TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

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
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    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.
    • thumb
      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.
      • thumb
        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.
        • thumb
          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?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.