Sadist Who Loved to Tease and Aggrevate Others

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

For me. elementary school was largely fun except when this bully bothered me. I believe he was a sadist who loved to tease and aggravate other kids. He was at least one-and- a-half times taller and bigger than any of us, so none of us dared to hit him even though he would have deserved it. He sure liked to harass me. One incident sticks out in my mind.

One Sunday afternoon during summer vacation I was cleaning my father s desk and found a pair of fancy sunglasses I never knew my father had. I put them on and came out on the street to walk like grownups do when they have fancy sunglasses to show off. Would you believe that within seconds of my coming out on the street. this bully,  as if he had been waiting all day on the street just for me. came from behind, pulled those loosely fitted sunglasses off my face and ran away?  I tried to catch him but I couldn't. I had little experience in running and catching thieves. and he had much experience in snatching things and running away. 

Following this incident. I was frozen with fear. wondering what my father's reaction would be. t was in trouble both for taking his glasses without his permission and for being inept in catching the kid and getting the glasses back from him. I had no idea where the bully lived. but I was sure it wasn't t in a respectable, decent part of town.  Gosh!  I still sound angry at him.  At any rate, I told my mother what happened. She, too, didn't want to Invoke my father's wrath. We kept it a secret from my father and I couldn't tell anyone else because I was ashamed of myself for "losing" to a bully. Bullies get their power not so much from themselves as they do from their victims' effort to keep secrets from their parents and teachers. Bullies prey on kids who stay aloof or isolated. Because of isolation and silence. bullies keep on bullying undeterred. School and parental authorities don't often come to know about it. Victims of bullies are intimidated, so they dare not tell anyone. 

A  mother of a victim of bullying came up with an interesting solution. She began hiding behind a shed on the school grounds, waiting to catch the bully. One day when the bully picked on her child. she recorded it on a video camera and turned him in. Bullying is not an isolated event. It  is everywhere and it is affecting children's  lives. The National Association of School Psychologists estimates that every day 160,000 children  miss school for fear of being bullied. 

In the morning, when the time comes to get : ready for school, some victims of bullying suffer from such symptoms- toms as nausea headache. Vomiting and diarrhea. These are symptoms of  anxiety of being confronted with the school bully. If your child exhibits  these symptoms, encourage him or her to talk about school. friends, the   neighborhood. etc. to explore what is making your child anxious. '

Two Denver psychologists have developed a system to "bully proof elementary schools. In this program, children are taught skills to handle a bullying situation and defuse tension. They create a "caring majority" among children. They expose bullying.  For example, in one such experiment, without naming names of bullies, children in groups talked about the bullying behavior and what victims of bullying experienced. felt. and   thought. In other words. Teachers brought the bullying behavior out into the open as a classroom topic and gave children an opportunity to brainstorm ideas regarding what to do when a child is bullied. The open discussion of the problem and collaboration of children in a problem-solving way took the fear and embarrassment out of the bullying experience. It literally changed the culture of the school. In the process. they created a new norm that bullying was not "cool." Porter, one of the psychologists who designed this program, says, "Before  hand, the norm was set by fear and silence. Now it's set by caring and speaking out." 

What was the outcome of this program? Impressive! Bullies lost their position of power and hold. victims  became less fearful and embarrassed. Their self-esteem also improved because  they felt supported by everyone including their peers and teachers. Children began to look after one another more than ever. They kept a watch on bullying behavior and reported to the school authorities if they detected a bully trying to corner a child. On the average, one bully bothers six children. If those six children unite for a common goal, It is bound to create energy in the place. What a wonderful way to establish a new culture among children, from the culture of fear and admiration of bullying to the culture of caring. By the majority, for the majority. If "it takes a village to raise a child." It takes a school to help a bully rid himself or herself of bullying behavior.

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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