue plaguing our entire nation. Approximately 60% of the boys in grades 6-9 who are classified as bullies are later convicted of at least one crime by the time they are 24 years old and 40% have three or more convictions. It is imperative that we address bullying with school-age children in an effort to keep our schools and streets safer.

General advice for parents 

As a parent you have the power to help your children whether they are being bullied or victimizing others. When faced with bullying, children need the support from an adult they feel comfortable confiding in. Although you may be unable to directly monitor the situation in your child’s school, you are not powerless. You can be the support your child needs and the voice calling for change in your child’s school.

Specific advice for parents:

  • Spend quality time with your child at home. Talk and listen to them.
  • Be a positive role model and surround you child with other positive role models. Respect others and stand up for yourself when people don’t respect you.
  • Teach your child at an early age not to be a bystander.  Encourage your child to tell a bully to stop, to de-escalate the situation (where appropriate) or to walk away and get help from an adult.  Teach your child that it is never appropriate to: 1) put down others, 2) escalate situations by responding “in-kind” to bullies, or 3) allow others to take videos/photos of personal moments or compromising situations.
  • Help your child to feel good about himself or herself in a healthy way. Encourage your child to set and reach goals.
  • Use positive discipline and teach non-violence.  Teach that using violence to solve problems or deal with anger only makes things worse.
  • If you’re worried about your child or yourself, seek help from school counselors, school support groups, private therapists or your family health-care provider.
  • To learn what you can do as parents or concerned citizens and for immediate help go to http://www.stopbullying.gov/

Dr. Scott Bonn’s recent appearance on Crime Wire discussing the behaviors of bullies:

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers.  He is deeply concerned about the dangers of bullying.

Muhammad Ali, the greatest, will receive the 2012 Liberty Medal

Muhammad-Ali-celebrates-70th-anniversary-today

I grew up watching Muhammad Ali and I was greatly inspired by his courage, integrity and fighting spirit inside and outside the ring.  He is truly one of a kind.

Ali, 70, will receive the medal in a ceremony on Sept. 13 in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall. The three-time world heavyweight champion was not in attendance for Thursday’s announcement.

“Ali embodies the spirit of the Liberty Medal by embracing the ideals of the Constitution — freedom, self-governance, equality and empowerment — and helping to spread them across the globe,” said former President Bill Clinton, chairman of the National Constitution Center.

Liberty Medal sponsors and partners said Ali’s lifelong courage and conviction exemplify the qualities that the award was established to honor, from his outspoken advocacy for civil and religious freedom to his philanthropy, social activism and humanitarian efforts.

“Muhammad Ali symbolizes all that makes America great, while pushing us as a people and as a nation to be better,” said National Constitution Center president and chief executive officer David Eisner. “Each big fight of his life has inspired a new chapter of civic action.”

The fast-talking, boisterous fighter who referred to himself as “the greatest” was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. on Jan. 17, 1942. He took up boxing at age 12 and flourished in the ring, becoming a top amateur and Olympic gold medalist.

Ali won the heavyweight title in 1964, defeating the heavily favored Sonny Liston. Soon after, Ali — who was raised in a Baptist family — announced his conversion to Islam and changed his name.

While in his prime, Ali was stripped of his heavyweight crown in 1967 for refusing to be inducted into the military during the Vietnam War because of his religious beliefs. The decision resulted in a draft-evasion conviction and spurred a long legal fight that ended in 1971, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

Three years after his retirement from boxing in 1981, Ali announced he had Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain condition that some researchers believe may be brought on by repeated blows to the head. Despite the diagnosis, he devoted himself to traveling the world on humanitarian missions bringing food and medical supplies to developing nations throughout the Middle East, Africa, South America and Asia. He also continues to work at home in the U.S. to raise funds for organizations including the Special Olympics and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center in Phoenix.

In 2005, Ali was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Previous recipients of the Liberty Medal, which was established in 1988 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution, include rock singer and human rights activist Bono, former South African President Nelson Mandela and former President Jimmy Carter. Six winners have subsequently received the Nobel Peace Prize.

The National Constitution Center, which opened in 2003 near Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, is dedicated to increasing public understanding of the Constitution and the ideas and values it represents.

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers.  He is also a big fan of boxing and Muhammad Ali. 

Doc Bonn asks, do you know the signs of partner abuse?

Dr. Scott Bonn,Intimate Partner Violence


It can be hard to know sometimes if you’re being abused.  Abuse takes so many forms—emotional and physical.  For example, you may think that your intimate partner is allowed to force you to have sex. That’s not true. Forced sex is rape, no matter who does it! Also, you may think that cruel or threatening words do not constitute abuse. They do.  And such emotional or psychological abuse can be an early warning signal that your partner will become physically violent in the future.  Know the signs of abuse.

Below is a list of possible signs of abuse. Some of these behaviors are illegal and can be prosecuted. All of them are wrong. You may be abused if your partner:

  • Monitors what you’re doing all the time
  • Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful all the time
  • Prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family
  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school
  • Gets very angry during and after drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Controls how you spend your money
  • Controls your use of needed medicines
  • Decides things for you that you should be allowed to decide (like what to wear or eat)
  • Humiliates you in front of others
  • Destroys your property or things that you care about
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets
  • Hurts you (by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)
  • Uses (or threatens to use) a weapon against you
  • Forces you to have sex against your will
  • Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant
  • Blames you for his or her violent outbursts
  • Threatens to harm himself or herself when upset with you
  • Says things like, “If I can’t have you then no one can.”

If you think someone is abusing you, please get help.  There are useful links below.  Abuse can have serious and even life threatening physical or emotional effects. No one has the right to hurt you.

Are you in an unhealthy relationship?

Sometimes a relationship might not be abusive, but it can still be unhealthy for you. If you think you might be in an unhealthy relationship, you should be able to talk to your partner about your concerns. If you feel like you can’t talk to your partner, try talking to a trusted friend, family member, or a professional counselor. Consider calling a confidential hotline to get the support you need and to explore next steps. If you’re afraid to end the relationship, call a hotline for help now!

Signs of an unhealthy relationship include:

  • Focusing all your energy on your partner
  • Dropping friends and family or activities you enjoy
  • Feeling pressured or controlled a lot
  • Having more bad times in the relationship than good
  • Feeling sad or scared when with your partner

Signs of a healthy relationship include:

  • Having more good times in the relationship than bad
  • Having a life outside the relationship, with your own friends and activities
  • Making decisions together, with each partner compromising at times
  • Dealing with conflicts by talking honestly
  • Feeling comfortable and able to be yourself
  • Feeling able to take care of yourself
  • Feeling like your partner supports you

If you feel confused about your relationship, a professional counselor can help. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.  For immediate help or more information go to:

National Domestic Violence Hotline http://www.thehotline.org/

Womenshealth.Gov http://www.womenshealth.gov/violence-against-women/mental-health-effects-of-violence/index.cfm

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq” and is currently writing a book about the public’s fascination with serial killers. 

 

 

Doc Bonn Says: School Bullying Must Stop Now!

DocBonn, Dr. Scott Bonn, Bullying


October is National Bullying Prevention Month.  Bullying is a serious social problem in the U.S. and it’s the most common form of violence in schools. In a recent study released by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, teens between the ages of 15 and 18 attending public and private schools in California were surveyed about bullying. Over half of them reported that they had either been victims of bullying or had bullied other students.  If you project the California findings nationally, it means that millions of teens are currently involved in bullying. That does not even count the tens of thousands of pre-teens who are also involved.

 

To learn more about bullying and the events of National Bullying Prevention Month visit http://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/

There are three wonderful, new must see films that highlight the dangers of bullying and provide suggestions to help the victims and their families.  Two of them are school films designed for teens and the other is a general cinematic release for the entire family.  I highly recommend them and I offer you the following thoughts on each.

For the Teen audience
Bully Bystanders: You Can Make a Difference
is a school film that follows Jason, a student whose rule of survival in high school is “mind your own business.” Jason watches passively as a female classmate is verbally harassed, excluded, and is the target of cyberbullying by her peers. When he hears that she has attempted suicide—or bullycide—he imagines how this could have been prevented if he had stepped in. The same bullying scenario is then dramatically replayed as Jason uses calm but assertive interjections to diffuse the situation and cause the tormenters to back off.  The dramatic reconstruction of the scenario is both informative and powerful.  The importance of bystanders intervening is highlighted in this realistic, must-see film.  Recommend it to your child’s school.

How to Be Assertive: Sticking Up for Yourself is a school film in which a diverse group of young actors dramatize various situations in which someone is being coerced to do something that they find uncomfortable.  Segments depict teens being pressured into drinking, using steroids, going to a party where drugs are being used, and having sex. Some of the vignettes are depicted three times with the teen responding passively, angrily, and assertively. This film does a fine job of presenting some very basic points about becoming assertive that would be useful to generate classroom discussion about bullying.  Recommend it to your child’s school.

For the Family audience

BULLY http://thebullyproject.com/indexflash.html is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary for the entire family. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, it opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.  It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole. Everyone should see this film.

 

To learn more about the critical problem of bullying, its effects and how to get help visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/ Tweet @StopBullyingGov #stopbulling

 

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq.”  Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter or email him directly at docbonn1@gmail.com.

 

 

 

What is Elite Deviance and Why is it Dangerous?

                                   

In 1956, the late, legendary U.S. sociologist C. Wright Mills observed that a small group of wealthy and powerful individuals controlled America’s dominant institutions (i.e., political, economic and military).  More specifically, the governing elite in the U.S. are comprised of:

1) the highest political leaders, including the president and a few key cabinet members and advisors,

2) major corporate owners and directors, and

3) the highest ranking military officers.

Mills called this group the power elite.  Interestingly, Mills was echoed in 1961 by President Eisenhower in his farewell address when he warned of the self-serving acts of the “military-industrial complex”—that is, his term for the power elite.

A central contradiction of the power elite is that they frequently violate the very laws they are sworn to uphold.  Why would individuals who are entrusted to occupy the top command posts of society break the laws they help to create?  Mills argued that bound by mutual interests, the power elite periodically commit acts of elite wrongdoing (e.g., dumping toxic waste) and enact policies (e.g., declaration of an unprovoked war) that are designed to perpetuate their power and preserve their control over society.  Mills stated that elite acts that cause either physical or social harm represent the higher immorality of the power elite.  Mills argued that not only crime per se, but also governmental deeds that cause social harm, regardless of their criminality in a legal sense, be included in the conceptual definition.  Another U.S. sociologist named David Simon in 1995 expanded upon Mills’ concept of the higher immorality to include immoral or unethical acts in his concept of “elite deviance.”  According to Simon, elite deviance is the deviant behavior of societal elites (the people who head governmental or corporate institutions) that makes them negative role models who encourage distrust, cynicism, and alienation among non-elites.

Acts of elite deviance take place in part because of the way corporate, political, and military intelligence institutions are structured: they are bureaucracies.  Significantly, bureaucratic organizations are structured in ways that regularize crime and deviance.  More specifically, bureaucracies are goal-oriented, amoral entities which exist to maximize profits and/or expand their own power.  These goals encourage an ends over means mentality among the top commanders of bureaucracies.  For example, the top executives of a public, for-profit corporation are well aware that the board of directors and shareholders are much more interested in meeting quarterly profit goals than they are in the actual decisions and actions required to meet those goals.

The higher immorality of the power elite is also possible because the elites do not have to win the moral consent of those over whom they hold power.  Instead, a passive U.S. society simply trusts that the elites will act on behalf of the so-called public interest.  C. Wright Mills argued that this condition is accompanied by a “fear of knowledge” and anti-intellectualism in modern society.  As noted by critical social theorists, an over reliance or dependency on television news “sound bites” and media disseminated elite rhetoric results in alienation among the masses, which can be exploited by the elites.  In fact, Mills foreshadowed the great Dr. Noam Chomsky when he stated that the manipulation of public opinion and uncontested decisions of power have replaced democratic authority in contemporary society.  Mills concluded that the higher immorality is a systematic feature of the American societal elite.  Its general acceptance by the public without critique is an essential feature of modern U.S. society.

Do you agree with this conclusion?  Doc Bonn wants to know.

Dr. Scott Bonn is Professor of Criminology at Drew University and a media expert.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book “Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq.”  Doc Bonn is currently researching and writing a book on the public’s fascination with serial homicide and psychopathic serial killers.  Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter and email him directly at docbonn1@gmail.com.

 

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