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Debate: Who's to blame for bullies?

Who's to blame for bullies? I think parents are responsible for thier children's actions. Communication or lack thereof is causing children to figure out who they are themselves, when it is the responsibility of the parents to help shape them to become a kind and compassionate individual.

Topics: bullying society
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    Nov 19 2012: Mendy,
    I don't like to "blame" anyone. That being said, parents have a HUGE influence on their/our children, so it would be great if children started learning respect and compassion in the home. Unfortunately, the home is where many kids LEARN to be bullies. It takes a village to raise a child, and I think all members of society have the ability and opportunity to be good role models for all of the children who are important and valuable in our global society. They will one day be our leaders...let us all take care of them, encourage and support them, and teach them how to be respectful, compassionate, caring, loving human beings:>)
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    Nov 20 2012: bullies self identify very early in life. My suggestion is like good athletes,violin players,or a math whiz,we take them out of the classroom and give them instructions on how to do a great job at what they have a natural talent to do . If we do it constantly for our little musicians and academics,why cant we acknowledge the tendencies for extreme leadershipi.e.bullying, and streamline it into a useful evolved behaviour. These kids are preaching day and night whose cool whose not, who can sit at the table who cant. This behaviour in its primitive form is not useful to the group,but refined with an international relations course, humanities,ethics,you could build a very driven leader who was not allowed to flounder through the mythic halls of childhood power,but given an opportunity to excell properly at something they are driven ,like atheletes to do naturally.
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      Nov 21 2012: Wholeheartedly agree Carolyn, that the energy of bullies can be re-directed. Many of them have skills and talents, which, when recognized, sometimes gives them reason to believe in themselves. That is one thing I learned from the guys I was working with who were incarcerated. I co-facilitated "cognitive self change" sessions, and when those guys were praised for something that they could do well, it made a big difference in their perception of our world and their own personal life experience. If/when we can re-direct their energy and focus, it can change things quite a bit, and it would benefit all of society if we could do that BEFORE they are in prison!
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      Nov 21 2012: Many younger bullies change their view of life naturally, I think, and become kind, compassionate people when they are adult. I'm not sure what it is that changes - whether it is down to psychological/hormonal maturation, or if parameters of perceived normality undergo some kind of change. It could be a mix of both.

      What appears to happen is there seems to be an awakening of awareness of the effects they have on others - where empathy and congruity kicks in - and the bullying disappears.

      What would be great is if we could establish what it is that does actually change. What is it that moves a young bully into a kind, socially functional individual?

      I personally have misgivings about our standardized education systems, and their effect in establishing the kind of normality parameters that the diversity of childhood ability won't fit. In other words, if a child falls either above or below those parameters, they get bullied. Gifted children get bullied as much as children who struggle academically.

      My assertion therefore is that the expectations of standardized education is at least partly responsible for bullying behaviour.
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        Nov 21 2012: My dear Allan....if we could only answer that question!!! What is it that moves a young bully into a kind, socially functional individual? I agree Allan, that some bullies change their view of life at different times in their lives......and some do not. Probably it's many factors?

        I agree that our educational systems are partly responsible, and also some of our societal beliefs. When my son was bullied, it often happened on school grounds, at school activities, where there were adults present. When I talked with the athletic coach and the principle, they both said....well....you know.....boys will be boys! My son was coming home bruised and battered...didn't even want to go to school any more. As a teenager, he had reconstructive surgery to "fix" one of the issues he had because "boys will be boys". That idea is a ridiculous way to avoid dealing with bullies.

        It has been suggested, on this thread, that bullying may stop if it is reported. I suggest that those receiving the information need to be willing to address the issue, which I sincerely hope they are beginning to pay attention to now.

        Education has been suggested, which can always help....awareness of the impact bullying has on the victim may help change some bullies. Bullies who are beaten up really badly, sometimes change their attitude....we see that in the correctional facilities. Although, sometimes it simply makes them worse bullies.

        There is no magic answer, and bullying can be anything from school yard verbal/emotional/physical abuse to terrorists, and many things in between. We see cyber bullying these days, which has caused some teenagers to end their lives.

        We are all different as human beings, motivated by many different factors, and we change because of many different factors....or not. Those who bully are human beings, so I think we need to try everything possible to discourage bullying, which adversly impacts many lives.
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    Nov 20 2012: Agree that parents are partly responsible. I would also say that peer pressure from chosen friendship groups can be just as powerful in influencing 'bully or not to bully' - but there is an important difference:

    Upbringing can produce bullies as a negative response to poor parenting. Children can also turn to bullying when they see other bullies as being powerful and someone to look up to. To a child, that power might be irresistable.

    Of the two, I think that bullying as a response to parental influence is the hardest to change. Bullying as a response to the 'hero worship' of other bullies in a peer group tends not to be as ingrained - therefore can more likely be re-shaped into a kind and compassionate individual, via kindness and compassion!

    There seems to be a link between perceived inadequacy and bullying behaviour. Such inadequacy can originate from an ingrained unhapiness about stature - physical or mental. A person who has notional inadequacy might have a tendency to over-compensate for it, in order to strengthen their position in social or work situations that are important to them.

    Treating bullies with kindness and compassion is very difficult, and goes against the grain when we are confronted by such behaviour. But it is the only thing that is likely to work, if such behaviour is to change.

    It works as a general principle, that treating people how you would like them to treat you, still holds - even in the face of outrageous behaviour.
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      Nov 20 2012: Agree Allan, that there are different factors that influence bullying, including peer pressure, poor parenting, and I also think that in some instances, these might be the same. Children look up to their parents, and may witness a parent bullying others, even if s/he is not actually bullying the child. Whether bullying behavior is learned from parents or peers, I agree with you that parental influence is one of the most important influences in a child's life.

      A child can observe and embrace "hero worship" of a peer and/or a parent. I also agree with you that bullies are generally very insecure in themselves , and adopt bullying tactics to compensate for a sense of inadequacy and perhaps to have a superficial feeling of strengthening their position in social or work situations. Most of the men I encountered in correctional facilities had been physically, emotionally and/or sexually abused as children, usually by family members, and had accepted and practiced bullying as a "normal" way of life.

      Sometimes, knowing a person's history helps us understand, and then treating them with kindness and compassion is not so challenging. I perceived those men in prison as hurting little children, who had never learned to believe in themselves and a different way of "being" in this world. I also agree that kindness and compassion is the only thing that might work, if such behavior is to change.
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        Nov 20 2012: Hi Colleen. Good point about knowing a bully's history helping our positive regard for them.

        Seeing raw bullying behaviour in someone else elicits an equally raw adverse reaction in ourselves (myself included) until we catch a glimpse of what might be the cause.

        Immediate reactions are visceral when bullying is actually happening in the moment - but what is it that makes people remain in that angry/scared/visceral state, while others can see behind the behaviour and treat bullies with more understanding?

        I guess it's the difference between regarding bullying as a display of power, rather than a display of weakness.
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          Nov 20 2012: Allan,
          I cannot imagine that anyone who can intentionally hurt another person is very content in him/herself, so don't we have some information about them based on the way they behave?

          I guess I'm lucky that it has never caused an equally raw adverse reaction in myself because from the time I was a wee small child, I heard my mom saying "love the man, hate the behavior...he doesn't know how to love or be loved". This was refering to my father who was violent and abusive. It is this advise that has allowed me to seperate the behavior from the person, and see beyond the behavior. When I explored my father's history as a child, I was able to understand why he behaved as he did....it is what he learned, mostly by example from his role models....starting with parents.....fear.

          It does not justify abusive, violent behavior, and I believe we can continue to tell abusive people that their behavior is not acceptable. As we said earlier Allan, a bully, or abusive person is insecure in him/herself. If we can point out their qualities, skills, talents, and abilities to them, (they all have some qualities), we may be able to give them the idea of REAL power, rather than what they feel superficially when bullying/abusing others?

          I believe it is exactly as you say Allan...regarding bullying as a display of power? Or a display of weakness? If we spread the word that it is really a weakness, do you think some bullies may change their behavior? It's worth a shot...don't you think?
  • Nov 19 2012: I think the situation is very complex. We had to research this for my Comp 2 class, and I learned one fact that was quite interesting. I learned that a lot of bullies are actually bullied themselves. Creates an odd dynamic. Sometimes it bullying is based partially on an inability to express one's self in appropriate ways. I could see this being due to a parent's raising of a child. It seems to be much larger though. While it seems to be a factor, it is certainly not the only one.
  • Nov 19 2012: I believe that it is a combination of genetic disposition, lack of parental guidance and caregiver failure that contributes to bullying. Bullying and bullies will never go away. The best offense is a good defense. Teach kids how to react when they are bullied or when they see bullying is the best anti-bullying campaign.
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    Nov 19 2012: is it really fair to just... blame 100% of it on the parents? you can have two kids in the family with the same exact upbringing and one will be average as socially expected, and the other will be malfeasant. it's not always down to the parents. i'm sure there are situations where a child becomes a bully, and poor upbringing from the parents was a largely contributing factor. i just don't think it's fair to assume it's always the parent's fault if the child turns out be a jerk.

    believe it or not, children are their own people too. not just a mirror image of their parents.
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    Nov 28 2012: how is a socially inadequate bully,with low self esteem,different from rich individuals who bully third world nations? Why is school bullying full of understanding for poor parenting...but rich grown up political bullies....are THEY TOO abused people who feel badly about themselves?. My point is the children mirror our own inefficiency in regards to the conceptual bullies we allow around us everyday...from every country who robbed another,to every monarch,leader of rich lineages whose wealth builds no matter how uninspired are their children Our kids are a mini model of our mine feild of culture. We flail in the face of our political leaders and bankers...and we expect a kid to stand up to his oppressors? really? I watched a kid hit his mother in the face once (he was five) I had met the dad,for which the kids behaviour was perfect..he had picked his victim,which for his culture,would go unnoticed...his cues came from the enviorment.
  • Nov 24 2012: Power over other IS WEAKNESS

    disguised as strength

    Eckhart Tolle

    The preciseness of this quote points to the true "who" behind bullying. It is the view ones hold of oneself and not the external. External is always secondary , Knowing oneself is primary, then there is no need for compensating by trying to "power over others" AND most importantly , self knowing then give one the ability to recognize when are trying to impress their WEAKNESS /bullying/ on them are others AND not be influenced/effected by it. WEAK people need to feed on the energy of others ...iow get reactions ( you see this here on TED all the time) be it physically or mentally ....and it is a vicious circle
  • Nov 23 2012: I think parents should be blamed. Most bullies have a low self esteem. It's a parents responsibility to help their children develop a healthy self esteem. I have observed that children with a healthy self-esteem, rarely bully other kids.
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      Nov 25 2012: there are other people in the world that the child would be interacting with. parents aren't the only people who have influence on them. you're probably right, children with healthy self-esteem rarely bully other kids... but how can you simplify the situation to say the parents should absolutely 100% be blamed for a child's lack of self-esteem? i have horrible self-esteem and my parents are/were great to me. it's not always the parents' problem.

      also, sometimes that problem stems from something internal. something going on with themselves. we can't be quick to assume it has anything to do with anybody else, either. there are so many factors that will play into this. children vary individually on so many levels. it's unfair to give a blanket statement saying that in every case, the parents should be specifically blamed for this occurrence. this is not me saying that the parents are never responsible or are never going to be a largely contributing factor to why a child is a bully.

      again, what i said in my last comment: believe it or not, children are their own people too. not just a mirror image of their parents. no matter how hard you try to shape your child into a person with certain traits, they will still remain their own person in the end, which might not be anything like what you were aiming for.

      so, if a child has low self-esteem, have the parents failed at doing the job of parenting?
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    Nov 20 2012: i think kids who are being bullied should turn in the kids who are bullying them. I was something of a bully, and noone i bullied ever reported me. if they had i definitely would have stopped
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    Nov 20 2012: After reading the comments, I'll throw an additional card into the game...

    Maybe some people are just plain (Insert insulting term here)?
    Perhaps when someone acts in a certain way, its not actually everyone and everything else in the world thats at fault?

    Its only a suggestion ofcourse, but I do believe that personal accountability should be a much MUCH bigger factor than whats often presented in questions like this.
    We're not talking about infants who inadvertantly hit out due to no control of their limbs, we're talking about functioning humans with human-level skills who are in full awareness of their actions.

    I'm playing this card because as someone who's seen first hand how onlookers are willing to title a trouble maker / degenerate with some explain-away title and seeing how said children play on it and use it as an excuse to act out in a way they know is wrong, I can't help but think that we're too quick to say:

    'He can't read - Dyslexia'
    'He's not paying attention - ADD'
    'He's unhappy - Bi-Polar'
    'He's not talking - Autism'
    'He's a criminal - Its the parents fault'

    When maybe the child is just dim, unfocused, acts according to circumstance, poor social skills or just plainly a complete (insert insulting term here) and that maybe we're starting to form a society where we remove the negative consequences associated with being a problem, because we can just relabel the problem with an excuse.

    Thats my two cents, anyway..
  • Nov 19 2012: totally agree with Noah, a bully is a victim first, whether parents, siblings, relatives, peers, caregivers/teachers, the bully has been bullied.

    the thing about bullying I find interesting is all the discussion as if we can "talk" bullies out of bullying. they need a lot more help than can be provided in a school assembly.

    what's been on my mind lately regarding this is, how do we teach our children to be bullyproof? because ultimately that is the key to happiness and success. there will always be bullies, we will encounter many in our lifetime in some form or another, in long and short term situations. so to learn to cope, maintain ones self esteem, and protect oneself is an essential survival skill.
  • Nov 19 2012: Parents should try their best in training their children to be thoughtful and considerate; but it is no use blaming anyone for bullying in the general sense.
    There are lots of factors that has to be considered, like the pressure of being accepted and respected in the world of teens and the school community.
    Some kids make wrong choices because the home training seem incompatible with the reality of the school community.
    It's about parenting, systems and individual choices.
    It is a complex interplay of factors.
  • Nov 19 2012: Children's brains are less empathic than those of adults and even adults are bullies so the urge is really hard to resist for some kids, especially when it's never happened to them (or rather, they don't really understand why it's bad, they're little social darwinists), but it's the parents' job to punish bullies so they stop bullying out of fear of punishment even if they don't understand why.
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    Nov 19 2012: bullies - well, and the parents
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    Nov 19 2012: Hell
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    Nov 19 2012: Our entire culture is to blame. We live in a scarcity-based (fear-based) culture. This is not necessary. It is an uninformed choice, and it IS the consequence (symptom) of our corrupt worldview.
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    Nov 19 2012: I don't think parents are the soul reason behind this behaviour of their children.Other factors can also be the reason behind it.One among them is environment.the environment the children are stuck in does have an effect on them.friends do also motivate them to participate in the activity as they take up the activity which would eventually provide them with pleasure and kind of satisfaction that they want.
  • Nov 19 2012: A child’s situation. A child who doesn't have parents and is in the 'system' can have good and bad experiences. Also, a child who lives’ in poor and bad neighborhoods. This can have as bad of an impact on a child as a bad parent. Don't always blame the parents. Life is tough and kids sometimes have to make there own choices based on their current situation, and those choices are not always the best.
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    Nov 19 2012: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v408/n6811/full/408425a0.html

    Bullying is not just a human trait. So why does it exist in nature? And why is it necessary to stop it?
  • Nov 19 2012: I agree, I think first and foremost the parents are directly to blame for bullies. I think poor parenting and poor examples demonstrated by one's elders takes a direct effect on a kid more then anything else. Terrible parenting is what I feel is the source of bullying and couldn't agree with you anymore Mendy. I think this is an on going issue for years and feel that kids are not the only victim of it. Thank you for sharing.
  • Nov 19 2012: Parents.