Understanding Bullying

Bullying is a distinctive pattern of deliberately harming and humiliating others. It's a very durable behavioral style, largely because bullies get what they want—at least at first. Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age, if the normal aggression of 2-year-olds isn't handled well.

Bullies couldn't exist without victims, and they don't pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness and radiate fear long before they ever encounter a bully. No one likes a bully, but no one likes a victim either. Grown-up bullies wreak havoc in their relationships and in the workplace.

Many experts believe that bullying behavior is on the rise because children increasingly grow up without the kinds of experiences that lead to the development of social skills. It has been well-documented that free play is on the decline, but it is in playing with peers, without adult monitoring, that children develop the skills that make them well-liked by agemates and learn how to solve social problems.

Recent Posts on Bullying

5 Reasons Bad Guys Always Seem to Win (and How to Stop Them)

There are specific psychological reasons why bad people are able to exploit others to their advantage, and part of the problem is our tolerance for bad behavior, and an unwillingness to intervene. There is more that we can do to stop the bad and promote the good.

A Boss Intoxicated By The Sound Of His Own Voice

An Executive Coach deals with a nasty, condescending leader exhibiting a psychopathology that turns viral and infects the organization. The CEO and Executive Board are resistant and in denial until employee grievances and negative posts on social media threaten the company brand. Diagnosis reveals that the CEO's ADHD & Intermittent Explosive Disorder goes companywide.

Confronting Campus Sexual Violence

“Too often we work in silos,” said White, “with the researchers, practitioners, and policymakers on their own. We need to spend time talking with each other.”

Do Bullies Want Love, Not War?

Psychologists in Canada have found that bullies experience greater opportunities for sex. Bullies are more likely to have dated, had sex, and to report numerous sexual partners.

The Know-It-All's Code

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 10, 2015 Ambigamy
Life is hard and complex but it doesn't have to feel that way. Follow the Troll Code and you can have all the smug self-satisfaction you want.

Don't Decide Like Martians

When faced with life-and-death choices, teams often decide on a course of action by voting. However, the voting method may bully some members of a team into going along with risks that they really don't want to take. The film "The Martian" illustrates this strategy, team decision making at its worst.

Jeering the Mets

Gloating over the Met’s loss, jeering at Daniel Murphy's error, conflating a “failure” with an identity is precisely the mentality that twists lifestyle differences into hatred and homophobia.

Why We Must Listen to Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on November 03, 2015 Brick by Brick
By sharing his story, Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown shows that if you stand up for your convictions, you can fight racism and make real change happen in the world

Hardening Of The Smarteries

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 02, 2015 Ambigamy
Strange that there doesn't seem to be a clinical name for pathological know-it-all-ness especially given how epidemic it can become.

How Not to Be a Jerk or a Wimp

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on November 01, 2015 Ambigamy
Based on broad reading in behavioral science and philosophy, here are some tips on how to tip yourself toward the middle ground between being over-assertive and over-accommodating.

12 Tips For Identifying The Real Hypocrites

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 29, 2015 Ambigamy
They're accusing each other, and maybe even accusing you of being a hypocrite. How do we decide who really is the hypocrite? And how should we decide? Here are a few tips.

Infographic: How Bullying Affects Youth

By Michele Ybarra MPH, Ph.D. on October 29, 2015 Connected
Check out our new infographic to learn how bullying is different than peer harassment (when youth are mean to one another) and how bullying affects youth who experience it.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer --Already??

Why had I never realized that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is built around the bullying, shaming and rejecting a child who is different?

The Faces of Bullying - Helping Kids Through Tough Times

October is national Bullying Prevention Month and it is important to remember that often there is more than one victim of bullying - including the bullying himself. What can be done to ensure all kids are treated fairly and with respect?

"Hey This Isn't A Competition And You Have Cooties So I Win"

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 25, 2015 Ambigamy
When we want to end arguments without admitting defeat we often accuse our opponents of having negative emotions which we treat as the equivalent of having cooties. Here's how it works and why its not just insulting to them but dangerous for us to end arguments this way.

Parent Abuse

When rebelling turns into abusing, it's vital for parents take a stand. Remember, parent abuse only thrives when authority is weak.

The Bully as a Symbol/Symptom of Unsafety

How are our children supposed to convey to us that it doesn't feel safe to be a kid in today's society? As an issue that has captured national and international attention, the issue of bullying may be a message that our children are sending to us about a general sense of unsafety, a dropping of the ball, in our society's ability to care for our younger generation.

When Home Is Not Where The Heart Is

What To Do When You Feel Disliked At Home

How to Protect Children from Bullies

Here are five expert tips for parents.

The Case for Transgender-Affirming School Policies

How can we make schools more inclusive of transgender students? Why policies matter.

How to Talk to Your Children About Bullying

By Kyle D. Pruett M.D. on October 19, 2015 Once Upon a Child
Be aware that preschoolers can bully and be bullied on a daily basis. Most of it is not lethal, but a lot of it hurts and shames—both are feelings that can ruin their day and stay with them for a long time.

When a Friend's "Helpful Comments" Go Too Far

Do you really want your friend to answer the question, "Do these jeans make me look fat?" honestly -- no matter who's around -- or is there a preferred time and place for the "Denim Inquisition" or other "touchy" topics?

9 Keys to Handling Hostile and Confrontational People

Most of us encounter confrontational and hostile people at some point in our lives. On the surface, they may come across as domineering, demanding, or even abusive. However, an astute approach and assertive communication style, may help you turn aggression into cooperation, and coercion into respect.

A Real Giant

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 14, 2015 How To Do Life
Today's installment in my series of "How to Do LIfe" fables.

Know Any Opinionated People?

A breakdown of three kinds of opinionated people, why they act that way and why you react the way you do. More importantly, discover how to effectively deal with them.

Kindness Wins, Really

One of my favorite sayings is, “If you pull a blade of grass, the entire universe shakes.”

14 Signs of Psychological and Emotional Manipulation

Psychological manipulation can be defined as the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits and privileges at the victim’s expense. Here are fourteen "tricks" manipulative people often use to coerce others into a position of disadvantage...

Discrimination, Crime and Media Reporting on Campus

Times are changing. Planning is Learning. Safety, security and equity are essential in enabling students to succeed.