How to Cure a Bully

Bullies thrive in environments where their behavior is not only tolerated but glorified. The idea is that it is cool to embarrass others; it is empowering to intimidate. What bullies cannot appreciate, however, is what bullying actually does to the victim; because, to the bully, victims are objects rather than individuals.

An object does not feel pain or sadness; it is there to fulfill the needs of the subject: the bully. Therefore, the first step to reforming a bully is to make the bully aware of the individuality of his or her victim. Bullies do not know or care whether or not their victims go home and cry, or engage in harmful behaviors in order to relieve themselves of the stress caused by being bullied. In forcing bullies to think past the event itself and thus consider the long-term effects of the act, it may help them realize that the effects of bullying can last much longer than the initial affront.

But some bullies are not going to be deterred by the moistened faces of their victims or the long-term effects of their actions on those they bully. These individuals need to be isolated from others for a period of time. For example, if bullying is happening in the classroom, bullies should be separated from other students. Since they seem to thrive on intimidating and exploiting others, separating them from their “fix” of power will affect their self-esteem. To whom will they be able to act out their domination?

Isolating bullies shows them that their behavior, in addition to being harmful to others, is harmful to the smooth operations within the education environment. If bullies are made to understand that they are a cancer to a healthy learning environment, it will further affect their egos and cause them to think about the image they have been portraying and whether or not it is worth it to continue behaving as they have.

If being isolated from others for a period of time does not reform the bully, or at least cause him or her to reflect on past behavior, meeting with the bully’s parents or guardians is necessary. Maybe the behavior is being inadvertently rewarded at home. Or maybe the bully is being neglected at home and thus gains “respect” at school by victimizing others. If parents, teachers and administrators are working to get to the root of the problem, at least the bully is made aware that whether or not he or she is concerned about their destructive behavior, there is a community working diligently to solve the problem.