Victim Bully? or Capable Target?
It is common to hear about victims of bullying. Bullies are masterful at reducing their peers to victim status by wielding their superiority. Well-intentioned adults attempt to intervene but by stepping in too quickly they can rob a child of an opportunity to develop their voice, self-advocacy skills and intrinsic power. The end result for the child is a lack of any sustainable choices, ultimately making the child feel as though they are a victim. I think Nick Gillespie editor of Reason.com said it aptly, “Our problem isn’t a world where bullies run rampant; it’s a world where bullied kids are convinced that they are powerless victims.” (Obviously if any form of bullying is life threatening, adult intervention should be immediate.)
No real viable choices exist for victims, however, multiple choices are available to a “target.” I prefer the term target because it means that although the bullying behavior is being directed at me, a menu of options is available that can be employed so I do not end up becoming a victim. Targets can move! From this vantage point, a target can be taught how to advocate for herself. Target can learn an array of helpful skills sets and strategies to deal with bullying situations. Perceiving youth as capable gives them an opportunity to try out a variety of options. This in turn will fortify their innate sense of resiliency and bolster their social support.
One of our primary goals as parents, educators and others who work closely with children should be able to assist them in gaining knowledge and skill acquisition so they can come to believe they are capable. This paradigm shift makes all bullying situations an opportunity for targets, bullies, bystanders and adults to learn invaluable life lessons. Encouraging confidence through personal leadership, building supportive alliances and internal assets, will empower targets to not feel alone or isolated. Strengthening internal self-love, self-worth and individual value, can shift power away for the bully.
This youtube video beautifully illustrates an individual’s perseverance from adversity to strength and meaning. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11NauaO6N3c