The Unexpected Bully – A New Perspective on an Old Problem
When most people think of a bully, the first image that comes to mind is an angry, scowling child who resorts to physical or verbal aggression whenever possible. That may have been true before the advent of social media, but in today’s world this mentality isn’t only inaccurate, it’s dangerous. The truth is anyone can be a bully. It isn’t always the angry child who sits alone in the corner, or the jock football player picking on the nerds. Sometimes bullies can be the children we never really imagined capable of such acts.
David Greenwood, a writer for the Huffington Post, says he has had conversations with a number of parents who have found their children bullied by the most unlikely bullies. These were children whom their kids had been playing with since their toddler years, and whose behavior had merely been characterized as “bossy” or “spoiled”. Yet these children are just as capable of inflicting harm on others as the stereotypical jock or misfit.
Greenwood brought up a great definition of bullying, which he characterized as “when a child repeatedly uses threats to control another child’s behavior…those threats can be entirely emotional”. Greenwood goes on to remind parents that bullying doesn’t always have to manifest as physical harm; mental harm is just as, if not more, destructive – and cyberbullying is a perfect example of that.
We can begin working towards a solution when we as parents and educators realize that not all bullies fit the preconceived image we have in our heads, and that bullying is not a normal part of growing up, despite what cynics say. It’s when bullying defies our stereotypes that we are most likely to miss it and thus allow it to continue. We need to realize that not all bullies are like Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter or Nelson from The Simpsons. Oftentimes they are the ones who don’t stand out in the crowd, the ones who look like they’d never hurt anyone.
All children deserve to grow up and flourish without the fear of bullying looming over their heads. I look at my children every day and I’m reminded that growing up in today’s world is hard enough as it is. If we can take bullying out of the equation, it will give our children more freedom to feel comfortable in their own skin, to explore the things that they truly find interesting – without having to worry about what others will think. As parents, we need to teach our children that everyone is different, that no two people are the same. And instead of teaching them how to conform, we should teach them how to embrace their differences.
For more information on warning signs that your child could be a bully take a look at our article on the signs of bullying and how to help your child.
“Bullying is killing our kids. Being different is killing our kids and the kids who are bullying are dying inside. We have to save our kids whether they are bullied or they are bullying. They are all in pain.” – Cat Cora, President and Founder of “Chefs for Humanity”