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The popular song “Pumped Up Kicks” by indie rockers Foster the People is all over the radio. You’ve probably hummed along to it, not realizing what the lyrics were actually saying. 

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

The band, led by singer Mark Foster, has publicly spoken about the haunting lyrics which give this chipper-sounding pop song a dark side. The lyrics are told from the viewpoint of a young man who has been bullied at school and neglected at home, and who finds a gun in his dad’s closet. He brings the gun to school to defend himself. Foster explained where his inspiration for the song came from in an interview with radio station kroq. 
FOSTER: I kind of wrote the song to bring awareness to the issue. That sort of thing keeps happening more and more in our country; it’s kind of turning into an epidemic. To me the epidemic isn’t gun violence; the epidemic is lack of family, lack of love, and isolation – kids who don’t have anywhere to go or anyone to talk to and that’s what makes them snap.

When a 13 or 14-year-old kid brings a gun to school and does something, sure, you blame them for making that choice….. But at the end of the day, he or she is still just a kid and there’s a lot of other things that led up that moment that should have changed.

Read more: [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW] Foster The People Open Up About Their New Album, Gun Violence, And Bungee Jumping On Stage At Coachella.

Bullying has become a widespread problem in schools, and it knows no racial, ethnic, monetary or class boundaries. Kids from good families in affluent neighborhoods get bullied just as much as any other. No one likes to think of their children being in that situation, but I have first-hand knowledge that it can and does happen to good, sweet kids. The message that Foster the People are trying to get across is that kids ARE going to be picked on, and that it’s up to parents to provide a good support system for the kids at home. I find that communication with the teachers and school counselors can be helpful in identifying underlying problems between kids in the classroom, and they can also use your input to identify potential problematic situations. When my daughter is having problems with mean girls at school (and at age 12, it’s almost always girls) we discuss how the bully is probably unhappy in other parts of her life, and does not have a proper outlet to express her frustration, and brings it to school to let loose on other students. It’s my hope that by gaining an understanding of someone’s motivations, she will be able to deal with being picked on in a productive manner (such as offering friendship) and not just fighting back. 

To learn more about the bullying epidemic in schools, see if your local library has some of the following books. 

Bullyproof Your Child’s Life – . This is a great resource for parents to give their kids the self-esteem necessary to deal with being teased outside of the home. 

For kids, there are a lot of books written to help them understand why bullying is happening to them and what they can do about it. Two I have found helpful are Stick Up for Yourself and Bullies are a Pain in the Brain . All are available from

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