Often times when we read about bullying, we hear about the victim and not the “bully”. With that being said, a lion’s share of energy and attention goes to the person being bullied when the person actually perpetuating the act is being labeled, shamed and ignored. If we want the bullying to stop, we have to put more time into the one who is crying out for help. Oftentimes those who do not know how to speak up for themselves do it in the most alarming ways. Help them and we start to get to the root of the problem.
A bully generally acts out by bringing attention to other’s differences. Either they don’t have it and want it, or they don’t understand it. The difference really is why they do it. Is it something they saw at home and they don’t know any better? Are there problems at home and they are lashing out at the world? Are their own insecurities getting the best of them? Those are all likely scenarios. Can you see how each of them have areas of need that can be worked out?
Unfortunately, bullying behavior isn’t attention that others want to draw on themselves. Others tend to shy away and either go along with it or walk in the other direction. It’s a small percentage of people that are strong enough, to stand up to it. Pinpointing the person with real issues is essential.
Labeling is one of the most harmful things we can do. It’s almost like giving a permission slip to continue the acts of aggression. If someone didn’t see themselves as a bully before, they have no other choice but to acknowledge themselves as a bully in the present. That affects future behavior. People repeat behavior that meets their short-term needs. It is up to adults and/or authority figures to figure out what the needs are and how to address them in an appropriate manner.
Self-image plays a huge role in this topic. Pride does as well. The second harmful thing we can do, and want to avoid, is shaming. When you shame someone their defense mechanism is going to go up to protect how they see themselves. In one case you offer the opportunity for the aggressor to protect their actions, thus harming others all over again. If they are being hurt at home, emotionally or physically, they may see their acts as justified. Nobody is coming to their aid and as far as they are concerned no real intentional harm occurred. In another case, they may easily be so angry and hurt that they take this new bullying image on and wear it like a new coat. This may not be the kind of attention they were looking for, but it’s better than no attention at all.
Finally ignoring is harmful. Some think that if we don’t acknowledge the bullying behaviors that they won’t end up working for the individual and thus they will cease to exist. The problem with that line of action is that if it doesn’t work, and we agree that there are some unmet needs, the individual may turn the harm onto themselves. The goal here is to have zero victims
Clearly the victim of bullying deserves to have support getting through a hurtful event. They aren’t the only victims though if we take the time to dig a little deeper. It takes thought to look at situations of abuse and put ourselves in the feet of both parties with equal care and concern.
There are at-home programs to support re-building a positive self-image, gaining leadership skills, and learning how to communicate effectively. Schools have started to implement anti-bullying programs that are good for the group dynamic. This is a step in the right direction; however, more programs need to be in place to learn the social skills necessary to advocate.
If you would like more information on bullying and how to seek out support, you can contact Breakthrough at (800) 278-8520 or on our website. You aren’t alone and there are resources out there!