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No one deserves to be bullied

By Spiros Tzelepis, Greece

It is not anything about yourself that makes you a target of bullying

While trying to compile a special report on bullying, I was faced with the problem of defining what bullying is and what its impact on people is from a scientific point of view. I found some personal stories on bullying problems that depicted that the problem exists and they also depicted the feelings of victims; but I thought that a sociologist could present the issue from all possible sides and could give the readers a "global" view of it. So I thought to address to Roberto Hugh Potter, the sociologist who has in the past helped me to compile the report on youth violence, published in September '99. I was glad to discover that he was still interested in dealing with my questions one and a half years later and this is the result of our (new) online discussion:

  1. Which are in your opinion the major causes of bullying? Why would someone want to harm a weaker fellow?

  2. What do you believe does this behaviour show about the character of the person who demonstrates it?

  3. Do you believe that bullying among young people is actually a form of youth violence?

  4. What should be done to prevent bullying from happening?

  5. What are the social effects of the phenomenon, how it affects the personality of victims and what are its effects as they grow up and become adults?

  6. What's your advice to the victims?


Roberto Hugh Potter received his education at the University of South Florida (B.A., 1975) and the University of Florida (M.A., 1977 and Ph.D., 1982). He has worked as a Criminal Justice Planner, Founding Director of the Florida Juvenile Justice Institute, Training and Research Director for the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, and Director of Evaluation Research and Information Systems for Families First in Atlanta. His academic career has spanned five and one-half years teaching Sociology and Criminology in Australia (University of New England), and currently as Director of the Institute for Correctional Research and Training at Morehead State University (Kentucky).

His applied and evaluation research interests include a range of corrections issues. These include evaluating drug treatment programs, victim-offender mediation and conferencing programs, and other community corrections issues. Publications in this area have focused on studies on juvenile justice system decision-making, net-widening, and campus crimes.

On the sociological side, he is interested in behaviors and products at the margins of society, or "daily deviancies", as reflected in the 1996 publication, Pornography: Group Pressures and Individual Rights, a study of the X-rated video industry and consumers in Australia.

I would like to especially thank Roberto Hugh Potter for his willingness to help with producing this interview - S.Tzelepis

Reconstruction: July-August-September 2002

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