Math…it’s the subject you either love or want no part of. Yet simple math is necessary, especially as it pertains to your checking account, purchases, loans and, oh yes, bullies.
There is no test in these words on how to factor 2x + 3y – 1 or what the answer to the equation is if x=3 and y=1. Nope!
Just a simple subtraction problem instead…
You – Negative = Positive
Everytime you choose to ignore a bully, eliminate them from your life, or stand up to them, you create more room for the positive things happening all around you that their smoke often hides. After all, courage is fire!
But in the moment, courage takes a back seat to the overwhelming sense of fear, embarrassment, and unfortunately, shame.
Insert personal story…
Laura was my “bully” in junior high, towering over me like a skyscraper. Each time she passed by me in school, my body would cower and hug the lockers lining the hallway. Dumbfoundedness was the only way to describe “why” she didn’t like me. We had never conversed – I was just her chosen one. And after several years of taunting and idle threats to “beat me up”, I’d finally had enough.
One summer’s eve, rumor had it that if showed up to the baseball fields, it was the end of me – whatever! I had heard that for two years…yes, two very long years. I guess the fact that she never followed through with her previous threats made me truly wonder if this would turn out the same. Nonetheless, I headed to the fields with my friends to find out.
As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for Laura and her posse to find me. Here it was…the moment of truth.
What did I have to lose if she beat me up – a bruised ego or a broken nose?
Yet the better question was this – What did Laura have to gain by harming someone almost half her size that HAD NOT DONE A SINGLE THING TO HER?!?
Maybe the answer is buried somewhere in here…
In the eyes of a bully, there isn’t a reason to harm others. A bully may feel stronger, smarter or more superior with their actions. Jealousy is often a factor as well as the desire to feel included amongst the crowd.
‘no reason to harm’ – sounds like Laura.
The most common explanation regarding a why a child/teenager is a bully is because he/she lacks attention from a parent at home and, in turn, lashes out at others for that same attention. Older siblings can also play a role – if they have been bullied, they are more apt to bully a younger sibling in order to feel more secure or empower themselves. And it cannot be ruled out that an adult role model – parents, teachers, coaches – may be a bully thus setting the example with their inability to handle conflict well.
‘lacks attention at home’ – again Laura (I won’t go into details)
As a learned behavior, bullies dominate and blame or use others. Their lack of empathy and foresight turns to contempt for the perceived weak, thus becoming the target. With a bullly’s inability to accept the consequences of their actions, the continual craving for power and attention drives them.
‘contempt for the perceived weak’ – Beth (4’10”) vs Laura (5’8″)
Our general perception is that a bully is a bully. However, there are actually four types. Think about if you’ve encountered any one of these…
- Bullied bullies – find relief from feeling helpless by overpowering others
- Social bullies – have low self-esteem thus manipulate others through gossip and harsh words
- Detached bullies – plan their attacks but are always likeable to everyone but their victims
- Hyperactive bullies – struggle with socialization and act inappropriately, oftentimes physically.
Unfortunately, most bullies cannot comprehend the wrongfulness of their behavior as they have not learned kindness, compassion and respect – not only for others but also themselves 😢
“Why are girls so mean?” is a common question in our household these days.
As my daughter puts it – “Bullying is just not cool – it’s mean. Why are bullies so judgmental? They aren’t perfect, they have flaws too. I hope those girls that bully me can see one day how much they hurt others.”
Whether we’ve been a bully ourselves or we know others who are, it’s important for to understand the seriousness of bullying and it’s harmful effects on the lives of our youth.
Maybe it’s not happened/happening to you or your child, but it could. Are you ready?