Bullies are victims, too

Columnist Charlotte Lankard writes that bullying behaviors are nothing more than coping mechanisms, and it is our responsibility to teach kids how to properly handle situations they are faced with instead of taking it out on others.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD clankard@opubco.com Published: August 27, 2013
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“When you see someone you don't agree with, people's instinct is to turn them away. In reality you are better doing the opposite. You should look at them and say, ‘Let's talk.'” These comments came from Chris Wood, a Boy Scout troop leader in an article in the Aug. 18 issue of The Oklahoman.

If I still had a child young enough to be a Boy Scout, I would want him to be in Chris Wood's troop.

I wonder if we could use this approach to address the problem of bullying. Bullying behavior is wrong, but our focus has been on preventing bullying. What if instead we understand the bully is a victim, too, and rather than assume this is a bad kid, we attempt to identify the reason why a boy or girl resorts to bullying behavior.

Bullying behaviors are nothing more than coping mechanisms, and it is our responsibility to teach kids how to properly handle situations instead of acting out against others. Punishing and shaming is not the answer.

A study conducted by researchers at the Institute of Education in London found that bullies are likely to suffer from low self-esteem, depression and behavioral problems beginning in early childhood, and most are bullied themselves.

The study was done with 6,500 children ages 8 to 11. Five percent were labeled as bullies. The majority of those were boys who suffered the highest levels of depression, anger, paranoia, emotional disaffection, suicidal behavior and disliked school the most.

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