I posted a blog on a website recently about my experience with bullying and was asked to give a brief speech at a local high school on bullying prevention. During the presentation, I mentioned specifically about how I was bullied starting in sixth grade, up until I graduated high school. I recanted how I was both physically abused – hit with umbrellas, hair pulled, stuck with sharp objects, had undesirable liquid thrown on my clothes, pushed, kicked, and how I was emotionally and verbally abused by other students.

“It happened to you because you let it happen.”

As we were debriefing back in the principals office, one of the guys in attendance chimed in on the conversation and said to me,”It happened to you because you let it happen; people know who they can bully and who they can’t.” I was both shocked and surprised that a well-educated man would intimate that I ALLOWED myself to be mistreated, harassed, ridiculed, and embarrassed for over six years. On so many levels he also insinuated that I was weak or stupid or worse…asking for it….and somehow unable to protect myself or keep people that I trusted from mistreating me.

Bullying is a distinctive pattern of harming and humiliating others,  specifically those who are in some way smaller, weaker, younger, or in any way more vulnerable than the bully.

I asked him, “what type of people get bullied?” He replied, “People who won’t stand up for themselves and let other people pick on them.” Although I was astounded at his stance, I wondered if there were other who felt the same way. I also wondered if he had been a bully in school…or now.

Research says bullies often pick on kids – although adults can also be bullies – who possess traits they dislike within themselves. They may have been socially rejected in the past. They may have been teased at school. They may have a skewed perception of reality and feel everyone is out to get them.

Whatever the reason – bullies feed on making others feel as bad.

Although I do not subscribe to one being the “bullying kind,” I do think there are things that you can do to help your child to be less of a target. Sadly, sometimes being the victim of bullying is unavoidable and out of your child’s control. However, there are steps they can take to make themselves LESS of a target.

Bullies go around poking at kids until they find one that will pop. Don’t be the one to pop.

Bullies want to feel powerful. When you are completely silent and ignore them – they feel like they can walk all over you. They feel powerful. You want to calmly defend yourself. This tells the bully – I hear you, but you have no power over my emotions. You cannot upset me.

Bullies want power; do not give it to them.

Bullying can be one of the toughest things to watch your child go through, and sometimes parents never know their child is experiencing this kind of torment – mine didn’t. If you feel your child is being bullied or is being a bully, you have to SAY and DO something to address the issue, it will not fix itself.

Adults can be bullies too.

One of the most widespread mis-perceptions about bullying is that the behavior ceases are rendered irrelevant – when we reach adulthood. This mistaken viewpoint exists despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Look at the Harvey Weinstein case.

Weinstein is the co-founder and former film executive of Miramax, at one time a leading independent film motion picture and distribution company. Weinstein served as a co-director, director, and/or producer of movies such as Pulp Fiction, Shakespeare In Love, Reservoir Dogs, and Good Will Hunting.

Throughout his 20-plus year reign, Harvey Weinstein is alleged to have sexually-assaulted as many as 50 innocent women, though some speculate the number to be much higher.

Brit Marling, an alleged victim of Weinstein, wrote a compelling first-person essay piece for The Atlantic. In her piece, Marling describes the power of and influence of Weinstein at the time:

“Weinstein was a gatekeeper who could have actresses a career that would sustain their lives and the livelihood of their families. He could also give them fame, which is one of few ways for women to gain some semblance of power and voice inside a patriarchal world. They knew it. He knew it.”

Before Weinstein allegedly committed the crimes, he made it a point to demonstrate his power and influence over the actresses lives.

The women traumatized by Weinstein’s alleged criminal acts were emotionally bullied into submission.

In order to protect yourself, below are Nine Common Signs of Bullying:

  1. Aggression – bullies will project their anger and insecurities onto others;
  2. Segregation – overly-aggressive children often bully other kids by first attempting to segregate them from everyone else;
  3. Blaming – when it comes to taking responsibility, bullies are deficient;
  4. Smearing – bullies frequently operate “behind the scenes” to bring you or your reputation down by turning people against you;
  5. Conflict Avoidance – bullies look for trouble and won’t back down when attempts at accountability are made about their behavior;
  6. Instilling Fear – Fear is the bully’s ally. Fear helps them gain and uphold control.
  7. Intimidation (physical & mental) – Bullies whose modus operandi is more emotional than physical will rarely harm another person physically. However, they will violate personal space and leverage any advantages (size, build, etc.) to make the other feel inferior.
  8. Passive-aggressiveness – Because most bullies are essentially cowards, they’ll routinely avoid direct confrontation. Instead, they’ll opt for a more passive, indirect approach to try to control others. At times this approach may make you fee like it’s your fault;
  9. Ignoring boundaries – bullies have no respect for rules or space and will often push until they get what they want…control.

In Part II of our discussion, we will look at the attributes of emotional bullying and the Making of a Bully…

Who is the bully and how did they get that way?

Chime in on the discussion and share your thoughts & experiences with bullying. Is there such a thing as “the bullying kind?”

Until next time, wishing you a sound mind.