It’s been a long time since I have really considered why people bully other people. The last time was probably when I had to write an essay on it in high school. But recently I have noticed that bullying shouldn’t only be something we learn about in school. Why? Well, simply because bullying doesn’t end there.
Whenever I hear the word bullying I am reminded of the cartoons I used to watch back in the day where a big tough kid would carry other kids around or beat them up. Of course, people who were bullied before in school might associate a different face with the word ‘bully’. My point however, is that I always thought that bullying ended in school.
Now I am not that clueless as to be unaware of the fact that there are still people who fight to get what they want in the world and who will do whatever it takes and hurt whoever it takes in the process. What I never did realise though was that people were still motivated to harm others by the same reasons, at the age of 30 as they were at the age of 10.
Ask any middle school or high school student and they will probably tell you that at some point they would have had to do an essay or a report on bullying and why it happens for their English class or probably their social studies class. They will also be able to list points as to why a bully bullies. There are many reasons. Such as feeling more popular, or to get what they want, or because they feel that they have something to prove.
This need to prove their toughness more often than not stems from some unresolved emotional issues. Perhaps parental issues, perhaps insecurities or possibly even fear of being bullied themselves. In this article I want to focus more on bullies who bully because they feel the need to prove their strength. Not because they are the most common kinds of bullies, but because I feel the bullies who do this, sometimes don’t even realise what they are doing.
A bully who bullies because he wants to be popular knows what they are doing. They have a goal, popularity. They know that they are doing one thing (bullying) to get the other (popularity). A bully who bullies to get what he wants knows they are harassing someone for something they have, the classical example being lunch money bullies or even blackmail. Again, they are doing something to get something else.
Things get a little different when we talk about the category of bullies who bully to prove something to others. Yes, it is arguable that they too are doing something (bullying) to get what they want (to prove something). However, the reasons as to why they need to prove their toughness or strength are where things get complicated.
Let me give you a scenario;
Say a boy is always scolded at home. He is beaten by his parents, he is made to feel small, and he is made to feel insignificant and feels unloved as a result. He goes to school the next day and because he doesn’t have money to buy food, he forces some other kid to give him some. He does this for a few days because he knows he is bigger than most kids in his class. He notices some people begin to fear him. He also notices more people want to be his friends. He keeps doing it. At first just to eat, then to gain respect. Soon he is doing it because it makes him popular.
Yes, we can analyse it on the surface level that he is doing it to get money and friends. But the question remains, why he wants money and friends so badly when he was always content with less before. I would argue that he doesn’t really want money and friends. He wants love. See, to this boy, he just wants to feel wanted, so he does what he has to. He doesn’t really stop to think about the consequences. The reason I feel this reason for bullying is different from the other two is because while with the other two, the bully has no other motivation but the things he gets, in this scenario he is motivated by feeling, by emotion.
Going back to my main point, I feel that people bully at 30 because they are motivated by a certain emotion. Just as they were motivated by a certain emotion at 10. As we all know, emotions are blinding. A bully could feel that all they are doing is making things fair to them because they feel that what has happened to them is unjust. So they bully the person they hold responsible.
The danger is that they don’t even see that what they are doing to this person is bullying. To them it is getting even.