(Bullying Awareness Series Part 1)
One way we can make a difference in the anti-bullying movement is by shedding light on characteristics of a bully that often get overlooked.
We start with the characteristic of DISCREDITING. A bully’s power of control can be found in this pervasive action. The New Oxford American Dictionary describes the word “discredit” as a way to harm a reputation (person, piece of evidence, or idea) causing it to seem false or unreliable. In other words, it’s a deliberate weakening of someone’s reputation in order to strengthen ones own. Bullies can easily garner support by others in this way. Onlookers stay silent because they do not want to become the target of similar treatment, or they are tricked into believing the discrediting stories are actually true. Unfortunately, this allows the bully to gain substantial power. This dynamic can be found in schools, homes, families, work, church, etc. Bullies can be children or adults, and all sexes. Here are a few questions that will help you identify this particular quality in a bully.
1. Is there a “repeated” pattern of discrediting?
2. Are people afraid to speak positively about the person being discredited?
3. Does the discrediting somehow boost the position or reputation of the one discrediting?
One of the greatest ways to combat a bully is simply by recognizing this characteristic. If we see multiple people being discredited by a person or group—it should raise a red flag immediately. Our refusal to be drawn into believing the discrediting news begins the process of empowerment. Not only for us but for the person being bullied. There is comfort and strength we give a bullied-human when we turn our backs on the bully’s persuasions. The act of not automatically embracing a bad story is life-giving. Even if it seems convincing. Consider the source and ask the questions above. If you can answer yes to any of the questions then you might be dealing with a bully.