Bullying (5): Bully awareness

Bullying posterUnderstanding the dynamics of bullying is very important in finding the solution for it. In the next two chapters of the bullying series, I will discuss the characteristics of two main players in the bullying phenomenon – the Bully and the Bullied (victim). I say two main players, because there are many other players in the game, but they will be discussed later on.

From a very early stage of the bullying research, it was obvious that bullies have special characteristics. Research done in 2007 by Field found that bullies have difficulties with schoolwork, health and self-esteem. Field also found that bullies have personal, social and interpersonal difficulties, including challenges in dealing with emotions and conflicts, lack of compassion and inability to express empathy.

As the challenges bullies have are all associated with their inability to manage their feelings, it is easy to see that bullies have low emotional intelligence. To understand fully how low emotional intelligence can be translated into bullying, here are the four level of emotional intelligence:

  1. Recognizing my own feelings
  2. Managing my own feelings
  3. Recognizing others’ feelings
  4. Helping and supporting others with their feelings

When we examine bullies’ behavior, we can see that having challenges in dealing with emotions means they do not master Level 1. Their aggressive behavior means they cannot master Level 2. Their lack of compassion means they cannot master Level 3 and their inability to express empathy means they cannot master Level 4.

Two kinds of bullies

Bullying behavior is the result of a perceived threat, real or perceived.

Research has found there are two kinds of bullies – the Aware Bully and the Unaware Bully. The aware bully is rare, but very mean, and enjoys hurting others. The unaware bully is very common and uses bullying as a way to gain power, but normally does not grasp the impact of his or her behavior as hurting or damaging.

Little boy cryingIt is commonly thought that bullying starts during childhood. The difference between the two styles is caused by different life circumstances and personality characteristics.

The first type – the malicious, aggressive, aware bullies – usually experience some form of abuse during childhood and are motivated by envy and resentment. These bullies function from a position of lack. They consider themselves neglected, bullied, abused and the victims of violence. They feel so weak that their behavior is meant to regain their lost power.

Growing up with neglect, bullying, abuse and violence (real or perceived) teaches them to think that in order to gain their power back, they need to treat others the way they were treated by the abusive, bullies, neglecting and violent people in their life. Feeling so weak, they shift to survival mode and use every learned technique to manage. For such a bully, living in a very fearful state, offense is the best defense.

Characteristics of this type are:

  1. Difficulty in following rules
  2. Very low frustration threshold (easily frustrated)
  3. Impulsive
  4. Hot tempered
  5. Dominant
  6. Lack of compassion and empathy
  7. Positive attitude towards violence as a solution

The second type – the unaware bullies, who mostly use social or verbal abuse – do not necessarily suffer from low self-esteem. In fact, they have some characteristics of arrogance and narcissism that might seem like high self-esteem to the untrained eye, but is also the result of a real or perceived threat.

Characteristics of this type are:

  1. Anti-bullying posterPopularity in their peer group
  2. Leadership skills
  3. Generally disliked by others
  4. Thoughtless in action, but with no malicious intent
  5. Good verbal skills
  6. Good manipulation skills
  7. Enjoy conflict
  8. Think highly of themselves

There are 4 reasons we need to understand what happens in the bully’s mind and what character traits they have.

  1. To enable education systems to teach those missing emotional skills and abilities long before these kids need them
  2. To enable parents to help their kids to develop emotional skills to manage their emotions and frustration level
  3. To identify early signs of bullying personalities before kids reach teen years when they develop a strong sense of identity
  4. To create support structures and good tools to help kids in need

Join me next week for the 6th chapter of the bullying series, in which I will cover the characteristics of the second player in the bullying “game”, the Victim or the Bullied.

Happy parenting,

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  • Handyman Services

    I recommend ronitbaras RT Bullying (5): Bully awareness parenting #education #kids #bullying

  • http://streetselfdefence.net/ Street Self Defence

    My son had a terrrible time with bullying up to a couple of years ago. I took him to a local martial arts class – Choi Kwan Do as part of the strategy to help. Please let me stress this wasn’t to teach him to ‘fight’ rather to build his confidence and self esteem. This has worked wonders – he’s lost a lot off weight, which was part of the reasons for the bullying, and is so much more confident in himself. I now support the club and we get many children in the same situation

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/index.php/about/ Ronit Baras

    Street Self Defence,

    What a wonderful thing to do.
    I wrote a story about a kid who is doing martial art to defend himself from his dad.

    Martial art is not a “fighting” sport, it is an art. The art of focus and being strong from the inside.

    People doing martial art project confidence that keeps bullies away.

    Great way to help bullying victims.


  • Lauren

    Wow! This Really Helped Me And I’m 10 And a Half it was Cool Knowing That i’m Not the Only Gir;l In The World Whos Is Being Bullied. . . Thats What It Usually Feels Like Well This really helped!
    ;] :D

  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras

    HI Lauren,

    I am glad it helped you.
    Read the whole series , it can give you lots of strength.


  • http://www.ronitbaras.com/ ronitbaras

    This week I have seen a video about a girl who created a video for a school assignment and was suspended from school because of it.

    Here is the video

    Many people protested on the schools decision to suspend her for it and here is my comment: 

    I totally understand why the school suspended Jessica. It was the best thing they could have done. I want to congratulate them for it. This is a situation when everyone gets an A. I want to say two things to Jessica’s school.

    1. Congratulations. You should be very proud to have such kids like Jessica in your school. It is a credit to educate such kids with social awareness that will make a huge effort to stop bullying

    2. Congratulations for suspending Jessica from school. Well done! The suspension did a better job in creating awareness to bullying then getting an A could have done. Bullying is a social disease.

    Thank you Jessica! You are beautiful! (both inside and out) Well done!