Bullies are not nice people. But then again, there is a fair share of not-so-nice people out there in the world. There is a fundamental difference between being “not nice” and being a bully. I guess there is no surefire way to tell why some people are “not so nice” and some people are bullies. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why children bully other children.
According to The ABCs of Bullying Prevention, primarily children learn aggressive behavior at home (Shore, 2011). Parents, older siblings, and what my Big Ma used to call “the root of all evil,” television, share in the blame. When children are regularly exposed to violence and angry or argumentative behavior, they will begin to think that such behavior is not only acceptable, but normal, and then practice the same.
Additionally, constant exposure to confrontation and violence desensitizes a child. Desensitization makes a child less aware and less sympathetic to others’ pain and suffering (Shore, 2011). This drastically impacts how an individual treats another person.
While learned aggressive behavior is a reason why some bully, it is not the only one. Another reason that some children bully is because they have low self-esteem or feel uncomfortable about something in themselves (StompOutBullying.org, 2018). A close friend once told me that in middle school she had to start wearing glasses. One day, some kid said something cruel to her about her glasses. She already hated her glasses and thought that she looked ugly in them. From that point on, she was on the offensive. She decided that she would make fun of the other kids before they could make fun of her. “I literally remember going home and practicing ‘joaning’ in the mirror.”
And let’s face it, sometimes students become bullies simply because they feel entitled to do so. The feeling of superiority over others often translates to kids as “that person is different, so that person is lesser than me.”
The big takeaway, at least for me, is to understand that bullies are people, too. Understandably, when a child is being bullied, it is natural to think good versus bad, or right versus wrong. The problem is that it is almost never that cut and dry. More often than not, there is pain experienced in the lives of both students: the bullied and the bully.
Bullying is an aggressive call for help. And it’s about time that we start answering it. We can start by doing something different; by doing more than just punishing these “bullies.” Instead of tearing down those who bully, we need to try to effectively communicate with them and show them that we are their community, too.
Over the last few blogs in this series, I have been talking about bullying and how it is affecting people all across America. Hope Wanted is bringing attention to bullying in an effort to educate and empower community members to stand up to bullying together.
When I first started writing this blog, I immediately began to regret choosing this topic. I mulled over it aimlessly for days. Honestly, it was hard for me to try to ‘understand a bully.’ The truth is, it is going to be hard for all of us to do this task, but it is necessary. To stop bullying, we have to reframe the dialogue about bullies and remember that they are kids, too. It is so important that we provide the resources and support that these kids and families need.
Stay tuned to the Beating up Bullying blog series as we delve into teens and cyberbullying. As always, stay informed. Stay involved.
Blog Author: Dr. P. K. Wayne
Shore, K. (2011). The ABCs of bullying prevention: A comprehensive schoolwide approach. National Professional Resources, Inc. Dude: Port Chester, New York.
Stomp Out Bullying. (2018). Understanding why kids bully. http://www.stompoutbullying.org/information-and-resources