Avid fans of the show, Sex Education, would know that the protagonist's sidekick, Eric Effiong is a homosexual. Eric is constantly being bullied for being a homosexual by the designated school bully, Adam Groff, who turns out to be the school's head teacher's son. In one of the scenes, Adam and Eric are put to work together to clean up the abandoned music room. As expected, Adam begins to bully Eric, physically assaulting him, and they both end up on the floor, one on top of the other. Plot twist, they make eye contact, sexual tension intensifies, and Adam shocks Eric by kissing him. Later on, in the show, Adam comes out of the closet and embraces his homosexual personality.
Now is when you sit and think why a homosexual was bullying a fellow ally. What drove him to act in such violent ways?
The reasons as to why someone bullies someone else are innumerable.
Being the son of the headmaster puts a lot of pressure on a teenager. Adam Groff had a precarious relationship with his father. He was constantly being compared to his 'perfect' sister and had to abide by his father's unreasonably strict rules. The possible reason as to why Adam was bullying Eric could be him simply taking out his anger onto someone weaker than him.
This is actually a self-defense mechanism put forward by the one and only Sigmund Freud. He termed it as displacement, a concept where an individual receives a negative emotion or response from someone and redirects it onto someone less threatening and vulnerable. This makes perfect sense in this case. Adam can't handle his father's wrath at home, so he goes to school and displaces the same wrath onto a weaker target. Another possible explanation could be that Adam sees himself in Eric. Eric, on the one hand, can express his homosexual side with ease. Adam, however, still has trouble accepting that side of him; he could possibly be in denial, which makes it harder for him to embrace and express himself. It could be jealousy or the fact that he is unable to accept that side of him.
Children from abusive homes tend to be more aggressive in nature and indulge more in the act of bullying. Their parents may be verbally, physically, or emotionally abusing them, which would definitely cause at least some psychological trauma. They may suffer from low self-esteem and low self-worth. This could be connected to the unfulfilled emotional requirements of bullies. Bullies may not be getting the much-needed love and support any basic human being needs. Moreover, the number of bullies are greater in school than anywhere else, which means children are the bullies in the situation. And the one part of the population that has a prerequisite for emotional requirements are children.
Studies also show that those bullied are twice as likely to bully later on in life. Other reasons people bully may be to gain popularity, out of boredom (yes, this one shook us too), peer pressure, prejudices, payback, etc. The alliteration of the letter 'up is promised not to have been done intentionally.
Now, how exactly can one identify a bully? You can't just go around calling everyone who is rude to you a bully. For example, your best friend and you have a fight, and they say something rude to you. Pretty obvious you won't accuse them of bullying you, right?
Here are possible ways you could identify a bully.
Something almost the majority of bullies will do is take up your space. You yourself would notice the lack of personal space; quite often, you may also feel some sort of claustrophobia. Bullies tend to speak down on you; this is to say that they are condescending in nature. They always play the victim which means they always flip the situation around and make you the troublemaker. Acting as though they are not at fault comes naturally to them. Their tone of speech is usually negative, often sarcastic, disappointed, or angry. Bullies tend to have controlling behaviour and behaviours aimed at manipulating you.
Furthermore, they are double-faced. You know that one friend your mom doesn't like. As soon as she sees them, she knows there's something not right and will warn you not to hang out with them. Well, most likely, that's the bully in your life, and if you can, preferably, scoot away from them.
You know a person is in trouble when the thought of meeting them creates a pit in your stomach. That is also, unfortunately, the sign of a bully. You shouldn't have to be scared of meeting people you already know. Not wanting to meet them because they're annoying or talk too much is a whole other story, but essentially the concept of fear must not be present. Even if it is an old friend, someone in your family, or even a teacher, being frightened is something no one should go through.
Dealing with bullies can take a multitude of ways. As mentioned before, since the frequency of bullying is more in schools, the following may be tips for how students can deal with their bully.
- The first and foremost is informing a trusted adult what you are going through. Adults generally have a more grasp on things and are better suited to deal with the situation.
- The second being, ignoring the bully. Do not instigate a fight whatsoever; it simply isn't worth it. For all you know, the bully may be looking for a reason for confrontation.
- By walking with your head held high, it shows that you are not vulnerable.
- Those bullied would be angry, but it's imperative to avoid getting into fights with the bully. The anger could be channeled into something productive, but this is easier said than done.
- Something that would definitely create a difference is you talking to the bully. By possibly making friends with the bully and helping them realize what they are doing is wrong it could help you and others. Provided this one is a long shot, it is a good option.
Quite often, there are instances where the bully is not aware that they are bullying others. They think it's just 'fun'. They aren't aware that they are actually hurting the other person either physically or psychologically. So how do you know if you're bullying someone?
If someone is constantly showing extreme negative emotions such as anger or sadness around you, you may be bullying them. Another facet could be that you lack empathy. When others are distressed, you do not feel like comforting them, and you may not feel for them. Getting aggressive is yet another trait of bullies. Thriving on weak and insecure people makes you happy. In other words, other's pain gives you joy, a typical sadist. Spreading rumors is something bullies may indulge in. If you're one to gossip, then apologize, but you're a bully. People in powerful positions may misuse their authority. Dumping more work than usual on others is typically something a bully does.
If even a couple of the above behaviors are something you recognize and see yourself doing on a regular basis, then it's time to change, friend.
Even though bullies are terrifying and challenging to deal with, they can change; much like how Adam Goff changed in the series, others can change too. With a bit of effort from friends, family, and some self-realization, anyone can change. For more severe cases, however, a professional would have to be called in.
End of the day, bullies aren't bad people. They are people who most likely suffer from other issues. So the things they do shouldn't be taken personally. Neither should anyone hold grudges against them. Obviously, what they did to you is wrong, but they may be suffering more than you think. Therefore, if you can, get them the much-needed aid they need. If it is possible, talking to their parents or close family would be the primary option after addressing the issue to the bully themselves.
Help heal bullies.