As the sound of school bells ringing signals that school is back in session for the year, it also means that students and parents will face some common issues. It is estimated, each day in America, that 160,000 students stay home from school in order to avoid being bullied, so it makes a lot of people wonder what goes on in the mind of a bully. Judging by the research regarding who bullies, it would stand to reason that it’s quite a bit.
“We tend to look at the situation of bullying, and not so much at the bully him- or herself,” explains Peter J. Goodman, author of the book “We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats.” “But if we had a chance to peek into the mind of the bully, we might be surprised at some of the things we would learn.”
There are some things that bullies don’t want people to know, including:
- They aren’t sure about the best way to communicate their feelings. Usually, there is something that a bully wants, but they tend to go about trying to get it in the wrong way. While people have typically thought that bullies were never the popular kids, for example, research shows that they are often popular kids. They tend to bully because they are trying to look good to their peers, and become even more popular.
- They may be hurting inside and want you to hurt, too. Some kids who bully don’t feel good about themselves and may be bullying others to help offset their own feelings. Bullies usually want to feel stronger. Bullying others makes them feel stronger and more powerful. Bullies, especially those who bully to raise their social status, want desperately to fit in with their peers and be accepted.
- They are probably bullying people in the home, too. If someone is a bully at school, there is also a good chance they are bullying someone in the home, such as a sibling. Research published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology found that children who bully at school are likely also bullying their siblings in the home.
- They have probably also been bullied, somewhere along the way. Some children who bully have learned the behavior at home. Research has found that many children who bully have seen such behavior in the home, or are more likely to have been exposed to violence in the home.
- They probably sought you out because they thought you were weak. According to the American Psychological Association, a typical victim is sensitive, quiet, withdrawn, shy, insecure, has low self-esteem, and appears physically weaker than the bully. Those students who appear not to have at least one good friend are often seen as easy targets by bullies.
“A bully is a kid, just like everyone else,” added Goodman. “They may need some help in learning better ways to communicate their feelings and learn how to get along better with their peers. But this is something that each of us needs to work on, in our community, in order to make it a better place for everyone.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, bullying takes place when someone repeatedly tries to harm someone that they believe is weaker. It can take multiple forms, including physical (e.g., hitting, kicking, pushing, etc.), verbal (e.g., threatening, teasing, etc.), and social (e.g., rumors, exclusion, etc.). In recent years, cyber-bullying has also become more widespread; this involves bullying through the use of electronic means, including online and through text messaging.
Goodman’s first book of the Kitty Cat series, “The First Day of School,” is being used by schools, groups, and individuals across the nation to help teach young children about bullying. The book uses a cast of cat characters to demonstrate how we are all different, but that it’s important to be accepting of everyone.
The book has been written for children in pre-kindergarten through the third grade. The earlier children learn about the importance of preventing bullying, the better. To learn more about the book series, or to purchase the volume that addresses bullying, visit www.kittycatsbook.com.