Children and adults who are bullied most often do not realize that they are being bullied when the bully first approaches. The bully is checking out his/her intended prey—like two dogs sniffing each other– to make sure he/she can take advantage without much resistance. Bullies often appear friendly and interested in the other by smiling, asking harmless questions, and sometimes sharing information about themselves. Those that bully seem to have an uncanny ability to choose “reliable” victims. Much of this is because parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, and friends have bullied the bully. He/she chooses what appears to be the non-aggressive child or adult, who often has an explosive temper with low self-esteem and apparent neediness to be accepted. This can be noticed easily when the child or adult is different in some way from others: maybe weird looking, more intelligent, nicer, friendlier, and especially a loner or one with only one or two friends with the same “weak” personality. When the bully is sure that he/she can easily control the intended prey, he/she acts in mean and cruel ways.
Parents and teachers are often fooled into thinking that a child is not being bullied by observing the “checking out” phase. Both teachers and parents are happy that this child who spends so much time alone is actually making a new friend. Once the bully subdues his prey and makes him/her a slave to his/her desires, parents and teachers still think the two children are good friends because they spend so much time together. Bullied children do not report bullying abuse because parents and teachers assume the two friends are merely having a brief falling out, which will soon be restored to the usual friendship. Bullies threaten their victims with more cruel treatment if the victim ever convinces a parent or teacher that it is really abuse instead of friendship. On such an occasion the parent or teacher will probably confront the bully and the bully will deny the allegation, assuring the adult that it was a simple misunderstanding. Bullies tend to be narcissistic or have anti-social personalities that allow them to be very charming. Then the bully will really punish his/her prey by hurting, embarrassing, humiliating or worse. Children who are being bullied usually do not report abuse because they have witnessed or heard about what happened to the last child who reported abuse.
Can’t the child fight back? How? Bullies play to audiences; so one child verbally defending him or herself will certainly be mocked by a group of the bully’s friends. This can be made worse by his friends sending messages by videos, text, Instagrams, Twitter, etc. If the prey physically hits the bully, the school will expel the prey because the school rule is “no hitting”. If the child reports to parent or school employee, the bullying is intensified. What can the bullied do? He/she can do nothing. And herein are the most serious problems involved with being bullied—the felt emotions that control. They are similar patterns of emotions felt by men or women who are raped. The bullied feels some of anger, rage, embarrassment, shame, guilt, humiliation, sadness, helplessness, hopelessness and despair. These are the emotions that also cause “Bullycide”, the new term for suicide due to bullying.
I have had years of experience working with this pattern of emotions of which hopelessness is key, and am applying it to bullying and motivation for both youth and adults. Please call me at 800-989-8037 if you have the slightest suspicion that your child is being bullied or is expressing phrases such as “I don’t care”, “I don’t care” or acts like he or she deserves punishment by peers.
Lane A Stokes, LPC, SMHC, M.Div, MS, CPE
Marriage Counselor and Mental Health Specialist
Counseling Services Atlanta Group LLC
11285 Elkins Road, Roswell GA 30076