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What creates a bully and how do we stop it?

April 7th, 2014 05:00:00 am

What creates a bully and how do we stop it?

Bullying can come from a couple of different places. The first is being simply shown, or role modeled. For instance, a child watches one, or even both, of their parents act like a bully and decides that there are two kinds of people in the world: bullies, and the ones who get bullied. This child may have never been bullied themselves, but more likely just watched or observed. I am reminded of Dudley, Harry Potter's cousin in the well-known book series. He was a bully who came from a house of bullies, but was never actually bullied himself. These kinds of bullies need consequences from their actions to be more severe than the perceived reward. They have to be taught how to make different choices and what the value of those choices are. Too often in this world, we see the bully as victorious, even a hero. They seem to always win, to get ahead. We see this in political pundits as well as politicians. We see it in athletes and celebrities. We see it in some churches and institutions that preach bigotry and hate, justifying a form of bullying.


Bullying can also come from being bullied, feeling powerless, and finding someone—some animal, something that can be bullied—to make a child feel less powerless. It is a place they can focus their pain, rage, and feelings of powerlessness. First, these children need to get into a place where they feel safe. Then, they have to be taught the true meaning of healthy power, of what it is and how to use it. Not power over, not abusive power, but true power. Part of true power is the empowerment of those around you—not the disempowerment.


But that's difficult in today's world, where so few people who exercise good power obtain recognition, and certainly our society seems to reward bad behavior much more often. We don't hold people—role models—accountable. We as a society reward, though media attention, atrocious behavior and send the message that the wealthy and famous are allowed to play by a different set of rules. If you're good at the “right” things, or you look the way the media wants you to, you are allowed—even encouraged—to become a poor role model to keep people talking and tabloids in business.


Bullying of any kind not only creates the need for others to cry for help, it is a cry for help in and of itself. The more we teach children and adults what positive, true power is, the more we shun and reject the rewarding of bad behavior. And the more we hold our role models accountable for their behavior, the faster bullying will go out of fashion. 



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