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The National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preventing violence by providing community-based resources and solutions for individuals of all ages.
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Making the Distinction Between Self-Esteem and Selfish Esteem

This issue is well articulated by Jon Siebels, the Guitarist of Eve 6, in his blog on the Huffington Post, “School Bullying: To End It, We Must Change Our Culture”.

“When I think of bullies,” Siegel writes, “the first thing that comes to my mind is that a bully is someone who is overcompensating for low self-esteem or self-worth; however, studies have suggested that the opposite is true.”

“In the corporate world people throw their fellow employees under the bus to get a promotion, and at our schools kids harass each other for being different”

In the ’80s and ’90s there was a big push for parents to promote self-esteem in their kids. Have we taken this too far? Are we teaching our kids that believing in oneself has to come at the expense of belittling others? Is this what they are learning by the way that we treat others?

“Dictionary.com has two definitions of ‘self-esteem.’ The first is ‘respect for or a favorable opinion of oneself,’ and the second is ‘an unduly high opinion of oneself; vanity,’ he observes.

“The second definition seems to be the more accurate one today. The term should probably be changed to ‘selfish-esteem.’ ”

“We’ll do whatever it takes to make ourselves appear in a more favorable light. Just take a look at message boards across the net. There is an unbelievable amount of hate being posted on these sites. In our political races the candidate who wins is the one who makes his opponent look the worst. In professional sports, teams are dominated by one or two power players. In the corporate world people throw their fellow employees under the bus to get a promotion, and at our schools kids harass each other for being different,” Siebels notes.

Instill self-esteem, but also make your children aware of the dangers of letting their real sense of self worth get knocked out of the way by too much selfish ambition.


Bobby Kipper and Bud Ramey have co-authored two books and numerous articles on the crisis in youth violence plaguing our culture, addressing “best practices” for making a difference in the gang crisis and bullying epidemic that is impacting an entire generation. Over 4,400 young people committed suicide last year, largely due to the bullying epidemic. Their books, No BULLIES : Solutions for Saving Our Children from Today’s Bully and No COLORS : 100 Ways to Stop Gangs from Taking Away Our Communities, offer advocacy for at-risk youth.

Bobby Kipper, Director and Founder of the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence, is a career law enforcement officer with extensive experience in the area of preventing youth and community violence nationwide. His background includes working on a number of key national initiatives with the White House, Congress, and the Department of Justice.

Bud Ramey is the 2010 Public Affairs Silver Anvil Award winner of the Public Relations Society of America—the highest public affairs recognition in the world. His grassroots public affairs and humanitarian successes and advocacy for at-risk youth stretch across three decades. 


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