You can’t turn on the TV or check the news anywhere without seeing something about bullying. In addition to all the stories about bullies in schools, the most prominent story is the one involving the Miami Dolphins.  In a nutshell one of the rookies left the team because of being bullied.  On the surface this seems hard to believe because you have this giant athlete capable of practically picking up a car with one arm who has to leave the team because he is being hurt by a bully.

But it tells us that no matter how powerful a person is he can be bullied.  All the talk show guests from the sports arena are saying that “my dad taught me that when somebody bullies you just go after them, hurt them and it will be over.”  Sorry, dad but that is not good advice and here is why.

Let’s go back to the old maxim, “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”.  Seems childish and naïve and surely—not a guy-thing. But it is good advice.

In earlier posts I mentioned to always keep control of the agenda in any interaction.  That rule applies here too. Teach your kids that if a bully taunts you, do not react, keep cool and unflustered.

Explain to your kids that they can set the emotional agenda. Tell your kids that they will be teaching the bully that he can’t get to them.  Your kid remains “above” all that. This is about it.

Now it is important not to do anything but ignore the bully. Passive/aggressive behavior won’t work either. Just ignore the bully and move on. The important lesson to teach your child is that they are in control of the situation and not the bully.  In other words, your kid can choose whose opinion is important and whose is not, and the bully’s opinion is not important.

The underlying truth is that violence begets violence. Somebody bullies you and you strike back, and then he or she gets friends to back them…well you get the picture.

There is a corollary here too,  and that is teach your child never to be a bully.  Let them know that you think bullies are weak, insecure people who are not ever likable.  Bullies are pitiable. No one is ever proud of a bully.

Remind your child that it takes a real tough kid to ignore a bully, and tell them that you know they have got what it takes.

One thought on “Bully

  1. Patrick E. Ward

    By the time I arrived in 8th grade, I was attending my 5th new school. So, as the perpetual outsider, I learned a few things about bullies:
    1. Bullies are only comfortable when in the presence of their friends.
    2. Bullies alone can be talked to pleasantly about school or sports and can be won over.
    3. It helps to hang with at least one friend whenever a bully is lurking in the area. Bullies do not like hostile witnesses or anyone they perceive would not approve of their bullying.
    4. Ignoring a bully’s initial approach usually worsens the situation: “Hey, punk, I’m talking to you. Where do you think you’re going?” A better approach is to agree with whatever the jerk is saying: “Yeah, you are right. I am a little chicken sh*t. I have to go to class now.”
    5. Eventually, a new target for the bully will appear, so don’t despair an go to rule 3 above.
    6. You never win a fight. When I was a prosecutor, I used to joke with the police that in a bar fight the loser press charges while the winner is buying a round of drinks.
    7. In every school and neighborhood there is at least one bully. And plenty of victims. Do not feel like you are alone. Think to the future when you are driving your new car past this former bully who is standing with a group of other losers.


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