Harry Valentine of Cornwall Ontario on Bullying – November 19, 2012

A Perspective on Bullying


Several of my neighbours have advised that their children had been targets of school bullying. In recent years, several school-aged children have ended their lives due to school and online bullying. This author is of the view that there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of both physical and emotional bullying involving school-aged children, including girl-on-girl bullying.


Throughout human history until recent decades, people lived in extended family groups that included grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts as well as children who were either siblings and/or cousins. Children have emotional needs and extended families traditionally were able to provide for the emotional needs of acceptance, validation, approval, acknowledgement and other positive emotional interactions. An extended family could provide emotionally for children during times when their biological parents may have felt exhausted, ill or overwhelmed.


Numerous studies done on fatherless boys revealed an increased tendency toward gang membership. Gangs become substitute families that provide the approval, acceptance, recognition, validation, status and acknowledgement that developing boys crave. Adept gang leaders are keenly aware of this and may actively encourage members to engage in acts that the rest of society may find reprehensible. After having committed such an act, a gang leader may address a member in the presence of his peers, “Well done my man, you’ve done me proud!”


Racial Bullying:


During the pre-civil rights period in the USA, many southern white men were members of the Ku Klux Klan. They delivered frequent beatings on black men who at the time were referred to as “Negroes”, even killing them in southern states such as Alabama and Mississippi. KKK members who committed such acts often received tacit approval and acknowledgement from their peers for their actions. Their KKK peers may have held public office or may have occupied a profession.


The attacks on “Negroes” served a dual purpose of bonding members of the KKK brotherhood while restraining the upward mobility of the southern black population. Modern bullying seems to follow a similar pattern in that the attacks on the targets or victims serves as a bonding exercise for members of an exclusive school clique, while restraining the victim in their pursuit of academic achievement as well as social acceptance, approval, recognition and acknowledgement by peers.


Cultural Bullying:


There was a period when the majority of Francophone citizens in Quebec and in Eastern Ontario worked for British owned industries. Except that a qualified and competent Francophone had no chance of being promoted into company management, the exclusive domain of the “old boys”. It was not uncommon for new managers from the UK to be heard making derogatory and condescending remarks about Francophone workers, showing a marked preference for their Anglophone counterparts.


Management’s preferential behaviour in this regard spilled out on to the streets of Montreal and even in Cornwall ON, resulting in Francophone people being treated as second-class citizens and becoming targets for Anglophone bullies. A Francophone male could be beaten up for walking along a sidewalk “on the wrong side of the road” by a gang of Anglophone thugs who emulated the behaviour of the KKK in Alabama and Mississippi.


Economic change closed the British-owned smokestack industries and gave rise to new industries that promoted on the basis of ability and competence, regardless of ethnic or cultural origin. Anglophones had the choice of either working under a non-Anglophone manager, engineer or scientist, or seeking employment elsewhere. Change in the economy curtailed the once rampant inter-cultural bullying.


Bullying – Bonding:


Back during 2006, police in Johannesburg, South Africa arrested members of a teenage gang that had committed gang rape. A psychologist interviewed gang members individually and inquired if they had enjoyed the act and how they felt about themselves while they were committing the act. None of the gang members enjoyed the act, instead advising that they felt dirty and degraded while doing the act. When asked why they did the act, each member replied that they “looked good in front of fellow gang members, from whom they received encouragement, approval, acceptance, recognition, validation and a sense of status. School gangs or cliques follow an almost identical theme.


The Milgrim and Zimbardo Experiments:


University psychology professors Dr Stanley Milgrim and Dr Philip Zimbardo conducted a series of experiments during the 1960’s and 1970’s that involved bullying behaviour. In the Milgrim experiments, a “supervisor” was to deliver a jolt of electricity to a “subordinate” for having committed and error. The “subordinate” was in another room and merely responded as if they were receiving electrical shocks. A “superior” urged the “supervisor” to deliver increasingly lethal electric shocks. Most “supervisors” increased voltage to the fatal level.


Internet cyber-bullying follows the same theme as the Milgrim experiment, except the “supervisor” may be peers and the result has been “subordinates” or other kids being abused to the point of committing suicide. In the Zimbardo experiment, one group of university students volunteered to be prisoners while another group of students volunteered to be prison guards (who received no formal training). The experiment had to be cut short due to the abusive behaviour exhibited by the “gang prison guards” who exhibited similar behaviour as the Johannesburg gang rape gang.


The promise of approval from a “superior” or peer motivated “subordinates” and fellow “prison guards” to increase the level of abuse that they inflicted on people over whom they could exert power. Some elements of the Zimbardo experiment seem present when school cliques and gangs engage in bullying a target. Once the abuse begins, peer support within the gang or clique increases the abuse to the point where the target changes schools, moves to an entire new location or commits suicide.


Envy – Historical:


During the 1960’s, German psychologist Dr Helmut Schoeck published a treatise entitled “Theory of Envy” in which he describes the behaviour of people who are motivated to thwart their peers socially, academically and professionally. They may begin rumours about peers to damage their standing, or perhaps damage some one else’s property so that do get to enjoy the use of that property.


Some 200-years before Schoeck, another theorist named Alexis de Toqueville wrote about the behaviour of the French upper class who were almost identical to the nobility, who enjoyed a few extra privileges due to birth. Toqueville theorized that people are most envious of those who are most like them. In France, the upper class agitated for political change and riled the lower classes to rise up against the nobility prior to the French Revolution.


Envy – Bullying:


The KKK gained prominence in the southern USA following the emancipation of slaves. One former noteworthy slave, Booker T. Washington taught himself to read and write and founded the Tuskegee School, today a university. As former slaves learnt to read, write and acquire numerical skills, some of them started businesses and began to participate in the world of commerce, just like the white folk. Except that some former slaves became quite successful in business, journalism, education and a few other professions. The KKK rose to prominence as former slaves achieved a measure of success, perhaps the result of envy.


Former slaves could only achieve success if customers were willing to freely patronize black-owned businesses, read columns written by black journalists or attend theatrical performances that featured black actors. The black people had achieved some popularity in their communities, that is, they had earned the respect, the patronage, acceptance, approval, validation and acknowledgement of other people. KKK members responded by burning down black-only schools, black-owned businesses and black-owned newspapers. They simultaneously incurred the fear of the black community plus the approval and acknowledgment of their KKK peers.


Envy – Bullying – Genocide:


Canadian General Romeo D’Allaire commanded the UN troops in the war torn nations of Rwanda and Burundi, where members of Hutu and Tutsi tribes who had previously lived in peaceful co-existence. A few who sought political power had played on the subtle differences between the 2-tribes, to the point of incurring envy and hatred that culminated in an extreme form of bullying, genocide. In Serbia, Muslim and Christian had for decades lived in peaceful harmony until political people played on the subtle differences between people who shared more in common, than differences. The envy evolved into mass bullying and genocide.


Competition – Animal World:


Predator animals such as lions, leopards and cheetahs often kill off each other’s young offspring, possibly to reduce competition in the search for food. The alpha female in certain pack animals such as wolves, African hunting dogs and even meerkats have been observed as bullying other subordinate females as a means of maintaining their status as the lead female. The intensity of the bullying may drive subordinate females from the pack.


In the animal world, carnivore predators almost consistently seek out weakness in their prey. They go after very young animals, very old animals or animals recovering from an injury or that may otherwise exhibit vulnerability. Predator animals observe body language to select targets as a potential meal, while alpha females in packs drive out potential rivals while they still vulnerable.


In the human world, children may enact behaviour from the animal world when confronting potential competition. Adolescent girls may behave as alpha females from the world of pack animals when encountering a potential rival for the attention of boys or significant adults. There are numerous cases of young girls “being driven out of the pack” and had to change schools and even committed suicide as a result of girl-on-girl emotional bullying.


Envy – Girls:


Medical textbooks published prior to 1920 advise of girls experiencing their first menstrual period at the ages of 17 to 19-years, when most girls are graduating from secondary school. At that age, girls have matured emotionally to manage the physical changes that occur quite naturally. By that age many decades ago, families had arranged or assisted for their daughters to get married. Society had provided a solution for girls as they acquired the ability to reproduce. The result was that very few girls committed acts of bullying as they competed in attracting the attention of men.


At the present day across much of Western Europe and North American, a large percentage of girls are entering puberty at ages 9 to 11-years, perhaps the result of growth hormones being injected into beef cattle and other additives and chemicals in the food and the environment. The result is a girl related problem in the public schools and in the junior high schools that never existed a few decades ago. It is unlikely that most girls ages 9 to 11-years have evolved the emotional maturity to cope with the rapidly developing ability to reproduce.


The result is a near epidemic of girl-on-girl emotional bullying, at school and via the telecommunications media, as girls compete for the attention of boys and significant others while they maintain a sense of exclusivity amongst members of their cliques. Individually and in cliques, a percentage of school-aged girls are enacting the bullying behaviour of an alpha female wolf maintaining her special status in the pack, even to the point of driving potential rivals from the pack.


Envy –Bullying – Boys:


School bullying invariably involves somebody acting out envy or achieving status, approval, acknowledgement and validation at the expense of a peer. The behaviour is usually intended to inflict harm, that is, inflict physical or emotional injury on a peer who may share more in common with the attacker, than differences. There have been several incidents of bullying against boys who have been perceived as being homosexual.


Research into reduced fertility in boys suggests that pharmaceuticals and chemicals that are being dumped into the rivers and streams, may be affecting the development of boys. It is very possible that chemical pollutants in the water and food supply may be affecting the puberty of boys, perhaps even causing the emergence of homosexuality in a portion of population. In the minds of school bullies, the origins of homosexuality are irrelevant and they may likely regard a homosexual peer as a target for bullying.


The result has been several killings of homosexual youth in parts of the USA and extreme harassment of openly gay peers, including to the point of driving them to suicide. Bullying an openly gay youth may serve as a bonding exercise for a school youth gang, much as the bullying behaviour against southern black people by the KKK served as a bonding rite for them. Perhaps with a few very minor differences, both gay and non-gay bullying targets may share much in common emotionally, intellectually and psychologically with their attackers.




Schools represent 2-sides of the drug trade that include marijuana, crack cocaine and prescription medications. Every school shooter across the USA (including the shooters at Columbine High School) and Canada was on some form of prescription anti-depressant. Some 14-million school children across the USA are on prescription medication, usually an anti-depressant. This author is aware of several teenagers who were on prescription anti-depressants and committed suicide. Children on prescription medication and girls entering puberty at a younger age represent potential earnings for politically well-connected pharmaceutical companies.


Disillusioned Parents:


Parents worldwide are becoming disillusioned with government-run schools and are taking action. Some 250,000-children across the USA and Canada have been successfully home-schooled and many have been accepted into institutions of higher learning. Between 2010 and 2011, some 50-new private schools opened across Canada during a period of declining student enrolments in the government schools. Worldwide, new private schools are opening and perhaps as a result of the failure of government run schools to remedy problems such as rampant bullying.


When there is a dysfunction in a family, the children may become depressed, they may be bullied or become bullies. The rampant bullying that occurs in state-run schools is a symptom of a problem. Previous attempts to address the bullying problem such as “zero tolerance”, has failed. A skillful clique of students can pick a target, bully the target and create a situation where teachers identify the bullied target as being the aggressor. Skillful bullies have even bullied teachers, several of whom have resigned across Canada.




There is a problem of bullying in the government run schools. Previous solutions such as “zero tolerance” may sound plausible, except that such so-called solutions have failed to stem the tide of bullying. The political approach to solving the bullying problem has turned some teachers into the “subordinates” in a version of a Milgrim experiment, except that the problem persists. Perhaps it may not be possible for politics to solve the bullying problem in government run schools.

Harry Valentine, Cornwall Ontario

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  1. I have to continue reading this article later but bullying is a very big problem indeed and it got worse since the internet. I love the net and have learned a great deal from it but there are these sites like facebook and others that really hurt other people. A lot has to do because bullies lack self esteem and their strength relies on their bullying others to gain what they lack. Part of bullying has to do with fatherless children and even those with fathers do engage in this type of behavior. There are many reasons for this kind of behavior and those who are involved should be treated under psychiatrists before it gets out of hand.

    French Canadians have always been put down and bullied and yes even in little Cornwall. I remember one man telling my husband and I that only anglos could get hired at Domtar and the situation was very bad. If something happened in a family the men at Domtar would pick on the man where a certain tragedy happened like as if it were the man’s fault because the tragedy happened.

    I remember Marlborough Street in Cornwall was the dividing line between English and French and neither would cross the line without terrible repercussions. My husband and I were talking just this morning about the anglos hating the French in Cornwall and when he was at Levis in past years of the mid 70’s he stayed with the Indians (native people) because he couldn’t speak English at the time and felt like an outsider. When my husband could only express himself in French some woman would come out and say “no French” and that made him feel bad since he couldn’t communicate in any other way. I have a lot of defence for the French here because I went to a French school and I have seen both sides of the coin as they say. Neither one is 100% right – both are to blame. Today the French are gaining ground to get ahead and I don’t blame them one bit after what they went through and still going through. People should be able to speak both languages and accept one another as equals. The Brits have always been known to be bullies all over the world and then it went into their offspring to continue the bullying – the Yanks, Canadians and Aussies. All that has to stop and people should be treated for all of this. We are all people and this has to stop now before it gets out of hand. Aren’t things bad enough in the Middle East and elsewhere – aren’t you glad that you live here in Canada. Well folks if things keep going the way they are it will lead to WWIII and this has been predicted since a very long time ago that a third world war is on its way. Get down on your knees and pray every night folks because we haven’t seen anything yet. I don’t tell you this for nothing I know that this is coming and only God can prevent such a tragedy. Men cannot rule themselves without screwing everything up as usual.

  2. Harry that is an excellent article that you wrote and I can see that you did a great deal of research. Everything that you mentioned is true and more.

    Bullying is something that is very serious and Harry if you get a chance go on youtube.com and type in Michael Moore about bowling for Colombine High School. You will get to see a lot about the shooting at the school. From what I see of those boys that did the shooting they came from middle class families and both parents worked and had good homes. These boys were bullied by other students and they felt alone and acted out and yes most likely on drugs as well. Check out that video – I just saw it a couple of days ago. Michael Moore is the film maker I think that is his name who is originally from Flint Michigan the fat guy. I like Michael very much and I want everyone to look at the documentary.

    Michael Moore also made a film about guns and why there is so much gun violence in the US compared to other countries such as Canada, Europe and Australia. He interviewed some people in Canada including some Americans who have crossed over to Windsor asking them all questions. I think that all of his documentaries are worth looking at.

    I thank you very much Harry for such a very good article and I wish that others would read it and learn from it. Parents today don’t take the time to be with their kids and bullying comes from all walks of life and people have gone from the human element to the animal kingdom. There is so much that I can say on the subject but this is excellent Harry.

  3. Pssst, hey buddy, got a girl problem? I know how fix those, you know, alpha wolves. You know, the ones what got the “envy” disease. First, keep’m hungry – as in no red meat – ever! Homeschool’m if ya can. Then, when they comes about 17, marry ’em off to the highest bidder. Keep’m barefoot and pregnant. That’ll fix this bully’n crap. Real good. Mark my words. But a word of caution. If she gets the post-partums, never ever seek treatment. Why? Cause she might just take your gun, son, walk into some movie theatre and shoot people. Then turn the gun on hesself. Terrible tragedy. And you know who to blame. Yup. Them doctors…they in the pockets o them evil big pharma people. Greedy sons a guns.

  4. Cultural bullying in Canada has reversed itself,now the pendulum has swung the other way -two wrongs never equall
    A right!!!!

    ” The Brits have always been known to be bullies all over the world and then it went into their offspring to continue the bullying –the Yanks, Canadians and Aussies.”

    You are showing your cultural bias here ,I am a little discusted in your statement all cultures have prescibed to bullying ,including little Hitler: Nepolian .

    Quebec since the quiet revolution I prefer to call it the Ethnocentric revolution has become very agitated to different cultures .

    Montreal could never except the ethnically diversity of say N.Y .city or even Toronto in fact Calgary is considered the most culturally excepted society.

    So what has happened is that English society has excepted that there were wrongs in the past yet francophones still hold ill regard and infact practice racism because of this ill regard.

    2 wrongs do not make a right but instill further resentment,when the government treats all equally then balance may come to the system.

  5. some very valid points, i will re-read the article when i have more time.
    our communities must engage in allowing all children their inherent right to internal autonomy – it does take a village to raise a child. but how do we do that? how do we get folks on the same page?
    when my children were young and the zero tolerance policy was implemented in schools i wrote to the school board with my concerns that the policy was too restrictive. i taught my children that if someone is causing them harm “fight back!” , defending themselves was left out of the policy.
    zero tolerance is just fancy words for ‘avoiding the issue’

  6. ..well said Cynthia..the whole “bullying” campaign is being drummed up by overprotective, unconfident, “be in everyones business” parents..fact is bullying will always be around..always has been..can be seen in all walks of life, religion, social class..there are those who will profit finacially from this campaign..all for the children of course! I don’t buy into it all..I have children who are bullied..I also believe that they themselves have bullied others..fact of life..it doesn’t get any better asyou get older..just more devious..so, instead of trying to sell as many pink t-shirts as you can..find it in yourself to make a change.

  7. Author

    How do you tell children not to bully when they see their parents, grand-parents, and community leaders do so?

  8. Admin (Jamie) you said things that hit the nail on the head. How do people expect the children to be any different than their parents, grandparents or their leaders in society. Bullies start when children are very young. I once had a poster on my children’s wall here in Ottawa when they were small about what children learn and I wish that I had it so as to post it here but in it they learn from their parents and others who are close to them. As adults look at what we are going through with our leaders who are bullies and bullies in many ways. A lot of the bullies become our leaders and they are like wolves in sheeps clothing.

  9. loaded questions admin, the old adage do as i say not as i do was borne from lunacy because children are little sponges that absorb everything. so focusing on their internal autonomy, i think, is key. unfortunately human nature being what it is :predictable-unpredictable-humane-inhumane , a village raising a child is the answer.
    by the time i was 15 yrs old i had had enough of being told what to do & i decided i would do exactly what i wanted to do and no one was going to change my young feminist mind-and i did do exactly what i wanted to do. no regrets (although i wish i had saved money!)
    giving children the tools to make their own decisions and how to take responsibility for those decisions will have far reaching results. but introducing internal autonomy to a child is challenging because
    at the same time their innocence must be protected vigorously.
    we can start by always telling the truth, at least to each other as adults.
    bullying is a human condition and has more to do with an unstable individual who is lacking in social abilities. classrooms should be engaging in conversation with victims & bullies , get it out into the open , address the issue, talk about it, and change it with input from those involved. larger groups of people making it clear that “bullying” is unacceptable behaviour and at the same time providing help for the anti social behaviour is when change will happen.

  10. I would like to thank all who have posted comments and contributed to the discussion re bullying. And YES, bullying does indeed occur inside families. Example, several years ago I met a young fellow whose family had lived in this area for several generations . . . his parents preferred that he marry a young lady whom they fancied . . . instead he gets married to a young lady of his preference. His father subsequently disowned him . . . fortunately the marriage has lasted for many years.

    Jimmy Olsen . . . you’re not too far off base . . . . to qualify for membership in “The Club” at some high schools, girls are required to do what a newly wed bride did with her new husband in the honeymoon suite . . . and provide proof that such an event actually occurred. Several young ladies had the cops drop by and charge them for having posted pornography on youtube.

    Some girls are doing this to get accepted by their peers . . . peer acceptance quite literally rules some teenagers’ lives and they’ll quite literally do almost anything to gain that acceptance, along with the approval of and recognition by their peers. In this regard, Shirley Barr “hit the nail on the head” in her recent article on co-dependency.

    A lot of bullying is the result of kids and teens competing for attention from significant adults and significant peers in their lives . . . . a group of them will literally beat up a target peer to gain the acceptance of and recognition from a few other peers.

    In their families of origin, very few teens are learning how to accept themselves . . . quite often, the parents never learned how to accept themselves, hence the co-dependency behaviours. In some families, kids hear their parents saying some terrible prayers that begin with, I’m no good at _ _ _ _ _” or “I’ll never be able to _ _ _ _ _ ” and these prayers when repeated internally, quite literally begin to run their lives. The kids them begin to say the same prayers . . . and they get what they pray for.

    Some of the old scriptures advise us to “pray (ask) only for spiritual gifts and those will be given” . . . and an example would be, “I want the courage and inner strength of humility”.

    Perhaps Shirley Barr may wish to post a comment re people learning to accept themselves and saying more positive prayers . . and modelling that behaviour for their kids.

  11. People who have contributed comments have mentioned the family’s role in children’s behaviour. I recall Dr Phil McGraw making the comment that, “Little girls will compete with mummy for daddy’s attention!” Except that in a traditional family, mummy is an adult woman who learns how do deal with such competition.

    In some families, kids may compete with each other for the parents’ attention. In the animal world, sibling rivalry is quite common . . . a chick may push a sibling out of the nest to get more food from the parents.

    In a school, many little girls who “compete with mummy for daddy’s attention, are in the same classroom . . . along with siblings from many other families who compete with other siblings for parents’ attention. It may quite possible that whatever is going on at home, has spilled over into the school yard, on to the school bus and even into the classroom.

    Behind most acts of school bullying is some kid competing to get attention or acceptance from significant adults or from significant peers at the school. Or the act of bullying may be motivated by envy and aimed at preventing another kid from getting some form of positive attention . . . . like the teacher’s pet who gets beaten up.

    During an earlier time when family life was more stable, the extended family that included uncles, aunts, grandparents and even cousins, could often provide for the emotional needs of developing children. In this time period, fewer kids may be getting their emotional needs met at home . . . . bullying may be one of the ways by which they may be getting those needs met at school and in the community.

  12. Highlander it is in the history books (the real history books) about the Brits bullying the world and that is how they became an empire. Today both the US and the Brits are the world’s bullies involved in all the wars, drugs and any crime that you can come up with stealing the world’s resources. Even the killing of our native people including the aboriginals of Australia. Hitler once wrote that he learned everything from the Brits and the Americans and I read lately that Hitler would love what Bush and Obama as well as what Britain is doing today. What I say is well documented. For centuries Britain was in the slave trade and yes so were many others in the world and the US and many other cultures including our beloved Canada but the Brits and Americans are the most renowned for this.

  13. Thank you for the comprehensive material on bullying Harry, you have a very broad perspective and it is helpful to have background in terms of the widespread kinds of bullying. In terms of my possibly contributing something helpful to this discussion, I think you gave us the most helpful guidance possible which is to monitor our thoughts and to make sure that they are coming from the right place. It is hard work to be so observant that we actually notice our thought patterns and look for what lifts us up and what brings us down.
    I have been persevering in a meditation practice that seeks to clear the mind of thoughts and feelings and all the meaning that come up and create endless problems and issues for people. It is hard work to set aside time to be nothing, to think nothing and to step back from meaning. I find it is slowly making me into a way better version of me and it is a relief to embody my beliefs rather than just speak about them. Thanks Harry- looking forward to your thoughts on other subjects. Kindest regards. S

  14. Thanks Shirley,

    You may be aware that parents serve as role models for growing children. The things that parent say, how they say it and especially the manner in which parents behave, have a major influence on children’s behaviour. A parent who is verbally and/or emotionally abusive to a child may not only undermine the child’s self esteem and cause to feel poorly about itself, the parent may also be setting up the child to either bully other children. . . or be bullied by them.

    Parents who make victims out of themselves are role models for their children, who may emulate that behaviour . . . then either become bullies or become victims of bullies. Children of parents who are part of a social clique or social network, invariable form into networks that reflect their parents’ networks . . . this kids could carry these networks into the school environment and children whose parents are outside of the clique’s parents’ networks, as outsiders who may become targets for social bullying.

    I know of people who have lived off the government welfare system . . . and heard working people voice condemnations about such behaviour. The children of welfare parents often become the targets of bullies or engage in bullying behaviour at school. Children’s behaviour at school often reflects events that occur in their home lives.

    Children have needs . . . they need food to eat, water to drink, they need to have regular sleep, they need exercise and they also have emotional needs. Their emotional needs include being shown acceptance and feeling accepted by significant others in their lives . . . . they have not evolved to the level where they can accept themselves and their value as a unique individual person. When kids don’t get shown acceptance at home and in the family, they’ll compete for it amongst peers.

    My estimate is that about 20% of school bullying may be physical and involve assault . . . . the other 80% may be emotional, social and psychological bullying that involves rumour mills and social media such as Facebook and Twitter. While there is certainly some merit in having experts come into the schools to address the problem of school bullying, they are addressing the “tip of the iceberg” while the main mass of the iceberg remains hidden and out of sight.

    Shirley, it would certainly be very helpful if more parents and more people followed your example . . . . the role model of a parent committing themselves to emotional and spiritual growth would be an extremely positive event in the lives of growing children.



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