Bullies Need Intervention and Positive Role Models
Children who engage in behaviors typically defined as aggressive, harassing, or bullying do so for a variety of reasons. Some kids grow up with extreme violence in the home and become conditioned from an early age to an aggressive relational style. Other kids learn to act aggressively and to be a bully by watching the behavior of various grownups in their lives.
Some kids admit to enjoying the feeling of power and control they get when they harass or threaten other, more vulnerable, children. And some children bully as a result of being bullied themselves.
The one thing all these children have in common is the absence of healthy social relational skills and a lack of positive adult role models. Children learn through experience and model their behavior on what they observe from the world around them. Children also learn through positive and negative reinforcement of their behavior.
It is important to model positive, peaceful problem-solving behavior for your children. Teach tolerance and respect for others. Provide a good example for your children by not using violence or aggressive intimidation when solving problems. Don't use derogatory terms, insult others, or resort to foul language. Behave the way you want your child to behave.
If a child's parent is a grownup bully, should it be surprising when she exhibits the same kind of behavior, and if a child receives positive messages for engaging in bullying behavior such as, “You showed him!” “You're the man!” or “You are the coolest kid in school,” is it any wonder he continues to bully?
But do these children deserve to be expelled from school? Or do they deserve to be given a chance to be educated about the harm bullying can cause both victims and bullies? And might it be possible to look past the child's behavior to discover the root cause? Only then can a child be taught a better way to behave and interact with his peers.
The other option, zero tolerance, is to hand down strict and rigid punishment, placing all blame on the child (regardless of the circumstances) and remove him from any further interaction with his peers.