Can We Stop Bullying?

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Can we stop bullying?  Is there a magic answer out there that will cause this widespread problem to up and disappear?  Unfortunately, I believe this problem will persist for our society for some time yet.  However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do our best to correct the issues at hand and learn what we can from it.

can-we-stop-bullying

Definition Bullying

Before we get into the various perspectives today, let’s first take a look at how bullying is defined.  According to Dictionary.com:

definition-bullying

As you can see from some of the obsolete definitions, the word itself has transformed quite a bit over the years.  It has progressed from a more positive definition to one that is now quite negative.

Bullying itself can also come in all forms and at almost all ages.  From words to physical violence and everything in between, bullies come up with all kinds of different ways to do their thing.  What is it though that sets a bully down this path of intimidation of their peers?

First, My Story

bully-shakedown
Yeah, this actually happened to me in Grade School.

It didn’t take me long into my school years before I became the victim of some rather harsh words by some of my select schoolmates.  In the early days of kindergarten, I would learn just how much words can really hurt someone.  This early bullying would affect the rest of my years at school, as for a long time I did my best to stay out of the center of attention.

This lead to me not being very popular, but at the same time I was not considered the lowest of the low in our social structure and managed to live my life in mediocracy for a long time.  Unfortunately, this did not protect me from being the occasional juicy target for someone to lash out at.

My first real encounter with just a pure bully came when I was a Freshman in High School.  He sat behind me in German Class and it did not take long into the school year for him to center in on me as his target.  He was also one of the best wrestlers in our school, so when he did start in on me I chose to ignore him.

My hopes that he would move on if I showed no attention to his remarks, pokes and prods were shot down as he didn’t care and almost enjoyed the fact that I didn’t react.  Then one day, everything changed…

“I had just gotten my class schedule for the following year and I had decided that I wanted to pursue another language and had taken Spanish I in addition to German II.  When the bully heard I was taking two language classes the next year he leaned up from his seat and punched me square in the kidney.

German-class-incident
My first year of German class was the most intense bullying I had ever faced.

This act of violence pushed me past my threshold of indifference and before I knew what I was doing I had stood up and began to verbally assault him.  While everyone else in the room was stunned that was telling him off, he thought it was funny and that I wanted to fight.

However, I didn’t want to fight.  So as he stood up from his desk and came walking around to my row, I sat back down in my seat and decided to go back to ignoring him.  He would not let that be the option though as he grabbed my neck and began to choke me.

If I wasn’t furious already, I was now beyond even that point.  I still clearly remember not being able to breathe, but not caring about it as I stared him in the eye.  The next thing I know I had shot my hand up to his throat and instead of choking him back I grabbed it and squeezed as hard as I could.

He immediately let go of me and as he did I used my grasp of his throat to throw him off of myself.  I turned back into my seat once again, hoping that the event was over.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t as this time he began to choke me again and pushed me down in my seat.

stop-bullying-now
When I told my Bully to stop, it was shocking to everyone in the classroom.

As I slid down I put my back onto my chair seat and pulled my knees up to my chest and put my feet to his chest, all the time looking at the huge window right behind him.  Before I could launch him off of me and into the window, a Senior in the class managed to break up the fight and warn us that the teacher was coming.

After that day, the bully left me alone and moved onto a new target.  On one hand I felt relieved to not be the target of his aggression, but on the other hand I felt horrible to have to witness him start picking on someone else too.

We only ever had one altercation after that event later in the year in Art Class…

t-square-bully-incident
This was the instrument that I thought I would retaliate with.

“I had just got to Art Class and had begun working with some clay and was still trying to figure out what I was going to make.  It was at this point that the bully came up beside me and started tapping a large metal yard stick on the back of my head.

I remember squeezing that clay very hard in my hands as I worked on controlling myself and tried to talk him out of his actions.  However, the more I protested the harder he would hit me.  For a moment I thought we were going to have to go through a physical altercation all over again.

As I tried to retain the anger inside of me and not act out against him I realized that there was a Metal T-Square laying on the table, easily reachable by my strong hand.  As I looked at it I clearly remember praying: “Lord, if he hits me one more time, I am going to plant this T-Square right in his ear and finish him for good.”

Literally the moment that thought crossed my mind the bully stopped and walked away, never to pick on me again.

The ending of that story is one that shook me to the core.  I had chosen a path of atheism at that point in my life and here a prayer to god had just literally worked.  Thinking about it now, this could actually be the exact moment where I started down my spiritual path and in hindsight I am so thankful for all of this to have happened now.  If you’ll excuse me I need a moment.

Okay, thanks.  Now onto the rest of the article here…

Why Do Bullies Bully?

stop-bullying-it-hurts
The Pain is on both sides of the fence, and we need to learn how to stop it for both.

I have seen many levels of bullying throughout my many years on this planet.  From the most minor to more extreme incidents, I have been witness or party to many of them.  Being the type of person I am I always paid a lot of attention to the situations, especially as I got older and that is when things started to clear up for me.

I realized that in all of the cases that I was subjected to, that the bully was often acting out due to problems in their own life.  Whether it was because they came from a broken home, had an abusive parent, or were just acting out in the way that they were raised, it all boiled down to the same thing…

All of the Bullies that I knew acted out towards others in an effort to make themselves feel better about themselves.  They were hurt and the only way that they knew how to feel better about themselves was to make someone else feel worse than they did.  I began to feel bad for them at this point.

Now I am not saying that this is the case 100% of time as that is rarely ever the case anyway.  There are some people that just live a life of violence towards others as it is what makes them happy, this is an unfortunate part of incarnating here on Earth.

What is the Answer?

through-appreciation-comes-love
Love is truly the answer to solve the bullying problem.

So can we stop bullying?  The answer to that is no, at least not 100% of it.  We will not be able to stop all of the bullies in the world as we live in a world of friction and that is just a natural part of it.  So what can we do though to help those that are or have been bullied?  How can we lesson the amount of bullies out there?  How can we help the bullies that are really just in pain themselves?

These are all excellent questions and I can answer them all with one word.  I’ll give you a moment to think about that to see if you can come up with the same answer yourself.  In the meantime, think about what a lot of great prophets from our past to our current have always preached and you will see the answer.  Are you ready for it?

The answer my friends is this:  Love.  Above all other things in this world the power of love can help us to heal the wounds of those being or been bullied.  We can help the bullies and lesson their numbers, again by showing them love.

Is this an easy process or answer?  Unfortunately, once again my answer to that is no.  However, as you train yourself to be more mindful of your thoughts, expressing such things as love and forgiveness to others will become easier and easier over time.  Just like anything else it is a skill and one that needs to be practiced to be good at.

Do You Need Help?

stop-cyber-bullying
Get the help you need now!

If you are being bullied and need help, there are resources out there for you.  First off, know that it is okay to talk about it with a responsible adult.  There are also tools online available for you as well, such as here at StopBullying.gov.  Whatever path you choose, just make sure that you get the help you need.

Share Your Story

I shared my story above and I invite you to share your story with us here as well.  The more of us that share our stories, the better we will be able to help those in need when they come by this page.  They will see that they are not alone and that good things can come out of these terribly tough situations.

One addition I would like to add to my story is that several years later I ran into my bully at a bar.  We got to talking that night and actually became friends at that point.  After writing this article and reflecting back on just how this whole situation changed my life, I am now more thankful than ever that it happened the way that it did.

If you found this article helpful, you may also enjoy several others that I have posted here:

James W D
james@spiralrevolutions.com

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16 Replies to “Can We Stop Bullying?”

  1. James, thank you for sharing your personal story! I understand what you went through because I was bullied too in my middle school year. For my father’s work, my family had to move to a different city in the middle of the school year when all the kids already knew each other. Obviously, I was the new kid who was easily targeted for bullies. It really affected my personality and how I perceive people for a long time. Thankfully, in my mid 20s, I had a psychiatrist for 6 months and he helped me realize many areas within me that was caused from bullying and need to work on.
    I completely agree with you on love being the best solution. I built resentment towards to people and had victim mentality for a while. However, God helped me realize that those kids were also victims of broken family and were too young to know how to handle their own emotional pain other than passing the pain to others. When I feel the unconditional love from God, I started to have love towards to them. I really wish that they all received healing of their own pain and live with peace now somewhere.
    Because of my background, I can easily sense when there is bullying. It is not just between kids, but also in adult life as well. People seem to not aware of it in the excuse of joke or being funny. However, it happens a lot between spouse, family, co-workers, etc. I wish more people understand that bullying is much more than just physical pick on over lunch table at school.

    • Young, first off you are very welcome and thank you in turn for sharing yours with us.

      Holding onto the anger caused from these situations is a lot like holding onto a hot coal, it only burns us and causes more pain. Learning to show love and forgiveness to the bullies will in the long run make the world a better place for all.

      You are very right though in that Bullying comes into play much more than we think it does. Yeah those little jokes or just kidding can really do a lot of harm just as much as a physical punch. That is why it is very important for us to be mindful of our thoughts and actions towards others as they can have a profound effect on their lives.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing your story James.It is a great post. As you say, LOVE is the exact answer. Education starts in the family. Those bullies don’t get the love and affection they need in their family life. They may seem quiet and content at home but there may be storms inside so they become bullies at school or out of the house in order to be the center of attention.Doesn’t matter good or bad,just attention. Ignoring those bullies can be a better way,I guess.

    • When my oldest son was growing up he had some issues with bullies in school and we talked about it in depth. I explained to him that for the most part that they are acting out in an effort to try and make themselves feel better and was often the case of coming from a troubled home. I explained that they more than anyone needed Love and he was able to after this conversation move on past the bullying. He told me that after we talked about it and he understood better as to why things were happening they way they were, he was able to not let it bother him anymore. On top of that he would laugh at their jokes about him and compliment them back for telling such a good joke. This practice worked for him and I was very grateful for that.

  3. James,

    A very powerful, moving, and frightening story. I’m impressed that you went through that experience, and now reflect back and see positive aspects that helped form you into the man you are today.

    I thought it was most interesting that, even as an atheist, you shot a quick prayer to God, and immediately, the event stopped! Do you believe that you “dialed into” some powerful spiritual dimension that helped you halt the aggression? Certainly it seems to have awakened you to possibilities beyond physical reality.

    As for myself, I have never been the victim of a bully on the same level as you were. Bullying is a terribly destructive force, and I believe it is harmful not just to the victim, but to the bully as well.

    What makes a person a bully? I think you are on to something when you talk about them suffering from their own difficulties, and for whatever reason this is how they choose to handle it. I also wonder if it doesn’t have to do with fear and weakness in the bully, who then attempts to mask those issues with aggressive outward behavior.

    Of course there is also the fact that sometimes, for some reason, something (testosterone?) seems to cause people (men and women) to want to cause pain and suffering in others.

    Whenever I was worried about the behavior of another person who I felt was very aggressive, my instinctive response was to try and become friends. And often it seemed to create a profound change in the relationship between me and the potential bully, and though we may not have become best friends, we were able to enjoy each other’s company and share intimacies and help each other solve problems.

    Which is another way of saying “love”? I think so! What do you say?

    I will related one experience I had in high school, which was much less intense than what you suffered through.

    I was a math geek (and, well, pretty much an all around nerd). And in my freshman algebra class, a large boy sat behind me. One day he started punching me in the shoulder. Hard! But I was not a typical nerd, since a) I lived on a dairy farm and so was actually quite strong, and b) I had a brother who was 5+ years older than me, so I was quite used to being slugged.

    I sat in my seat, which this guy hammered away. Every punch was getting harder and harder. After a few minutes, I pretended I had just noticed him, turned in my seat, and asked, “Oh, sorry! Were you trying to get my attention? What can I do for you?”

    He chuckled. And the next day, he challenged me to arm wrestling. I won. I never had any issues after that. And, as I said, we never became buddies, but we were cordial and had normal person to person conversations going forward.

    I loved that in YOUR story, you and your bully eventually became friends!

    Love does work!

    I sincerely hope that bullying someday is just a sad memory. And we’ll have to explain to young people what we mean by it.

    Keep loving.

    Roger

    • Roger, First off thank you for your in depth reply, it seems as if I really have you thinking here huh? Now where to start to reply… oh yes, the prayer bit.

      So yeah I was raised Catholic since I was in the second grade and whenever my mom did anything, she did it full boat. So I was pretty heavily into the church scene for many years. However, I had over time distanced myself as there were too many inconsistencies for me and also a lot of hypocrisy. So even though I had gone done the Atheism path in my teen years, this incident was not terribly long after that fact.

      On top of all of that though, it wasn’t until writing this post that it actually dawned on me that this was the precise moment that I started down my spiritual path. For years I had known that it was a confirmation moment of sorts for me, but I hadn’t connected the dots until just last week now. I was totally overwhelmed when I did start to tie everything together and before long I became very grateful for everything that happened leading up to that one precise moment.

      Yes I totally agree that the vast majority of bullies are just misguided children that our either trying to make them feel better about themselves, trying to impress an important figure in their lives, or are just trying to get any kind of attention that they can. This is why I believe that Love is the answer to the whole problem. Just like the example you shared, you solved the situation with some humor, but overall it was a loving gesture and loving nature about you that defused the problem.

      Until humanity reaches the next level in our evolution, bullying will be a part of our world. Even in my case here, look and see the journey it has sent me on. Without that answered prayer I might still be an atheist and this site would not even exist. As it is, look at how many people I am now helping in part because I was bullied. We need these trials in life so that we can learn and grow from them. Yes they can be very, very, hard at times, but that makes us all the more stronger once we have learned our lesson from it.

      However, I am committed to making the world a better place and helping us to achieve reaching that next level of evolution. I believe that Love is leading that charge and I am embracing it all the way!

  4. Hi James

    Sorry to hear about your hardships when you were younger, I feel your pain as it seems to be everywhere nowadays, it’s almost like the world has forgotten how to be nice to each other. My son has had problems with bullying and yet where we live everyone will tell you to pick up the nearest object and club the bully. However, I believe we have to take the higher ground otherwise we become that which we despise and fear.

    • Peter, there is no need to feel sorry about this hardship. I believe that we come into life with things like this planned so that we can learn and grow from them. Without this particular story, I may have never started down my spiritual path of self improvement and discovery. The best thing that you son can do is to take the higher road and be a positive example. Show the bully some love and friendship and perhaps he could help rescue them from the depths that they are stuck in.

      I am constantly working with my kids to teach them how to be the positive example and to not let the negative stuff drag them down. Sure they are not perfect with it, but more times than not they take the high road and come out on top.

  5. What a deep story you’ve shared with us. Bullying is definitely more intense in schools all the way through college. It’s hard to explain why… I feel like it is a period in life when we’re learning to stand up for ourselves and finding our place in society. It is harsh and it hurts, it can definitely cause life-long trauma and it can have some serious consequences so it’s the right thing to act now and find help and advice when we need it. Sharing stories is a great idea, that way people who get bullied know they are not alone and can get help from others.

    • Eva, I am sure that sometimes it may just be that the bully is working through some life lessons and trying to just stand up for themselves and finding their place. Unfortunately if they are going down this road then though it more and likely means that they are being bullied themselves in someway by those that they find most important in their lives. This is why Love solves the bully problem as in the end, it is what we are all looking for.

  6. Great post..
    Nice to hear your story, to share with us. It’s very inspirational your article. All the reason you’ve given here why some people do bullying are all true, I believed on you that. And specially of course to stop bullying the answer is LOVE. Thanks for sharing this post and take care always!

    Cheers
    Eric

    • Thank you Eric. I share my story willingly in hopes that it may help someone else on their journey through this life and it’s particular trials. Love certainly is the key to unlocking this situation for our world. Glad that I was able to pass along some inspiration to you.

  7. Wow what a great story. I know I have been there as well and I try to teach my son these lessons. Ignore people like this and hope they go away. If they don’t go to your teacher or counselor. NO ONE should have to defend themselves to a bully. I know that schools today are a lot stricter…they would take action immediately Heck I was choked in the cafeteria until I flat out passed out. Thankfully, as least I hope, my son is a little safer in school today. And yes, love is the answer.

    • The best thing that we can do to teach our children values is to live by them. All to often we preach to our children one thing, but then live by a different example. I can tell you from experience that they will always follow our examples over our words.

      Schools are much more aware of this problem now a days, but at the same time it can dilute the response as well. Whatever the case though it is always important to communicate with a responsible adult when problems do arise. You want to create that “paper trail” if you would so that if things do escalate they can use the previous information to understand what is going on.

  8. powerful story, my friend! I know how much courage it must have taken to share it.
    And, I just have one thought…you are right, love is the answer. Love is the solution to ALL problems. Just keep giving it, even if you get nothing in return. Your love will prevail and may ignite the spark of love in someone else…maybe a passive observer…and, if you’re lucky, it will start a flame within the intended one. 🙂
    Be Well!
    Barb

    • Thanks Barb! I have always shared my story in hopes that it might be able to help others. It wasn’t until this time though that I realized the true impact that had on my life. I had been aware of the credit I gave that prayer before, but never realized or connected the dots as to the direction that it turned my life.

      As for love, yes your statement there rings totally true. Love is the answer and sometimes it will prevail in the intended target, but can also help the passive observers just as much. Thank you for sharing that wisdom!

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