Everyone wants it to stop even the bully

30th June 1995 at 01:00
Bullying is prevalent throughout society. Why else would it feature amongst young people if they had not learned it from adults? In schools it is assumed that pupils are the bullies and the victims, but that teachers are not. How wrong.

My advice is: * Gain a clear understanding of the bullying cycle yourself, so that you can see not only your position within it but the roles everyone else is taking on. In your case the school governors are adopting a clear role in the bullying cycle - that of indifference - and your union takes the line that there is "no smoke without fire" which is partly indifferent and partly punitive.

* Under no circumstances accept that the bullying involves just you (the victim) and the bully. You will know of others who are playing a role, even if it is as a bystander.

* No one involved feels good about him or herself. We may have been led to believe that the bully feels pleasure, pride, excitement, and so on; that the victim feels weak, helpless, scared and that no one else feels anything of consequence. That's rubbbish. My work over the past two to three years has shown consistently that there is virtually no difference between the feelings of someone in the bully role, someone in the victim role, and those in each of the other roles. Each feels a whole range of emotions, none of them positive.

* Don't give up (become passive) or fight back (become aggressive). That is what you do to remain in the bullying cycle. What you need is to find a way of asserting yourself, without putting the person in the bully role down.

* Get support. Support is not about being rescued or even protected. It is to help you and others involved to understand not only how such relationships are destructive but to gain the confidence to find other ways of being.

* Be clear that the person being the bully does not feel good about himself, and would not need to be a bully if he did. He needs support too.

* Try to get bullying on the agenda in your school. Bullying is a whole institution affair.

Finally, my work has shown that people who are bullied want only one thing: the bullying to stop. This is not the received wisdom, which is that victims also want justice and vengeance. Vengeance perpetuates the bullying cycle.

Kevin Brown is a trainer for Mainstream Relationships. Tel: 01968-678985

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