Bullies have unequal power over their targets. They are bigger,
more influential, have group backing, or some other advantage over
the target person.
Bullies intend to harm, humiliate, or embarrass their
Bullies repeat their bullying behavior.
Bullies appear "matter-of-fact" about their attack, while the
victims appear rather upset.
It is helpful to view bullying as group behavior. A group may
participate in actually bullying a victim or a group of bystanders
may tolerate the bullying--also supporting the bullying
Bullying is not always physical, especially among girls. A bully
may assemble a group of girls or boys to target a person and
systematically humiliate, isolate, or embarrass the victim. In
fact, part of bullying is picking a target and then isolating the
person by making fun of the person, starting rumors, or other
behavior. Often bullies will target a child who is already isolated
or not fully accepted by others.
Bullying behavior, if not stopped during childhood, can progress
into adulthood--into the workplace. Bullies can move into positions
of authority because they are willing to destroy the reputation of
potential competitors. In the workplace, they can become powerful
sources of distrust, fear, and dysfunctional behavior.
Bullies tend to target children who are loners, isolated, or
have problems that would also make them targets of abuse by other
Symptoms of being bullied may include unexplained reluctance to
go to school, fearfulness, sleep disturbances, vague physical
complaints (headaches, stomachaches) on school days, or belongings
that come home ripped or are missing.
If you suspect that your child is
being bullied, it is best not to ask directly, according to
experts. Rather, ask indirect questions. "Ask your child indirectly
how he or she is spending lunch hour, or what it’s like
walking to school, walking home or taking the school bus. Ask if
there are any children at school who are bullies, without
personalizing it." -Goldbloom
Teachers need to make it safe for students to report bullying.
Students should be able to report bullying anonymously. Teachers
should explain to children the difference between playfulness and
bullying or cruelty. Teachers should make it clear that cruelty,
such as making fun of a student in class for wrong answers, is not
Children need to report bullying to adults. Children need to be
taught the difference between "tattling" (causing trouble) and
"reporting" (helping). If children think that reporting a bully is
the same as tattling, they will not do it. Children also need to be
taught the difference between "horseplay" or teasing among equals
and bullying of a victim.
Parents need to make it clear to the school that they take
bullying seriously and that they need for the school to take action
to stop the behavior. Parents should ask how they can help the
school. Parents also need to help their children stay out of
situations where bullies are picking on them. Bullies may attack
regularly on a school bus, at recess, before school, after school,
or in the lunchroom. Wherever the bullying emerges, experts
recommend that parents work with their children to avoid the
problem situation if they cannot solve it through school staff. It
is also important to carefully protect your children from
retaliation if bullies discover that your children were the source
of information that caused disciplinary action against them.
Administrators need to have clear policies on how teachers are
to respond to bullying behavior. Administrators need to monitor and
enforce those policies.
Parents need to ask their children if they tease or make fun of
other children. If their children do bully other children, and most
do at some time or other, then parents can talk about the
differences between bullying and playfulness.
Children need to respond constructively when they see bullying.
Children need to work with their friends to help distract the
bullies from their cruelty, report the incident, or discourage
bystanders from actively or passively encouraging an incident.
Bullies need to develop their "emotional
intelligence," according to Jane Bluestein. She suggests that placing bullies
in roles of mentors and supporting them in those roles may
completely change their relationships to those who are weaker or
Goleman's research on emotional intelligence, including its
neurological foundations, suggests that children can be taught
emotional intelligence by parents and teachers. For a long-term
solution, all children need to be taught to improve their emotional
intelligence at least as much as they need to be taught cognitive