Analyzing why people do the things they do and how those things affect others is one of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy finding solutions.
Who Do Bullies Target
Nobody is safe. Nobody immune. Bullies attack from all angles – anybody – anywhere. They attack you – me – each other. They attack the body, the mind, the spirit, and the soul. They attack people because they perceive them to be different. Yet, we are all the same. We are not the bodies which encompass our souls. We are one soul. We are one people. All of us – everyone. How do we get bullies to recognize that when they hurt others they are also hurting themselves? Surely, if they think about or envision all the ways their words or actions could affect the recipients of them, they will feel compassion. Is it possible to open their eyes – make them see – what the victims of their words or actions feel? Is it possible to open their hearts – make them care enough to acknowledge and stop the damage they cause to our spirit – our soul? Through ignorance or apathy, they taunt and tease, put people down or beat them up. How do we make them care enough to empathize with people before they speak or act? One place to begin is with the four E’s - Educate, Empathize, Embrace, and Encourage.
How does Bullying Affect the Bullied and Their Families
A story to mimic what might happen in a family of people who are bullied.
A fourteen year old girl with cerebral palsy anticipates her first day at her new high school. She wobbles when she walks. Her bulging eyes sparkle with excitement. She joyfully runs up to other kids in the halls, “Hi, m-m-my n-name is Jenna; what’s yours?” Her voice cracks and slurs. Her mouth slants. Some children are kind. They introduce themselves and in their minds they think, she seems nice. I would like to get to know her. Many other kids are kind to her face but as soon as they walk away they giggle with others and put her down. She hears them but says nothing. Her heart breaks as she secretly wipes a tear from her eye and boldly reaches out to others. However, these kids blatantly laugh in her face and turn away. When she gets home from school, her parents notice the pain in her face and pain rips through them. Her mother has to walk into the other room to cry. Her normally gentle father punches the wall. But Jenna forces a smile. She goes on Facebook and reads jokes about “people who ride the short bus.” What’s wrong with people who ride the short bus? She wonders. She just got off of one. What’s wrong with me? Later that night, a comedian on the television jokes about a person with cerebral palsy. He slants his mouth, slurs when he speaks, and walks lopsided. The audience roars with laughter. They know no better. They can’t see Jenna’s tears. They can’t feel her pain. They can’t see the pain in her mother’s eyes or her father’s fist. If they could, they would stop in their tracks. There would be regret. There would be silence. The spirit in the room would die. Their soul – the one soul shared by all – hovering above them in the darkness - would – ache horribly – much like our soul ached when we witnessed the events of 9-11.
Who Are the People Who Get Bullied
Jenna’s story could be replaced with the story of a homosexual boy who is teased and taunted by classmates or who hears other boys or girls calling people “gay” as if they are better than him simply because they are heterosexual. It could be replaced with somebody who is the subject of a witch hunt because others are jealous or intimidated by that person’s looks or accomplishments. It could be replaced with any man, woman, boy, or girl who has characteristics that are the brunt of jokes, the subject of ridicule, and/or the object of ignorance. In fact, most people have been bullied at some point in their lives. Therefore, it could be replaced by the stories of injustices done to almost everybody – everywhere. The place could change from the stage to a person's home or to a schoolyard or an office break room. The faces could belong to any child or adult. Anyone of them could belong to my family or your family - the bully or the bullied. Everyone of them belongs to our family. The cause remains the same – the bullies either don’t know or they don’t care. Perhaps because nobody appeared to care when they were misrepresented or mistreated. The effect remains the same – our universal soul aches.
How Can Writers Teach Bullies To Empathize with Others and Stop Bullying
How do we get bullies to put themselves in the shoes of those they bully? We, the writers, show them – through articles, stories, poems, plays, and movies. We show them in homes, schools, and community centers. When we write these things, we include specific occurrences of actions that constitute bullying and the effects they have on the people bullied and the people who care about them, similar to Jenna’s story. We make them fall in love with the person’s soul so much so that their physical characteristics become part of what they love about them or their accomplishments become something that they graciously admire in a celebratory way.
Then, we show them that person being hurt by a bully and we show them somebody else stepping up and treating the bullied with respect and care. The power of the written word used to pull on people's heartstrings and make them see the injustices happening around them has and will continue to change the way society interprets what is good for the people of the world and what is the right thing to do. Harriet Beecher Stowe in her novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, changed the way many people felt about slavery and set in motion more and more people treating others better. Most people want to do the right thing. Sometimes they need to see what doing the right thing looks like. Writers have the opportunity to not only show bullies how their actions affect others but also to put care into the writing of future comedy skits, plays, and movies changing the way people interpret the characteristics of other people and changing the way they are treated.
How Can Comedians Help End Bullying
Comedians can make people laugh without attacking integral characteristics of which people are. For instance, a comedian could make up funny stories about things they did or things that happened to them. When their skits are comprised, they should be comprised to make all people laugh. Not some. Common things happen to us all that we can laugh about. Many of us have done things that make us laugh at ourselves. Putting people down is an unnecessary aspect of comedy that needs to be addressed and abandoned.
What Changes Can Society Make to Discourage Bullying
.Likewise, screenwriters and movie producers need not attack specific characteristics of people to show conflict or comedy. Other avenues can give the effect they want without degrading or demoralizing a genre of people. Business owners need not train management to intimidate and belittle employees to get them to be more productive. They can train them to talk to their employees with respect and dignity and with human decency. Politicians need not attack their opponents to make themselves look better. They only need to build a portfolio that shows people who they are and what they can contribute to this nation. Television personalities such as talk show hosts and news broadcasters need not pit one person against another or glorify disturbing behavior by instigating applause for negative behavior. Audience members need not applaud when somebody is publicly humiliated on national television regardless of whether or not the person did something unacceptable or inhumane. The applause, alone, acts as a bullying behavior. Ridiculing, putting people down, and intimidating others are bullying behaviors regardless of who delivers it or for what intended purpose they have. Children emulate their parents, comedians, teachers, television personalities, actors, and others. Many are in the dark as to why it is not appropriate to laugh at or cheer for the demise of somebody or something that projected unacceptable behaviors. Teach them.
How to Stop A Bully from Bullying
While some people are born with mental incapacities that cause them to behave in a bullying manner, most bullies aren’t born. They’re made. One way or the other, bullies, as well as, those bullied need to be embraced. In order to teach the bully to empathize with others, we need to empathize with the bully. Listen to the stories of their lives. Imagine what life is like for them. Perhaps, the bullies who blatantly laughed in Jenna’s face had only moments before walked away from people who laughed in their faces. Perhaps, children in school threw things at them when they weren’t looking or called them undesirable names. Perhaps, their parents were addicts never speaking to them or helping them in any way. Maybe they suffered other abuses at home or at school. Or, maybe they don't feel loved so they act out. While none of these circumstances excuse the behavior, it could explain to some degree how they became desensitized to the feelings of others. We need to introduce them to the people they bully. Let them get to know who they are and how they are the same. We need to embrace them and learn what it is that causes them to behave in such a manner. Let them know that they are loved. And, show them how to treat others.
How Can Parents Teach Their Children Not to Bully
In writing, a common rule many writers try to follow so their audience grasps the messages throughout the story is to "Show, don't tell." This rule also works well in the parenting department. Many parents tell their children, "Don't be a bully. If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all. If you see something, say something." It certainly doesn't hurt to give children this advice; however, when children repeatedly see and hear their parents standing up for others, they're more likely to mimic the behavior. For example, a friend of a child's parent drops by and starts gossiping about the new neighbor with no regard for the children in the room. Instead of going along with what the friend is saying the parent says, "Hey, as long as he's not saying or doing anything to hurt anybody, I don't see why that bothers you. In fact, I'm about to bring him over a pie I baked to welcome him to the neighborhood. Would you like to come along and meet him?" When children see their parents standing up and including others over and over again, most of them will naturally emulate them.
Parents can also show their children how to react when addressing or discussing people who do bad things. Instead of talking down about the person, it's more effective and empathetic to talk down about the action. For example, if Tommy does drugs, a parent would talk about how doing illegal drugs is bad. The parent would not say Tommy is bad because he does drugs.
How to Show Bullies the Harm They Cause People and Encourage Them to Feel For Their Victims
When bullies sit in an audience of a play at school or they join together in a conference room in a work environment and they all observe what it looks like from an outside viewpoint to harm somebody else or be harmed by another, many of the bullies themselves will be appalled at their behavior. Often, the reason they behave the way they do is because they never give any thought to how their behavior affects the person they harm. They think that when they can’t see that person any longer that their pain has gone away. They never consider that the person may suffer from their actions throughout the day, evening, or for weeks, months, years, or decades. They never consider that their actions could cause someone to take drastic measures such as suicide in order to escape the pain they caused. However, when we use the outlets we have been using that encouraged people to become bullies to encourage the same people to become more aware and sensitive to the feelings of others, a bully will become a rarity.
H Lax (author) on April 10, 2018:
Larry, thanks for reading and responding. It's sad that those statistics aren't shocking. I went to public elementary schools through 1977 and then again for my last two years of high school in 1980 - 1982 and we never had the mention of God in our schools. However, I did go to catholic schools for part of 7th, all of 8th grade and my first two years of high school. Kids from both types bullied others pretty much equally. Although it certainly couldn't hurt to get children more involved in their religion and the desire to be more loving and giving like God. As a country who has always regarded God as a backbone by putting His name on our money, our patriotic songs, in our courthouses, etc. I don't see how having a novella referring to Him in school could be against what we stand for as a nation. It's about time we start putting Him in all schools. However, Back when I was in school, things were not quite as difficult for most bullied kids. I wrote an article entitled "How Not to Raise a Bully" for The Times by me that explains some of the differences kids face nowadays such as technology and the exposure to more bullies jumping in. Take Care, Helen
Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 10, 2018:
Helen, whenever I see an article on bullying it sparks my attention. One in four children are bullied in school, According to the US Justice Department 160,000 children stay home from school every day because of the fear of being bullied. I wrote a novella, Out of the Darkness, several years ago in hopes of getting it into schools. I looked at the side of the bully and the side of the victim. I was rejected every time, probably because I used God as a character in my novella. God is not supposed to be mentioned in public schools anymore. I think everyone knows someone who has been bullied. It is an epidemic in the US. Many school administrators turn their heads the other way because they don't want to get involved. I actually do believe that all bullies are not bad people but have a darkness in their lives.
H Lax (author) on March 13, 2013:
Thanks for reading. I don't know if you understood what I was trying to get across. I think that the only way to stop bullying is to get the bullies to see what they are doing and causing in the lives of others. Pets can be great healers when people let us down but there are a lot of wonderful people in the world too. I hope that you come across some and have the opportunity to have those relationships also. The act of bullying is not acceptable and stopping it has to be a priority but we have to get to the root of why somebody bullies somebody else and help change that person's outlook.
Ruth Laughery from Montana on March 12, 2013:
I started out reading your hub with great interest, but just couldn't finish it when you started presenting the bully/bullied as being the same.
However,I can see where it might seem like this is true, but I don't agree with this.
Abusers, which are the true bullies, are aggressive people by nature. These people take what they want at any cost and push those that are weaker around in order to accomplish their own ends.
The abused/bullied people are damaged by this and if somehow they get out of their abusive scenario become hypersensitive to others actions as a result.
As a result, when these damaged people are confronted unjustly in the future in a scenario where they are not over matched by their accuser, their knee jerk reaction and excessive vehemence in defending their self then comes across as aggressive and bullying.
I was, and still find myself literally picked out of crowds of people to be "the one" that inevitably someone will try to push around.
Possibly it is because I am so easy going, and as these people get to know me, they perceive this as weak, and that I am a suitable target for them.
Then when I have had enough when they fail to pick up on my hints and even outright comments that I don't like what they are doing to me, and have to get tough, well then lo and behold, I become the jerk and I am the one at fault etc and so on.
The best way I have found to deal with this, is to just not have much to do with people. I like my pets much better, as they love me as I am.
H Lax (author) on January 06, 2013:
Thanks again, Sometimes I wonder why so many people try to tackle problems from the end point or the middle and they never go back to the root. Kids learn from the adults even if they are getting their messages subliminally, they are still getting these bullying messages so not only do we need to nip those in the bud but also show them how to treat others with kindness by behaving that way ourselves. Thanks for reading and for commenting.
Aldene Fredenburg from Southwestern New Hampshire on January 06, 2013:
This attention on bullying has been a long time coming. We focus on bullying in schools, but don't pay attention to all the bullying in the media, from cop shows that show bullying to politicians who try to get what they want by ridiculing people. Bullying doesn't stop in the schools; it extends to our adult work life, our roads and streets, and our public lives. Good for you for putting some attention on this problem!
Lybrah on December 30, 2012:
This was an excellently written hub. As a former victim of bullying, I definitely see the need to address this problem. No one should have to go through what I went through.
Leslie Schock from Tulsa, Oklahoma on December 16, 2012:
Very powerful hub. I can't add anymore than what has already been said. Thank you for writing this.
Ram Bansal from India on December 15, 2012:
Facebook tried to bully me by deactivating my friend requests for 14 days, I deactivated my account on facebook for ever. Thus, to prevent others from bullying you, strike back strongly.
Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on December 14, 2012:
This is a passionate and compelling piece about a growing epidemic with people in general, Honey.
You have a compassionate and kind heart. I am glad we have connected and look forward to more of your work.
Voted UP and UAI. Hugs, Maria
Salini from India on December 11, 2012:
Excellent hub! Bullying is a traumatizing experience for any one, irrespective of the age, sex, caste, creed... The kids are highly impressionable to all the negatives of life and to bobble up, out of this emotional whirlpool is tough for even adults! think about innocent minds then...
Voted up, awesome and useful.
Have a nice day.
Dianna Mendez on December 10, 2012:
Thanks for supporting this movement, Honey. We need more voices out there on behalf of victims, such as yours. Let's hope we see an end to this some day! Great hub.
H Lax (author) on December 09, 2012:
Thanks Sarra, I know it kills me whenever I hear about a teacher bullying a student. You really don't expect to hear something like that but I think another thing that is going on is the abundance of stress people are going through today. People need to learn how to deal with it without taking it out on others. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Sarra Garrett on December 09, 2012:
Voted Up and Awesome!!! You are correct in saying bullies are made. In most instances it's because they, the bully, has been or is being emotionally abused at the home front. (see my hub on child abuse) The bully is acting out in order to get attention. It's a huge circle that needs to be broken. Bullying has to stop and the mainstream media needs to get more involved as well as schools. Hell, teachers are bullying students and I'm sorry but school should be a 'safe place' for our children to be. We can't stop bullying, but we can educate. What an awesome hub!!!!
H Lax (author) on December 09, 2012:
Thanks effer, I have been wanting to write an article about bullying since I started as I have been advocating against it for quite a while now. Finally, I got it together. Thanks for reading, comments, and complements and votes. I screwed up my sleeping schedule writing this because when I start an article I can't walk away from it (unless I absolutely have to) until I finish it so yesterday morning at 7:39 a.m. my son comes out in the front and says Ma, You still up....I'm like, Yeah why what time is it? He tells me and asks What time did you think it was? Me: 12:30 .... I'd say I was a little off. Now I couldn't sleep last night because I went to sleep around 8:30 yesterday morning. I know, I know ... TMI
Suzie from Carson City on December 09, 2012:
Honey....Bullying must be stamped out. I am with you 100% in terms of the 4-E's!! This is the answer. You are kind and wise and generous to share these feelings and ideas with your readers. Another contribution to the H.O.W. mission!! Bravo, Honey..........UP+++
lovedoctor926 on December 09, 2012:
H Lax (author) on December 08, 2012:
Thanks for reading and commenting lovedoctor.
lovedoctor926 on December 08, 2012:
This is very good information. I like the examples you used. Many bullies are psychopaths or sociopaths. They both have similar characteristics. They disregard other people's feelings and rights.
H Lax (author) on December 08, 2012:
Thank God for Mr. Ball. That's really brave of you to admit to being a bully and I'm so sorry that you had an awful home situation. The key word is that it is all in the past and it seems you are a wonderful, caring person now.
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on December 08, 2012:
Thank you for this. Sadly, I was a psychological bully. My home situation was awful. What was worse was I was encouraged by my peers and the adults. A teacher, Mr Ball, curbed (slowed me down) by giving me projects to work with people rather than ridicule them.
H Lax (author) on December 08, 2012:
Thank you for reading and commenting.
Bronwyn J Hansen on December 08, 2012:
H Lax (author) on December 08, 2012:
Thanks Michele, I appreciate your kindness and thanks for reading and commenting.
Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on December 08, 2012:
Thanks for writing this hub HoneyBB, I wish more people were like you.
H Lax (author) on December 08, 2012:
Thanks for reading and commenting SandCastles
SandCastles on December 08, 2012:
Very good Hub HoneyBB.
I don't like cruel comedy either.