Grabbing the Bully by the Horns

There will always be bullies, despite antibullying campaigns by major medical associations or celebrities who try to eliminate insensitive and hurtful behavior through public service announcements. Every so often though, a bully is grabbed by the horns and forced to face the repercussion of his or her poor judgment. An example of this is the Dharun Ravi case.

Some may not consider the act of videotaping and texting private moments of one’s college roommate an act of bullying, but I think most would agree it reflects poor judgment and an invasion of privacy. Plus, it’s just plain wrong, as confirmed by the jury who found Ravi guilty of all 15 charges against him.1 The suicide of Tyler Clementi (Ravi’s roommate) has raised awareness of the potential harm that can come from misuse of digital video cameras and social media.

A bully’s victim is often described as being “too sensitive.” Being too sensitive is typically looked upon as a negative personality trait. However, much more menacing is the trait of not being sensitive enough. Sure, we can say that the victim has to toughen up because life’s rough, but we also must say that the bully, being one source of life’s roughness, has to soften up.

A Parent Coach piece I authored a few years ago, “How to Stop the Bullying” (Consultant For Pediatricians. January 2009), includes some bullying prevention and intervention tips that are still relevant today. It emphasizes the need to work with both the bully and the victim.

Here are a few other links that may help pediatric practitioners deal with bullying and other issues of adolescence:

Promoting Safe Use of Electronic Media

Disruptive Behavior Disorders: What’s Normal--What’s Not?

“HEADDS” Up on Talking With Teenagers 

Adolescent Confidentiality: Where Are the Boundaries?