If we want to end bullying we need to understand it. Author Steve Almond found the boy that bullied him in eighth grade and asked him why. Their conversation helped me appreciate the complexity of bullying from the unusual point of view; that of the bully;
Sean Lynden (the bully):
” One other thing I should mention, there are different kinds of bullying and harassment at every different age. But you would not be the first person to accuse me of verbal or mental bullying. Actually, there’s a woman I work with who, half-jokingly, calls me a bully, just because of the kinds of jokes I make, and because of the way I handle myself in arguments. And as you know, because you’ve always been a funny guy, too, once you find something that works — you make a joke, “Hey, look at Almond wearing that ugly shirt!” and everyone laughs — you go back to that well. Very quickly that can spiral out of control. And it isn’t necessarily that I like or dislike you. It’s just that I can make myself look good by making you look bad and you don’t always care, especially as a teenager, who you hurt along the way.”
Steve Almond (the one he bullied)
“It’s weird talking to you about this so many years later, because I always felt like there was this split in your personality that I identified with. On one hand, you could be competitive and snide, even a little vicious. But that was more like a cover for this more introspective insecure guy.”
… the question of why one kid, or a group of kids, decides to bully another kid is complicated. The tyranny resides both in circumstances and psychology. Behind every bully story, I mean, there’s a whole system of damage
What happened between me and Sean Lynden is an example of the emotional abuse troubled adolescents inflict on each other all the time. Talking with Sean after all these years, what strikes me is how, in crucial ways, we were the same kid: lonely youngest siblings who cracked jokes to mask how sad we were most of the time, geeks who turned on each other to prove ourselves worthy of the jocks at the top of the pecking order. In a kinder world, we would have been best friends.
Read the whole article here –Facing down my eighth-grade tormentor – Interview With My Bully – Salon.com.