handle the situations without getting belligerent (Gittelman, 1965). Role-
playing and lots of practice were effective.
Bullies, boys and girls, have and cause serious problems. It is more
common than you might think. Perhaps as many as 20% or 30% of children
have some experience--doing or getting--with bullying during any one school
term. Psychology Today has a good article about bullying (Marano, 1995).
Boy bullies use physical threats mostly ("let me have your bike or I'll hit
you"). Girl bullies use social threats ("I won't be your friend if you don't..." or
"I'll tell them you are a slut if you..."). How are bullies produced? By
ineffective parenting: parents repeatedly make requests ("Stop bothering
your brother") and then threats, but nothing is done when the child is defiant.
Thus, defiance is taught. Finally, at least for boys, the parent blows up and
hits the disrespectful child, teaching that brute force and meanness gets you
your way. The bully, if untreated, will eventually alienate everyone, except
other bullies and outcasts. Then, they are likely to progress to antisocial
behavior, unemployment, drugs, poor mental health, crime, spouse abuse,
child abuse, etc. The victim, usually an already sensitive, scared, tearful,
physically weak, socially passive, easily intimidated person, is at risk of also
being rejected by peers, remaining passive, frightened, insecure, unable to
cope, and eventually becoming self-critical, lonely, and depressed. This is not
behavior to be neglected. It isn't just "boys being boys." Bullying requires
community attention. Sweden outlawed bullying in 1994 as part of a society's
effort to make hostile aggression unacceptable.
If You Are a Victim of Violence or Bullying
There is a lot information available from the Center for Disease Control and
parents, MTV and the American Psychological Association provide information to
the warning signs that might help a young person to anticipate and avoid violence,
including controlling their own anger and avoiding others who could be dangerous.
Handling a rapist, a mugger, a spouse abuser, a bully, an abusive boss,
etc. is a complicated, risky matter. But the first rule is: if someone is
seriously threatening you, protect yourself immediately and well. Take
no chances. Especially, if you have already been hurt by this person, protect
yourself from further attack, because repeated attacks are common. You
must recognize that there are dangerous risks when dealing with any irate
teenager or adult. Anger kills. If an angry person is highly emotional and
threatening or violently yelling at you, leave him/her alone, it is unsafe to be