Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. No gifts, no guilt, no hysterical commercialism. Just lots of good food, special time with family and friends, and time out to count my blessings. I am especially thankful for my loving family and the wonderful kids, teens, parents, and families I am privileged to know in my counseling practice. It’s a blessing to share life with you.
The current issue of Biological Psychology presents a fascinating study from researchers at the University of Chicago who used brain scanning technology to learn whether the brain of an aggressive youth responds differently to violence than does the brain of someone who is not a bully. In a disturbing finding, they discovered aggressive youths appear to enjoy inflicting pain on others. Scientists compared eight 16-18 year olds who were unusually aggressive to a control group of teenage boys with no unusual signs of aggression. When the bullies watched people intentionally inflicting pain on another, their scans showed a response in the part of the brain associated with reward and pleasure. The non-aggressive youths did not show the same response. This is an important finding as parents, psychologists, school administrators, and mental health professionals continue to wrestle with this epidemic. The battle over bullying in our schools and among children in our community deserves at least as much attention as the fight to stop drug and alcohol use. Unfortunately, most of the efforts I have witnessed are barely making a dent. Just as the secrecy of drugs and alcohol make it difficult to detect among our youth; bullying in our schools occurs almost exclusively behind the backs of parents, teachers and administrators. Kids have become unusually sophisticated in their means, methods, and strategies. Victims know that often the bullying will intensify if they alert school personnel. On January 22 I will speak and then participate in a forum with other professionals on ‘Bullying’ for the Coppell Gifted Association. I will provide additional details as the date approaches.