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The bully of today’s neighbourhood or school might not resemble the picture you have in your mind, unless you or your child have been the victim.
Many bullies are girls in the popular clique who have all the right clothes and style. They are popular and valued by friends and teachers. They frequently have at least one parent involved in parent-teacher organizations. For reasons not fully understood, they select an average girl to bully. She has no stylish wardrobe, does not belong to any clique, and she has perhaps 2 or 3 best friends with whom she socializes, or no best friend at all. Her working parents don’t have time to participate in rallies and parent-teacher organizations and events. The popular girl’s bullying incorporates her closest friends in the clique to assist in the bullying, which starts out as psychological and emotional but always ends up in a physical arena as well.
Sometimes a local boy is also included in the bullying to add the social and sexual bullying to the mix. Internet and school bullying is always active and especially in the school cafeteria, school bus, and areas frequented by young people. The methods are multiple and merciless, intending to demoralize the hapless girl who has been selected to be bullied. Nothing is left untouched, her books, school papers, desks, lockers, clothing, hair, restroom attendance and her lunch room fare. By the time the bullying clique is either finished or bored, the bully victim has satisfied their thirst for hazing and dominance, having been crushed into their subservience and without self respect or confidence.
Another profile of a bully is the boy who is also one of the popular fellows on the sports squad. He has a girlfriend and is considered by many to be a golden boy. However, the golden boy has a dark side that needs gratification by mauling, harassing and even fighting another young man in his environment. The victim boy is usually a good student and conscientious, but might also be an underling who is obese and at the bottom of the class curve. These bullying episodes are attacks on the victim’s person, transportation, books, school papers and close friends. The bullying does not stop until either the school or law enforcement steps in and controls the altercations by preventing bullying.
An entire town sustained bullying by a resident who was completely without conscience or morals. He defaced personal property, homes, landscaping, stores and vehicles with a vengeance. He burned bullying victims’ homes. The residents of Skidmore, Missouri were abused, daughters raped, all were threatened and painfully ridiculed without exception. When pleas were not satisfied by the local law enforcement and his reign of terror accelerated to the injury and death of people, pets and wildlife in the area, the citizenry banded together illegally and struck back. He was killed. His reign of terror came to an abrupt and violent end. This was an extreme example of vigilante justice in a day and age when such was thought to be both unnecessary and definitely illegal. Yet no one of the over 60 people present at the killing gave witness to what had happened, and no charges were placed against anyone, even after investigation by the FBI. This is not a success story for anti-bullying. It is merely a survival story of a small town that had no law protection whatsoever and took vengeance much like the pioneer Westerners when a bad man took over their prairie town.
When anti-bullying programs work, people band together as in the above town but without murder in their hearts. Rather, they bond with the intention of erasing bullying from their midst and accomplish that end with non-violent displays, courageous protection, and mandatory counselling of bullying suspects.
Another bully portrait is of the teacher or person of authority in an area who uses the power of their position to compromise and harass young people to be their victims. This person is always well respected by other adults, but many of the young people are sadly aware of the reputation or rumors of the authority figure’s domination and control. Some young people will recognize the suspect in this paragraph without realizing that they are also part of the bullying tragedy. True, in this scenario sexual favors are usually the common incentive for the bullying and control, which is another high crime altogether. Nonetheless, young people need to recognize and report even the first bullying aspect of this type of offence. By reporting the early harassment and bullying, the eventual crime of sexual assault could be prevented.
There are gangs of bullies who openly parade around schools and neighbourhoods pushing vulnerable children, young adults and elderly around with injuries and humiliation. These gangs survive on each other’s bravado and have pride in assaulting the underprivileged, handicapped or smaller person who is without ability to fight back. In these instances, an entire neighbourhood can be intimidated by these bullies. The only solution is in the formation of police anti-gang programs and incarceration for offences. Urban area missions are active in the fight against gang bullying and fighting, as are police volunteer groups.
A bully in your workplace incorporates body language. If you’re concerned about some events and wonder if you’re being bullied, look for these body language signals as reported in BullyFreeatWork.com: “• Eyes: narrowed or very wide. Some people report they can see “coldness” in the eyes of a hostile person. • Eye contact: little or none. You may notice that the bully maintains eye contact with others but not with you. That is a sign that you’re not important to her or that she wants to make sure you know you’re not important/worthy of notice. • Mouth: a sneer or a cocky smile. A person who values others shows sincerity in her smile. • Arms: crossed over chest. This gesture says, “I’m closed to anything you have to say.” • Body: turned away from you. A person who is giving you his full attention turns his body toward you. • Gestures: aggressive. Is the bully stabbing the air to make a point, turning away from you before you finish, pointing at you or pounding the desk? These gestures are dead giveaways that a bully is on the loose.” Body language communicates a person’s attitude more forcefully than words. This adult example is not as trivial as it seems on first look. What becomes of the school or bus bully of today? They grow up but do not mature if not trained in behavior change. They become someone’s boss, co-worker or employee.
This guy is the one you have been expecting to read about. His hygiene is poor, as are his manners and school performance. He is surly to authorities, talks and walks with a swagger, and keeps a perpetual sneer on his face that is nothing like Elvis Presley’s. This young brute is Trouble and proud of it. He fistfights, curses, threatens with vile disgusting diatribe, and even the girls he encounters are not bully-proof. Everyone gives him a wide path and the teachers never even call on him in class. Everyone, the bully included, is just waiting for him to reach an age when he can quit school legally. His parents either don’t know or don’t care, and no one in the school environment remembers ever seeing them. He is never at a ball game or prom, but has been seen hanging around a bar even though under age. This young bully, strangely enough, can be reached, but not trained to be an anti-bully in the group sense. This personality usually developed as a result of experiencing the same treatment he dishes out, only from his parents. He hits first so he won’t be hitting second. He has to feel superior to the rest of the world or else he would have to admit he is just flotsam floating in life’s drainage ditch. If this young man-boy can survive long enough to enter the armed services, he has the making of a nation’s hero as the military shapes his anger and guides his personality into becoming a fighting warrior with an admirable cause.
The United States was never the benchmark for violence, despite our movie film representations. Bullying is not an American past time, any more than malicious gossip, vandalism, and personal assaults are American traits. They are here, but not only in our town. Globally, the crime of bullying has spread completely through the civilized world and even into Third World and the newer countries developing in Africa. An obese young Kenya girl who was an activist for social reform and humanity received an unkind verbal insult from a radio announcer on his local radio show in Kenya. It was picked up by Twitter, spread across the internet until it became viral and the young girl is hounded constantly by strangers picking up on the hurtful taunts. Fortunately, she is more mature than many victims in her response. She knows people harrass her to feel they are better than they are, and if that works for them, she does not care. The radio performer who made the insulting weight comment intended it to be a joke. He said, “I also get sticks from Twitter users owing to lack of height but I don’t take it personally, you just laugh at it and move on. When I made the comment about Lynda, it was meant to be a joke but my followers made it look like I had something personal against her and it went viral,” the radio producer admits”. Therefore, some bullies are bully-by-accident. Then the accident is turned into deliberate aggression by strangers or onlookers. In Australia, a 14 year old was playing around in his studio with a toy light sabre privately. Someone taped it and broadcast it a year later on the internet without the boy’s knowledge. Monster cyber bullying occurred. The young teen, now 25, said in a recent Fox News interview, “What I saw was mean. It was violent. People were telling me to commit suicide.”
In films depicting the crazed acts of a mob gone crazy and animalistic, we shudder at the impact they have on our sensitivities. Fear even grips us as we view in a film a pack of human beings acting as though they were jungle beasts ganging together for a kill. Yet our own civilized society is becoming less civilized and more of the beast, evidenced by the bullying popularity issue and social media involvement.
Our world seems in danger of becoming a giant mob with tentacles reaching into homes, schools, and many places thought to be safe. The internet has become a leading bullying tool. Vicious lies and verbal attacks are common place. What does the cyber bully look like? Does he look like your brother? Does she look like your daughter? Has it ever been you? When you condone a bullying remark, you give it strength. When you overlook a bullying gesture or physical affront, you have helped the attacker and hurt the victim with your passivity. Then the bully has cloned you in image of himself, and you permitted the cloning by not taking action or making a report of bullying. When you do nothing around a bully in action, you have done great harm to the victim, as though you were holding the weapon or doing the taunting. The profile of a bully can, indeed, be YOU, if you do not take active part in anti-bullying, starting right now.