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Bullies: Who are they?

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With bullying a topic of interest and concern, behavioral scientists over the past few years have conducted studies to learn and identify the bully as well as to why they bully.

A common belief is that bullies are young children or may be teenager but not an adult. This thinking appears to have changed as to what bully identification as a result of a recent incident involving Miami Dolphins football players. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines bullying intentional aggressive behavior. It can take the form of physical or verbal harassment involving an imbalance of power among two or more persons. Bullying behavior can involve and include teasing insulting someone about their physical and/or personal attributes such as: height, weight, physical appearance, ethnic group, race, religion, national origins, disabilities, shoving, slapping, hitting, social exclusion, false statements about a person.

In general, many who bully, especially adult bullies do not view themselves as the problem. Rather, many view their victim as the problem. He/She is there to straighten the victim out. Bullies may be heard to say or imply: “I’m a compassionate person. I’m trying to help you out. The problem here is that you’re too stupid, lack common sense, or lack sufficient formal education to make anything you do work. Without me you can’t stand on your own two feet.”

Many who bully often do not know or realize they are bullying. Because of this, they do not know why people resist their skills and abilities. Bullies are, in many instances, possess above average intelligence; have innovative ways they bully their victims; and methods to make life miserable for the person or persons they target. They may be heard to say: “I go to church; give money to help others; read my Bible; I’m a liberal, never have physically hurt anyone; never murdered or killed. So what’s the problem?”

Maybe you are a bully and do not realize that your behavior is as such. In her book “Living Successfully With Screwed-up People”, Elizabeth B. Brown developed a profile list of abusive persons that is applicable to people who bully:

  • A belief that he/she is in some way superior to their victim.
  • Ridicule their victim for doing or being different from what the bully would do.
  • Constantly targeting the behavior or behaviors of their victim utilizing jokes, name calling methods, untruths that berate just to insult and diminish their humanity.
  • If the situation arises to humiliate their victim before family, friends or strangers to demonstrate superiority and, more important, control.
  • Belief that their thoughts, beliefs, knowledge levels are absolute truth. It is a sin to question anything a bully says or believe.
  • When situation presents itself to obtain a one-on-one isolated place to torture their victim mentally and physically.
  • Disregard for the feelings and beliefs of their victims and, at times, others who are not their victim.
  • Distortion of common and established philosophy, traditional wisdom as trifle, old-fashion, irrelevant (that is, “money is the root of evil”, “many are called, so therefore, most people will go to heaven”, “and so forth).
  • “I am who I am. Or I’m made that way”. The expectation is that others should and must adjust to them and their bullying behavior.
  • Embellishing truth with known biases.


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