January 2003
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Bullying: A Double Bladed Sword
By Erin Penney, SNN Editor, St. Mark's School, King's Cove, NL

Bullying is one of the most common and serious problems facing society today. It is the result of the bully having low self esteem, and in turn the self esteem of the victims is shattered and fear is inflicted.. It affects people of all races, and yes, even people of all ages, not just school kids. The fact is, bullies put others down to temporarily make themselves feel good and important, when in actual fact, deep down is someone who most of the time feels anything but those two things. So he/she makes others feel the same way.

We are subjected to bullies from an early age. It seems that every class has one student unofficially titled as the "class bully". It's the student whom everyone fears, and tries desperately to get on the good side of. It's a problem that has existed since the creation of schools and playgrounds. The bully's aim is to give as many people as possible an inferiority complex, because often times, the bully has one. So, the bully therefore feels the only way to feel of worth or to be somebody is to put others down. The bully essentially wants to be somebody, and have friends just like everyone else. The only problem is he or she has no idea of how to go about doing that.

Bullying can take on many forms. They include physical aggressiveness, in which smaller people are usually a victim, as well as verbal bullying, that is, excessive and uncalled for personal insults about one's appearance, intelligence, family, etc. However, they all are united in their product. This product being the fear, and shattered self esteem it inflicts within the victim. That's why it's such a problem in our society today. It's not as if the bully is only hurting himself, but the truth is, he's hurting countless others. This causes the victim to be scared to go to school, scared to walk down a certain street at a certain time, and basically, just scared to be themselves.

Why is it that some people seem to be "natural born bullies"? Most of the time it can be traced to the child's home environment. The child may be bullied by his or her parents. Yes, some parents even stoop to the level of bullying their children. They may constantly criticize the child and put him or her down in things such as school work, extra-curricular activities, or even physical appearance. Of course, these inevitably lead the child to firmly believe that they are, as the parents state, worthless.

This is a very dangerous problem that can't be overlooked. Self esteem is the most precious gift a child can possess. This is why bullying is such a problem, and must be dealt with and corrected at an early age, before a child forms life long habits. Habits that not only limit the capacity to which the bully lives his or her own life, but also make the lives of their victims miserable. So, bullying is a double bladed sword. It hurts not only the victims but the bully as well. Self esteem, just like destruction of self esteem, is contagious. By bullying, the bully, who has low self esteem, takes away self esteem of others. It's a vicious cycle. Whereas a child, or person in general, with self esteem will pass it along to others through the medium of kind words and encouragement.

Sadly, in a lot of cases a child bully will grow into an adult bully. An adult bully is the same as a child bully in its need to put others down to feel powerful. They are different only in the fact that this takes place in different situations. An adult bully may bully his or her husband or wife, or be a work place bully; trying to make co-workers, often those at a mutual level, feel inferior.

It's unfortunately quite possible that this destructor of self esteem called bullying will continue as long as there exist parents who excessively and unconctructively criticize their children. However, I believe that even these children can be saved from a life of being a bully and therefore save many others from experiencing the fear and self esteem destruction that accompanies being a victim.

Schools must incorporate a self esteem development program into curriculum. This would ultimately cut back on bullying, and therefore repair self esteem of bullies and save self esteem of the victims. It would make all those involved feel good about themselves, so bullies wouldn't need to get this feeling the more harmful, temporary way of putting others down. The program would work like this: small groups would meet after school at least once a week; small, so that maximum attention could be given to each individual. They would talk, plan activities and get on a familiar basis with other students that they wouldn't have gotten to know otherwise. They would, through their fellowship and discussion, gain a sense of belonging, and make friends. Which is essentially what every bully wants, but doesn't – due to upbringing and other factors of their environment know how to go about getting.

A program of this nature is essential in all, especially the larger more impersonal schools. Something definitely needs to be done about this serious, life-inhibiting social issue. No child anywhere should be scared to go to the library to foster ideas because someone's waiting in the corridor to tell them they're ugly. It's inhibiting the education of many children throughout the world. When the education of a child is inhibited in this way, it severely limits their ability to reach their potential. This, though not at this precise moment, affects us all. When the potential of the children of today is not reached, the potential of our world will ultimately be limited in the times to come.


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