Mitt Romney's 'hijinks' seen as bullying today

When Mitt Romney was a good-looking teen in the buttoned-up '60s, corporal punishment was the norm and bullying had a different, more acceptable name: hijinks. Yet in today's zero-tolerance world when it comes to, well, just about everything, things haven't changed all that much for young victims of bullies. Definitions have tightened, become law, but bullying is far from over.
AP Wire
May 13, 2012

 

"Bullying's never going to go away," said one crusader, ex-Marine James McGibney, a dad who founded a new social network, BullyVille.com, where victims can find help. "What makes it a million times worse is the advent of the Internet."

There was no Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or sexting when several fellow students at a posh Detroit-area prep school say 18-year-old Romney led a boy posse to hold down one among them perceived as different and snip off his bleached blond hair.

The victim, John Lauber, is dead now, but The Washington Post reported when it broke the story that he was "perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality" and screamed for help. Though he eventually left the school — kicked out for smoking a cigarette while Romney was not punished — indications are Lauber simply endured, as many of today's victims are forced to do despite the flood of anti-bullying campaigns in schools and out, advocates said.

Romney said he can't recall the incident but did participate in "hijinks" in his younger days. Later, he told Fox News that if he was involved, he's sorry.

Lee Hirsch, director of the recent documentary "Bully" that spotlights several intense cases, said the Republican presidential candidate's response to the controversy falls short.

"I would really invite Mitt Romney to see the movie. This weekend," he said. "This is an extraordinary opportunity for him to really lead and to help redefine the way, unfortunately, too many Americans still see bullying."

Romney has said that his Mormon faith was deepened and his life's outlook altered for the better soon after the reported Lauber incident, when a van he was driving in France was in a crash that killed a passenger and nearly killed him as well.

And certainly ideas about bullying have changed in the intervening years, especially following the suicides of several bullied gay teens.

"Back in the day you would get beaten up or punched in the yard and you'd tell a teacher and they'd just tell you to suck it up, you know, or that's just what boys do or that's just how girls are and 'You two knock it off,' and that was the extent of it," said psychologist Jerry Weichman, who works with adolescents at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach, Calif.

Some of that still exists today, he said, though there are usually more tangible consequences for bullies, along with a greater awareness of "what's appropriate and what's not," but many young victims remain terrified to speak out, contributing to a higher prevalence of depression, anxiety, cutting and suicides.

"There's still that level of embarrassment there, where you don't want to go public with it," he said, because the backlash on the Internet is so great and savvy young perpetrators are better at flying under the radar of punishment.

According to the National Education Association, 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of bullying and 42 percent have been bullied online. One in five teens has been bullied at school in the last year.

While the victims in Hirsch's film suffered outright, some with the knowledge of grown-ups who failed to act, those bullies in zero-tolerance atmospheres do know how to avoid adults.

"Now they'll do shoulder-checking, tripping. Just subtle stuff but consistently where it's really hard to see and really hard for somebody else to see," said Weichman, 36, a victim himself as he endured teasing and physical abuse at the hands of high school peers over his prosthetic leg.

Like Weichman, Hirsch sees a tipping point as the national conversation about bullying has amped up.

The country is poised for change, the advocates said, though zero tolerance may not be the answer.

"Schools feels helpless and lost and they really don't know what to do about this," said Rob Goldman, 44, a New York City area attorney who serves as a court-appointed psychologist for the Suffolk County court system.

Part of his job is find other ways through, including victim and perpetrator meeting, talking and working out their differences rather than the more common punitive approach.

"As a kid I had swastikas drawn on my locker when I was in public school," he said. "My principal said, 'Suck it up, Goldman. I was called a wop in school and I survived.' I had a recent case where, guess what, a kid had swastikas drawn on his locker.

"We need to focus on prevention," he said, "the power and the ability to forgive and move forward."

Comments

newsblogger

In all fairness you should also mention President Obama pushing that little girl down on the playground and screaming he was not her boyfriend.. also a form of "bullying".

tednugent4pres

osama.... oh wait, oops, obama, is a liar. Ever since he was elected, all he has done was spew lies.

truthhurts

oh I completely agree with you. I am republican by nature and I can NOT stand Romney, he has proven himself as nothing but an untrustworthy liar. I really fear where this election will take us. We need more candidates on the ballot, neither of these knuckleheads deserve to be in office. And anyone who can support these guys needs a reality check. They are both fakes and will tell you anything you want to hear for a vote.

truthhurts

oh I completely agree with you. I am republican by nature and I can NOT stand Romney, he has proven himself as nothing but an untrustworthy liar. I really fear where this election will take us. We need more candidates on the ballot, neither of these knuckleheads deserve to be in office. And anyone who can support these guys needs a reality check. They are both fakes and will tell you anything you want to hear for a vote.

truthhurts

A liar and a bully!!!

writer7

Regarding the above "bullying" issue, I personally barely remember small details of high school myself, and I am much younger than Mitt Romney... Obama's team is really getting desperate, I mean c'mon... By the way, I'm certain that Obama was simply angelic in high school and did no wrong, was absolutely perfect and behaved every single second of his teenage years, right- NOT! Seriously, now can we get back to the economy?! "Hey, Obama/Obama team - people are hurting and out of work, and YOU did that to them by strapping this country with debt and your failed economic policies! The numbers don't lie, and you can try and distract folks from those numbers but it won't work! Seriously, talking about an alledged high school prank 50 years ago asa teen!? YOU ARE THE BULLY< OBAMA! SHOVING YOUR LIBERAL IDEALS DOWN OUR THROATS AND TAKING AWAY OUR JOBS BY YOUR FAILED ECONOMIC POLICIES IS A FORM OF BULLYING! yOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE TALKING ABOUT AN ALLEDGED INCIDENT 50 YEARS AGO AND YOU ARE DOING THIS NOW! YOU, OBAMA, AND YOU ALONE ARE THE ONLY BULLY IN THIS ELECTION AND YOUR BULLYING IS GOING ON NOW - IN THE PRESENT DAY - NOT FIFTY YEARS AGO! AND, YOUR BULLYING IS RUINING OUR GREAT NATION AND TURNING US INTO A SOCIALISTZED STATE RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES! you are the modern day bully! You're taking too much of our tax dollars and wasting it - ya BIG bully! You are the Present Day Bully in the fullest sense of the word! Back off, Obama the Present Day Bully!! This attempt to distract from the economy is the lowest form of trckery that the dems have come up with yet in this election... Obama is the Modern Day Big Bully by trying to turn this country into socialism, racking up the hugest debt of any president in the history of the USA and by shoving his far left wing liberal ideals and policies down the throats of innocent conserative Americans spread across this great land of ours! It will take decades, if ever, for us, our children and our grandchildren to pay down that FOUR TRILLION which has sky-rocketed under his administration College grads have NO JOBS, millions of people are losing their jobs and homes, s businesses are closing and, your latest actions, redefining the words of the Bible and legalizing sodomy as marriage - as a Harvard grad, I am certain that Obama knows that legalizing sodomy is the fall of society from the beginning of time... Regarding this election, "It's the economy, and we're not stupid!" Quit trying to create a "red herring" and confuse the public - I don't think that the general public is going to be fooled by Obama's fancy rhetoric of "change" this election as he did in 2008...Just take a look around - do you want four more years of this type of an economy? Also, Obama can try to make this about social issues to distract from his failed economic policies, but we aren't going to believe his lies and empty promises this time... If Obama gets re-elected, take a picture because the America that we love will never be the same - it will be a sociaized state with four more yeas of him..
Most dangerous Barack Obama video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4... most dangerous barack obama video.
As Obama secretly whispered in that open mic comment that he recently made to the Russian President, "he will have more flexibility after the election..."
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/... Speaking of bullying, Obama wants to spy on interet users! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y... Obama wants to spy on interet users
As far as his wife, here's a video of Michelle Obama stating, “All of this for a damn flag!” at inauguration parade. Gee, she feels honored to be the first lady... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O... Michelle Obama stating, “All of this for a damn flag!” at inauguration parade
On a more positive note, Mitt and Ann are two true patriots. We had the chance to meet them at a pancake brunch here in Atlanta, and they’re such down to earth nice folks who really do want to help restore the America that we love and save it from Obama’s socialism! Mitt Romney is a man with integrity, public and private sector experience, commitment to faith, family and country and would be a president in whom we Americans can trust to get our country back on track economically! Also, HE WILL NOT CUT SECRET DEALS WITH RUSSIA! Go Mitt! Romney 2012!

snlfan

WOW... Writer seven really pulls up some serious insight into the complex issues of today’s society. I am totally blown away by the concise nature of his arguments and the straightforward sources he sights.
I think this op-ed is right on... he missed a chance to be a leader here, Mormons, and Moron? close in spelling just a coincidence? Good thing they have majic underwear.

noncuratlex

Wow. You may want to ease off the am radio. Or put less crazy sauce on your food.

freddy99

I am not sure what Romney is thinking a lot of time. He does not have good ideas at all. Things are definitely different then what he thinks. He needs to stay quiet a lot of times. Smoking Accessories

 

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