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Friday, June 1, 2012

Bullying – A Recurring Phenomenon

In trying to stop the bullying their children suffer, parents will often wonder whether changing schools or changing their environments in some way will help. The prevailing wisdom is to protect them from a particular bully. But having changed their environment, often within weeks a fresh bout of bullying has emerged.
It’s then back to square one on a frustrating and hurtful merry-go-round.
There is a phenomenon to be understood. The bully and the bullied each fit into patterns of repetitive behaviour of initiation and response. When we circumambulate ourselves, by ‘walking around’ typical challenges we may always face, we note a circular pattern to life. We react in the same ways, more or less, over our lives.
Our personalities have been set and our ways of reacting are more or less unchangeable, not that we can’t learn specific strategies to better support our situations.
The bullied can respond appropriately to the bullying, but the bullied person, and the people supporting that person, i.e. parents in the case of children, need to acknowledge this circular pattern. We all tend to come back to the same errors of thinking and, therefore, behaving.
What Can The Bullied Do?
To such a complex problem there are no easy answers, but one thing we shouldn’t do is keep trying repeatedly those things that failed in coping with the bullying. Something has to change. Perhaps we are prone to bullying, not because we deserve it, but because of the way we think and feel about it. Our thinking and feeling has informed how we reacted. The bully picked us out as an easier, more stimulating target.
To become a less obvious target, and even an undesirable one, we need a fresh perspective. This is where skilled counselling can help; to infuse a new approach that can effectively disassociate the emotion involved. Consistent application is then critical, to ensure the new approach can be embedded.
When it comes to bullying we should never expect the bully to change, though we do have a responsibility to ensure authority figures are aware of the bullying behaviour.
Perhaps the only sure way of attending to the bullying is dealing with each case at a time. This means it’s difficult when a child is being bullied five or more different ways by five or more different people. But when effective strategies are developed, even in the case of one situation, the confidence learned helps in other situations, too.
Bullying cannot be resolved by attending simply to the symptoms and not the causes. Each dynamic of the bullying problem should be fully understood before knee-jerk reactions are instigated. Supporting and empowering the bullied is more effective than punishing the bully.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.

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