Inside the Criminal Mind

Understanding the dark side of human conduct

Bullying: A Harbinger of a Developing Criminal Personality?

Bullying constitutes "criminal" conduct

Central to the criminal's self-esteem is building himself up at the expense of others. He cases people out for their vulnerability and then preys upon them. The criminal sniffs out weakness anywhere and takes full advantage. He may approach his "target" through deception, intimidation ("bullying"), or by brute force.

Bullying is a manifestation of criminal conduct. A youth finds what he senses is a weakness in a peer or even in someone he never met before and capitalizes on it. He may pick on a boy or girl with a physical handicap or some other disability. One youngster whom I interviewed had teased unmercifully a boy who had a severe tremor when he tried to raise an ice cream cone to his mouth. Bullying another person by citing his appearance, sexual orientation, mannerisms, or virtually any other feature that sets that youngster apart from others is what the criminal does repeatedly.

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Repeated bullying is an expression of a developing criminal personality. Bullying should not be excused, explained, or minimized both with respect to the impact on the victim and the need for the perpetrator to be held accountable.

Stanton Samenow, Ph.D.,is a clinical psychologist practicing in Alexandria, Virginia and author of Inside the Criminal Mind.

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