Bullies aren’t monsters that lurk in the shadows.

A lot of bullying happens out in the open.  In fact, students see about four out of every five bullying incidents that happen in school.  When someone witnesses bullying, they give the bully attention.  A witness (also known as a bystander) often feels fearful that he or she will be the next target of bullying.  Sometimes a witness will join in with the bully for these reasons.

You might hear a lot about bullies.  If you haven’t been either a target or a bystander (which puts you in a very small group of people), you might be trying to put a face to bullies.  What do they look like?  It is important to understand that a bully cannot be identified that way.  A bully can appear in all shapes and sizes.  Bullies can be boys or girls.  Some can be very popular with lots of friends, while others appear to be disliked by almost everyone.

A bully can be recognized only by their actions.  Bullies behave in ways intended to make their targets feel afraid.  Bullies also like to control others.  Because of this, the bully lacks concern for the feelings of others.  Many of them do not think about the immediate and long-term consequences of his or her actions either.

There are a lot of reasons why some people bully.  Most bullies want to feel a sense of power.  When they pick on someone else, it can give them that sense of power.  Some bullies are looking for attention.  It doesn’t matter if the attention they get is negative, which it usually is.  What bullies don’t realize is that everything they do brings them the opposite result.  For example, picking on someone else to make yourself feel powerful only reveals weakness in you.

Have you ever given any thought to why bullies act the way they do?  It’s a very good question.  There are many reasons that are different for each person’s situation.  Some bullies live in households where people are angry and shouting all the time.  They may think that being angry, calling names, and pushing people around is a normal way to act.  Some bullies are copying what they’ve seen someone else do.  Many bullies have been bullied themselves.  This is a very common reason behind why they do what they do.

Some bullies may not understand how wrong their behavior is and how it makes the person being bullied feel.  The next Be Unlimited will speak directly to bullies.  Just as targets of bullies need coping skills and support, so do the bullies themselves.

Start looking at the consequences of your actions.  If those actions are having a negative effect on yourself or others, it’s time to start thinking of ways to change.  If you are a bully, you can start over and become something better.  No one limits the number of choices you get.  That’s entirely up to you.

Choose to be better.

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