Comments: On Beating Bullies

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Sharon Durgin-Campbell, Rutland VT     05/19/12
Relational Aggression?
Thanks for the thoughtful article on bullying. As conflict professionals, we should help organizations consider bullying as a symptom of a dysfunctional system rather than isolated events. I work with elder public housing sites to change the overall culture so that there is no room for bullying in the system. I have also found that focusing on the behavior itself is counter productive and often makes it worse. By encouraging bystander engagement, making expectations of respect clear and exploring how threats to self-identity exacerbate the problem is more effective than punishment.

Alan , London   05/15/12
Bullying the bullies?
I agree that the demonisation approach to bullies is ineffectual, and not a little hypocritical. It suggests 'I'd bully too if I had the power' when condemnations and vindictiveness are the responses. If you point the finger at someone there are always 3 pointing back. What is an additional obstacle to simply identifying a bully is that there is often a lack of clarity about whether bullying has occurred or not. Many in a group where a bully is thought to be a member do not see their behaviour as's not always that they are 'too afraid to say anything' they just aren't as affected by it. What needs to be learned is how such people are able to respond to behaviours others see as 'bullying' in ways that mean they don't feel bullied. Simply to focus on demonisation of the bully is hypocritical and moves nothing forward.

Lorraine Segal, Santa Rosa CA     05/15/12
Reject bullying behavior, not the bully
Thanks for the great article on bullying. I've been doing presentations recently about school bullying, and I always include compassion as well as consequences for the bullies. I agree absolutely that it is easier to point fingers at others than to recognize that we are all flawed human beings, capable of kindness and meanness. But that recognition is essential to address bullying in a full way.