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Opinion: When debate interruptions turn into bullying

October 12, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump participates in the first presidential debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Robert Klitzman writes that the amount of interruptions the public has seen from Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the debate stage should increase our awareness of bullying in our daily lives, understand the science behind it and lead us to respond to bullying in a way that reduces these incidents.

Rather, interrupters typically take into account the social context and disrupt other speakers more when they have less of a prior relationship of respect or feel they have more power.

Over three-quarters of junior and high school students have been bullied.

Adults can bully each other by aggressively interrupting others, disrupting social situations, rankling us.

In conversations among equals, we can say, "Can you please stop interrupting me?" But in other situations, that is hard.

Individuals with more power than the bully or interrupter -- a teacher or principal -- can, however, step in and help.

In the vice presidential debate, Pence, as a white male, regularly interrupted Harris, a woman of color.

Nonetheless, the debates can serve to remind us of the larger problems of individuals bullying and aggressively interrupting others, which occurs daily in many people's lives -- especially children's -- and of how we can work to address and reduce these problems through ongoing scientifically informed interventions and research.

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