Bullying traits are not always outgrown

Recently, a woman posted in a locally based Facebook newsgroup and said someone had stolen her profile picture and was using it as her own. She said she did not know this woman but knew her name, and a look at the accused woman’s profile showed that she had several different people’s profile pictures. Under one of them were comments, and one of the comments described the photo as her “Donkey of the Day.” Most people believe that bullies outgrow their bad behavior, but this is not always the case.


Sue Scheff, family internet safety expert says, “Adult bullying is more prevalent than many want to admit. Bullying doesn’t come to a standstill after graduating from the playground, and giving grown-ups a pass on aggressive behavior only sets a bad example for our children still on the playground.”


Although adults should know better, she said, even in the NFL bullying goes on. Recently, Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin was subjected to “a pattern of harassment” that included racial slurs and sexual taunts about his mother and sister by teammates, according to a report by NFL investigator Ted Wells.


Gary Namie, a social psychologist and director of the Workplace Bullying Institute, says “Bullies have a need to control other people, because something in their own life is not in control.” Some 35% of the U.S. workforce reported being bullied at work according to a 2010 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute. Dr. Namie explains adult bullies are not normally as physically aggressive as their younger counterparts, but their attacks are still aggressive. Adult bullies, he says, are usually very skilled at being surreptitious, and although the key to dealing with a bully in the work place is to talk to someone who can help such as a manager, often this is difficult because the victim is not believed. It is important to rely on facts and not emotions says Jill Brooke, an expert on adult bullying and author of the book “The Need to Say No – How to Be Bullish and Not Bullied.”


The internet is another place where adults seem to be leaving as many marks as their children. Ms. Scheff says, “When given a keyboard, anonymity, and the belief that the first amendment allows hurting others, it can be a free-for-all and you are up for slaughter.” Recently, a comment was posted on Facebook about a local store that read, “something about the First Amendment allows me to disparage them as well.” This seems to be the way many think nowadays. No matter who it hurts, I am allowed to say it by law, and therefore I will say it. They also say things while sitting alone in their living rooms that they would never dare saying face to face with anyone, says Ms. Scheff.


Bullyingstatistics.org lists several types of adult bullies:
• The narcissistic bully — this type of bully is self-centered and has no empathy for others.
• The impulsive bully — this type of bully does less planning and attacks more on the spur of the moment.
• The physical bully — this type of bully is more unusual in an adult but does occur. Sometimes they do not actually harm the victim but use the threat of harm.
• Verbal bully — This type of bully may start rumors or use sarcasm to demean their victims.
• Secondary bully — this bully does not start the bullying but joins in, often in fear of becoming a victim of bullying themselves.


Although she is not a psychologist, Ms. Scheff says she believes these adult bullies are motivated by a desire for attention. Experts tell us not to engage with them because that is what they desire, she said. The best way to deal with them is to simply ignore them.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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