Bullies and Being Bullied
Schools in the United States harbor 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million victims. One in seven students in grades kindergarten through 12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.1 Today, 71 percent of students report incidents of bullying at school, and 15 percent of all school absenteeism is directly related to the fear of being bullied.1 However, the problem doesn’t stop there.1 As bullies age, so do their victims.1 Bullies exist in college, the workplace, and social groups.1
The emotional turmoil created by being the victim of bullying is often long-lasting.1 It is often so severe that victims never recover their confidence or begin to believe their tormentors to be right.1 Bullies find fun in being mean—but why?1 A complex question, there is no simple answer. Some bullies were often bullied themselves in their past; others lack self-confidence and bully to feel important and popular; and many have a difficult home life where they don’t feel loved, leading them to take out their frustrations on their victims.1
However, in reality, everyone has the opportunity to create an environment where bullying can either thrive or recede.1 Often, the friends of the victims become friends with the bullies, for fear of being on their bad side.1 If you can’t beat them, join them? No. This makes you part of the problem.1
While it is easy for a person to blame someone else for their pain, it isn’t moral.1 The person who bullies is the one who has the problem, not the victim.1 Everyone seeks validation and wants to be acknowledged for who we are.1 Everyone needs someone to care for them—it’s a human need.1 Oftentimes, bullies are lacking this validation and care, and they decide to make another person, their victim, feel as though they are lacking it, too.1 It isn’t always easy to get involved and offer support to a victim, turning our attention away from our own needs and placing it on someone else’s.1 However, when we make the choice to disregard someone else’s needs, we are standing with the bully.1
Someone who bullies may have a troubled background and need professional help; however, those who are victims can be saved by the help of peers.1 Choosing to be kind to them can help block the emotional scars from settling.1 Everyone can make a difference.