Bullies aren’t born, they are made

School is about to begin. Summer surely has flown, hasn’t it? And with classes about to resume, there are a lot of things to do in preparation. Shopping for clothes, shoes, pencils, pens, notebooks, book covers and a lot of other things is high on the list of priorities. Preparing children to begin school or return to school is important for their well being.

Bullying is a familiar story because it is very real and very common. It has a starting point, but does it ever end? What is self-esteem and what does self-esteem have to do with bullying? Why are there tough boys and mean girls?

Bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-age children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and the aggression is repeated over and over. It includes making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone on purpose. And the problems associated with bullying can affect the bully and the victim into adulthood, is the word from stopbullying.gov.

There is a very informative online video about the making of a bully that gives us a different perspective about bullying. Everyone doesn’t agree with Conscious Discipline, the web site that presents the video, but it is worthy of some thought as you make up your own mind about bullying. You will find the video here: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?hsimp=yhs-att_001&hspart=att&p=the+making+of+a+bully#id=1&vid=bca0af22dda46ceca2e6b3cc1fa992b1&action=click.

Dr. Becky Bailey elaborates on bullying, that it is a learned thing that begins when new babies don’t sleep well at night and cry a lot. Parents become exhausted from all of the changes the new addition has brought to their lives and sleep deprivation is not uncommon. Bailey reports that a parent yelling at an unpacified infant starts the bullying process. The children can become defiant toddlers and by the age of 3 become either aggressive, defiant and hot-tempered or passive, acquiescent and anxious. These children often are excluded from interaction with other children their age because they are either ill-behaved (aggressive) or boring (passive.) They don’t understand how to fit in with other children.

When the child begins school, the teachers continue the exclusion by separating the misbehaving child from other children as a form of discipline. The aggressive child takes what he wants. The passive child gives up. Adults think the aggressive child is mean and the passive child is lazy. But both lack social skills. And as they grow up, the conditions around them are trying because they are still looking for a place to belong, a connection to others. And they realize that they are different.

In fact, Bailey stated that rejection becomes so great that the brain undergoes a significant change from love to fear. Think about that for a moment. And they arrive at a point where they don’t care. The caring system inside of them has shut down, she said. They need connection and they need love and caring. And Bailey advised that when a child says “I don’t care,” what he is actually saying is “I don’t feel cared for.”

Over time they get caught up with tough guys and mean girls and become a part of bullying. They arrive at a point where they are addicted to the pleasure they feel in hurting others. They don’t have confidence in their own worth, that self-esteem we mentioned at the beginning of this article.

So what can we do about these things? These children need to feel connected, to slowly build healthy relationships. And when conflict occurs, they need to be taught how to handle those things better. They need patience and love, the time of parents, mentors and caregivers to help them develop positive social skills so they can fit in with their peers. Untended, the issues will follow them through their lifetime. If bullying was a part of your childhood, you probably clearly understand all of this.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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