"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Little Education

      During the last ten years of my teaching career, I became focused on how to dull the sharp point of bullying in the public schools. This was due in part to what I saw happening to one of my own children, along with what I saw happening in the classroom and on the fields of 'play' where I was teaching. I read all the published books I could find on the subject. I attended conventions and workshops. I talked to professionals, I wrote and administered programs for the school. I talked to victims and bullies and those who stood to the side, watching.
      What I saw happening, as a result of all this work, was that, when we had classes on how to defuse bullying, the bullies simply adapted their techniques and continued to bully. But, and this was the good part, the victims and the bystanders were empowered and given tools with which to self-protect.
      If you haven't had the pleasure of studying this particular social phenomenon, here are some basics in bullying for you to consider; a crash course, if you will.

1.  Bullies surround themselves with supporters who shout encouragement to the bully and disparagement toward the victims. The 'side-kicks' (aka:  the 'Posse') joins in, if and when violence
   begins, so that the odds are always tilted in favor of the bully.

2. Bullies talk louder than anyone else and threaten harm. They interrupt when others attempt to defend themselves or the victim. They crave attention and control. They feed on fear.

3.  Bullies are liars. They spread falsehood like the plague. They will say whatever they can think of to hurt the victim and then deny everything they said, if and when they are confronted with their untruths.

4.  Bullies use their laughter, and the laughter of others, to humiliate their targets.

5.  Bullies are after power, preferably by taking power from someone else. They will rarely
     attack someone who has more power than they have. It is always about unequal power.

6. Bullies brag about their own real or imagined accomplishments and talents, and belittle the actual talents and accomplishments of their targets.

7.  However, Bullies immediately cast themselves in the role of the victim if a greater power calls them
     to account for their actions or words.  They take offense at the slightest affront and cry foul play.

8.  Once learned, bullying behavior is carried on throughout one's life. This is not 'just part of growing up', as so many parents say to their kids and each other.  This is a lifestyle that is taught to their own children and rarely abandoned.

9. The bully is usually very good at reading people and is usually very smart. The people in their posse are usually not as smart as the bully and follow wherever he/she leads so they have proximity to power they themselves do not have.

10. Bullies are not interested in the welfare of their Posses. They are only interested
    in themselves. They will turn on and abandon their supporters instantly if those supporters begin
     to question their words or methodology.

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