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We Love To Hate The Bully

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

The bully victimizes and terrorizes and intimidates others. He is a tyrant who is cruel and manipulating. He is the “demon” who we love to hate. He is “Darth Vader,” in the movie, “Star Wars.” We love him, we fear him, we romanticize him, we hate him.

Here, we are discussing children who are bullies.

However, we have to ask who this person is and what motivates him? Isn’t he also a victim who deserves our help?

Mostly, these youngsters who intimidate are males. The reason for this is that, generally, girls are less physically violent as compared to boys. It’s expected that boys play rough and tumble while girls do not. This is not meant to imply that girls are incapable of bullying. They certainly do. However, their’s is mostly not violent. They will use the silent treatment, spreading rumors and the social network to bully. It is the male bullies who are out front with violence in their intimidation of others.

Recent research shows that the bully is a victim even while he victimizes. He is someone who sees the world around him as dangerous even in the absence of danger. He believes others will try to dominate him unless he dominates them. As a result, he is quick to interpret the behavior of other youngsters as hostile. All of this describes someone who both sees the world through paranoid lenses and who has not learned how to behave in ways that are realistic and socially adaptive. He has low self esteem, feels ineffective and expects people to dislike him.

There are many psychological theories about what causes aggression in human beings. They vary from the psychoanalytic tradition that defines aggression as a biological drive that, if left unmastered, will run amok. Other theories state that aggression results from children learning to be violent from their environment. In other words, the bully, according to this view, is imitating what he sees at home. The truth is probably a combination of both.

A more recent theory is that at least some bullying results from inconsistent parenting. In this scenario, the child rarely knows what to expect. For example, the parent disciplines according to how she or he feels and not by what the child is doing. The child may do something aggressive but will not be punished unless the parent is in a bad mood.

Many of the youngsters who intimidate others eventually outgrow this behavior. Others go on to live extremely self destructive lives. Some of them become criminals and end up in prison for most of their lives. Others drop out of school early and live lives far below their intellectual abilities. There are those who become alcoholics and drug abusers.

It is for these reasons that the earlier this behavior is identified and the earlier psychological treatment is used to help these kids the sooner they will make a healthier adjustment to life. The older a youngster becomes, the more difficult it is to help them learn new behaviors.

The bully does not need our hate, he needs our help.

Do you have a child who bullies others? Have your children been bullied? How have these problems been addressed?

Your comments are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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