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Young Students Hiding Academic Talent To Avoid Bullying 684

jones_supa writes "The recent anti-bullying survey conducted by ABA brings up some interesting findings. According to it, more than 90% of the 1,000 11-16 year-olds surveyed said they had been bullied or seen someone bullied for being too intelligent or talented. Almost half of children and young people (49.5%) have played down a talent for fear of being bullied, rising to 53% among girls. One in 10 (12%) said they had played down their ability in science and almost one in five girls (18.8%) and more than one in 10 boys (11.4%) are deliberately underachieving in maths – to evade bullying. Worryingly, this means our children and young people are shying away from academic achievement for fear of victimization."
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Young Students Hiding Academic Talent To Avoid Bullying

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  • So Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fsck1nhippies ( 2642761 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:10PM (#42033175)

    That people feel they need to hide their abilities because they would do better than others.

    • Re:So Sad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pelirojatica ( 533396 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:41PM (#42033611)

      Sad, true.

      As a shy person I might have gone this route, but no amount of bullying would have been worse than my parents' reactions to a low grade.

      As my father once said "what the hell is this B doing on your report card?!"

      • As my father once said "what the hell is this B doing on your report card?!"

        Sounds as if he was quite concerned about the fact that you didn't complete enough pointless busywork or memorize enough useless information for a test. Grades are all-important, clearly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just exactly how many professional adults have to hide their abilities and intelligence? I bet it's the same percentage cited in the article. Bullying just doesn't happen to the intelligent in grade school, but throughout their life and in the workplace.

    • Re:So Sad (Score:5, Funny)

      by tbird81 ( 946205 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:15PM (#42034721)

      I usually have quite high karma in Slashdot, but I've started playing my comments down to avoid bullies. (At least that's what I tell people, am actually really pretty stupid and lazy, but I like the bullying excuse more.)

    • Re:So Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @11:04PM (#42035945)
      The dumb are held to a high standard. If you are a bad enough student, maybe one day, you too could grow up to be the next GW Bush. Clinton and Gore were both attacked by the conservative media as too undumbishness. But James Danforth Quayle rose to be Vice President and Bush to President. If you are smart, you make others feel as dumb as they are, so they hurt you for it. It's not about fear of success (though there has been some of that hinted in the media), but the fear of getting the shit kicked out of you that forces conformity.
    • Have you guys seen the movie "Idiocracy"? It's a hilarious movie, which is probably the most accurate depiction of the future... This process has now started.
  • This is news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 14erCleaner ( 745600 ) <> on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:10PM (#42033177) Homepage Journal
    It was like this when I was in school back in the 60's and 70's. I realize the study is from the UK, but anti-intellectualism is a long tradition here in the good ol' USA - witness the support for creationism and denial of climate change, etc, etc.
    • Re:This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by qortra ( 591818 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:15PM (#42033257)

      witness the support for creationism and denial of climate change

      This doesn't have anything to do with the article. The article is about bullying, not your favorite religious/political issue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Haha way to exemplify the dude's point. "Creationism" and "Climate change" aren't religious or political issues. They're just anti-evidence ignorance. Politics and religion are about ideas and beliefs, creationism and climate change are about nonsense and anger. But avoiding intellectual achievement for a long enough time has ensured our culture is full of people like you who aren't capable of such critical thoughts.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by qortra ( 591818 )
          OK dude, let's break this down.

          - Creationism is, among other things, a religious issue in that religion is typically the determining factor in whether one believes it.
          - Both creationism and climate change are, among other things, political issues in that politicians are elected based on their views on these issues.
          - Even if I stipulate to your meaningless claim that "Creationism" and "Climate Change" are "just anti-evidence ignorance" [sic], it doesn't change my original point that these issues have no
          • Re:This is news? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by AwesomeMcgee ( 2437070 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:18PM (#42034757)
            Creationism is the belief (regardless of source) that humans were created by a super-being 6000 years ago, despite insurmountable evidence humanity is far older.

            Human caused climate change disbelief is the thought that regardless of vast scientific agreement based on hard research and evidence, humans are not in fact causing any form of climate change even if it is occurring.

            Call both of those "religion and politics" if you will, but that's just displaying your lack of analytic skills which in a normal studious person can quickly identify these are both just beliefs that evidence should be thrown out and ignored. Throwing out evidence and ignoring objective analysis is the greatest practice of the intellectual underachiever, which is what this article is claiming our country's culture has pressured people towards.
            • Re:This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by qortra ( 591818 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:49PM (#42035119)
              Something being obviously stupid/wrong/anti-intellectual is not mutually exclusive with it being a political or religious issue (as it seems you are claiming). For instance, if 50% of people in a country strongly believe that women should be legally required to wear a Burka in public and 50% believe that they should be allowed to wear whatever they want, it is a political issue in that country. This is regardless of whether this is any insurmountable evidence that such a law would be harmful or unjust.

              but that's just displaying your lack of analytic skills which in a normal studious person can quickly identify

              Again, you regress to Ad Hominem attacks. Why are you so quick to point out how little estimation you have for other peoples' "analytical skills"?

      • The link between the two is that there will always be social pressure to conform, rather than rely on facts, hard evidence and logic. Ad hominem and appeal-to-authority/majority fallacies are just too easy to fall for.

    • They rehash shit like this every 10 years or so. OMFG the poor young people... same shit has been happening since the begging of modern time. Someone has to make their position look good on paper.

      • Longer ...

        Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.

        Heinlein, from the 1950's

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      Civilized people behave civilized, barbaric people behave barbaric.
      Guess who's most likely to start a fight and who's most likely to win that fight?

  • by penglust ( 676005 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:11PM (#42033195)
    Ma bring me my shotgun. Theres another of them their intlectuls on the front grass.
  • So? What's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:12PM (#42033219)
    How is this news? I would wager that humans have been acting like this for many thousands of years. The only people who should find this surprising are people who grew up somewhere away from all human contact,.
  • All the kids hated and insulted me

    So, I made friends with the teachers and school administration

    Concentrated totally on academic excellence

    Totally ignored the other kids

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:16PM (#42033261)
    Which was unusual in that the person doing the bullying was the fucking teacher. (First grade believe it or not. Turns out she hated the smart kids. I'm fairly glad my mind won't let me remember what she did but I at least know she was cruel, nasty bitch.) Every grade after that I way under-performed.
    • Ya... someone like that that early in life can really mess you up for years to come if not a lifetime.
    • Yeah, I found out in college that you don't want to correct the teacher and then prove it mathematically. He was wrong about a crucial part of power supply design, but I quickly realized I should have kept my damned mouth shut and just gotten that question "wrong". It would have done less damage.

  • A few things...

    Talent schools do exist, a lot of them are private though.

    Being in the top 10% of your math class doesn't make you a math prodigy.

    Smart people who act "cool" tend to get applause for their "talents" , not bullied

    Lifting weights never killed anyone in this age group (at least I don't think)

    Where the f' are the parents in all this?

    In life in general, sometimes it's better to fit in than be the nail that gets hammered

    If the kids actually cared about excelling in their subjec
    • Last, but not least, AP Calc has yet to help me in life

      Don't knock AP Calculus.

      It's a lot cheaper to take the class in high school and pay for the AP test than to pay college tuition later.

    • Parents (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gd2shoe ( 747932 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:07PM (#42035367) Journal

      Where the f' are the parents in all this?

      That is a fantastic question. But... Whose parents? Note that the victims parents can't teach the bully that he's misbehaving.

      When I was in junior high, I was bullied frequently and mercilessly. My parents did get involved. They were told by the school councilor that I just had a self-esteem problem (I didn't) which somehow made myself a target (blame the victim, anyone?). They were told by teachers that there was nothing they could do (not true). They were told by administrators that everything was fine. They weren't permitted to contact the other students' parents. I blame the school system (primarily) for permitting bullying.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:17PM (#42033277)

    In a work environment, just as in school, you get along by pretending to be like everyone else, and as dumb as everyone else, particularly your managers. Lip service is always given to tolerance, but lip service is all it is.

  • Opposite of Asia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:20PM (#42033325)

    In Asia, overachievers and well-studying kids are looked up to. While that still doesn't make them the 'cool' kids, they do just fine socially and have no such problems as TFA.

    I suggest North American culture change its stigma of nerds, geeks, and intelligence, or face vastly deteriorating social values and social/scientific progress.

    • yes, overachievers are respected in the east. but bullying is just as strong in the east

      so who is bullied?

      the misfits

      stupidity is the rallying cry of the western bully. conformity is the rallying cry of the eastern bully

      and i will assert to you that the misfits hold more of the keys to cultural, political, social, and technological advancement in society than a mindlessly conforming unoriginal egghead

      furthermore, we'll just wait for the asian eggheads to come to the west: []

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxdeadface ( 1968100 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:21PM (#42033341)
    Here's a small collection of recent headlines:

    The Election is Over, and the Math Geeks Won.

    Obama's data geeks have made Karl Rove and Dick Morris obsolete

    The Real Election-Day Winner? Math Geeks.

    Math nerds score big wins with superstorm Sandy, Obama victory

    A library datebase, not just for science nerds

    This is only from recent events, but the same type of headlines are repeated all the time. Why the hell would any child want to be good at something that puts them into a category that is openly disdained in our culture?

  • I prefer to think of it as hiding my secret identity.

  • by loony ( 37622 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:28PM (#42033425)

    made things a lot worse. When my oldest (who is actually good at math) went to school, he never got in trouble because he'd get some A's, a few B's and occasionally he'd even get an F... by now, math and other subjects are so dumbed down that any reasonably smart person gets straight A's - and suddenly you're being punished for being too smart... In the end, we need kids to fail more in every way.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:30PM (#42033447)

    Dearies, when I was growing up in India, I was very good in academics. Yes I was good in a number of extra curricular activities too, but acads were stellar. I was fit, but except for some recreational table-tennis, I was not much into competitive sports. Oh btw, I was a small kid in stature compared to others. Anyway, I was actually respected, especially because of the acads. And thankfully the culture has not changed much at all. Kids who are talented in sciences and acads, or other stuff, get respect, and are considered cool enough to hang out with - it's not the losers who sit around and are bulky that are considered cool (well, India being India, if the losers start getting physical, rest assured there are external contractors whom your parents can hire to take care of the matter quickly - and the losers know that too).

    Anyway - this is good news for India and china. At least their brainy kids would not be beaten up and turned away from studies by the idiots. No immediate worries of ending up as an idiocracy. I guess future generations of Indian and chinese kids will thank the prolific US 'cool' football and basketball stars for beating up the brainy ones and damaging them permanently.

    Good show USA.

  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:30PM (#42033457) Homepage Journal

    This has been going on for a long time, and no, it isn't just public schools.

    George Orwell mentioned getting mocked -- by the headmaster's wife, for cripes sake -- for being part of a group that collected insects. ("Such, Such Were the Joys.")

    But the OA made me think of this Freeman Dyson quote:

    "So it happened that I belonged to a small minority of boys who were lacking in physical strength and athletic prowess, interested in other things besides football, and squeezed between the twin oppressions of whip and sandpaper. We hated the headmaster with his Latin grammar and we hated even more the boys with their empty football heads. So what could the poor helpless minority of intellectuals, later and in another country to be known as nerds, do to defend ourselves? We found our refuge in a territory that was equally inaccessible to our Latin-obsessed headmaster and our football-obsessed schoolmates. We found our refuge in science. With no help from the school authorities, we founded a science society. As a persecuted minority, we kept a low profile. We held our meetings quietly and inconspicuously. We could do no real experiments. All we could do was share books and explain to each other what we didn't understand. But we learned a lot. Above all, we learned those lessons that can never be taught by formal courses of instruction; that science is a conspiracy of brains against ignorance, that science is a revenge of victims against oppressors, that science is a territory of freedom and friendship in the midst of tyranny and hatred."

    -- From "To Teach or Not to Teach," 1990

  • by readin ( 838620 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:31PM (#42033479)
    I think Chemisor (97276) said it best on Slashdot some months ago:

    To a nerd, acquiring social skills merely means learning that he can never mention anything he really cares about, and that he must learn to politely endure other people's boring rants without showing it. And then people wonder why he dislikes socializing.

    People don't get bullied for being good at soccer or for being good at art.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:35PM (#42033529)

    There was a girl in my class in middle school who was first rate at figure skating, and never got picked on at all. There were kids who were good at art and other things ... no hassles. Precious athletes, for the most part, exempt from the social tax on excellence.

    There was a girl hideously deformed in the jaw and neck who showed up one day. No one said a word for two months, then the dam burst. I'd been in a children's hospital down the hall from a burn unit. I wasn't having any of it. Most of the adults who came to visit were so green around the gills to step onto that ward you almost needed a bucket in the hallway.

    Sam Harris says we grant religious beliefs too much automatic deference. I think this also extends to our little rotters. There's something terribly vicious in young children that we neither discuss nor study to the extent warranted by their appalling capacity for social cruelty.

    Not my little angel! Well, I suspect your little angel has become adept at emulating attitudes learned at home.

    The social violence of little angels should be news. Today and every day. Do people think it just goes away, or does it merely mutate into more mature forms? I'm not trying to stamp out scorn or derision. That's a fact of life, man. But I do think that the use of "gay" as a generic adjective of derision should get the little rotters shuffled onto a short bus for the social learning disabled.

    High time "gay" went the way of DUI, where nearly everyone looks at you funny, like you're charting a life course for a wall-mounted chrome toilet with no lid.

  • This problem eventually goes away as people are sorted into classes based on their achievement.

    It is caused because schools are a "melting pot" for people from various social strata, personalities and intellectual levels.

    As people go through life, they tend to segregate and associate with similar people.So bullying based on intelligence diminishes or goes away entirely. I mean, you're not going to be bullied by your peers for being smart if you're a grad student in engineering physics.

    The fix is to identify

  • ...that was bothered by them referring to 12% as "one in 10"? It's closer to one in eight (12.5%) or one in nine (11.11...%) than one in ten (10%).

    Maybe if they had spent less time writing about non-newsworthy topics that have remained unchanged for decades and more time studying their math while not caring what other people said about their intelligence they'd have not made a mistake like that.

  • I suppose it might help if efforts were made to promote some team competition or even team grading in academic subjects. Competitions like that "It's Academic" show held in class would make it nice to have the smart kid on your team sometimes. I'm sure some people would object that it would hurt the feelings of the kids who don't do as well, but we have competitions for soccer, football, basketball, and other physical activities all the time and the results are quite visible. The only time we worry about
  • An anti bullying organization does a study and finds alarming rates of anti-academic bullying. Oh the surprise!

    I went through the UK school system in a steelworks-and-mining area. Being academically successful was not a problem. I had friends up and down the academic scale. There was a palpable mutual dislike between the sports types (rugby mostly) and the academic types. But that was not a 'problem' academically. The teachers were divided along similar lines.

    It probably goes on, but 90% is a nonsense numbe

  • Fuck teachers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:46PM (#42033687)
    I went through this shit... Teachers are awful. Half the time the teachers would join in. Fuck them. I remember in 7th grade my science teacher telling the class that one day we wouldn't have our pinky toe anymore because we don't need it anymore and evolution would take care of it. I raised my hand and pointed out that evolution didn't work that way. She got mad and told me I was wrong. The next day I brought in a book on evolution from the library to prove my point. I failed that class... and not because I failed any tests.

    If there's bullying going on in a classroom, it's the teachers fault. Period. I've always said it's a sad truth that your children are safer in a bar than they are at school. If the shit that went down in your local high-school happened anywhere else people would go to jail.
  • by Velex ( 120469 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:48PM (#42033725) Journal
    No zero tolerance bullcrap. All that does is protect bullies. If somebody shoves your student, give them every right to give the aggressor a black eye.
  • Studying from home (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:55PM (#42033823) Journal
    Love it. When I tell people that my kids will be home-schooled they usually say "but school is where you learn to socialize." No. School is where you learn submission to authority, to muscle and to bullies. Also, teachers try very hard to prevent socialization in the classroom. Socialization can happen in sport activities or extra-scholar activity, but learning does not require bullies and crowded classes.
    • by FoolishOwl ( 1698506 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @12:15AM (#42036601) Journal

      We're homeschooling my younger stepson. It was becoming clear that elementary school was simply a waste of his time, even when he was attending a progressive private school (with a generous tuition assistance program). He learns more efficiently on his own initiative. We live in an urban area, one in which there's a fairly substantial community of homeschoolers who coordinate activity, and of course there's the Internet. I'd say he has far more social interaction than I did at his age, both with other children and with adults.

      From everything I've heard about modern educational theory, elementary school is pretty much pointless, and I'm increasingly dubious about the structure of later stages of formal education. I took classes on programming and system administration, and that prompted me to study specific topics that I wouldn't have, otherwise -- but, most of what I know about those subjects, I knew from tinkering with Linux on my own desktop, and most of the topics I studied that I wouldn't have on my own initiative, have proven to be obsolete or irrelevant to both my personal and my professional work. Meanwhile, I'm watching my ten-year-old, rapidly learning the ins and outs of package management and system administration, because of his interest in Minecraft.

      The main problem with homeschooling, in general, is that I think it's relatively unusual for most people families to be able to ensure there's an adult at home to supervise a younger child. Fortunately, my wife is in graduate school, and my work schedule gives me several weekdays off, so there's always an adult around in our household; we also have adult relatives nearby, as backup. But, I think more broadly yet, our social and economic organization is grossly irrational. We work far more hours than we ought to -- real wages have been static in the US for forty years, even as productivity has more than doubled, so I think we'd all be better off in many ways if our wages were increased, we worked fewer hours, and we did less useless crap that just wastes resources to prop up an irrational economic system based on perpetual expansion.

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @08:16PM (#42034071) Homepage Journal

    The only way to deal with them is bash them. Sorry of that's not PC New York Times and soccer mommy friendly enough for you but that, fellow geeks and nerds is what you have to do.

    Someone bullies you, break their arm. If they and their thug friends come back at you break their heads. If their mommies and daddies complain tell them everyone can live in a new house after their burns to the ground.

    They're not human, they're animals and this is what you do with animals. You beat them until they stop.

    • by taustin ( 171655 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @08:24PM (#42034173) Homepage Journal

      "Someone bullies you, break their arm. If they and their thug friends come back at you break their heads. If their mommies and daddies complain tell them everyone can live in a new house after their burns to the ground."

      You left out the quote attribution. Is that from Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold?

      • by daemonenwind ( 178848 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @01:41AM (#42037177)

        I wish it had been Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold. Littleton, CO would be better for it.

        In school, I was bullied too. Here's the kicker - my dad was a cop, gunsmith, and holder of a Federal Firearms License. Yes, that means he sold guns.

        My home had guns stacked like cordwood. I'm not exaggerating. I had my first rifle at age 11 and became very proficient - most of the guys on the force considered my dad the marksman of the group. Probably came from his stint in the military, but whatever. I think you get the picture. I knew my way around most guns, could hit what I wanted to, and had easy access to weapons of all sorts.

        Here's the thing. I never took the bully's shit. They called me a name, I embarrassed them. They put a tack on my chair, I stabbed them in the kneecap with my automatic pencil. By the time I got to the back half of high school, I had no problems with people whatsoever.

        You see, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold just sat there and took it. They tried to find an outlet for their rage - video games, violent movies, blowing stuff up in the woods - but in the end, it was never enough. Because they never learned to send the evil back where it came from.

        Hate is like acid. Try to contain it, and you become the only thing that can hold it - glass. And when you do shatter, it gets really damn messy.

        Eric and Dylan shattered. I never did, because I realized a long time earlier that holding it in was the path to self-destruction.

  • Picked on for being smart? Not where I'm from.

    I graduated in the early 2000's, and no one ever cared about any one else's grades or smarts. The people who got low grades didn't care about grades, or just joked about how low they could get their GPA. Those with a high GPA never caught flak for it. The low achievers didn't care; they were focused on their own little world.

    Not to say no one ever got picked on. I distinctly remember the guy who almost lit me on fire with a zippo on the school bus, but that was because I was a small and easy target.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:28PM (#42035591) Journal

    There are a LOT of smart people out there that nobody hates. Perhaps it says more about you and your ego, than about "society" that they don't like you.

    I had a chat after a Cub Scout outing once, with one kid who was crying that "all the other kids hate me because I'm so much smarter than them".

    Obviously, I couldn't say it to the kid, who just needed a sympathetic shoulder at the moment, but the fact is: any kid whose parents have taught him that he's such a special snowflake that he could even HAVE such an egotistical, obnoxious thought, is in for trouble.

    And it's NOT because "he's so much smarter than everyone else". Not by a long shot.

  • The problem is this (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @10:42PM (#42035747)

    A word has been invented and used to label what is essentially assault, simply because it is minors assaulting minors. Can we PLEASE call it what it is and DEAL WITH IT as ASSAULT? As in, treat it as a CRIMINAL OFFENCE instead of just saying "kids will be kids" ::rolleyes::? Let's make examples of these so-called "bullies", criminalise their activities and maybe the incidence will go DOWN.

    I wasn't "bullied" at school. I was ASSAULTED. My overachievement in all fields of study suffered, so by the time I got to college age I just couldn't be arsed any more. I went from straight-A to C/D/E/F in my GCSEs, and scraped by in A-level physics and biology and completely failed advanced math. Fortunately I managed to beat that stigma and went on to run several successful businesses, all of which I parted company with reputation intact and no creditors.

    As an aside, schools don't like it when you send them Cease & Desist notices to get them to address problems of targetted assaults on their students which they're doing nothing about. They like it even less when you pull your own kids from their institutions citing "multiple assaults by students and teaching staff" with dates and times. They go all out to perjure themselves in sudden and unexpected parallel care proceedings when you file suit against the local education authority for failure to perform to expectations as Corporate Parents in ensuring student safety.

    So it's not just a culture of "bullying" that schools are neglecting until it's thrown into the limelight by pissed off parents who are having to take their kids to the hospital every two weeks, it's a culture of perpetuation of the problem on the part of the institutions, whose staff themselves are PART OF THE PROBLEM. Let's have this all out in the open so we can DEAL WITH IT, before more kids die at the hands of these "bullies" through terminal attacks or suicides!

    • I totally agree.

      My experience of early elementary school was that the bullies were actually encouraged by many of the teachers and administrators, and I was explicitly blamed for "inciting" them.

      We live in a cruelly hierarchical society, in which victim-blaming is extremely common.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!