Bullying and Cyber-bullying

Vicious Cycles:
How to Stop Bullying

In group homes, I have been bullied about my sexuality, my weight and the fact that I take medication. Kids have called me names, hit me and put mustard, ketchup and dish detergent on my bed linen. I have also witnessed other kids who live with me get bullied in the same way.

Why are group homes full of bullies? To get an answer to that question, I went to Dr. Cohen, a psychologist from the National School Climate Center who has spent many years working in schools. Dr. Cohen said that bullying is a form of abuse, and that too many people assume that it is normal behavior for kids when it is actually very harmful.

Group Home Hounds

Dr. Cohen said that many youth who are abused or bullied tend to become bullies themselves. He said that people who are being abused feel small and helpless and ashamed. "No one likes to feel helpless," he explained. "Bullying… can make someone feel more powerful in the short run."

As children, many of us were made to feel small and helpless, often by our parents. So it makes sense that a lot of kids in foster care are bullies. By hurting others, they're trying to feel better about themselves.

Also, when someone hasn't received much attention in their lifetime—like when kids are neglected by their parents—they might feel that being bullied is OK because it is a form of attention. They may think, "At least the person who is bullying me is acknowledging my presence."

But bullying is not a good way to feel bigger and better than someone. Nor is it a way to show or receive love from someone. Bullying is not love. It can have serious consequences.

Dr. Cohen said that "Ongoing bullying can and does make someone feel helpless and that can lead to serious depression." Research has also shown that children who bully other children are at risk of more violent behavior. That's why it's so important that adults pay attention to bullying, and help stop it.

Dr. Cohen said that too often, adults do not intervene when they see or hear bullying. He said that if adults just sit aside and do nothing about bullying, they risk sending the message that bullying is OK. But bullying is not OK.

Stop It

Research has shown that adults can significantly change the pattern of bullying. Here's what adults can do to help stop bullying:

  1. Get the bully help. Send the bully into some sort of therapy. Without therapy, a bully might not be able to grow out of bullying. Research has shown that bullying can lead to more violent behavior.
  2. Teach the bully how to pay attention to what they are feeling. Sometimes bullies bully because they feel overwhelmed at the moment and don't know what they're feeling. If they can understand their feelings better, they can figure out what's bothering them and maybe even talk about it without taking it out on someone else.
  3. Intervene. If there's a conflict, sit down with the bully and the victim and talk about the problem. Give consequences for bullying and stop the problem before it escalates.

Adults need to stop sitting by when bullying happens. When a bully in a home or a classroom isn't stopped, everyone there lives in fear. Especially for kids who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, living in fear of bullies is no way to live. Graphic indicating this is the end of the story