Friday, October 8, 2010
Anatomy of a schoolyard bully
Anatomy of a bully, what kinds are there? Does it make it any difference in how you deal with a bully to know where they're coming from? Maybe so. Nothing can change the fact that bullying is wrong and cruel. Nothing can change the fact that schools need to have a proactive stance on bullying. I think it's worth a look however, to try and see why the bully is partaking in his or her behavior. What's causing them to act out? To me, it seems that there are five types of schoolyard bully and these are totally my own definitions. Feel free to add your own views in comments.
The Angry Victim: This child is angry and hurt from some other issues that the school may not know about. He or she is taking their anger and pain out on others. They may be victims of bullying from larger kids, siblings or abusive parents. What ever the case, they need intervention and help.
Cruel: This is a child who has learned or been inspired somehow to be mean because they consider it "fun". This is the worst type of bully and should be looked at closely for possibilities of serious mental disorders.
Authoritarian: This child thinks they are somehow an authority or need to be the Sheriff of the school yard. They may be somewhat athletic and study in martial arts. They excuse their bullying by claiming they are "teaching someone a lesson". The sources from this could stem from any of the other bully types, but it makes them more dangerous because they truly think they're bullying is "justified" and they have the authority to do what they are doing. Could be a classic narcissistic trait. Leaders in college hazing fall in this category because they think that pledges must suffer to join the fraternity.
Discriminator: This is a bully more likely to commit hate crimes over race, religion, sexual preferences, or just being different. They commit their bullying because they think their target is somehow a lesser being and doesn't belong. This can go strongly in hand with Authoritarian and may often be combined.
Follower: This person is a bully by default and association more than anything. They may not even want to be a bully, but they are too afraid of the lead bully to do anything about it. They go along with bullying to avoid being the next victim.
We already know what happens to victims of bullying. They suffer loss of self esteem, post traumatic stress, and rise to risk of social outcast, drug abuse, and suicide. But what about the bully who is allowed to carry on without intervention?
Bullies who grow up learning that they can get away with the behavior risk falling into criminal lifestyles. They learn that violence or abusive behavior is acceptable and that only grows the longer it continues. Of all the bullies, the one who grows up to be the most dangerous is the Angry Victim. Since they are a combination of bully and victim they grow to be jaded and resentful. They carry all the risks of the victim with the possibility of being the one to explode and take others with them. Even their own families.
Next to this is the Cruel bully who does it for fun or entertainment. They will be abusive to their loved ones and use people for personal gain. It's been considered that several serial killers may fall into a category like this or the Angry Victim. Both could fall into criminal lifestyles easily with gangs or worse.
So, when it comes to preventing or taking any action against bullying, it's helpful to remember that both sides will hurt in the long run if nothing is done. Bullying hurts everyone and leads to broken lives on both sides. Knowing the source of a bully's behavior may help to intervene and correct. Again, there is no excuse for bullying, but the more ways we can find to combat it, the better.