There are a myriad of reasons why a bully develops the behaviors that cause damage. Whether it is behavior learned from home or from peers, a need to feel empowered or in control, a fear of being the lowest person on the social ladder, a drive to get one's own way, or any other reason, we can all agree bullying creates a toxic atmosphere and has negative consequences for both the bullied and the bully alike.
The key is to catch the behavior at the very first onset and redirect it immediately. The making of a bully rarely happens overnight. It can be the subtle actions that go un-noticed or those that gain the bully immediate gratification of a laugh from peers or deflection of negative focus on themselves that snowball into more overt bully behavior later on. We all know that often those who have been a victim of bullying will act out, or fail to intervene when others are bullied, out of fear they may be on the receiving end again. In this way, bullying is a complex social phenomenon that can be impacted, but our focus of putting a stop to bullying must be more than a single week each school year to see sustainable change.
While anti-bully week activities should certainly continue, more must be done in an effort to help re-direct and model proper coping and behavior skills among elementary, Jr. High, and High School aged children. Digging deeper and investing the time and energy into really knowing students and helping them gain a proper perspective on the issue of bullying can be done through team building activities, conscientious adult leadership that responds quickly and appropriately, open dialogue and intervention measures when needed, and school sponsored events that bring awareness and bully-free culture building to the forefront.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and certainly the road to a bully-free culture will not be easy, the efforts we make will impact schools for countless students now and in the future. For more on the making of a bully and prevention help, visit "How To Talk About Bullying."