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The Behavioral Style of the Bully Then and Now

Behavioral Style of the Bully
Bully – even though these horrid behaviors have evolved over the years in terms of the platform they are carried out on, the after effects of these brutal actions have remained consistent. Bullying is a colossal entity that has the potential of destroying individuals and families nationwide. Dr. Joel Haber, a bullying prevention expert, reported that recent developmental studies underlined such behaviors in children as young as two years old. Aggression and testing boundaries at this age are critical conducts that parents need to interrupt and redirect. If left alone, behavioral studies stress that our youths will continue to suffer greatly from this growing physical, verbal, social, and psychological cancer.

Many decades ago, in the 1950s, a bully was stereotyped as a male who singled out weaker classmates, and who typically used physical aggression to intimidate or humiliate their targets. Today, though, providing an accurate description would embrace an entirely new set of malicious behaviors, while also using a deadly collection of weapons to carry out their attacks. Ehiorobo (2016) explains that while schoolyard bullying is still present within our society today, American youths have a surplus of innovative, modernized artillery to inflict physical, verbal, social, and psychological injuries on their targets. Cell phones, computers, email, and easily-accessible apps all play a major role in the ever-growing cyber-bullying epidemic. Even though their resources have expanded, research and continuous studies stress the importance of eliminating bullying-related behaviors early in in one’s childhood (Ehiorobo, 2016).

To eliminate or reduce the occurrence of bullying behavior, researchers have theorized that understanding this nationwide problem lies within its roots. For example, Ehiorobo (2016) explains that within every bully, there are two underlining elements present – power and control. In toddlers, they essentially act and behave in a manner that replicates what they observe. This is a critical time for parental intervention, and if such behaviors are noticed, a parent has the potential to not only interrupt the bully that is manifesting within their child, but they also are saving those who will essentially suffer its wrath. Stewart (2011) states that during the preschool years, bullying behaviors include “punching, pinching, and generally being ‘mean.’

Bullying Behavior

Parents, caregivers, teachers, bus drivers, and any adult with the ability to intervene should be on alert for these consistent physical acts occurring, while also observing and interposing on social rejections and verbal assaults (Stewart, 2011). Such behaviors include singling one child out, where a group of children herd together to purposefully ignore and isolate another. Learning to be empathetic at this age is a critical developmental milestone. Embracing empathy will reduce the likelihood of a toddler enjoying the harm they are causing on another (Stewart, 2011). Even at two, three, and four years old, children who are victims of bullying begin to experience an onset of stress, fear, isolation, and anxiety (Stewart, 2011). These, in return, have direct impacts on the child’s self-esteem and confidence.

Social media has played a major role in bullying today. For example, middle schoolers today are more likely to carry out bullying behavior behind the screens of their phones or computers. Using sites and apps like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, Kik, Periscope, Whatsapp, You Tube, AskFM, and Tumblr, tweens and teenagers are able to step away from traditional bullying behaviors, and have 24/7 access to their target through any of these channels.

As Cyberbullying has continued to escalate, the destruction it causes rises, as well. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2016), victims of Cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and/or drugs, skip school, experience physical intimidation and harassment, have a decline in academic grades, have lower self-esteem, and suffer the onset of other health problems.


As another child’s life is ripped from family and friends, the mounting focus lies on what caused her to pull the trigger – bullying. Intervening in acts of bullying is a critical part of reducing these growing suicide statistics. Parents, educators, and communities all are key members in preventing and responding to such behaviors. Technology is only going to continue to manifest and grow, and the reality is that these types of horrid outcomes can be prevented by staying in sync with your child, monitoring their internet use, and modeling adaptive behaviors very early on within a child’s life. Cyberbullying is the most lethal when a youth is consistently isolated, and it’s able to cause so much destruction because the victim is attacked in a place that they feel the most safe – their home. Educating children, youths, and teens very early on about healthy behaviors and communication is a key part of winning this battle, and in order to stay one step ahead of this new wave of bullying, adults must first cyber-educate themselves.

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Author: Karen Corcoran Walsh

Karen Corcoran Walsh, CAP, ICADC, MFT, ASAM is the owner and co-founder of the prominent teen rehab Inspirations for Youth and Families, and the Cove Center for Recovery, an adult therapy program. She has appeared on the Dr. Phil Show and the Ask Dr. Nandi Medical Show and has also been featured on a host of other television programs and radio shows focused on teen behavior and substance abuse, including “Teen Talk.” Corcoran Walsh holds a Master of Science degree from Nova Southeastern University and is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist. A former school teacher, she has worked with children of all ages for nearly 20 years in preschool, elementary, junior and senior high school. Prior to opening Inspirations for Youth and Families and The Cove Center for Recovery, she had a private family therapy practice and primarily served as an adult addiction treatment therapist. Corcoran Walsh's academic and professional success has been fueled by her unrelenting desire to raise the standards of treatment for mental health behavior, substance abuse, and alcohol addiction on a national level. She has been instrumental in achieving long-term treatment success through a series of carefully orchestrated, financially independent, and methodical business steps. You can find her here: Karen Corcoran Walsh

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