“Mom, I’m a loser. I just didn’t realize it until now.”
I didn’t mean to break my mother’s heart when I uttered those words. In my mind, bullied children lack popularity and are worthless human beings. Until the moment a bully made my life miserable, I considered myself well liked.
Unfortunately, many children are under this assumption. Here’s a shocker: It’s a myth! Social status does not protect your child. Their situation can change at any time.
Fact: Every child is at risk of falling prey to a bully
Close your eyes and imagine what a bully looks like. In my mind, the child is taller and more muscular than other children. The face displays a permanent scowl and I imagine they’ve spent time in juvenile hall. Another myth!
“The boy who bullied me stood three inches shorter. My friends believed I could have knocked him out with one punch. What would my teachers think if I hit another kid? The Principal warns us against fistfights. There is zero tolerance in my school. I don’t want suspension on my school record.”
Bullies are not always bigger and stronger. Bullied children sometimes take on the role of the bully. Their need to save face following a negative experience drives them into a dark mindset. They hope bullying a weaker child will stop others from teasing them.
Alternatively, tables can turn on the bully. There are several instances where a child who bullied others crossed the path of someone wanting to torment them.
The only way we can end this vicious cycle is to learn some of the traits to look for. A bully:
1. often has money, but cannot explain where it came from;
2. views violence in a positive light;
3. is quick tempered, easily frustrated, impulsive;
4. lacks empathy for others who are bullied;
5. has difficulty following rules;
6. has friends who are bullies;
7. thinks badly of others;
8. is aggressive toward adults (including teachers);
9. is intolerant or shows contempt for children who are “different” or “weird”;
10. refuses to include certain kids in fun activities;
11. is concerned with popularity;
12. teases or taunts other children; and
13. hurts animals.
Personalities of children who bully others range. Here are two examples:
(a) A child who enjoys dominating other children, is socially accepted and fixated with popularity; and
(b) A child who has low self-esteem, suffers from depression and lacks a connection with peers and/or school.
One day I overhead a parent brag that his child dominated other children. He said he preferred the child’s strong personality to weaker characteristics. He threatened to smack his child if he permitted anyone to bully him. Apparently, this father is unaware that bullies are at greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse. They also have an increased rate of criminal behavior in adulthood.
Join the fight to end bullying. If you notice bully behavior in your child, seek help to correct it. Doing so will ensure a healthy, happy future for our youth.
Resources: Stop bullying.gov * mychildsafety.net * care.com
Next week: Children Never Tell