I Was An Accidental Bully
(Appleton, WI, U.S.)
The statement sounds a bit odd, but in my case it was true. I was a big kid compared to others my same age, heck even compared to some adults. I was much stronger as well, which never really occurred to me. The place where I became a bully was at school.
The other kids would play tag, touch football, or some other game that would always be a bit physical. I would join them and before I knew it, someone was either crying or telling on me for hitting or pushing. I never thought it was fair since everyone else was doing the same thing. The teachers just assumed I was hurting the others because I was mean. The other kids were scared of me since I was so big and they also assumed I meant to hurt them.
A year after I got to middle school, we had a health class that talked about bullies and one of the kids that was in grade school with me started talking about a bully he encountered. As the kid was talking I started to realize he was talking about ME!
I felt horrible since no one had ever told me that I was really hurting him. I wasn’t stupid; I was naive, I truly thought I was not popular and the other kids were just trying to get me in trouble. Oddly enough, I sort of felt bullied because I misunderstood what was happening.
If you or someone you know is dealing with bullies; one thing to ask them is if they know that their actions are hurting people. Some people don’t honestly realize that they are physically hurting people or that their “jokes” are hurtful. Of course, if the bully knows what is being done is wrong, the issue takes on a whole other aspect.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Excellent contribution, Bo! I think you have hit on some very important points here. One of the most effective approaches to treating bullies is to teach them empathy--which, as you suggest, lets them know what the other person (their victim) is feeling.
I think a lot of kids become "accidental bullies" as you did, and will benefit from reading your story. And, as you know, there are those that know they are causing harm, and like you said, that's another story. Thanks for your entry!
Keep up the good work, and be true to that good person inside you that motivated this story.
The world needs lots of people like you.