X Close Search

How can we better understand those that Cyberbully?

5
Reflective_Joy
We hear time and time again " The haters are just jealous of you" As a way of coping with cyberbullies. That is usually the all encompassing response to both mild and severe bullying.

That may be true. But people bully for a reason and usually it's not as simple as that. Those that engage in bullying behaviour, are extremely unhappy themselves. They are angry and they hurt to gain some semblance of control over their own state of misery. I am not in any way condoning the extremely hurtful and even illegal actions of a bully. But compassion isn't acceptance. Compassion and understanding just acknowledge the reason for the behaviour and allows for a space between the person and the behaviour to exist. One where change is still possible for the bully. Depending of course, on age, support, self awareness and the desire to WANT to change. Even if they may never change, how can we view them differently to help us cope with the behaviour?

If you could ask one question to someone who has bullied you, What would you ask them if you thought they might listen? It can be someone from the past, present or future.
4
Jules92
I think most people's immediate reaction would be to say, "what is your problem?". Personally I would ask "why are you so sad", as in, what is it in your life that makes you want to hurt people so much?
5
Adam
I remember a boy at school who was a really nasty bully and I got really angry one day and stood up to him and kept shouting at him "nobody is really your friend because you are just full of hate, who would want to spend time with someone as angry as you? He just looked at me and I then saw a really sad and lonely boy with no friends. He couldn't lash out at me because I was bigger than him, I felt bad about it but i knew that he realised that it was true because he just walked away without saying anything.
4
GamerGirl
I think people that cyberbully others do it for many reasons. Some just enjoy making others unhappy and some are unhappy themselves. Sometimes I think it's the more cowardly people who maybe don't have much of a voice in the real world, people who are scared to openly talk and debate about things. Just my opinion of course!
3
Neja_93
I think people just think that they understand everything. if u haven't gone through it u can understand what teens and others are going through. I think you need more people who have been bullied so they can talk with people who are now
going through it..
2
Reflective_Joy

In reply to Jules92

That's a good question JULES92. I think that it's also disarming. A person who is in the midst of bullying would probably never expect to be asked that. It could really encourage self reflection.
2
Reflective_Joy

In reply to Adam

ADAM- That Probably did indeed shock them. But more importantly, I think it allowed you to see that he was just a boy with no friends. His silent reaction let you know that he probably is very miserable. I once had a bully from high school send me a message on facebook ten years later apologizing for her behaviour. She told me she had a terrible home life when she was younger and she was angry and hated herself. She acted out as a result of the turmoil she was experiencing at home. She is now a mum of three lovely children and one of the sweetest people I know!

So there definitely is always a story behind a bullies behaviour.
2
Reflective_Joy

In reply to Neja_93

NEJA- You are so right. I think we need more people who have been bullied to speak up about their experiences. I think that can really help others who engage in the behavior. Moreover, also parents and teachers who are unaware how damaging it can be, to really understand the impact bullying can have on a person.
4
kirsty123
I think we should try talking to the bullies to find out what's really going on for them and try to be nice to them
1
Jules92

In reply to kirsty123

Thats an interesting approach. I suppose all bullies have been through something bad that makes them behave so negatively and being nice to them may be something that they have not had in their life. Could be a way of making them see how kindness and compassion is something that comes back to you when you give it out. Like it. :))
1
kirsty123

In reply to Jules92

Yh but do u think it'll work?
2
Jules92
I suppose if enough people gave them that message then yes it would work I think.
3
heidilynnrussell
What I tell my kiddo is that we don't ask the bully questions about why they're doing what they're doing. Usually they don't even know why.

What I have taught him to do is to ask a disarming question:

"How is your day going?"

"Maybe you would feel better if you talked to someone else other than me right now. Do you have someone who can help you to have a good day?"

Or, better yet, if the cyberbully (or any bully for that matter) is in your face about a certain topic, change the subject.

"I'm going to see 'The Avengers' this weekend. Have you seen it?"

Doing this takes the fire out of the discussion. First of all, the person is expecting you to continue to react to their "attack." When you take the initiative to change the subject or turn the tables and ask about their well-being, they really don't know what to do with that.

Their response will either be to get more angry, which shows to the cyber-community their own lack of character ... or they will go silent and just drop it. If they continue to get angry and go into personal attack mode, there is a wonderful little button on every site that says, "BLOCK." Just block.

This is how I teach my child to deal with this, and it may not be a perfect approach, but it works for us.

:-)
2
kirsty123

In reply to heidilynnrussell

I'm trying that out now with a cyberbully but she's not got back to me yet i just hope this works
2
Jules92

In reply to heidilynnrussell

I like this method. You can have a few standard responses to negative comments and abuse as a deflection/warning that you are not going to play that game. I can see this working online. .
2
heidilynnrussell

In reply to Jules92

Thanks, Jules, truthfully, my child uses this method at school as well as online. He has Asperger's and a speech impediment, which affects his socialization in real life. He actually fares better with kids online than he does face to face. But by practicing how to respond in a positive manner, he is learning how to put would-be bullies off. He is very intelligent, and the other kids don't understand that about him, so the responses silence them and cease anything from escalating. It's not a perfect formula, but it helps him. It also helps with his self-esteem, because he's able to see that he CAN communicate and effectively shut things down. This is very empowering for him.
2
Reflective_Joy

In reply to heidilynnrussell

I love your suggestions HEIDILYNNRUSSELL!! Definitely tips I plan to try myself, even in real life. I had someone once suggest I try saying something like " Are you feeling okay?" But that could be taken as patronizing unless I am authentic in my concern. So I quite like your idea of asking " How is your day going?" I am definitely going to try that.

I am glad to hear your son is really benefiting from your suggestions and that it's boosting his self esteem and confidence.
2
heidilynnrussell

In reply to *Reflective_Joy*

Thank you, Reflective Joy, and I would like to just say that the community here is very encouraging. It's a good place for parents like me to share approaches and gain feedback. Positive and helpful place. I can't say enough about Cybersmile! Really glad I found out about it via a certain celebrity. :-)
4
OscarSosa
I'd ask them why, why are you bullying me. Why me of all the people you could bully. You're very right in your post, there's always a reason behind such aggression and usually it's due to some semblance of an outlet due to a lack of something else. The something else might be love, compassion or understanding, and the target of said bullying could be a mirror of the inner self the bully see's in the victim or quite possibly the bully themselves as the victim. And the outlet is a way of understanding the behavior due to a lack of understand in themselves and those around them. There are unfortunately a lot of excuses to bully/hurt someone or even yourself, and it's usually due to a lack of understanding of a situation. I believe bullying in itself is a cry for help, a very desperate and erratic cry for help and possibly a simulation of their own bullying via strangers or family members.
2
bbear

In reply to heidilynnrussell

My favourite Troll questions

why are you doing this?
do you know how this effects people?
have you taken legal advise?
are your parents/Girl Friend aware of whatyou do.
How is your self reflection. etc?
How would you teli your boss or colleague.

and finally - a +1. (because it is hard to counter argue a +1 in comments)
2
Reflective_Joy
Thanks for continuing to add to this thread everyone! Thanks BBEAR Those are some great questions. I especially like the one asking "How is your self reflection"? and " Do you know how this effects people?".

I think many don't. Sometimes a little self reflection can go along way.
1
heidilynnrussell
On a lighter note ... something that recently happened to my kid at school really put a smile on my face.
He is now in a new middle school, so there is a lot of "hallway walking" and interactions in between classes. This school is also about five times larger than his former school.
One day when he was walking from one class to the next, he was stopped in the hallway by a known school bully. The bully stood in his way and kept moving so that he couldn't get around him. Finally, my kid stopped and looked up into the bully's eyes.
The bully yelled:
"YOU ARE REALLY LITTLE!"
My kid looked at him and yelled back:

"YES! I AM! HOW DID YOU FIGURE THAT OUT? GOOD FOR YOU! NOW GET OUT OF MY WAY, BECAUSE I'M GOING TO MY NEXT CLASS!"

The bully stepped to the side and let him pass.
No other interactions, as far as I know, but sometimes my kid really amazes me with his cool head. He didn't have to go to an adult for help, and he didn't get in a fight. He just stood his ground.
I think sometimes that's all that's required.

Just wanted to throw this little story into the mix. :-)
1
Suzanne
I think it's difficult to understand a cyberbully unless you too have absolutely no concience!
1
Adam

In reply to heidilynnrussell

Great story.
If you have inner confidence, a bully can't deal with it.
1
GamerGirl

In reply to OscarSosa

This is a fantastic point, for people lucky enough to experience a healthy/loving childhood/upbringing it must be difficult sometimes to understand how it would feel to not have had them things. It's so important not to write off Cyberbullying and toxic users and take the time to understand why they behave the way they do.