Michelle Maliniak, Licensed Professional Counselor talks to about Bullying in America - an extract :

Michelle Maliniak: My name is Michelle Maliniak and I am a licensed professional counselor and a nationally certified counselor. I have my undergraduate from the University of Arizona. That is where I live in Tucson, Arizona and after graduating from the UA I became a firefighter. So, I was a firefighter for 22 years as an engineered paramedic and then I just retired a couple of years ago and now I run a private therapy practice out of my home.

Ciaran Connolly: Brilliant! Excellent and thank you for taking time out to join us today and to talk to us about the bullying and what is happening in the US and to give us a little insight into what you see and in your practice and in your society I guess . That’s great because obviously we started to suffer from bullying and cyber bullying a lot here as well and we know that there are new laws and a lot of action and I guess problems as well happening in the US. So, it is great again to get your time. Thanks again for that.

MM: Thank you for having me.

CC: Do you think that bullying is as big an issue today as it was 10 or 20 years ago?

MM: Well, I would say it is a lot easier to do now than it was before because bullying in general is a cowardly type of behavior. It is a fear-based behavior and it is a lot harder to be a bully right to someone’s face, especially if you don’t have a lot bunch of people behind you. Which is what normally bullies do, they do it in a group.

So, now the new technology is wonderful for many things. For example, I am talking to you in Ireland from Arizona. So, you can make different friends in so many places but you are also susceptible to somebody being able to push a button with a thought that they had, an impulse. So, there is a lot less time between the thought of doing it and doing it and that’s what I think the technology has done as far as making it more of a problem. There is way more places to do it and it is way easier to do it.

CC: Of course, you have raised a very valid point there. It is … I will find myself on social media, I will press like or retweet something in a split second without even thinking about what it says and maybe without even reading the full post. So, totally right. It’s a good point that people are taking split second decisions and do you think, I am skipping ahead of myself, but do you think that when someone posts something negative on a social network and people, loads of people, engage in that post but it is negative, is group bullying happening? Is that something that actually exists? Or is everyone as guilty as the first person in that kind of an instance?

MM: Well, sure you can have group bullying on social media. That has actually happened to me on Facebook. When you get into a dialogue about something people feel strongly about, like guns or politics or sexuality, any of that stuff and again I think the problem is that people don’t really have the time to really sit and think things completely through. Back in the day, if you were angry at somebody at school, you had to think all night about telling them “You know what? I have another thing I want to tell you “and then you had to build up the courage to go up to this person or you had to get all your underlings aligned so that you could go pick on them. So, there was a lot more time to really think about it and then the humanity also; you don’t get to witness the humanity of the other person. So, a lot of times it is really hard to say something mean to somebody when they are looking at you, when you can see their eyes, when you can see their facial expressions and things like that. So, sure on social media you can get gangs of people picking on somebody who has a different view, absolutely.

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