Why Bullies Bully – A Look Into Bullying Behavior
The death of Phoebe Prince of South Hadley, Massachusetts showed how devastating the effect of bullying could be. Prince, 15 years old, committed suicide following months of bullying by her classmates. It was alleged that Prince had suffered social isolation, verbal abuse, and online harassment before she killed herself.
The case of Prince may be an isolated one, but we should not forget that bullying is very rampant. It is estimated that eight out of 100 middle-school students in the U.S. are suffering from bullying every day. Moreover, seven percent are bullied every week and 33 percent are bullied at one point in time, courtesy of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Jordon Fonville, 17 years old, recounts her experience of being bullied six years ago. Now a junior high-school student in Conway, Arkansas, Jordon still remembers how agonizing her life in sixth grade was. When she moved to a new school in her sixth grade, she became the target of bullying for six months.
Fonville, who now advocates for the crackdown of bullying in her community, said that her classmates once talked to their principal just to ask for advice on how to end friendship with her. Fonville was devastated to see the principal being apathetic about the way she was treated by her classmates.
Bullying caused Fonville to suffer from depression, feeling of loneliness, and low self-worth. Fortunately, her mother and father realized the gravity of the situation and transferred her to another school.
What conditions provoke bullying? How can it be stopped?
What Makes a Bully?
Bullies want to exert their dominion over the weak ones. They like to inflict harm to their victims repeatedly, be it emotional or physical pain or both. Bullying occurs when the aggressor is more powerful than his victim. Bullies intimidate those who are too weak to defend themselves.
The following factors contribute to the development of bullying behavior.
- Untamed anger.
The leading cause of bullying behavior is too much anger. Youths who cannot manage their rage end up bullying others. Bullying traits are often seen in angry kids. Even kids with high self-esteem can develop bullying characteristics. Bullying behaviors often start at home where bullies pick on their younger siblings.
- Violence in domestic environment.
The domestic environment can be a precursor to bullying behavior. Violence in the household or the presence of emotional or physical abuse or other forms of aggression at home can turn kids into bullies.
- Lack of adult intervention.
Unless bullies are put under disciplinary sanctions, they are likely to become more intimidating and offensive. Adult intervention is essential in curbing bullying behavior or tendency. If adults do not act on the first reported case of bullying, bullies would be more confident in repeating the same offense, believing that no one will help their victims anyway.
- Aggression in mass media and video games.
Kids tend to imitate the bad behaviors they see in mass media and video games.
Bullying behaviors, just like other behaviors, are influenced by many factors, so any of the said traits can turn a kid into a bully.
Other factors contributing to the development of bullying behaviors are inability to control impulses, low tolerance to frustration, aggressiveness, and desire to dominate and challenge authority.
Accomplices in Bullying
Some kids tend to participate in bullying and join a group of bullies. Such group instills the culture of aggression and intimidation into the mind of each member. Some are prompted to join bullies by the need to socialize and be affiliated with a peer group.
Bullies want other people to watch them as they harass their victims. However, as bullies grow older, they tend to be choosy in picking the venue of their act. They do not want to get caught by the authority, so their audience are only their peers who act as mocking bystanders.
The Growing Threat of Cyberbullying
The Internet has offered a new medium for bullying. The Internet is exploited by the bullies to send abusive messages to their victims. The cyberspace makes it possible for bullies to threaten their victims anytime they want to. This adds up to the agony of the victims, who find themselves helplessly trapped in the hands of their aggressors.
According to experts, 90% of bullies would deny their online offenses. Bullies think that they can remove the evidence by simply deleting their abusive emails or text messages.
Helping Both the Bullies and Their Victims
Being bullied is a traumatic experience. Bullying destroys self-esteem, interferes with academic performance, hinders sleep, and affects the mental health of the victims.
On the other hand, bullies are likely to pay the price of their wrongdoings when they grow up. Bullies are unlikely to land a job, finish higher education, or have a good personal relationship. Some may also develop criminal tendency and end up in jail.
In other words, both the young bullies and their victims need help from the concerned adults. By providing counseling and other forms of intervention aimed at bullies, the school authority and parents can reduce the incidence of bullying.
The following tips will help concerned adults to break the bullying cycle in schools or their homes.
- Teach kids the right attitude.
Kids can be more adept in dealing with bullies if they have role models to follow. Try to display the social skills and attitude needed to deal with bullies.
- Believe what the victim says.
If a child says he was bullied, pay attention. Do not assume that it was just a typical kid fight.
- Make bullies realize how it feels to be the victim.
According to experts, bullies tend to rethink their behavior once they realize how their victims feel. Parent of bullies should ask their children how they would feel if they are the one being bullied. It would also help if parents emphasize virtues like empathy and helping behavior.
- Keep an eye on the indications of bullying.
If your child is becoming increasingly silent, chances are he or she is being bullied. Beware of the signs of bullying so you can intervene at an early stage. Other signs to watch for are lower grades, depression, and sleeping problems. It’s best that parents make sure their children engage a healthy lifestyle at all times.
- Act on the first incidence of bullying.
Parents must take quick actions once they have confirmed an incidence of bullying. This applies also to parents whose child is the bully. It is better to correct wrong behavior as early as possible rather than wait for the situation to grow out of control.
- Ask for help.
To get assistance on preventing bullying, you may connect with like-minded parents, school officials and experts like pediatricians, psychiatrists, guidance counselors, and social workers. Coordinate with law enforcement officials if crime is involved.
Coping With Bullying
Fonville is a living example of how early intervention can save victims from the destructive effects of bullying. She has regained her self-esteem and makes it her mission to help other students who are being bullied. She is determined to stand up for people who are too weak to defend themselves against bullies. As a matter of fact, one of her schoolmates used to be bullied for being autistic.
But thanks to her public appeal and commitment to end bullying in every school, things have changed for good. Fonville reaches out to her community and the cyberspace, asking people to condone any form of bullying. She asserts that bullying should never be a part of school life.