Bullying is wrong. It cannot be denied or described in any other way. There is no way to make bullying, in any form, an acceptable practice. The question is how does compassion relate to bullies and their victims without making it look like the bully is getting away with doing something wrong. The answer is somewhat less complicated than it sounds. While the bully is held accountable for their actions, it is extremely important to get to the bottom of why they act the way they do and what can be done to correct the problem and find a solution.
What Is the Definition of Compassion
A good way to define compassion is the sincere desire to help alleviate or lessen the sufferings and misfortunes of others. To have compassion for another person does not mean you feel sorry for them, but that you sympathize with their problem and have a strong desire to help them overcome the problems they are experiencing. In cases where bullying is involved. compassion is needed when attempting to understand both sides of the problem.
Both the bully and the victim are individuals, each with their own personal issues that can affect how they treat others and also how they handle themselves in certain situations. Unless you understand every aspect of both of their lives, you will have little knowledge of what actually caused a bullying incident to occur. Getting to know each person and understanding their personalities and character traits is important when dealing with any form of conflict resolution.
Showing Compassion for the Victim
Showing compassion to the victim is necessary simply because they are the one who was attacked. There are instances, however, that may eventually prove that the victim had done something in the past that had instigated the bully in some fashion. The act may have been unintentional and performed without malice, but in the bullies eyes warranted some type of response or retaliation.
Showing compassion for the victim does not mean giving them everything they ask for or making them into a martyr. It means offering them the necessary assistance they need to move past the event and begin the healing process. Depending on the situation, it may mean pursuing legal action or receiving medical attention. It can also mean discussing options that involve counseling and mentoring that may help the victim understand why things are happening.
In a school setting, it is important to instill a sense of security that will allow the victim to resume their studies without the fear of continued harassment by the bully. Many schools have adopted programs that encourage compassion and kindness when it comes to both the victim as well as the bully. Although it is hard to sometimes understand why people do what they do, treating both with compassion is a much better solution than simply doling it out punishment without finding out the true, underlying cause.
As a victim, receiving compassion after a bullying attack instills not only a sense of security and understanding but it shows them that they are not alone and that they have people who are willing to help them get through a difficult situation. Victims often find it hard to ask for help because they believe no one will believe them or that the situation is not serious enough to call for immediate action. Teachers, school faculty and parents who are willing to take the initiative when it comes to stopping bullies from going after their victims will give those being attacked a sense of relief.
Does the Bully Deserve Compassion
Many people will question whether or not the bully deserves compassion. The answer to that is yes. Even if their actions are malicious and hurtful, there is a reason as to why they have acted in such an offensive manner. While some people may be inherently mean spirited, others may act out of frustration, stress or simple anger from a situation they are experiencing where they have little to no control of the outcome. It is up to individuals in positions of authority to look closely at a situation and find out exactly as what is going and determine why it is having a negative impact on the bully.
The person who plays the role of the bully may be living in a violent household where physical retaliation is all they know. They may be the victim of psychological, emotional, sexual or physical abuse at the hands of an older sibling, parent or other family member. Either of these circumstances puts the bully in a position of confusion and misunderstanding where their only response is one of doling out to others what they are receiving.
Anti-bullying programs in schools are now focusing on showing compassion to the bully as well as the victim. It is their hope that by offering kindness and compassion, they can make a positive difference in the bully’s life to the point where they can reverse their past behavior, and instead, help others who may be going through the same type of situation they were forced to endure. It is true that this does not work in every case, but for the cases where this type of program makes a positive difference, the end result is life changing.
A bully who receives compassion, kindness and positive moral support can begin to break the cycle of abuse and begin to perpetuate a healing process that goes far beyond their life as a student. By showing them that people care, it may offer them the incentive to move forward and remove themselves from the hostile environment in which they were raised.
How Does Being Compassionate to Both Parties Benefit the Situation
Compassion is life changing. One simple act of kindness can lead to many other acts of kindness. The ripple effect that is seen when a pebble is dropped into a pond is indicative as to how a random act of kindness goes far beyond the immediate interaction. While providing compassion to the victim helps them to over come the trauma of being attacked and works to alleviate their fears, showing compassion to the bully has even more significant ramifications.
Often times a bully acts out because they have no other constructive way of expressing themselves. When someone shows them compassion, they are shown, that even though their actions were wrong, they are still valued as a person. One mistake should not be used to define them for the rest of their lives. By addressing the bullying issue and discovering the underlying cause of the act, a counselor or mentor can help the bully work through the situation and find a positive solution that will benefit not just the bully and the victim, but everyone in the school.
This type of solution offers something that plain discipline does not. It teaches the bully respect, not just for others, but also for themselves. Respect is something, that up until this point, they may never have received. Acknowledging the fact that they are a good person despite their actions allows them the opportunity to gain respect for themselves as well. They receive a new appreciation for others and are shown that they do not have to go through certain events alone. There are others who will stand by them and be there for them no matter what is going on in their lives.
Showing compassion to others is a human trait. It is common to see someone who is suffering or being abused and wish we could do something to help. When it comes to bullying, there is plenty that can be done. Assisting the victim in getting the necessary help they need is just the beginning. Offering compassion to the bully as well brings things full circle. With the right approach, teachers and parents can break the cycle of bullying and allow both parties to move forward without fear or regret, knowing that an important life lesson has been learned.