October is national bullying prevention month.
The best way to describe bullying is this: hurt people hurt people. People who engage in bullying aren't coming from a place of empowerment or overwhelming self confidence, they are coming from a place of pain and are operating from the belief that their personal happiness can be achieved at the expense of others.
This is why the standard approach to end bullying never works. Where a compliant is filed, and the bully is admonished by authority figures and suspended from school. These actions reinforce the bully's belief that they are the ones being treated unfairly, and it sets the bully's victim up for retaliation.
The best way to deal with bullying is to teach the person on the receiving end how to become empowered and compassionate. When someone who has struggled with being on the receiving end of bullying comes to see their antagonist as being just like they are, they become inspired and courageous to stand up for themselves while regarding their antagonist with compassion.
As someone who has extensive experience working with adolescents, whenever I have come across a verbal exchange in which one person was clearly being bullied, I immediately would put a stop to it. However, I didn't stop there, I would schedule a one on one with the student who was being harassed and teach them techniques such as verbal judo to use in bringing the harassment to an end, without becoming a bully themselves.
A few months ago when a you tube video went vital which showed some middle school boys taunting their bus monitor, the mass media became the bully. Not only where the boys suspended from school, but their families received reoccurring death threats. Reading the story on online news outlets, one would think that these boys where child monsters of sorts. However I believe what happened was that adults who felt the most compassionate about the story where adults who had bad experiences with being bullied as children themselves. As a result they didn't stop to realize that these were children, who needed age appropriate consequences and forgiveness.
October is national bullying prevention month, and I hope this post will convince some people that the current popular approach to dealing with bullying in schools is another form of bullying.
So what are your thoughts about this post? All agreements and disagreements are welcome, I do read all comments. Also, if you enjoyed this post, please visit, my anger management blog, for this week's post.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions, a professional counseling private practice.