Confronting Bad Behavior

The run up to the presidential election was experienced as contentious and hostile by almost everyone. In its aftermath, the number of anxiety-provoking incidents around the country has increased. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the New York Times, and USA Today have noted an increase in hate crimes since the election. The FBI has recorded increases in crimes directed against Muslims since 2015 in greater numbers than after 9/11. Sadly, we learn of swastikas spray painted on walls, a church burned, girls in hijabs threatened, and hateful language expanded.

As an organization committed to the understanding and improvement of human functioning and to the enhancement of health and well-being, ABCT must demonstrate and encourage respect and inclusion of all members of society. We urge you to act whenever you encounter threatening and hate-filled behavior toward others, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Personal safety is at stake. Everyone should be able to sit in school, cross the street, and worship where and when we please, regardless of our skin color, clothing, and whose hand we hold. The future we leave our children is also at stake. As Emily Bazelon wrote in the New York Times, "kids are attuned to cultural expectations. They absorb shared ideas about what behavior is permitted and what is intolerable."

Be a good citizen. Model good behavior. The golden rule works pretty well as a starting point. Teach tolerance and teach what's right. As parents, as teachers, as bosses, even as friends and colleagues, share your expectations and the strategies for accomplishing them. Step in when someone is being targeted. Interrupt bullying. Report hate crimes to the authorities and use your phone to document what's happening. A picture is worth a thousand wanted posters.

America is a land of rights. We have spent most of the last 240 years expanding those rights and protecting them. They include the right to freedom, the right to worship, the right to vote. Below are actions you can take.

Speak Out About Injustice. Write your congressman and your senator. Write the Secretary of Homeland Security. Elie Wiesel counseled: "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented."

Report Hate Crimes. A number of organizations document hate crimes and seek redress and protection. Contact the Anti-Defamation League at or the Southern Poverty Law Center at

Teach tolerance. Don't miss opportunities to teach our children what's right and share examples of how we live with our friends and colleagues.

Be Informed. Some of the following ABCT materials might help in understanding some of the problems and how best to overcome them and/or help others:


LGBTQ issues



Choosing a CBT therapist

These resources, and more, can be found on our website at


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Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
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