Bullying – a term that has been around since we all remember back. There is a new breed of bullying which includes two additional kinds of bullying to the original three types for a grand total of five main types of bullying. All five are explained in this blog article.
Before I get into the five types of bullying I am going to share a story, my personal story. Who among us does not have a bullying story? All do as all people, males and females alike have each been touched in some way by a bullying experience during one’s years whether it be as the bully, the bullied or the bystander.
My Personal Story
It was 1983, I was 13 years old, a girl named Michele told me in the school classroom that she was going to “beat me up” after school that day. As the school day was over I struggled with how to handle this situation: “fight or flight“. I did not want to physically fight her, nor did I want to choose the flight response and run away as fast as I could run home from school. Although I did consider it.
A physical fight was not within my character, I preferred confronting situations with words to conflict resolve, but it did not appear to me that she could be reasoned with as I observed her short spiky hair, many earring studs on one ear going up to the top of her ear as far as the eye could see, eyeliner that was black extending out of her eyes to the sides of her face, her skin tight jeans with rips, black belt with silver spikes, and a tight shirt showing just a hint of stomach. Imagine that, still recalling those details after all these years, what our mind retains is always fascinating.
The problem was, flight did not feel right to me either. That felt like I was running away. That seemed quite embarrassing to me. So, what to do? I ended up going to the vice principal’s office at the end of the day. I did not know him, I hoped he would be nice. From what I recall, his was the only door that was open with an adult sitting inside so it seemed like a safe place to go at the time. He let me “hang out” with him in his office until all the kids left, school buses were gone, and then I did not have to fight nor flight. One may see that as a “flight” of sorts, but rather I saw it as a third option where I did not go outside of my character by physically fighting nor by running away for all the kids to see. This gave me time to think, and better yet, gave Michele time to re-think, or perhaps forget about her idea. As it turned out, without dragging on the story she was a troubled girl from a troubled home who I stayed away from for the rest of the school year. As quickly as I can recall, my classroom was switched, wow that vice principal must have taken action, and I only saw her rarely in the hallway of which she did not even look at me. Bravo- back in those days they found a way to prevent an escalation. That method worked in my situation – good ol’ Junior High School 194 Queens NY.
This is the 4th time I have shared this story in my life. The first time I shared this story was when I told my parents when I got home that day. The second time was to my husband a good many years later, and the third is when I told my son just a few weeks ago. Although this life experience was significant to me, it remained a “secret” as do many of one’s life situations. In the grand scheme of things that life event was a short amount of time, although it had great impact on me as does any form of bullying for any child.
What We Learn From Our Experiences
Of course looking back now I can see how I grew from that experience. Had I not had that experience I may have made different life choices. For me, life challenges turn into positive pieces of my life puzzle in terms of who I am. I have several concrete positive life stories and positive choices that I made that affected my life and others that are directly interconnected to that life event. An important point for parents to remind their children when their children are struggling is; the struggle will not last forever. Certainly how a parent communicates with and helps their children navigate life’s challenges is of great significance. We as parents do not always have all the answers. The key is to continue to help your child to be a person of character, and keep your character in tact as well.
Bullying – The New Breed
Back in “those” days bullying was different. Some say bullying is the same as it has always been. No, I say. The following are two ways in which bullying is different these days in contrast to the previous generation:
- We as a society (parents, educators, professionals, media . . .) view bullying differently, through a different lens, a more educated lens about the mental wellness of humans. The previous generation, bullying was typically considered/labeled bullying when it was a physical act of violence. Threatening physical violence was sometimes considered bullying depending on the context, but not always considered “bullying” and rather just simply “a threat”. Most schools certainly did not have a “plan” in place, a “policy” for how to handle bullying behaviors. Nowadays, we as a culture are acknowledging that bullying can also be emotional, verbal (e.g., name calling, teasing), and relational (e.g., social isolation, spreading rumors). Emotional, verbal, and relational bullying has always existed but it is more in recent days that we are terming it as “bullying”. According to recent statistics, emotional, verbal, and relational bullying is far more prevalent than threatening violence or acting on physical violence. It is this emotional, verbal, and relational painful experience that far too many youth (and adults) experience. Since physical violence is more rare, and rather emotional, verbal, and relational bullying is more prevalent, this is what makes it so hard for teachers and parents to know what to do since it is considered by some to be less concrete.
- The types of bullies have expanded from three main types to an added two more. The three main bully types back in the day, I refer to as: The Old School Bully. Nowadays bullies includes The Old School Bully AND includes two additional types of bully I refer to as; The New Breed of Bully – for a grand total of five kinds of bullies.
5 Kinds of Bullies
The New Breed Of Bully
Often when the term; ‘the new breed’ is used to refer to bullying behaviors, it refers to the use of technology as another means of bullying; AKA The Internet Bully. In the context of this blog article, I consider The New Breed Of Bully is: 1) The Social Bully and 2) The Confident Bully. The use of the Internet is a vessel of implementing one’s bullying style, not what I am referring to as the new breed.
Note: often when bullying is discussed we envision someone who is smaller, weaker, or something is different about that child. In fact, often a bullied person is depicted in movies as someone who has something “lacking” or is different. Although this form of bullying does still occur, children who are not the stereotypical recipient of bullying is far too often being bullied as well, and this should not be ignored. This adds to the confusion for parents and schools as they think this child should be okay and “get past it”, just “walk away”, since there is nothing “wrong” with them. I see this form of bullying happening in abundance as The New Breed Of Bully is NOT often about bullying someone because they are “weaker” in some way.
- The Social Bully (New Breed): The Social Bully is skilled at manipulation and can act as if she is caring, presenting with confidence as a way to hide her feelings of insecurities and poor sense of self. Uses this “face” of charm as a disguise to get what she wants and covers up for her lack of real empathy. The social bully uses gossip, verbal taunts, rumor, and/or shunning that results in the isolation of and exclusion of her selected target from social activities. The social bully is insecure and jealous of another’s positive qualities but hides it by presenting in charm and confidence.
- The Confident Entitled Bully (New Breed): The Confident Bully is one with an inflated sense of self and a sense of entitlement. Peers and teachers often admire him because he has a powerful personality. This child feels a sense of superiority over others, an inflated sense of self lacking in empathy for his targets.
- The Vindictive Bully (Old School and Still Exists): The Vindictive Bully has put his feelings in a box so deeply buried that he struggles finding what he is even feeling. This is a detached bully lacking in showing much emotion. Vindictive and vicious toward his target he hunts for opportunities to bully when no one will see him do so. He can be deceptive and charming to mask his determined intent to bully.
- The Bullied Bully (Old School and Still Exists): The Bullied Bully is exactly as the term sounds. This bully has and often still is being bullied either by the adults in his life and/or by older kids. This is a bully who feels powerless and bullies those of whom are weaker.
- The Bully Bunch (Old School and Still Exists): There are two types of The Bully Bunch.
Type #1: A group of friends who are typically “nice” children but team together and exclude another child. Similar to the concept of mob mentality. This is not the type of behavior they would typically do if by themselves.
Type #2: Not a group of friends who by themselves are typically “nice”. Rather, an alliance that comes together in pursuit of control, domination, and power. Lack of empathy and remorse. This is more of a gang concept.
Breaking the cycle of this painful relationship dynamic requires all for solution resolution (parents, school, mental health professionals, children, pediatricians, media . . .)
Home is where kids learn their first lessons in moral education, so parents, do consider how you are parenting because how you parent does matter. To think that adults do not behave in a bullying manner is being naive. There are far too many adults that are emotional, verbal, and/or relational bullies. This is often where the children learn it – in observation of their parents. Race, religion, socio-economic status, bullying touches the lives of all. Adults in their style of interaction with their spouse, with their kids, with others in varied environments (e.g., supermarket, sales professional, friends, old friends, adults watching their children’s sports as fellow parents, coaches of the children’s sport teams . . .).
When one’s child is suffering, parents suffer. Time and time again the bullying child’s parents do not see what their child is doing that is directly affecting the mental wellness of another child. Parents should talk with their children about the bully, the bullied, and the bystander. Explore with your children when they have participated in each of these categories. Consider and self confront your own self; when have you perhaps participated in bullying behavior, have you ever been bullied, and/or a bystander either as an adult or when you were a child? The challenge of course is, if you as the parent talk negatively about another adult or a child, if you are non-inclusive in your friendship circle, if you feel you are entitled and display that behavior, then how are children to learn to be different then their parent? Often, the parent of a child who is bullying, does not recognize how they themselves have been or are currently displaying bullying behaviors.
Many parents whose children experience bullying, unless it is physical are afraid to say something to the school. The fear parents often share in counseling is; what will happen to my child if I speak up? If parents are afraid to self advocate for their children, how do we expect our children to self advocate for themselves? It is hard for children and parents alike to know what to do when it is emotional, verbal, and/or relational bullying behavior as typically the bully was once a friend. Emotional, verbal, and relational bullying often comes at the hands of who was once considered a friend. Parents of the child who is considered “the bully” typically become defensive and at times become not unlike a bully themselves talking about the other parent negatively, sharing their story with many so as to feel others are on “their side”. If but only those parents recognized that their behavior is often the exact behavior that their child was displaying that is the problem behavior.
When parents come into my office reporting the challenge they face when their child is suffering due to a bullying experience, often once explored we discover it has been a building process that when looking back one recognizes it as such. Some of the challenges parents of the bullied child face include; to pull their kid out of the school or keep them in, to talk to the parent of the bully or to not, to tell the school or to not, how to help their child to cope and handle their experience. Even whether or not to view and “label” their child’s experience as one of being bullied is hard for the parent to consider, especially when it is The New Breed of Bullying. If the word is out that bullying has taken place, often parents struggle with how as an adult to deal with the negative looks and gossip from the parents of the child who was bullying, how to interact with them when you see them in the neighborhood, and even sometimes struggling with how to handle nasty looks, isolation, or mean words from the friends of the parents of the bullying child. These are just but a few of the struggles that parents go through.
I invite you to share your bully story. Were you the bully, bullied, or bystander?