This article may contain affiliate links.

portrait-bullyDictionary.com defines bully:

noun a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.
verb (used with object)
to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer.
verb (used without object)
to be loudly arrogant and overbearing.

As always, whenever I am seeking information from experts, I ask “my” kids. As I suspected, my groups of teens and middle school kids came up with a long list of characteristics of a bully. What they said is that bullying is about discrimination against people. It is based on racial discrimination, religion, social orientation, body size, intelligence and gender. Bullies sexually harass and emotionally harass. On the list was “heartbroken” and “misunderstood” – Isn’t that interesting? For a group of individuals who are bullied and continue to be at risk – showing empathy? I also deeply appreciate “social orientation.” Each individual is so different in terms of what their needs are. Aren’t there times when you prefer to be alone? Haven’t you had friends or co-workers who have asked you to join them and you make an excuse just to have some down time? If that was a snapshot of you in time – would you want others making determinations about your social orientation?

Cyber bullying also made it to the list of characteristics and concerns. Technology has unleashed a whole new mode of bully-time availability. One need only to connect with the drama found on social networks – who is friends with who? Who posts hurtful declarations? I am tempted to post a full “conversation” viewed by anyone who cared to look. Where were this kid’s parents? The conversation is purely sexual in nature and between teenagers – a boy addressing a girl – what the boy says is disgusting and disparaging and if I was this young lady’s parents, I would press charges.

The final comments:

Abully: haha you gonna cry?
Avictim: yeah Abully… im seriously distraught right now
Abully: hahaha

Who takes responsibility for policing and punishing such acts? We await legislation in the state of NJ in hopes that these kinds of things can be stopped. The NJ state Senate and Assembly overwhelmingly passed the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” back in November.

Here is the list generated by my social groups – see if they fit the description of a bully you know:

Mean, heartbroken, insecure, not many friends, cruel, wants to have control, break rules, needs attention, self absorbed, egotistical, racist, wants a reaction, cold, unwanted, psychotic, wants more, violent, rude, angry and sad, rules with force, not much to do, distraught, disturbed, not intelligent, acts tough, stressed, tries to break others down mentally, misunderstood, jerks, doesn’t accept others, unloved, nasty, disturbing, painful, overly confident, think he/she is cool, dishonest, don’t think ahead, impulsive, headstrong, distressing, depressing, hurtful, they think they are the best, selfish, harass people, intimidating, spiteful, physically abusive (push kids into lockers), discriminate, hurt others to make themselves feel better, hate themselves, bigger/smaller/ambiguous, beats up other people, steals stuff – money, etc., low self esteem, seeks to impress others, abuses power, deficient.

Just a couple of tips – generally, many of our kids are not initiators – they will not come to you with bully problems and a lot of the time, I find they try to “ignore” or deal with it on their own with many of those attempts being unsuccessful.

  • Have your child identify some key people he/she can go to at school and at home – adults, not kids – who can help by intervention.
  • Have your child write those names on a card so your child has something to look back on.
  • Review this group with your child periodically and generate discussion in order to extract information.
  • Ask open ended questions and keep probing.

When in doubt, utilize the cartoon technique found in Comic Book Conversations. With this technique, I once uncovered a complete description of a bully in school. The young man didn’t remember the bully’s name but when we fleshed it out on paper, we were able to pick out what he was wearing, how the young man was tied to his desk, and a complete and specific description was able to be deciphered and reported. We were able to report to the school and hence this particular situation was alleviated and the young man more readily reports his concerns to his mom and therapist.