Bully, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary means “to frighten, hurt, or threaten (a smaller or weaker person); to cause (someone) to do something by making threats or insults or by using force; to treat abusively; to affect by means of force or coercion.
Synonyms for “bully”; “brutalize, abuse, kick around, mistreat”. A bully uses physical violence, threats, or emotional abuse to those of a weaker status.
Related words: “outrage, violate, harass, harm, hurt, injure torment, victimize”. A bully will attack others to make themselves feel as if they are superior.
There are several ways a “bully” is created, not the least being in their own homes, within their families. Too often, bullying is a learned behavior. When nurturers, caregivers, adults, want a child to do something and feel asking didn’t produce the desired outcome, they in turn, will beat or strike the child, belittle the child, lower their self-esteem and make them feel as if they are worthless, inferior to the adult. Whether it be fear, guilt, intimidation or bruises, the children will concede and want to please the adult. However, this allows for low self-esteem and a feeling of powerlessness.
The small child who made failing grades in school, or who simply wanted to help and dropped their plate on the way to the sink, disappointed their parents. The parent hit, spanked, pulled their hair, or called them names because they were clumsy!
Each child, each person is an individual with different strengths, characters and personalities. This allows others to overcome some forms of bullying, even from their own parents, however, others suffer with depression, anxiety, and live in constant fear.
When big people hit little people, what is that little person learning? He or she is learning that when I want something or I want you to do something for me, I will make you do it with violence, threats, intimidation, slurs and manipulation.
Working with foster/adoptive children (some of them in treatment for their behaviors such as extreme bullying), and foster/adoptive parents, we witness the worst cruelty ever inflicted on a child. In turn, these children will lead by the examples they are taught. This cruelty does not teach them or motivate them, it destroys them.
(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & Administration for Children and Families, 2013), reported there are, “nationally, an estimated 686,000 (child) victims of abuse and neglect for the 2012 year). This resulted in a rate of 9.2 victims per 1,000 children in the population” of the 51 states which reported child abuse.
78.3% – Neglect
18.3% – Physically Abused
10.6% – Threatened abuse, parent’s drug/alcohol abuse
9.2% – Sexually Abused
8.1 – Suffered Emotional Abuse
Viewing these statistics, 686,000 children of abuse and neglect will have formed an identity around the abuse and neglect, which very well may result in bullying. In homes across the nation, bullying is often taught. It is a means of survival.
These children do not become weaker, they become vulnerable and learn to use violence as a means to an end. Children who are bullied in the home, not only learn to bully others, they themselves will have mental health problems, feelings of helplessness, low self-esteem and a sense of worthlessness.
“A national study of adult “foster care alumni” found higher rates of PTSD (21%) compared the general population (4.5%).
Nearly 80% of abused children face at least one mental health challenge by age 21”.
Available at: http://www.astho.org/”
As adults, thinking before we speak or act in the presence of a child may teach them appropriate ways to manage conflict or confusion…then and only then, can the violence of the “bully” be dealt with. Give them understanding, love and patience. Teach them how to handle conflict. Talk to the person no one speaks to and above all else, don’t ignore or walk away from the person being bullied, stand by their side. Learn ways to discipline without using violence.
Some children bully for the attention, to receive recognition and no other reason than because they can. This is not the majority, there are usually underlying conditions.
Although a percentage of bullying is done for attention, the majority of children bully for that feeling of power, some sense of control over their lives. Studies with children who are bullies, indicate the children live with feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and/or self-worth and the fear of not being accepted. They too will have problems with alcohol, drug abuse, mental disorders, such as, depression, and suffer from feelings of guilt later on in their lives.
The key is communication and intervention. It is not only the victims of bullying who need assistance, but, the bully themselves. Research has shown that teachers, parents and other adults do not intervene when witnessing acts of bullying.
No bullying at home, school, and in the work place. As adults, if we can teach our children to learn how to handle conflicts, feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, build their self-esteem and instill a sense of worth, this will lessen the need to bully.