Monday, April 15, 2013

Identifying a Bully: One Third of the Tragedy

Bullies are not a certain size or shape or color. They are not identified by the type of music they listen to or the church they attend. A bully can be the popular kid or the kid or the kid who is disliked by many. A bully can be the athlete or the drama student or the trombone player. Bullies are not categorized as such by their looks but by their actions. In her book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, Barbara Coloroso indicates that bullying is a “conscious, willful, and deliberate hostile activity intended to harm, induce fear through the threat of further aggression, and create terror.” There are three elements that will always be present in a bully situation: imbalance of power, intent to harm, and threat of further aggression. The fourth element, terror, is added when bullying has escalated because nothing has been successful in stopping it. So what is the “profile” of a bully? While there are different types of bullies, common characteristics include: enjoyment in dominating others, being unable to see a situation from another’s vantage point, using others to get what is wanted, selfish to the point of disregarding the rights and feelings of others, tending to hurt others when someone in a position of higher authority is absent, refusing to accept responsibility for one’s own actions, projecting one’s own inadequacies through the use of blame, sarcasm, and false allegations onto others, viewing weaker people as “prey”, and craving attention. While this is not an exhaustive list, it is pretty comprehensive and can be used as a point of reference. The main motivation for a bully is contempt fueled by arrogance. Bullies have a sense of entitlement and superiority about themselves. This is, of course, a cover up for their inadequacies. So, what happens when a bully is “caught”? The bully’s behavior will most likely deny any wrongdoing, trivialize his/her actions by calling is “fun”, claim self defense and cast the other person as the bully, or even count on the support (by way of apathy or fear) of the bystander(s). Bullying is not something that anyone should consider “normal childhood behaviors.” It is antisocial and must be addressed through the proper channels, protocols, and/or procedures already in place. Bullying is a social problem and will take the efforts of all of us to come up with a solution.

For additional information on bullying, including videos and true stories, visit Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center at

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