As the title suggests, in this post I will be looking into the reasons why people bully. At some point in everyone's life, they have probably bullied someone, whether they meant to or not. An example of this is my best friend, who is one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, told me that when we were younger, (i'd say about 6/7ish) she used to “bully” another girl in our class, by saying she wouldn't play with her unless she could have her bottle of Sunny Delight (her mother wouldn't buy any for her at home). At the time, she didn't realise this was bullying as she just wanted the bottle of Sunny Delight, and feels terrible about it now.
One of my other childhood friends was guilty of bullying too. He would exclude people from his group of “friends” based upon who he liked that week. If you weren’t his chosen flavour, or if you asked you would NEVER be allowed to have a crisp or a sweet from him. He had to offer you one. I have no idea why we all kept falling for this every week, but looking back it's quite laughable to think what you'll put up with as a youngster.
Bullying can stem from many different reasons, in the examples above it can create a feeling of superiority or just the fact that you can gain “gifts”. It can also be to fit in with peers, jealousy, to prevent embarrassment if they're not particularly good at something or it can be a result of a poor family background.
There is a young boy that lives in my neighbourhood, I'll call him Joe, but I don't know his real name. He's quite “weedy”, has buck teeth and is usually described as “that little git”. I've seen him on quite a few occasions standing behind a bigger boy, using him as a human shield to hurl insults at other kids. I've also seen him stood in my next door neighbours garden, ripping up their elephant grass and leaving it strewn all over the pavement outside my house, just before jumping off a grit bin and diving into an old man's hedge that he had proudly finished pruning earlier that day. However i've also witnessed him wandering the streets alone in all weathers too, with a pot noodle or a cone of chips.
I'm not condoning his actions, but I do think that his home life has a huge part to play in how he acts, so can he ultimately be to blame if he doesn't have anyone there to teach him right from wrong? The sad thing is that behaviour like this is likely to carry on into his teens and possibly into his adulthood, where he'll learn that it will be acceptable to act like this to get what he wants and won't accept authority figures.
It is the responsibility of parents to spot signals of your child bullying someone. Some of these signs include:
- Have a positive views towards violence and may love to watch fight scenes etc.
- Often become aggressive towards adults – including teachers or parents
- May tend to try and dominate situations and others in a group.
- Boy bullies tend to be physically stronger than their peers
- Can be hot tempered, impulsive, and can get easily frustrated
- Often test limits or break rules
- Good at talking their way out of difficult situations
- Show little sympathy toward others who are bullied, may say things like “they deserved it”
How To Intervine If Your Child Is A Bully
I have taken the next piece of information from a website called mychildsafety.net. It explains how parents can intervene if their child is a bully:
If you suspect your child may be bullying you have an absolute responsibility to step in and put an end to the behaviour.
If you are approached by your child’s school or another child’s family about a situation in which your child is bullying another child, be careful to not be too defensive, but at the same time, do not jump to any conclusions until you have an opportunity to discuss the situation with your child – remember there are always two sides to every story.
If after an open and honest conversation with your child, in which you must make clear the severity of the situation, you do not feel your child is truly the aggressor in the situation, work with a school counsellor or social worker to come to an appropriate conclusion to the situation.
If however, it does appear that your child has engaged in bullying behaviour it may be very difficult to accept, but you must face the situation head on.
It is in the best interest of your child and the victim to put an end to the bullying right away. Here are some guiding principles to help you with the situation:
- Do not make excuses for your child.
- Make it clear to your child that you take the bullying seriously and you will not tolerate this type of behaviour.
- Maintain and consistently enforce family rules. Utilize positive reinforcement when your child follows the rules and appropriate negative consequences for breaking the rules (such as the withholding of benefits or privileges).
- Stay involved and supportive of your child’s school and extra-curricular activities. Stay informed of what they are doing and whom they are spending time with.
- Encourage your child to channel their energy into more positive activities, such as sports, clubs, or music lessons.
- If the above steps do not result in noticeable, positive changes in your child’s behaviour, consult with a mental health professional.”
I hope you found this information useful and you keep the warning signs in mind. If your child is being bullied though, I know it will be difficult to keep a level head, but try and keep the other child in mind too, as they may be going through something themselves and don't know how to handle the situation or realise they're causing upset. If you are not able to resolve the issue with the child's parents then ask the school to get involved to try and remedy a problem.
Below I have included some resources for parents of bullies or bullies themselves that may be useful:
http://www.kidscape.org.uk/assets/downloads/kschildrenwhobully.pdf – PDF file which includes information on how you can stop bullying behaviour and can also help you understand it a little bit more.
http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/no_bullying.html – Link to a website with more information on how you can help stop your child from bullying.
http://www.childline.org.uk / 0800 1111 - Children can also contact childline themselves for free if they would like to speak to someone else about their problems and they won't be judged.
http://www.supportline.org.uk – This is a support website for children and adults to use which has contact numbers for different organisations dealing with problems such as anger management through to other problems such as offenders & family support.