Understanding the Bully
by Holly Kelly
Having been given this assignment to write an article about bullying, I’ve thought a lot about it over the last few days. I could write about how cruel and uncaring bullies are. I could write about how the victim could seek intervention—an important thing to do if you are being bullied. I even have personal experience myself and through my daughter who suffered at the hands of a bully throughout 3rd grade, ultimately causing me to withdraw her from school and find a different school for her to attend. I even took martial arts, rising to the rank of second degree black belt, in order to protect myself. But what I decided to do is look for understanding, understanding as to why people bully. Perhaps with understanding, a person can find it in their heart to forgive. Perhaps you may even find you can have compassion on the bully. You may think I’m stretching things, but hear me out.
There are different reasons for a child to bully. Each of us may have bullied or rather been cruel to another person at one time or another for any number of reasons. But I’ve chosen to address the hardcore bully—the one that everyone on the playground fears. You know what I mean. Most of us have experience with those bullies. They are the mean kid, the one that everyone avoids, the one who makes you nearly pee your pants by looking at you. Let’s take a close look at that child.
So what is it that makes a child cruel? Makes them lash out and hurt others?
After doing a little research, I found out a few things. Often a child who bullies has little closeness in their own families. Their families are not built on love, respect, and compassion. Instead they are built on a hierarchy. The strongest get less negative attention. It’s reasonable to see how standing up to a bully, or fighting back can end the bullying. They respect shows of power and recognize the hierarchy of power and control.
Control seems to be the center of bullying. These children often have a lack of support from parents and little control over their own environment. Bullying seems to be an outlet to exercise control in a life where they have little. Perhaps their parents grew up in a similar environment and are exercising their own control over their children—through harsh words and withholding affection. You might see how this can become a cycle.
So what about the victim? It should be noted that bullies are often victims themselves. Bullies lash out on the weak because they are trampled down by others stronger than themselves. When children are lacking in one area—such as control, they may overcompensate in others—by exercising control over others. These children see the world in black and white. In their world, you are either a bully, or you are a victim. They’ve been the victim enough to know that is not the position they want. So in their minds they have to be the bully. If they don’t, they believe they’ll be a target.
Now, I’m not making excuses for these children. They need to be held accountable and need appropriate consequences for their actions. But perhaps, long term change may be found by having an authority figure understand the reasoning for why these children do what they do, and base intervention on this. These children may benefit from being encouraged to participate in activities, places where they are give attention for positive actions, instead of just attention through punishments for their negative actions. This may be done through school extracurricular activities or sports. Coaches and teachers need to see through the hard, crusty exterior in order to see the aching, suffering child inside. They can then use this knowledge to help the child see the good in themselves. Help them to see that not everyone they meet is looking to beat them down and oppress them. These children are suffering. They need help. They need people to show them that there’s more to life than fighting your way to the top. They need to be shown a world where people care about each other. People look out for each other. And often all it takes is for one person to reach out to them. I know it’s scary—like trying to pet a lion. But they need that, deep down, I believe most want that. We need to stop looking at bullies through a lens that shows us that they are evil and without conscience, and see them for whom they are. They are children in pain.
Research and information found at: http://bullyingproject.com/bullies-and-victims/
Don’t forget to enter our giveaway!
Don’t forget that we have a huge month long contest going on at our blog. Make sure you enter and please share with your friends, blogs, pages and followers. You can enter the giveaway by clicking the picture below.