Recently, I asked some of my Facebook friends to tell me what type of person bullies another person. It was interesting to read their responses. One clever mom wisely pointed out Sid Phillips from Toy Story. Who could forget him and the torture that he inflicted on the other toys? If anyone is a picture of a bully, he is.
What led me to ask this question was a report I read earlier this month by UCLA professor, Jaana Juvonen. Juvonen indicated that based on her studies bullies do not always fit the mold of Sid Phillips. By contrast, a lot of bullies are in fact very popular kids who have a relatively high self-esteem. Her research team even discovered that kids often view bullies as "some of the coolest kids in school." Not surprisingly, her discoveries fly in the face of traditional thinking.
For years, moms have consoled their kids with the mantra "maybe he's being mean because he feels bad about himself in some way." And while this is still partly true, what researchers are learning is that having low self esteem is not a prerequisite for bullying. In fact, sometimes quite the opposite is true. Confident kids also are inflicting harm.
Still, bullying is not limited to "loners" and "populars." There are in fact many different types of bullies on our playgrounds and our school buses.
So how do you protect your kids if the bully may not be someone you recognize right away? Check out my descriptions of bullies that your child might encounter. As parents, when we continue to educate ourselves about the ever-changing climate of bullying, we become better equipped to help their kids navigate these challenging situations.