There are many different reasons for a child turning into a bully or bullying . Some bullies may not be receiving much attention at home and feel unlovable and powerless. In an effort to mask their vulnerability and pain, they cause pain to others to feel less of a victim and more powerful. Other bullies may fear rejection and in an effort to protect themselves, they reject others first by bullying them to maintain a false sense of control and self-esteem. Bullies prey on those who are vulnerable, i.e. the student who sits alone during lunch or the new kid at school who hasn’t yet developed a peer support system. Bullies attack those who don’t seem to fit into their view of what is valued or considered normal and they don’t feel like they fit in either. For instance, if sports is valued at the school, then a student who does poorly in sports may be a prime victim for a bully or if a student struggles in school, he or she may be called, “stupid” and be outcasted from peer groups. Bottomline, bullies project their view of themselves onto the other person. They see themselves in their victims. Please watch this 3-minute video:
The Bully’s Perspective
Victims are chosen because they appear vulnerable or have a difference in some manner or the victims have something of value to the bully such as courage, kindness, or a wealthy family. A victim’s comments, “Why does everyone hate me? I am isolated and shunned from all peer groups at school. The bullies call me a ‘Whimp, Stupid, and Worthless. I am pushed while standing in line for lunch.” Many victims learn to distrust peers, teachers, and even themselves. They may become even more shy and anxious to reach out to be friends with a group because they fear more humiliation. Grades decline because with the emotional impact of being bullied and fearing safety and distrusting others takes precedence over schoolwork concentration. Bullying can escalate into physical attacks as well, but verbal assaults and isolation have a strong impact on its victims. Many who are isolated begin to believe the insults. The critical voice in their minds continually replays the bully’s messages. The projected messages from the bully becomes Truth in some of the victims’ minds. The victim’s experiences often carry well into adulthood
Generally, bystanders feel that bullying is wrong because it causes harm to the victim. Nevertheless, some bystanders may reinforce the bullying further by laughing at the situation, join in the bullying behavior, or merely watch the bullying and take no action. Other bystanders may intervene by defending the victim or standing up to the bully and yelling at him or her to “STOP!” They may respond by directly getting help from a teacher to break up the situation. It varies greatly, but bystanders are affected by bullying as well. They often feel powerless to stop the bullying. They may fear becoming victims themselves. Lastly, if they remained uninvolved, they may feel guilty for not having intervened.
There are many anti-bullying campaigns and experts are available to train students and teachers how best to respond to bullying situations regarding the three roles of bully, victim, and bystander. However, awareness needs to be throughout the school year and not just during a short training period and a poster stating that “Bullying is NOT Tolerated.” Activities and awareness regarding empathy, compassion, judgments, and tolerance for diversity from race to wearing eyeglasses should be incorporated in the classroom and at home. These activities or discussions may take as few as five minutes and yet, reap greater understanding and a more positive school climate or community.