What thoughts or images come to mind when the subject of bullying is raised?
Perhaps... it's that girl on the bus that always has her head down avoiding eye contact. It's the boy that pulls vanishing acts and is out the door before the bell stops ringing. It's the child that eats their lunch by the locker or in the hall because they don't want to risk spending time in the cafeteria. Statistics indicate that we have all seen or experienced a similar scenario.
Bullying is becoming more and more of an open subject. Gone are the days where bullying is thought to be a rite of passage. Bullying is now seen as abuse that will no longer be taken lightly. Celebrities address the topic. Newsmedia brings greater attention to bullying stories across the country. There are songs and videos and many public causes that are standing up against bullying.
The bully has many faces. We tend to have our own personal thoughts on what causes bullies or victims, and what should be done about it. Today I want to discuss something you may not have considered. Indulge me while I explain one of the root causes of some bullying behaviours. One of the 27 brain skills that Breakthroughs assesses is the ability to make appropriate “yes or no” decisions. This brain skill can influence how we react when someone traipses across our freshly laid grass seed, or parks in our allotted parking space or cuts in front of us in traffic. Here are two extremes: when it is significantly weak or below average, we may cower from any form of confrontation. If it is overly strong, we may race after these individuals with "guns blazing". The victims of bullying tend to be on the side of the spectrum where boundaries are low and the reaction would be to retreat and avoid confrontation. Another side effect of this skill is that these children often tend to act immature for their age. This only intensifies the bullying, name calling and subsequent withdrawal of the victim.
Here at Breakthroughs, we understand that the balance of brain skills can affect lives in powerful and impactful ways. The skill directing the “yes or no” decisions should be neither high nor low, but rather should be in balance with the rest of the client’s profile. By understanding that these children aren’t just random victims and are sometimes actually attracting the bully by their weak resistance to confrontation, we can recognize that simply removing them from the situation is not a long term solution. We have seen stories where a child has gone to a new school where no one knew of their bullying history, and has again become a victim within a few short days. It’s important to recognize that this need not be permanent. With the development of the appropriate brain skills they will be less of a target and equipped with the ability to use their voice, and project the confidence that deflects the interest of a bully.