Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Finding the Gray Area and Humanizing Bullies

In today’s national conversation, peer bullying is a topic that has been discussed without much rest—and rightfully so. From the meat-wearing pop juggernaut Lady Gaga vehemently crusading for self-acceptance and loving others, to the release of the Lee Hirsch-directed docu-film “Bully”, bullying has been dissected, discussed, and denounced in an effort to stifle its sundry (ranging from psychological to physical, from mild to fatal) effects. With nearly one of six students being bullied regularly (creating more tragedies akin to those of Tyler Clementi or Phoebe Prince), it has become necessary for this prevalent activity to come under the national microscope in order to be resolved.

With greater pushes for anti-bullying legislation, outspoken celebrities promoting change, and the creation of assorted campaigns hoping to inspire self-worth and a kinder, more accepting society (like the viral “It Gets Better” movement), efforts have been made, through more public awareness, to end the reign of bullying within modern youth culture. While the success of these efforts is varying, it can be said that all seemingly focus on one thing: sympathizing with and rehabilitating solely the victim.

When examining the bullying issue, the largest misconception (that impairs its resolve) is that there is a clear, black-and-white distinction between the victim and the instigator of the bullying—the bully. Coupled with quasi-caricatural stereotypes that society holds regarding victims and their bullies, the victim is instantly handed sympathy and aid, while the bully is, by default, left to be chastised incessantly and portrayed as a villain not deserving of forgiveness. While it is true that the actions of bullies are undeserving of being pardoned or defended, bullies themselves do deserve to be seen as what they truly are: human.

The reality is that no one person is strictly a bully or a victim; all of us exist in a gray area where we have been (or currently are) both. As noted when sitting down with anyone who in their lifetime has been identified as a bully, bullies are individuals who have, at one point or another, been bullied themselves; the action of bullying is both the instigator and the by-product of a cyclic machine that converts victims into future aggressors. With all of us having insecurities that we have both been attacked for or have attacked others for, a bully is essentially a hurt human who has suffered at the hands of another hurt human (and who copes by reciprocating pain via hurting others).

Overall, that is a fact that is oftentimes overlooked in the grand discussion over bullying: the bully is a human who is also a victim. By recognizing this fact, bullies can be sympathized with, and overall humanized, so that they too can have a chance to be reformed as a person. It is necessary that the our culture today hands bullies more humanity so that they can be better understood and transformed (helping to source and repress the causes of bullying and its aftermath).

Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

IamtheshyStargirl said...
May 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I would just like to say: thank you for writing this, and I think it should have been published in the magazine. This is a very important topic in the world today, and you have represented a largely overlooked facet of this complex problem.

So thank you for writing this so beautifully and clearly, it's an important piece. 

Site Feedback