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A note from a friend of ours on bullying.

"At heart, the bully envies the ability of the victim to express vulnerability, as the innocence reflects what must be repressed within the perpetrator. In essence, the bully perpetrates through intimidating behaviors such as name calling, hurtful comments, yelling and swearing. If enabled to continue, the aggressor escalates toward physical acts which include shoving, hitting, punching, kicking and harboring (the prevention of escape) to humiliate and control the prey. The endeavors entailing bullying belie a systemic ‘dis-ease’ that requires written and verbal policy as well as a commitment toward action if bullying is to stop.  However, written policy is not enough to counter the culture of passivity in those who have the power to end the violence. Instead, authority figures must revisit through acknowledging what bullies use in terms of methods for usurping power and freedom and they need to train habitually how to intervene.

In essence, the tendency of authorities (parents, teachers and school administrators) to be passive occurs as a result of the hope that children will ‘work it out.’ Unfortunately, the mere demonstration of acts of intimidation underscore the likelihood of learned behavior upon the part of the bully who now seeks an excuse for unleashing rage. Purposeful in choosing an undeserved victim, the bully is as disappointed in those who are entrusted to protect as the victim, as the message of passivity is clear: the world is unsafe. So, without intervention, the bully becomes so entrenched in the need to express the disregard for the rights and property of others that entitlement is the substitute for empowerment. Frequently, the bully evolves into an adult who has abusive relationships and possible criminal history.

Passivity is the hallmark of an ineffective caregiver. In order to feel justified to do nothing, there ensues a system which colludes through money, clique mentality and favoring of those who might enable the ineffective to believe they are performing well. The system then employs means to further disenfranchise and isolate the victim through tacit means. For instance, often the caregiver will react through nonverbal expression disdain that ‘once again’ the victim is complaining about perpetration. The caregiver will dissuade the victim by blaming the reaction to aggression on how the victim reacts as though the stance is an antecedent for bullying as opposed to a very human appeal to a wrong. Often, a school administrator seeks out the parent to encourage the victim to ignore the aggressor. However, as the bullying continues, the parent of the victim is circumvented and not alerted that the child again has been hurt.

On the other hand, an effective caregiver, a compassionate system intervenes early. They send a message to the bully and the aggressor’s parents that the behavior is inappropriate and that the child and parent need help. The system which is courageous encourages cohesiveness of all and that the ‘least of these’ is just as important as the most popular, academic and athletic. The system goes on to encourage teachers and guidance counselor to galvanize the class by role modeling positive, assertive communication and coping. In addition, the effective authority sends a direct message through assemblies as well as written policy ways to identify strengths and skills of children, teachers and school body, and make clear how abuse is handled and by what means. They also encourage a volunteered group within the school body to monitor and supervise recess, lunch, school bus and even hallways in order to make certain that bullying never starts. As such, the temperature of the atmosphere changes from a dangerous atmosphere to a safe one. It also made clear that rather than a rank and file reporting, there is instead a collaboration among students, teachers, cafeteria employees, guidance counselors and school administrators of the need for immediate reporting and how to do so."

Laurie S. Pittman, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

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