Social Question

eden2eve's avatar

How to stop a bully?

Asked by eden2eve (3693points) July 25th, 2010

I recently had a conversation with a little five year old boy about his aggressive behavior. He stated that the only way to make people listen when they do something you don’t like is to hit them. He said that talking doesn’t work, and that he learned in school (first grade, sad isn’t it?) that the only way to get “respect” is to hit first.

In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled There’s Only One Way to Stop a Bully the discussion centers around a new state law in Massachusetts which requires schools to address the problem and provides financial incentives to implement anti-bullying programs. It states that all but six states in the US have implemented such legislation. It cites the recent endictment of a group of students who bullied a 15 year old girl, resulting in her suicide. Not a new story, to be sure.

“In a 1995 study in Canada, researchers placed video cameras in a school playground and discovered that overt acts of bullying occurred at an astonishing rate of 4.5 incidents per hour. Just as interesting, children typically stood idly by and watched the mistreatment of their classmates — apparently, the inclination and ability to protect one another and to enforce a culture of tolerance does not come naturally. These are values that must be taught. ”

The authors of the piece suggest that there should be more comprehensive efforts to teach these values than just purchasing canned programs and putting them on a shelf. “As an essential part of the school curriculum, we have to teach children how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on and how to stand up for what is right. ”

These are lofty goals, but what might be specific methods to teach such behaviors, which seem to be so hard-wired into people at a very young age? What would you see as effective methods to reverse the age-old problems with children bulling one another? And do you think that if we as a society can incorporate these values early in childhood development, it could possibly decrease violence, and some of our rampant criminal behavior, in society as a whole?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

38 Answers

daytonamisticrip's avatar

show the bully that you dont feel any emotional pain or physical when he or she bullies you. let them even think you get some fun out of it.

mrrich724's avatar

I know there is alot to say about this topic. But I believe this, like most issues in dealing with children, is one where you have to start at home, with the child’s own parents.

daytonamisticrip's avatar

i didnt read details if its a kid younger than you ignore. they will eventually get bored

anartist's avatar

It may not be a solution but when my mother was a child and older classmates bullied her, her older sister took care of it.

HungryGuy's avatar

I’d put him in a big slingshot and hurl him into the sun…

Seek's avatar

Herein lies the problem:

The bully doesn’t see a problem with hitting.

The good kids are taught to “walk away”, to “turn the other cheek”... not to “gang up on the asshole and dole out some street justice”.

That’s why kids don’t defend themselves or each other. It’s all well and good to say they should “stand up” to the bully. How exactly are they supposed to do that?

marinelife's avatar

You can show children in an educational setting the benefits of cooperation and defending one against another.

You could use as a lessen Flight 93.

You can show the bad outcomes of bullying. That no one likes a bully.

Fyrius's avatar

You still haven’t read the details, have you? You’re still missing the point.

When I was in grade school, at least in our later years, there actually was that sort of solidarity among the lot of us. We weren’t just kids in the same class, we were a nakama, a big family where we all cared about the others like good friends.
I´m not sure how we ended up that way. Maybe it was a combination of the right kids from the right parents being taught by friendly teachers at a good school, together creating a culture where that sort of thing thrives. And growing up together for eight years probably also helped.

whitenoise's avatar

I don’t have an answer yet, but I will keep poundering it and keep an eye on this thread. Very important and interesting question and it is indeed a dilemma to raise your kids to be very hesitative towards condoning violence and yet ask them to intervene.

At our boys’ school, we regularly talk to the teachers and we raise the topic often with our kids. Whenever they talk about bulying, we always ask them what they did and whether they could think up an alternative action that would help next time. As @Fyrius indicates, however, it is a cultural thing as well and it needs to be addressed on a group level as well.

This is why being a teacher is so hard and can be so rewarding, I guess.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I agree with @mrrich724 that it is something that needs to begin at home. By simply watching how our children interact with other kids on the playground, we can see what we need to teach them. Unfortunately, there are a lot of parents that don’t keep an eye on their kids. If my son was doing something mean (like snatching toys or being overly bossy), I’d stop him and talk to him about it. We have talked a lot about proper ways to treat other people. We would even talk about what we saw other kids doing. It is something that should be done as the children are growing. By the time they reach school age, it becomes a part of who they are and it’s harder to change.

Last year, my son stood up to a bully that was twice his size. The bully was going after his friend and he got in between the two of them so that the bully couldn’t hurt his friend. He yelled at the bully to stay away from his friends and this got the attention of the teachers. My son ended up getting hurt (pushed into chairs), but he was proud that he was able to protect his friend.

zophu's avatar

@Fyrius I wish I could take you to your average Mississippi public school like the Ghost of Christmas Past. You live in Denmark, don’t you? Where happiness grows on trees? lol.

whitenoise's avatar

@zophu I actually believe that to be the Netherlands. Another place were happiness grows on trees. Still the solution he indicates maybe the way to think. Go for a culture change.

Fyrius's avatar

@whitenoise is right, I live in the Netherlands. Where the streets are paved with acceptance.
Well, the thread asked for a way how it could be better. I offered a case study of that, which shows it’s possible. I don’t think the nastiness of life elsewhere affects that contribution.

zophu's avatar

@Fyrius No, it doesn’t. I just had the urge to show you some of the shit I’ve seen. I don’t have words for it. It’s just such deep cultural sickness. But, things seem to always get better, even in Mississipi. And it wasn’t really that bad when I was there, I guess. Just the isolated instances of unreported group rape here and there.

I remember exchange students coming from European countries to my highschool every once in a while. They all seemed to transfer before the week was up. Was an unspoken shame for the school. Some African students stayed, though. That was a pride for the (whatever our generic mascot was.)

I’m just jealous of your experience

whitenoise's avatar


Let it inspire you to know that things can be different and the notion of succesful alternative cultures allow you to strive for change in your own community.

zophu's avatar

@whitenoise Yep. People can’t argue with what works for too long else they get left behind. Even applies to the South. I just think they’ve been left behind a few too many times.

Berserker's avatar

These are lofty goals indeed, but I’m glad to see some people understand that bullying is a lot more complex than it appears. You can’t always turn the other cheek, ignore or walk away, it does not always work. I think, in fact, that this advice is often used as dissmisal by those not wanting to address the issue.
Bullying incorporates some complex factors which make it what it is, one of them being a sense of alliance and admiration by other people who support and encourage bullying, no matter how indirect that gets.
There’s also a problem somewhere with how children are raised and what values are enforced in the schools. I won’t pretend to know what it is, but I do know that if it’s been an issue for so long, then what we have now obviously isn’t working; not with 15 year old girls killing themselves, anyway.

I don’t know how to stop a bully at the root, but I think we need to inspect the issue a lot more further than the general walk away or make them bleed thing. That might work on a individual basis, but it will never stop the problem. The studies and suggestions from the article are quite admirable and I largely agree, but I’m also pretty iffy about where they say that we have to teach what is right, and present the proper sets of morality and all.
I thought schools were already doing that.

YARNLADY's avatar

Unfortunately, there is no way to reach into the home and teach the parents how to behave.

josie's avatar

First off, let’s define terms. Bullying means that someone assaults you, or uses a credible threat of physical harm to get you to behave in a fashion chosen by their whim.
Being insulting, or making a non credible threat is not bullying. It is being obnoxious at best, sociopathic at worst.
But in the case of bullying, my dad taught me the following. They can say anything they want, but if they make any kind of gesture that you could argue is physically threatening, then you can strike first, or strike back. He also taught me how to do it. In my civilian life, I have rarely had to use the lesson, and certainly not since high school. But it is comforting knowing what to do. And I taught my children the same lesson. And they are very peaceful, tolerant and comfortable adults, who can protect themselves if they need to.

tranquilsea's avatar

@josie I agree with you on the physical aspects of bullying but it goes beyond just that. You can’t tell me a group of girls singling out one girl and taunting her incessantly, ostracizing her, creating countless lies about her is not bullying for months and years on end. It sure is. Girls bully differently than boys do.

My oldest son was bullied for years. I sent him to school for an intellectual education but he ended up learning how to fight. After trying to work with the administration and finally understanding that they had no interest in actually dealing with the bullying I yanked all my kids.

Fyrius's avatar

I’m sorry about your less favourable childhood circumstances. I hope it’s given you a tradeoff in strength of character that I missed out on.

There’s one way for schools to reach into homes and teach parents new things. Through the children.
But then again, in order to get the children to set the right example for their parents, you’ll still have to first achieve the primary goal of getting the children to behave.

Pandora's avatar

I say make the parents of the bully take parenting courses and for them to get into family therapy. Most bullies are bullies because no one at home is attentive or they are too soft and don’t know how to properly set down rules and keep to them. Letting the child dictate at home what they want to do and how they want to act. The child then doesn’t feel secure and will act out. I find most bullies are just very insecure and will bully others to make themselves feel in some type of control.
Unless the child has some problem like ADH or something else wrong than it is usually a learned response to an impossible situation at home. No amount of lecturing will deter this bully at school. It has to start at home.

mattbrowne's avatar

Find an ally. Preferably someone with martial arts skills.

snowberry's avatar

As a newcomer to the East Coast, I have found myself the target of bullies in cars. It’s called tailgaiting, and thanks to Flutherite john65pennington, I have an answer. I make sure I’m going the speed limit, and then put on my emergency blinkers. So far, they’ve always backed off, or gone around me. Thanks, John!

As I child, I was also a victim of bullies. My parents put me in different schools, and the third one made the difference. Part of it was that I was old enough to understand that I had to change my behavior and attitude, but it was much better there.

mindful's avatar

I can write a mouthful about this subject from experience. However for now the kids “bullied” need to get together and do something. Numbers matter in such cases. Also a crazy idea but one should start a website like such: I didnt know such a thing existed until recently. I was pretty surprised by its existence but if that can exist so can a website against bullies. Also there should be a mandatory law that ALL schools should follow; if bullying is reported then they HAVE to take action immediately to stop it. I dont get why such a law isnt enforced already.

mindful's avatar

In order to enforce law, various cameras should be installed on school campuses. I know there are some already but these should be designed to capture bullying in action.

mindful's avatar

Also, no longer is the case where kids that bully do not have a future. Most kids that bully are college bound and have a future they are planning towards. Laws must be present that if a student is found guilty of bullying then severe actions will be taken as…delayed entrance to a college. scholarships taken away etc. Kids need to understand consequences.

Also teachers by law shold be mandated to report bullying if noticed. Cameras in school should be bale to record these also. More frequent rounds should be made at the campuses by aides from the school and they should report any sort of bullying happening.

mindful's avatar

Also kids bullying should be caught early on! People in life hardly change, and the kids who bully early on only get better and subtle and vicious in committing their deeds. I have seen this first hand. During highschool, a bunch of my frnds starting hanging out with the wrong crowd. i thought in a year or two when theyll be mature theyll change, but they only got better at it. they made fewer mistakes and it was harder to spot them. i once remember that our school was surveyed and it was told that our school fit the profile of where a shooting incidnet like columbine could happen. if we are able to determine such things we can also easily tell what type of kids usually bully others. They should kept under attention of the administration and when cases of bullyin would occur these notes would help us determine culprits etc.

snowberry's avatar

And as long as it’s tolerated by adults-and rewarded in business, what makes anyone think we’re going to stamp it out of the kids? Kids mimic what they see at home.

mindful's avatar


What do you mean by rewarded in business?

snowberry's avatar

Oh, lots of managers are bullies. They tear up their employees, and often get rewarded for it. Do a search for bully bosses, and see all the links.

mindful's avatar

@snowberry I think I can deffinetly think of a few kids who will turn into bully bosses. Anyway a search led me to this site

Might be a good resource for some people here.

mindful's avatar

Also, I am a strong supporte of the following

Do you hate other people as much as I do?
I don’t know how to deal with people and they keep bringing me down. Believe me I would fight back but I don’t want to go to jail.

I wish I could thumbs up the two people who have already answered but I am new here and still have not reached level 2. You should not let people get to you. Concentrate on your life and do well. If you want to fight these people you will have to do it mentally by ignoring them. If you fight them physically then you are giving them exactly what they want. Fighting will get you in trouble with the law and your anger is the weapon they are depending on to make that possible. These people can only succeed if they have your attention i.e if you give them attention. If you simply ignore them then they cant do anything to you. You have a life and you have opportunity make the most of it. I have been in your shoes before and I do know what its like. If you start now a year or two down the road you probably will look back and laugh if not completely forget the situation. You will be living a better life and be advising someone else on how to deal with a similar situation. Also, one of the best ways to tease the teaser back is by not getting teased. A teaser hates it when his methods don’t work and feels agitated.

In a single statement – You have a lot of better things to do and these people are not worth your time.

Ron_C's avatar

I got one to chase me into the deep end of the pool. The guy was strong but dumb. He forgot he couldn’t swim. The last time I saw him, the lifeguards were giving him mouth-to-mouth. He never bothered me again.

snowberry's avatar

@mindful The thing is for every person who was bullied on the job and won in court, there are probably 10 more (my estimate) who got scared and quit (this was me), or whose nerves and health couldn’t take the strain (lots of us).

Ron_C's avatar

@snowberry I found comfort in the fact that every bully that I have ever seen us stupid. They know that they have nothing going for themselves and try to drag people down to their level.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

“children typically stood idly by and watched the mistreatment of their classmates — apparently, the inclination and ability to protect one another and to enforce a culture of tolerance does not come naturally. These are values that must be taught.”

Children do it mostly because they are afraid… Adults CONTINUE to do it because they want to and I think some enjoy it?

snowberry's avatar

@GabrielsLamb In my case, this person ran into me and tried to knock me down. They wanted me to leave, and I did. Unfortunately my boss told me that management would not do anything about the bullying I was experiencing, and I was concerned I’d be injured before anything was done.

I think it was about power. I was perceived as a threat.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther