Social, Popular, Empathetic and Strong Leaders – Today’s Bullies?

Back in October, I read an article in the Globe and Mail by Anthony Volk entitled “Why Bullies Do What They Do.” In brief, it was a very succinct yet comprehensive synopsis of the causes and (proposed) solutions to bullying. At the time, something about it stuck with me and I came back to it when in need of something to blog about during the crazy month of December. Interestingly, there were distinct echoes of Carmen’s grade 6 Bullying Task Force around the ideas of choosing behaviours and belief systems. In identifying the main reasons for bullying, Volk reduces them to just three.
– to get resources (ex. lunch money)
– to get dating partners
– to get social power to be used in getting resources, dates or favours

 

As indicated by voluminous research, Volk describes the typical bully as someone who has “average or greater social skills, popularity, leadership, cognitive empathy and physical or mental health.” Upon reflecting about this statement, I vacillated between two contradictory trains of thought. On one hand, I found myself thinking that these were pretty basic goals for someone with a wide range of attributes and that given that, they would have been able to achieve social power through less basic means. On the other, I would have assumed (or rather hoped) that above average social skills and cognitive empathy would have prevented bullying in the first place.

 

Perhaps what struck me most about the article and the most recent publicised cases of bullying was something I took for granted but hadn’t really consciously considered. It would seem that the classic profiles of bully and victim are blurred and that the anonymity of social media has emboldened and perhaps intensified cases of bullying. The root of it would seem to be the need to exercise power (even in the most basic ways) over someone else. Some people would argue that such a need is innate and an undeniable part of human nature and as such, bullying is much more difficult to tackle in a lasting, meaningful way.

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The Author

Erin.Grewar

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