A bully is “a person who hurts, persecutes, or intimidates weaker people.” I am sure you can relate to this definition of a bully as we have met such persons either at home, school or work place.
Bullies target those who are coy, sensitive or are not psychologically strong to face unsavory remarks. Bullying seems to belong to antiquity and must have originated with human existence as it is embedded in the behavior of some people.
- To intimidate
- To gain control
- To satisfy their ego
- To prove their power
- To settle scores
- Due to low self-esteem
- Out of frustration
- Out of emotional deprivation
- Just for fun
Bullying begins at home and many children pick it up from their parents who might be arguing, threatening or pushing the partner to the wall to prove his/her point. So bullying is a learnt behavior.
Sometimes a parent sets an example through his own rigid behavior and high expectations. He may alienate himself from other members of the family. Children who grow up in emotionally insensitive families fail to learn the virtue of empathy. They learn to take pleasure in the pains of others.
Sibling rivalry and favoritism within a family leaves an indelible mark on the psyche of children. They either lean towards bullies or develop a low self-esteem. A girl child who is constantly badgered for being a liability and told that she must learn good behavior, as she has to get married is bullied with such words! This kind of attitude encourages the male sibling to bully her further. She learns to accept this kind of verbal and emotional bullying at her own home.
When parents are indifferent to making fun, teasing and hurting amongst siblings and don’t take punitive measures to stop such behavior, a bully may feel encouraged, as the mute message that reaches him is that such a behavior is acceptable.
In some cases children who like to bully could have been neglected at home and they grow up with the notion that nobody cares for them.
Lack of positive role models in our lives, dominance of leaders who bully and coaches who encourage the players to be aggressive give a boost to such behavior in our society.
Bullying at school is accepted as normal aggressive behavior of some children. It may begin with a little fun or unpleasant remarks out of jealousy but it doesn’t stop in case of an introvert who doesn’t share his thoughts. It is often neglected till it acquires gigantic proportions and could have already proved psychologically detrimental for the victim.
First and foremost, bullying needs to be reported to a teacher or a parent. Students who choose to fight their own battles or ignore inappropriate behavior indirectly encourage a bully.
Second, it is essential to take some action against bullying to set an example for others and send a clear signal that such a behavior would not be accepted.
Third, please remember… “Bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who’s insecure,”says Shay Mitchell.
It is extremely important to sensitize children about mutual respect and kindness at an impressionable age. Talks, discussions, projects and workshops, which focus on behavior could be organized at school to nurture compassion and empathy.
It is quite challenging to approach a bully and criticize his inappropriate remarks. He may not be responsible for them. A teacher who knows her students has to approach them gently, without hurting their sentiments and self-esteem. The focus has to be on correction and not criticism of behavior.
If we dig deeper, it can be discerned that bullies too need help. Such children are themselves the victim of some insensitive behavior at home or are upset with their own self. Their own demons are larger than life. They would never share the real reasons of such behavior. Some of them may not even be aware of the reasons and the consequences of bullying on their personality.
A bully is a hard nut to crack. The right approach would be to talk to him, show him positive approach towards life without actually hinting at his behavior. A teacher who knows a bully’s behavior or a psychologist in a group can do this. While group therapy can be helpful in some cases, such a student needs a close monitoring. Parents too have to step in if they are really concerned.
When bullying enters work places, it becomes uncontrollable as employees accept it calmly with the cliché… ‘Boss is always right.’ I have heard that phrase a thousand times and told to ‘accept’…even injustice! At this stage of life when we are capable of standing against bullying, we look the other way.
I have seen that people have their own reasons for accepting such behavior. Some don’t want to lose their job; some want promotion or favors while many are cowards who have been conditioned to become a ‘yes-man’ for the sake of peace. They become the cronies of those who sit in the comfort of their chairs to bully through their henchmen and smile at their successful strategies.
I have met many bullies but refused to surrender to their dirty games. I was always guided by the words of Lincoln – “I would rather be a little nobody, than to be a evil somebody.”
How many bullies have you met? What was your approach?
Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.
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