Written by FDana Jacoviello
We so often talk about victims of bullying and bystanders or witnesses; however, we very rarely delve into the life of a bully. Though it might sound odd to some, we must forgive and have compassion in every case. The reason I say this is because no matter what they do, it is usually coming from a place of anger, pain, and hurt. It is rare that a person just develops a personality to be a bully without having problems they are facing alone and quietly. Fear is often an enhancer. Anger can be a dangerous emotion in a child if nobody is paying attention to them or what is going on. Anger is not healthy in an adult, so think about the told it takes on our youth. Often bullies have nobody to talk to or confide in and feel like a loner even though they have a gang of friends they might hang out with. These are mostly likely just followers who are probably afraid of being bullied. Often bullies feel neglected so they choose to torture another to hide their own issues. Cyber bullying is even easier because they can hide behind technology. This is why parents need to pay close attention to what their children are doing on the internet at all times.
That being said, this is no excuse to bully someone. I do believe people need to try to help bullies as early as possible for prevention and intervention. Believe it or not, I think some want and need the help but are too afraid to ask for it or are ashamed. They might lose face if they admit they were wrong. Nobody likes to admit they are wrong, and excuses will flow like a waterfall. It is hard for a child to come out of that mentality when their emotions are like a roller-coaster. A child should not carry such a burden, but sadly they do for various reasons that are possibly within the home. In trying to cover all aspects of bullying, I think it would go a long way if people were also reaching out to both parties if that is an option and it is on the table. There should be punishment and recognition of what they have done or are doing; however, that does not mean it can’t include help such as counseling, mediation, and therapy along with whatever else gets handed down to them.
When dealing with children it is another story entirely in comparison to adults. You can’t write a child off as kids will be kids when it comes to bullying no matter what part they play. That is part of the problem. There is a difference between a disagreement or argument between friends and bullying. So many don’t know the difference or when to recognize something is possibly getting out of control. The earlier we catch it, the better chance there is of helping and saving lives. The longer the bullying takes place, the harder it is to pull a child and even an adult out of that feeling of not belonging and hopelessness. It doesn’t help that you hear stories of teachers bullying children. What is a child learning by witnessing bullying behavior from an adult? Be careful what you say and do in front of a child at all times no matter where you are. It is the same as always being aware of your surroundings. You never know who is near you or what is going to happen at any moment in life. We must be vigilant of what is going on around us for that very reason.
I commend the parents who find out their child is a bully and they react in a big way. I read a story not long ago of a mother making her child hold a sign on the side of the street. Is this considered extreme? I don’t believe it is at all. I don’t see it as humiliation but as a lesson they are learning for what they did. This will hopefully ensure it never happens again. The last thing a child wants is to be humiliated and be put on the other side of bullying. Every bully needs to answer to those involved, but at the same time need guidance to help them understand why what they do is not acceptable and to help them for the future. In not helping them, we are just possibly letting them grow up to be adult bullies or being responsible for someone taking their life. It should never be getting to that point. EVER!
Teaching our children from a young age is crucial along with educating them on bullying. The more love and kindness they learn from an early age, the less chance of bullying. In teaching this, we are also teaching strength and letting them know they have a support system. We all need a support system. I feel the need to add that the children who are bullies are not the only ones who need to answer for their actions but their parents need to take responsibility too. This is an area that I don’t see addressed enough. When you are a parent and have no idea that your child is a bully, you might not be paying close enough attention to your child or communicating with them properly. Granted children can be sneaky and are good at lying or hiding things a times, but if you are regularly having conversations and staying involved in what they do at home, school, and in the community, you should be able to see signs that something is going on. Also know who they are hanging out with, set boundaries, and provide them with responsibilities.
The schools should be doing just as much preparation to aid the parents in case something is missed another might catch it. Everybody needs to do their part. This is not a one person job. If we all do not do our part, we are failing the children.
Now when it comes to adults it is a bit more sensitive as most feel adults should know better and can control it. Some can and do it anyway, but there are those instances that other factors are at play such as mentally or emotionally. This is not to be used as an excuse rather something to keep in mind when feeding into it. I am not saying we all don’t have problems that might be difficult and hard to face, but as an adult we need to take the proper steps rather than bullying, harassing, or ignoring the problem because we feel we can’t stand up to another adult or have no place. We absolutely do. Bullying is bullying no matter what age.
I run an antibullying organization/small business, and I try to do whatever I can and cover as many aspects of this epidemic as I possibly can for ALL ages. I advocate and speak out to not only help, but let others know there is a place to go and hope. This provides outlets for both bullies and victims. We need to all come together and utilize every tool at our disposal.
The answer to bullying is not bullying someone back. That is never the answer. This only creates more bullying and exacerbates the situation when we are supposed to be teaching the opposite. Defending yourself or clarification on a misunderstanding or comment is not bullying. Please keep this in mind. The word bully can also be thrown around nonchalantly; therefore we must be careful how and when we use this word. We do have a right to speak up in a situation without being deemed a bully.
Be kind…LOVE BIG!