A Bully at Birth?

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      Bullying is such a sensitive topic to discuss. I would see my classmates growing up get emotionally and physically abused by other students, while many others would just stand there and laugh. Bullying today has now gone to a whole new level - cyber bullying. Children not only have to deal with the struggles during the school day but also at home through the Internet. However, where do children get the stamina to become a bully?

      In an article by Victoria Costello (2012), for Psych Central, talked about what factors make a child a bully. She named five specific influences that create such a child. First was when one receives physical punishment. Through a meta-analysis, Costello found that children who were spanked more likely to exhibit bullying behavior. Other factors were watching aggressive behavior in adults, watching violent television, problems with processing emotions, and they obtained a more serious psychiatric disease course.

      We know a bully enjoys seeing others feeling hurt and weak; they enjoy having the power. We try to tell children to not give those people that satisfaction and to stay strong. However, I feel as though there was a factor that some never thought of, do we all hold feelings towards enjoyment at other's expense?

      One day, my friends and I had a discussion a while ago about how it was funny to watch people get hurt while watching 'America's Funniest Home Videos' and 'Tosh.0.' Why is it so funny to see someone in physical pain? Nevertheless, we could not come up with a logical explanation. It was just funny. A friend of mine has a young son, just turned 3, with a very clumsy father. Every time he does something to hurt himself, like stub his toe on the table, the young boy always laughs at his hardest. There was also an episode of SpongeBob that he was watching, where SpongeBob had to entertain a crowd of children and he found the only way to make the kid's amused was to hurt himself - and my friend's son couldn't stop laughing.

      As we grow up, we mature and see someone getting hurt terribly, with good reason. Although, why is it when a friend trips and doesn't get hurt or we see a "funny" online video we laugh? I have always wondered if we all start, as a new member to society, in the manor of enjoying expense until we learn what is socially acceptable. Perhaps, the ones who become bullies grow in an environment where it is then normal. This and other confounding variables I believe should be taken into consideration. 


Reference:

Costello, V. (2012). How a Bully Is Made. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2012, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/2011/how-a-bully-is-made/. 

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4 Comments

I used to watch a little boy who fit many of the factors you addressed. His parents did spank and when dad was angry he used some choice words to scold. This boy seemed to enjoy hurting others. He asked me about the black collar that my dog wears and I explained how the electric fence worked. He waited until he thought I wasn't looking and he stood past the electric fence and called for my dog to come. I was very upset and told him it would hurt my dog but he was just interested in what the dog would do. He wondered about things a little boy normally wouldn't think about. I wish I could say he was better with children, but he wasn't. He would continually try to trip kids as they walked by him. His parents believed he was overly senstive and misunderstood. I felt they focused so much on how he was feeling and disregarded how he made others feel. I would say if there are not many changes in his life he is going to become a bigger bully as he grows.
I am also guilty of laughing at falling friends. Cracks me up every time.

I used to watch a little boy who fit many of the factors you addressed. His parents did spank and when dad was angry he used some choice words to scold. This boy seemed to enjoy hurting others. He asked me about the black collar that my dog wears and I explained how the electric fence worked. He waited until he thought I wasn't looking and he stood past the electric fence and called for my dog to come. I was very upset and told him it would hurt my dog but he was just interested in what the dog would do. He wondered about things a little boy normally wouldn't think about. I wish I could say he was better with children, but he wasn't. He would continually try to trip kids as they walked by him. His parents believed he was overly senstive and misunderstood. I felt they focused so much on how he was feeling and disregarded how he made others feel. I would say if there are not many changes in his life he is going to become a bigger bully as he grows.
I am also guilty of laughing at falling friends. Cracks me up every time.

You ask the question if a child is a bully at birth. I'm curious about your opinion on this because it does not come up in the actual blog post. You do mention that spanking and physical punishment promote aggressive, and bullying, behavior in children. I believe, and research supports this, that corporal punishment does indeed make children more violent. Some children are also born with a propensity toward aggression and in combination with environmental factors, such as physical punishment, it is brought out in the child. Or it could be that children who are born with aggressive tendencies simply draw out the worst in their parents who then proceed to spank them. I think like many other behaviors, bullying and other aggression is complex interaction of biological, social and psychological factors (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012).

Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” Hanh’s quote is exceptionally correlated to maltreated children. These children are displaying unwanted behavior patterns because they are internally combating emotional stress. These children are being raised in an environment where expression of one’s self is rewarded with severe punishment. Eventually the children become so overwhelmed by their own inner-struggles and stress that they begin projecting their own negative thoughts onto others. The projection of negative behavior is typical of bullying behaviors. The social phenomenon regarded as bullying is becoming an overbearing problem that could be minimized if aspects of child maltreatment were thoroughly addressed. Great post, I thoroughly agree with everything you said!

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