I have been thinking a lot about Bullying lately. (I wonder why.) I spent a good portion of childhood being bullied. It was really awful and it has molded who I am as a person. Has it made me stronger? Sure, but it has also made me anxious. It has permanently changed the way I relate to people. Funny thing is bullies don’t fare much better.
How do we combat Bullying. The “We should all love one another doesn’t work.” Everyone isn’t going to love one another. Most of us won’t even like each other. We shouldn’t have to, to be respectful. The prepping of victims saying I love you, don’t worry about it. Those are awful people doesn’t work either. The Bullying won’t stop with that and the victim is continuing to be victimized. Then I started to think about what makes a bully successful and just like everything else, it takes a village.
There are five different types of humans in a bully ecosystem. Their definitions courtesy of Merriam Webster.
Bully-a blustering, browbeating person; especially : one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable
Toady-one who flatters in the hope of gaining favors.
Bystander-one who is present but not taking part in a situation or event.
Victim-one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent.
Bullies are wounded people taking their pain out on everyone else. The group of people is being governed by one person’s feeling of inadequacy. That doesn’t make sense.
Toadies have low self esteem, but enough ambition to be the second in command of this dysfunctional power structure. They back up the bully. Even coming up with cruelty on their own, but only when the bully approves. They orbit around the bully hoping to always be in the sunlight of the bully. The problem is bullies are not loyal people. You can be the number 2 one day and replaced by another toady in waiting the next.
Contributors are freelancers, hoping to get a permanent position. Hopefully becoming a toady. Low self esteem, but a little lower than the Toady. Followers who act as henchman. The laughing chorus.
Bystanders are witnesses to the cruelty, but they don’t say anything one way or the other. Also afraid of getting caught in the backlash, they remain quiet.
Victims are by themselves. Any friends they may have had are scared off, because association may make them targets too. Some may have had a positive self esteem at one point until a bully gets a hold of them. They are different, something that distinguishes them from the herd.
Most people have exhibited behaviors from all four groups. It’s natural. What is unnatural is getting caught in a power structure that puts one person in charge by being mean and hateful. Why does cruelty mean power? It is exhausting for everyone involved. Why do we put up with this? Especially for children. Why are we allowing children to dictate how other children are functioning. I get it we all have to relate to each other and the world will never be perfect, but wouldn’t it be smarter to arm our children with tools to identify the problem and choke the power structure out. I am not advocating fighting physically. I am talking about strategies to stop the problem.