But the comparison does a disservice to both bullying and genocide, catastrophizing the former and trivializing the latter.
Calling the Holocaust an example of bullying trivializes my parents’ experiences, associating them with routine aggression among kids like insults, social exclusion, wedgies and extortion of lunch money. As upsetting as such experiences may be, I can teach kids how to stop being victimized without assistance and without being emotionally scarred. The other effect of the comparison is to make children believe that being bullied is the absolutely most horrific experience imaginable.
To stop being picked on, children need to learn to handle bullying calmly, for if they get upset, their bullies feel powerful and continue picking on them. They need to realize that the bullying was awful, but it wasn’t life-threatening and many people go through it without long-term negative effects. But how calm can children stay in the face of bullying when experts have taught them that it is akin to genocide? Furthermore, genocide does not conform to the modern psychological definition of bullying, which involves repeatedly tormenting the same person for the pleasure of it. Renowned bullying experts, perhaps best exemplified by Barbara Coloroso, anti-bullying organizations and civil rights groups have been referring to the Holocaust as bullying.
But I haven’t figured out how to teach people to cope with soldiers herding their families into a gas chamber or machine-gunning them into a mass grave.


And if we don’t want bullied kids to be traumatized for life, we need to help them put their experience into perspective.
In fact, you can find countless adults who credit the bullying they experienced in childhood with their long-term personality development and success.
When adults get the opportunity to confront their childhood bullies with the pain they caused, they usually react with surprise or even shock and then apologize profusely, saying they were just kidding around and had no awareness that they were actually hurting them. Can we expect them to react to insults with anything but panic as images of concentration camps pop into their minds? But one of the grievous failings is that it doesn’t differentiate between aggression committed by a bully and that committed by a victim. And how many of us are purchasing plane tickets so we can go save people in the killing zones? Can we expect them to have healthy social lives if they think of anyone who is mean to them as a psychopathic mass murderer? That’s why even trained bullying investigators have difficulty determining if an act constituted bullying, and why bullying is being called an epidemic despite 17 years of worldwide anti-bully crusading.
Bullies have no inclination to kill their victims because you can’t torment a dead person. Genocide can’t just be a one-time aberration that occurred to Jews during World War II.


He suffered from PTSD and often woke the rest of us in the middle of the night with his blood-curdling screams. The bullying field is so fraught with flaws that we’d be better off discarding it and sticking with the existing body of knowledge on aggression. To understand why people engage in genocide, it is not enough to study the suffering of its victims.
My mother’s family fared better, with only her father perishing, but she never stopped relating tear-jerking stories of her survival ordeals during the WWII years. And they often bear no more malice towards those they pick on than older siblings may have towards the younger siblings they gleefully torment.
I have read a multitude of books and watched countless documentaries and shows on the Holocaust.



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