Bullying; Selecting a stick VERY LONG
Gary Sherwin (sherwin@SUNSHINE.PGH.WEC.COM)
Tue, 20 Dec 1994 09:42:41 EST
Ian Ford, Richard Ickler, John Oakes, Carey, All
Bullying is OUR problem. Bullying is EVERYONES problem.
The world is full of bullys from the school-yard through
business management, through the government to the multi-
national corporations. Bullys exist because their victims
allow them to. Victims allow them to because they do not
appropriately respond to innapropriate dominance assertive
behavior. Bullying is a very natural part of not only
human but animal behavior. Chickens do it, dogs do it,
sheep do it, juvenile delinquents do it, scouts do it,
parents do it AND YOU DO IT! John did it when he used
his appearence to intimidate a youth to submit to John's
agenda of behavior. (Guess I'm just jealous). Bullying
has a function. If we are to control it we must understand
what it is and why it happens.
When I say that everyone bullys, I mean everyone tests
and establishes their level of dominance by assertive actions
designed to determine the relative social position of the
person or persons we are testing. This is important to
realize, because it points to the reason for uncontrolled
dominance assertive actions that are seen as bullying. If
a person is secure or knows their social standing, they have
no need to test, and therefore no need to bully. If a person
lacks the skills to determine social position by other cues,
that person will often test the situation by violent behavior.
Sometimes bullying is precipitated by confusion of social
position. I think this is the primary reason that scouts are
so often the targets of bullys.
Think about it, in the media, and in much of society,
scouting is the butt of all sorts of jokes and misstatements.
On the other hand, We are involved in the most exciting
organization to ever exist. Our activities are envied by
almost everyone. This puts the local bully in a confusing
situation. He sees a scout (possibly in uniform), and
thinks of the adventure opportunities that boy has. He
thinks of the societal denegration of the scouting program.
To resolve the conflict, the bully "tests" the scout with
some small taunt in an attempt to determine the scouts
dominance level. The scout responds inappropriatly, thus
further confusing the scouts social standing in the eyes of
the bully. The bully escalates .....The scout escalates....
Violent behavior ensues and someone gets hurt. The bully
AND the scout need to be shown their place. John did this
effectivley by use of the same technique that prevented
nulcear war between the US and the Soviet Union; MAD
Mutualy Assured Destruction. Had the bully taken John up
on his displayed offer, John would have either had to
back down, or destroy his own standards of behavior by
assaulting the youth and suffering the legal consequences.
We need to learn how to communicate our social positions and
rights effectively then we must:
TEACH THE SAME SKILLS TO OUR SCOUTS
Its not that I'm picking on John. It's just that he did
exactly what any of us would do if we had John's skills
and appearance available to us for use in such situations.
(I guess that proves it: Yes I do envy him). But if not
super bullying then what stick do we use.
Rosevelts axiom has two parts:
1. Speak softly and
2. Carry a big stick.
In my oppinion, he was right about this but both parts
of his axiom require comunication and dominance competencies
that most of us either lack or fail to utilize when the
The "Speak softly" part is important in that it
recognizes the need for CONTROLED communications when
threatening situations arise. It is my experice that in
bullying situations, only two responses are available to
the ?victim? no object of the bully's testing if we are
to remain in control of the situation.
1. Totaly Ignore and do not respond.
2. Effectivley inform the bully of our social skills
(Our ability to prosecute through legal channels for
Most of the time, first instances of bullyning do not
end in assault unless the object escalates the situation.
Consequently my first advise to my sons and the scouts of
my troop is to minimize interaction with the bully and
GET AWAY even if it means running from the situation to
a store or a friend's house or home. Once safe, COMMUNICATE
to someone of authority. This can be a Parent, teacher,
School Principal or the policeman on the corner. I say
COMMUNICATE because I don't mean just tell them but rather
to tell them and make sure they understand the situation
and that THEY TAKE EFFICTIVE ACTION. If the first person
does not listen FIND SOMEONE ELSE. It is then the
authority figures responsibility to "speak" to the bully
and gently inform him that if he is being watched and that
any further acts of intimidation or violence will be met
with legal charges or a juvenile petition. If there is
a repeat offence then call the childs parent and
FILE CHARGES against the criminal activity. (Both
assault and terroristic threats are criminal atcivities)
Do not let a school principal bully you into thinking
that it is inapropriate for you to file charges.
I have or rather my son has recently experienced a bully who
was demanding money for membership in a "Drug Club". The boy
was a former friend of my son. and was threatening to have my
son "wiped out" if he did not join the club. My sons initial
action was partialy inaproriate and resulted in further
intimidation by other members of the boys gang. My son then
informed the school Principal of the situation and was greeted
with a "grow up and fight your own fights but not on school
property, because if you do we wil throw you out of school too.
Fortunately, at that point, my son came to me and told me what
was going on. I notified authorities of the suspected drug
activity and then at the next opportunity, in plain view of
several adults and in front of the boys friends spoke to him
about his so called friendship with my son and how his actions
were not appropriate. I finished by informing him that I had
not at that point spoken to his parents, but that if he repeated
his actions, I would immediately call them AND file charges with
the magistrate who could send him to juvenile hall. Notice I
made no threats that I could not legaly and moraly carry out.
I informed my son that he was to have no unnecessary contact
with the boy and notified my sons school teachers of the problem.
Several days later, the boy harassed my son again and he responded
by holding the boy (who was larger than my son but supprised by his
boldness) by the shirt, against the locker and reminding him of my
promise and telling him that he could tell him from experience that
I would keep my promise and that if he doubted it to ask any of the
scouts in the school. My sons actions established a confident
social position with the bully and there have been no further
This is not to say that you always live happily ever after all
the time. But this time and several others when things were done this
way, it worked.
I am not a psychologist. Perhaps one of you out there is and
could offer some sage training and advise to us novices on how do
learn and teach these competencies. Please quit lurking and pay
for your membership in the list by contributing your skills.
NATIONAL THIS IS IMPORTANT:
The child abuse video from national is Excelent but only
addresses one problem. How about some research and training
materials on this matter of responding to bullying and
Sorry for the Excessive Length but this is a complex issue.
I used to be an Eagle
Gary W. Sherwin SM
Troop 461 Yukon, Pa.
PS: Does National have an e-mail address?
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City