When a child bullies others, parents can often feel responsible. Many don’t understand why their child would do something mean and hateful to someone else. Children bully for several reasons, many of which are out of the parents control. When a bully’s actions result in physical harm or serious injury to another person, both the bully and their parents can be financially liable. In some states, the parents are held accountable for their children’s actions, especially if they cause financial hardship to the victim.Learn how to Make Amends if you have been a bully or unkind to someone?
An accurate definition of making amends involves taking responsibility for one’s actions and providing due compensation. Compensation can be as simple as a heartfelt apology or financial restitution. If the bully’s actions result in irreparable damage or a person’s death, no amount of compensation may be able to satisfy the victim or their family.
The most important thing that most victims want is a sincere apology. Many do not have physical injuries. Instead they have emotional scars that take much longer to heal and never really go away. Emotional wounds are invisible but have a huge impact on how a person perceives themselves and the world around them. Bullies that use verbal assaults to manipulate their victims can do long lasting damage that long into adulthood.
Making amends is the first step in helping the victim begin the healing process. It also helps the bully realize the devastating affect their actions can have on another person. In many situations, all the victim needs or even wants is a simple, truthful apology. Others would ask that the bully think twice before knowingly hurting others. Bullies who are made to be accountable for their actions will often think twice before they intentionally try to hurt or manipulate someone else.
What Not to Say
When a person tries to make amends for their actions or for the actions of another, there are certain things that shouldn’t be said.
- Don’t make excuses – Don’t make excuses to justify the bully’s behavior. In most cases, there is no excuse and the victim was simply the target. Making excuses for the bully attempts to justify their actions when there is no reason for what they did.
- Don’t place blame on the victim – Don’t make the victim feel as if they are to blame for the incident in question. Even if they played a small role in what transpired, making amends is about claiming responsibility for the bully’s role, not the victims’.
- Don’t attempt to minimize the damage – Don’t attempt to minimize either person’s role or the damage that was caused. For a person who has trouble with depression and low self-esteem, even the smallest incident can be traumatizing.
- Don’t talk in a condescending manner – If you are trying to make amends, the worst thing you can do is act like the apology is beneath you. If you or a family member has bullied another person, you may have no clue how the incident truly affected the victim. Making light of the situation will only make things worse.
Knowing how to handle a situation like this with tact and grace is a skill that must be learned and honed to perfection. Much like mediating a court case, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can be devastating. Choose your words wisely and always remember that both parties have something to lose if the meeting is not successful. Making amends should be about beginning the healing process, not just to get past a bad situation.
When you meet with the person and are trying to apologize or make amends, sincerity is a must. For most people, actions speak louder than words. Saying a simple, “I’m sorry,” means very little if the person is not truly sincere. The truth will often come out if the bully chooses to resume their prior behavior. If the victim and the bully can put the incident behind them and find a middle ground where they can enjoy the other person’s company without holding a grudge or reopening old wounds, the apology was given with the proper intent.
While the bully is the one that is truly responsible for their actions, sometimes their parents may also feel some level of responsibility. Parents of teenage bullies who still live at home, may force them to apologize to their victim. In some states, the cost of bullying is so high that parents are held accountable for their children’s actions. For example, if a bully victimizes another child and destroys physical property or causes a physical injury that requires medical treatment, the parents are then held financially liable and must compensate the victim’s family accordingly.
Adult bullies who intentionally target their victims can also be held financially liable. If a victim chooses to seek retribution and compensation for their injuries, they can file a personal injury law suit and ask that they be rewarded damages. A bully who is over the age of 21 is held to a much higher accountability than school age bullies. Not only are they more financially viable, it is much harder for them to claim that they didn’t realize that what they were doing was harmful. At this stage, providing due compensation to their victims can be court ordered with the full responsibility for making amends landing squarely on their shoulders.
Controlling the Bully Mentality
The bully mentality can lead a person down a very difficult and harrowing path. Some people bully others out of frustration and continue to do so out of fear or anger. They become wrapped up in a scenario that they are not comfortable with, but also do not know how to get out of. The first step of breaking the cycle and controlling the bullying mentality is to make amends to the people they have harmed.
Bullies who have little or no guilt concerning their treatment of others can be more difficult to control. Most don’t see any harm in how they treat others and have very little desire to change. It is very difficult to get a bully with this type of mentality to change their way of thinking or give up their aggressive ways. In this case, an apology is not sincere and making amends is only accomplished by forcing the bully to do so per a court ruling.
Making amends is important for both the victim and the bully. For the victim it allows closure and the chance to let the past go. The bully who sincerely makes a heartfelt effort to apologize and make amends for whatever wrong they may have committed, may have a complete change of heart and refuse to repeat their actions. Each situation is different, just as each bully and victim are unique. No two events are the same and how the parties handle themselves will change with each incident.
It must also be remembered that making amends means different things to different people. Many times it will depend solely on the individuals involved. In other cases, especially where small children or a significant physically injury was involved, legal action may be taken to provide adequate and just financial compensation. It’s an honest assumption that, in some cases, a simple apology is just not enough.