If You are the Bully

6.  If You are a Bully – How to Stop

If you are bullying others this section may or may not be for you.  It depends on what kind of bully you are.

  • If are fundamentally a bully – someone whose values allow them to hurt others and whose self-image is based on putting others down, then this section is not for you.
  • If, however, you are someone who has gotten swept up into bullying and gotten off your natural path, or has not known how damaging it is to others, this section may help you.  Or, if you are someone who has a little voice in their head saying, “This isn’t really you – this is wrong” – then this section is definitely for you.

To Get Back on Your Natural Path – Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions

  • Is being a bully really who I am and what I am really about in the world?
  • Does hurting and tormenting others fit with my values and the self-image I have of myself?
  • When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
  • When I become a mature young adult will I be proud of who yI was and what I did?
  • Am I ready to stop being a bully (whether a lead bully or just participating)?
  • Do I have the courage to stop and change my life as needed?
  • If I’m not ready to stop being a bully now, when will I be ready?

Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what the world needs most. It is not complicated, but it takes courage... to losten to his own goodness.


Basic Actions to Take to Get Back on Your Path

There are a few key actions that you can take to get out of the trap of being a bully and back on your natural path.  They are not easy.  They will take a commitment to yourself and they will take courage.  You must be willing to take some risks, but you may find the upside great and the downside less than you imagined.  At the end of the day, you have to find the courage to take the risk and act.

#1  Simply stop bullying.  Stop bullying if you are the lead bully.  Stop being a part of the bullying if you are a participant.  That’s simple, but not necessarily easy.

#2  Challenge your group.  Let your group know that bullying is not OK and that you will no longer participate.  You might lose some relationships and that can be painful, but it’s better than losing yourself.  You might also become a target of some bullying in response, but probably not as much as you fear and you might be surprised at how many people would support you.

#3  Make amends to those you have bullied.  That can be as simple as saying, “You didn’t deserve to be bullied.  There is nothing wrong with you.  I was part of the bullying, but will no longer be a part of it.  I am sorry and apologize sincerely.  I hope that you can forgive me some day.”  If you like and are ready, you can also say, “How can I help and support you now?”

#4  Find support.  Talk to friends that aren’t part of the bullying.  Talk to trusted adults.  Talk to other students that you admire and ask for their support.  Students who have become active upstanders may be a good source of support.  You will probably be surprised at how many people will support you if asked.  You are taking responsibility for your actions and life and you are exercising courage to make the break.  That’s worth supporting.

#5  Take pride in stopping (and hopefully becoming an upstander for others).  You can’t take pride in your bullying behaviors, but if you are accomplishing the first four actions you can take pride in the courage it took to do so.  It takes courage to stop, to face your group, to risk a back-lash, to make amends and to ask for support.  And it takes courage to put yourself on the line to support others.

It Will Take Courage – But it Builds Pride

If you stop bullying it will be because you have found the integrity to match your actions to your values and because you have found the courage to stand up for yourself.  You can’t take pride in having bullied others, but you can certainly take pride in stopping because stopping is rarely easy.  That courage and pride will take you a long way in becoming a successful young adult.

  • Take pride in the courage that it takes to look at yourself and say, “I was wrong.  I’m better than that.”
  • Take pride in the courage that it takes to confront your group and leave if necessary – losing relationships that have been important and feeling unconnected for a while (not forever).
  • Take pride in the courage it takes to make amends to the people you have bullied.
  • Take pride in the courage that it takes to risk a backlash from the people who remain bullies and may be angry at your standing up for yourself and others.
  • If you become an upstander, take pride in putting yourself out there for others.

I don't run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.

Nadia Comaneci, Olympic Gymnastics gold