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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 09-Jan-06


Monday 09-Jan-06 

Bullies and consequences

Both my daughter and my son, like many others, suffered from bullying at school. I think it's worse for girls in two ways: first, they have a more natural need for relationships and secondly because female bullying is more psychological in manner, both of which make the experience more painful and more damaging.

Despite traumas at the time, my daughter developed deeper self-knowledge and inner strength from the experience and now is one of the most open and self-aware people I know. She doesn't see much of those former bullies, though from what she sees and hears, they have not grown up very well. In fact she saw several of them at a local hotel bar just last night and derived some smug satisfaction in seeing how quickly they had all gone to seed. Overweight and looking more in their early thirties than early twenties, arrogant living had clearly taken its toll.

Bullying is a serious problem that blights many lives and I am lucky enough to work with an expert in the subject. As a teacher, he was appalled by the very real evidence he met every day. At first, he fell into the standard trap of bullying the bullies, but being a thoughtful and open guy, he soon realized that this was not only ineffective, it tacitly reinforced the legitimacy of aggressive behavior. His response was to communicate and explore with other like minds until they found an effective way of dissuading bullies.

The best way he found to cure bullies was to get the whole class or social group to openly discuss his or her behavior -- with the bully present. Social pressure is one of the most effective tools. The session also shows that the class as a whole does not approve of bullies and their behavior. The trick, of course, is in empowering a possibly cowed community into open discussion, and then to facilitate an honest dialogue that takes a firm and fair view, leaving the bully in no doubt as to the social consequences of continued bad behavior.

The subject is very important to many educators and parents and there is a great deal of information out there about it (although personally I think some is more well-meaning than effective). Here are some useful sites for you to explore:

Your comments

This program "anti-buli" (Manglish term) has turned up in Malaysia:

However, I find it bizarre how these initiatives can turn up in countries like this (check out the Human Rights Records) and meanwhile our own western countries have more repressive laws against Civil Rights, Liberties and Political Dissent. Don't parents see the contradiction? Is this a double standard?

Enough my rant for now, 'Good Night and Good Luck'!

-- Merely Disillusioned

Unfortunately, I continue to empower my bullies by staying indoors and rarely venturing out lest I bump into them. I play over and over in my mind the moments when I was bullied and can't seem to shake their negativity from me. As a result, I have put on a lot of weight, have virtually no self-esteem and play over movies in my mind where I'm smacking them about or shooting them. This worries me somewhat, not because I'll act on it but because it's making me ill.

-- Jonathan

Dave replies:
You clearly have the skills, Jonathan, to play movies in your head. What would it be like if you played positive movies? How about ones where you stand up to the bullies? Where you see and pity them for the emotionally impoverished people they are?



Dave replies:
Hi Jack. Well you're right to think about consequences. When you bully someone, it may feel good and it may feel that there are no consequences. And there may not be in the short-term. But things will happen -- you can bet on it. One thing is that the people you bully will hate you, whilst others will fear you. This means you will have no true friends, who really care for you. And you will have people who want revenge, and who may take it in subtle ways so you can't tell who it is. It is said that friends come and go, but enemies accumulate -- do you really want lots of enemies? Not only that, but the law and schools are not on your side. Whichever  way you look, being a bully is bad news. There will even be a voice in your head that tells you that it is wrong, and will keep punishing you from the inside -- and this voice can be the worst punishment of all.

You're not yet adult, Jack, so there's a good chance you'll find your way through this. There are people who can help, often at school. Be brave: go talk with them.

 I'm really sorry about what happen to your daughter and son, I feel the same way as you do.... and I have went through those situation during my early life in primary specially high school..

-- Brenda

Dave replies:
Hi Brenda. Thanks, and yes, many people are bullied, including in their adult life. The important thing is what they do about it. A good way is to use sublimation, turning the negative energy created into positive energy by which you can enhance your life.

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