Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bullying and People with Disabilities: Do "Special Needs" Attract Special Types of Bullying?


Objectives—This report presents data on the types and incidence of bullying experienced by people with disabilities of all ages, all types of diagnoses and all functioning levels.

Data Source—Data was collected from 42 individuals using a qualitative and quantitative survey involving three subgroups: people with disabilities (3), parents and caretakers of those with disabilities who agreed to take the survey on behalf of the person in their care (26), as well as those who indicated they are neither disabled nor the parents or caretakers of one with special needs (10). The subjects of the study represented 10 different types of disabilities, with the highest number of respondents listing a learning disability (13)  and a disability on the Autism Spectrum (16) as their primary type of disability.  The remaining three people did not provide information on the type of respondent they were.

Results—Respondents were asked to report how many times in their lifetime they had experienced bullying behaviors from among the four main categories of bullying:  verbal, physical, social and cyber.  The incidence of verbal bullying was found to be much higher for those with disabilities than for those without disabilities who were the subjects of the survey.  In addition, the other three categories of bullying that were part of this study were also found to significantly higher than that experienced by the non-disabled participants.  Below is a chart summarizing the findings:

Results of Study on Types of Bullying Experienced by the Disabled

Conclusions—This study concurs with the findings of previous studies that those with disabilities experience much more bullying than those without disabilities.  But most significantly, the results increase awareness that those with disabilities attract a much higher incidence of verbal bullying than any other bullying type.   Verbal bullying is believed to be the type of bullying most often chosen by bullies for their disabled victims because of the bullies’ perceptions of “special needs” victims as being weaker and less likely to retaliate or report them.  In addition, verbal aggression is believed to be the bullies’ way of recognizing and pointing out to their peers that the victims are somehow different from them.

Qualitative Responses--Survey respondents were asked their opinion as to why people with disabilities are bullied.  Several answers with common themes were received, including:
  • "Because they are different"
  • "Because they are defenseless or easy targets"
  • "Because they have a lack of understanding or are ignorant about people with diabilities"
  • "Because they learned the bullying behavior at home"
  • "Because it makes them feel superior or powerful"
  • "Because they are ignorant"
Some of the more insightful answers are included below to hopefully provide more light on this dark subject:
  • “They have been brought up in an environment that does not tolerate or understand differences in people.”
  • “My daughter was a target of bullying from her middle school teacher.  I believe it is because of the lack of social skills and having trouble communicating, not only with her peers but also with adults.  When she tried to report the bullying, she had to answer questions from the school administrators, which made her confused, then defensive.”
  • “Possibly because the person wants to be as normal as possible, and isn’t honest with co-workers about the disabilities he or she has. So they lack understanding?”
  • “I honestly think that bullies pick on children that have similar traits that they see in themselves and don’t like.”
  • “The bullies think those with disabilities are different, and they think that different is bad.”
  • “Because they think they can get away with it.”
  • “Self-internalized power and persuasion.”


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Computer Mediated Communication and Solving the Solstice Mystery

"Solving the Solstice Mystery” as an online group ended up being a bit more challenging than expected, mainly due to having to re-learn how to use the discussion board on Blackboard, which I had not used in awhile.

Overall the exchange of clues went fairly well, with most of us task-oriented toward solving the mystery.  This is typical of Computer Mediated Communication, according to the authors (DeAndrea,, 2008).  A couple of tendencies of CMP that did not pan out in this online group project include attribution, or blaming others when struggling to solve the mystery (DeAndrea,, 2008, p. 110) and having a scapegoat.  But the authors point out that when members of the online work group know each other, as ours did, there seldom is someone on whom the group puts the blame when things do not go smoothly (DeAndrea,, 2008, p.111). 

I found it interesting that once group members sensed the mystery had been solved as well as it could be, the CMC became more light-hearted, with members resorting to poetry and games to learn more about each other, in an attempt to guess who the others were.  But this was not surprising, given the fact that, according to Chapter 5, CMC is a good way for people to get to know each other and explore their similarities and interests (Sprecher, 2008, p. 125).


Cupach, W.R., & Spitzberg, B. H. (Eds.). (2011). The Dark Side of Close Relationships II. New York: Routledge.

DeAndrea, D., Tom Tong, S., & Walther, J. (2008).  “Dark Sides of Computer-Mediated Communication.”  In Cupach & Spitzberg (Eds.), The Dark Side of Close Relationships II (pp. 95-118).  New York: Routledge.

Sprecher, S. (2008). “Internet Matching Services: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Disguised as Attractive).”  In Cupach & Spitzberg (Eds.), The Dark Side of Close Relationships II (pp. 119-143).  New York: Routledge.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reflection Paper on Chapter 6 of The Dark Side of Close Relationships II

Personal Ads vs. Online Listings: A Comparison of Remote Matchmaking Tools

Based on my own personal experience of having experimented with personal ads and the online matchmaking site during my single years, from approximately 1995 to 2005, I compared and contrasted the two remote matchmaking tools.  The following areas were discussed:
  • Ease of Use and Time Consumption
  • Accuracy of Representation
  • Safety and Risk
  • Effectiveness
Both tools had benefits and risks, as described by Susan Sprecher in her essay on "Internet Matching Services: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Disguised as Attractive)" (Cupach & Spitzberg, 2011, pp. 119-143).  Risks ranged from what Sprecher calls "socially-acceptable lies" -- such as changing your age, weight, height or career history -- in an attempt to achieve more or better connections (p. 129), to "lies to victimize" where an individual intentionally misrepresents him- or herself for ulterior motives that could potentially harm the other person (Sprecher, 2008, p. 128).

The conclusion is that there are risks in using remote matchmaking tools, just as there are risks in accidentally meeting a potential mate in a bar or other location, but there is also the potential for excitement as well as enduring companionship and satisfaction.  Only you can decide if the potential benefits outweight the potential risks.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reaction to Movie 'Why Did I Get Married?'

Why Mike and Sheila Became Unmarried in Why Did I Get Married?

From the very beginning of the movie Why Did I Get Married? the viewer gets the sense that all is not right with the characters Sheila and Mike, when one of the students of Patricia, the psychologist and author of the book with the same name as the movie, asks if the couple is still together.  When Patricia replies that yes, they are still married, the student responds with another question, “But are they happy?”

It is not until the viewer meets the couple Sheila and Mike that the picture becomes clearer that they in fact are not happy.  Their unhappiness appears to be rooted in the fact that Mike is a narcissist, as he demonstrates by his actions over and over again that he is "arrogant, self-absorbed, and for the most part, not terribly pleasant to be around," which is one of the ways that narcissists are described by editors Cupach and Spitzberg in The Dark Side of Close Relationships II

As we further explore the traits of a narcissist, it becomes obvious that the relationship of Mike and Sheila was likely doomed from the start.  Narcissists repeatedly demonstrate that they have a short attention span when it comes to relationships and “pay a great deal of attention to their relationship alternatives," constantly on the lookout for a better choice (Cupach and Spitzberg, 2011).  In Mike’s case, his current alternative apparently is Trina, which ultimately leads to the divorce of Mike and Sheila.

But even if Mike was not cheating with Trina, his narcissistic behavior toward his wife Sheila -- including hostility and verbal abuse -- likely would have eventually destroyed their marriage.  In addition, Mike is not only repulsed by Sheila’s excessive weight, but he also is repulsed by her kind personality that is so opposite of his, which is typical of narcissists, who prefer people to be more like them. 

Is it no wonder, then, why Mike and Sheila became unmarried in Why Did I Get Married? 


Cupach, W. R., & Spitzberg, B. H. (Eds.). (2011). The Dark Side of Close Relationships II. New York: Routledge.

Olson, L. N., Baiocchi-Wagner, E.A., Kratzer, M. W., & Symonds, S.E. (2012). The Dark Side of Family Communication. Cambridge: Polity.

Perry, Tyler (Producer & Director). (2007). Why Did I Get Married?  U.S.: Lionsgate.



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reaction to Chapter 7 on Infidelity from The Dark Side of Close Relationships II

Infidelity.  We’ve all witnessed it and some of us may have even partaken in it, given that the statistics show infidelity prevalent among more than half of the adult population (page 176).  As my reaction paper discusses and theorizes on, two areas mentioned in The Dark Side require further discussion and exploration as to:

·         Why there was a sudden jump in the 1980s of infidelity among women from a steady 24 percent to 26 percent in previous decades to an astounding 54 percent (page 176); and

·         Why there “may be . . . (a) shortage of single men in the African American community creating increased opportunities for married black men to engage in infidelity with single black women” (page 182).

Lastly, my reaction paper discusses the reasons why people participate in infidelity. My observations over the years reflect the findings reported in The Dark Side, with people from all walks of life, in all types of relationships and with a variety of attachment styles and personality types partaking in infidelity (as described on pages 178 and 179, respectively).  The chart below is based on my observations, combined with confidential information provided by the individuals involved (whose names have been changed to maintain confidentiality), about the reasons for their infidelity, their attachment styles and personality traits as defined in The Dark Side.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Some Things About Mary

"There's Something About Mary" is one of Mary Popovich's all-time favorite comedy movies.  But this blog shares some things about her:
  • Part-time graduate student in the IPFW Master of Liberal Studies program.
  • 1989 graduate of IPFW with a B.A. in English.
  • Works full time in a position shared between the IPFW Division of Continuing Studies and the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center, specializing in marketing.
  • Previously was head of communications for Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce (ten years) and marketing specialist for Lancia Homes (seven years).
  • Has two adult sons and three grandchildren.
  • Raised on farm north of Fort Wayne and graduated from Carroll High School.
  • Loves watching HGTV, which inspires her to remodel and redecorate her home on the south side of Fort Wayne that she shares with her husband Martin.