In The Bully’s Eye by David Paszkiewicz

David Paszkiewicz addresses the topic of school bullying in his article, “In the Bully’s Eye”, which was published in 2004. In it, the author grabs the attention of the readers by presenting an extreme case of bullying, and then tries to explain the causes and consequences of school bullying. The author also turns attention onto workplace bullying and points out the different actions undertaken in order to stop this phenomenon. Finally, Paszkewicz provides his own explanation and solution to bullying. His main claim is that bullying is deeply rooted in the society and that change should necessarily come from within. . In his opinion, everybody, from decision makers to parents, should work together in order to defeat our own natural instincts and preserve the peace and civility in schools and at the workplace The author provided a very well-researched and sound discussion of bullying and managed to address various issues associated with bullying without seeming superficial. However, his article contains certain flaws that hinder the credibility of the article. The present paper will analyze the article and present these flaws. Finally, suggestions on how to improve the article will be presented.

The first piece of evidence presented by the author in support of his claim is that the methods adopted by schools in order to fight against bullying are ineffective. According to him, schools try all kinds of methods in order to address bullying, but none of these methods is effective, and bullying secretly continues. However, the author does not demonstrate that these methods are not effective and does not bring any source in support of his claim. In order for this evidence to be accepted, the authors should demonstrate the ineffectiveness of these measures. Perhaps, some of them were actually effective in some of the schools, or maybe they were all successful, if applied with energy and determination. Paszkiewicz also claimed that parents have their own memories regarding bullying, but his argument is biased and tries to appeal to the readers emotionally. Thus, according to him, “Most adults would probably define bullying not in so many words but in gut-wrenching memories dredged up from childhood”( Paszkiewicz, 2004, n.p.). This fragment is obviously subjective and does not provide any strong argument, but rather, tries to convince readers by making use of the sensitive nature of the topic, and by exploiting the probability that many of the readers may have had their own experiences with bullying. By doing so, the author tries to attract adults’ support, while in the same time opposing them to researchers who look at the situation objectively. In other words, he does not agree with the researchers’ methods and discretely tries to attract readers on his side.

The author also uses loaded language in order to impress the audience and increase his own credibility in front of the readers, as an expert in the topic discussed. For example, when discussing the causes of bullying, the author explains that researchers believed it to be partially a result of the “competitive ethos of the education system” (Paszkiewicz, 2004, n.p). However, in general, the author uses accessible language because his main purpose is that of reaching his audience. Another important fallacy is the use of ambiguity, which also makes the author lose credibility. The author is ambiguous in his definition of bullying, which may cause the readers to become confused as to what bullying actually is. For example, he state that, “It is a prolonged pattern of negative and repeated behaviors that overwhelm the target, degrading him or her to the point of powerlessness. It is an imbalance of power that, over time, wears down the victim” (Paszkiewicz, 2004, n.p.). This definition does not actually let the reader know what bullying is. Finally, the author commits a major error when tries to bring evidence from the Bible in order to support his claim. Religion is never a strong argument because readers may have other religious beliefs, or may be atheists, and therefore, may not be convinced by his arguments but instead these may actually constitute a major drawback. Also, in general, strong arguments are those which may be supported by scientific evidence, which were proved by experience, by studies and by practice. By relying on the Bible as evidence for his main claim, the author weakens his entire argument. The conclusion of the author reiterates his claim that the change in the society must come from within, and that people need to defeat their primary instincts and promote civility. The author concludes that it is only by turning to religion- and not to any religion, but to Christianity, can bullying be addressed effectively. This conclusion is doubtful, hypothetic and only demonstrates that the author is subjective.

The main cause for bullying as identified by the author is competition, which is a primary human instinct. The author also identifies another cause for bullying, namely the influence of the media, however the author dismiss it as only supporting bullying, and not being its root cause. However, there are also other important causes of bullying, except for competition. For example, one important cause is the environment in which children are raised, and the kind of education they receive at home. One important scientific debate is nature vs. nurture, that is, even though people’s nature may be based on primary instinct, the proper education is able to stop instincts from controlling behavior. Therefore, in cases in which children do not have the proper education, they may become bullies. Such mistakes in education include neglecting the child, giving him the wrong advice, or having him watch the parents or tutors being violent at home. \ Despite its religious twist, the article is very sensible for the most part and therefore, provides a good source for bullying research. I would use the following quotes from my own essay on bullying: “In the United Kingdom, the British Schools Health Education Unit found that a quarter of 10- and 11-year-olds surveyed were bullied either “every day” or “often.” I would use this because it constitutes a good argument in any discussion on school bullying.

It provides specific data on bullying and is based on a study, therefore providing the kind of evidence which is expected in any article on bullying. Another quote that I would use is “Surprising though it sounds, society may well be giving bullying a tacit green light through the expectations we place on our youth”. This is a good quote because it addresses an important cause of bullying, which is not always noticed, or addressed by specialists. Finally, a good point of the author is that “childhood bullies are more likely to have children who copy their aggressive behavior”. This conclusion is drawn by the author after studying the literature in the field and therefore, constitutes a reasonable argument. There are several ways in which the article may be improved. The most important flaw of the article is the use of the Bible as evidence for the author’s claim. The author uses quotes from the Bible several times in the paper, and his religious argument is extensive, so the entire section must be modified. Also, the conclusion draws from religion and must be changed in order for the rest of the article to be credible. The author may refer to civility, education, and a cult of peace instead. These are values which are promoted by all religions, but are also values of the modern societies and therefore, are credible enough. Also, the author addresses two different instances of bullying in the same article, namely school bullying and work bullying, and therefore, he does not manage to address neither one efficiently. Of course, the author’s claim refers to bullying in general, but addressing only school bullying may have given the article more focus and more depth. Finally, in order to really seem a credible article, the author must exclude subjectivity entirely, and provide only evidence supported by credible sources and recent research.

References

  1. Paszkiewicz, D. (2004). “In the Bully’s eye”. Vision. Retrieved from: http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/article.aspx?id=451
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