Bullying is the use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something. Bullies are usually blustering, quarrelsome, and overbearing individuals who habitually badger and intimidate smaller or weaker people.

No one is born a bully, in fact, no one is born a victim either. However, as negative as the word bully sounds, the victim is equally a peril as the bully to society and themselves. Both ends of the stick have equal weight in the gravity of this pretty complex subject. There is a common denominator that gives premise to the bully and victim taking the role they take; the vulnerabilities or voids both are facing in their lives.


A bully usually has an aggressive personality with tendencies to react to situations with violence and control over their victims. They are not able to control their inhibitions and are older and stronger than their peers. They have little closeness and unity with their families, and because of lack of parental and family support, they resort to bullying as a replacement for this control on others and also to seek attention that they are not receiving at home.

Bullying is especially prevalent in schools because again it’s an environment where the child has little or no control, and this triggers them to seek towards bullying tendencies, targeting transparent casualties or otherwise known as victims.

A victim is often a person who also indulges in destructive exploitations, both emotionally and physically. Commonly it is believed that victims are circumstantial and randomly targeted. However, research has shown that victims find themselves repeatedly in the same situation, being loyal to a pattern. They too descend from unstable home environments and can be younger and more physically smaller.

There could be parental or emotional abuse in the roots, and this leads them towards unhealthy relationships, becoming easy prey for bullies. Added to the home atmosphere, if the victim is also not popular or social in school, well this can be an added precedent for victimisation. Victims do feel the whole world is against them.

It is, therefore, important to comprehend that bullies and victims share very similar traits. Sometimes, they can even be the same person. The reason this happens is to find a balance in any given environment, and an over compensation will organically occur from their end. 

For example, the same child may be a victim at home and a bully at school. Apart from the key components in this issue which are the bully and the victim, there is also the “bully circle” that tends to be forgotten, yet plays an instrumental role in passively adding fuel to the fire.


It’s a very complex phenomenon, but what’s highly important is to be able to detect this behaviour and distinguish it from playful teasing. Added to its identification, fellow peers also must consciously identify themselves in the circle, if they are a part of it.

Traditionally, these patterns have always been identified and controlled by the parents, caretakers or teachers. However, fellow students or older peers can be the new insider operators in diffusing a bullying scene. I will come to this later. Before that let’s identify teasing.

Children tease because it can be a fun way to get someone’s attention and create a reaction in them. Teasing can be a way to strengthen a relationship because it manifests closeness and endearment with another person. Teasing can also serve as a non-threatening method or playful way to resolve petty conflicts. It allows a person to express their frustration or rejection towards something.

The components to look out for in positive teasing are:

I: It happens between two people who have a healthy relationship and consider the teasing as expressions of affection.

II: The teaser uses a “playful” tone of voice when teasing

III: The receiving doesn’t resist or look distressed.

When any of the above elements start to steer in the opposite direction, the teasing can turn hostile and convert to bullying. The minute there is a power imbalance, this is an alert to look for.

It is important students themselves are aware of their use of teasing and making sure the impact is positive. Younger peers are more exposed to such playful teasing, but it takes only spark to transform the situation to a wicked one.

Giving an example can define this little difference. Teasing would be if your name was Jonah and your friends called you Fiona because it rhymes. However, the same teasing can turn to more if they keep calling you Fiona and state that you are also overweight.

What’s true is that most of these incidents occur when an adult is not present. Therefore, many go unreported or unseen. Fellow students are usually the first ones to witness them. It’s imperative they be the bystanders who can either diffuse or pause the incident.

There are various ways in which one can be an active bystander:

Firstly there is cyber bullying which can be equally distasteful and sometimes have longer term effects on the victim. It’s very easy to make deleterious remarks online via a computer screen and not realise that those comments stay there forever. If you indulge in cyber bullying, then you are part of that community which encourages a cycle that keeps getting bigger unless those remarks are taken down. Not only does it create emptiness within the victim but also gives a motive for negative energy to be circulating.

The following are tips reproduced from Phi Delta Kappa International ©.

A: Don’t engage the bully. Most bullies are looking for a reaction from their victims. Lack of a response can help to extinguish the bullying behaviours.

B: Don’t share secrets

C: Protect your privacy. Do not send pictures of yourself on the Internet.

D: Think about the consequences.

E: Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyber-bullying messages.

F: Keep evidence of cyber-bullying. Record the dates, times and descriptions what the cyber bully says

G: Report instances of cyber-bullying to your parent.

With regards to other forms of bullying, there are also effective ways in which a fellow peer can at best divert the incident and at best even diffuse it. Depending on the situation and their level of comfort, a student can adapt flexibly to any of the following methods:

If you are with a friend, who begins to bully someone else, quickly distract your friend by changing the subject or asking him a question. Not only are you deflecting the situation but also preventing the potential victim from being bullied.

If you cannot diffuse the incident, try to show support towards the target or victim in private. You can reassure the victim by saying you will speak to your friend about it and ask them to stop.

Support the person openly. This is only advisable to students who have developed a certain amount of respect amongst their peers.

Do not encourage the bullying by laughing at the jokes if someone is being humiliated and do not promote or partake in a fight.

As a bystander, it’s your responsibility to weaken the situation and not add more fuel to the fire.

Report incidents to an adult or advise the victim to seek help from a person of authority.

And finally, listen to these words of mine...

Do you consider yourself to be a hurtful bystander who passively infuses bullying further or a helpful bystander who diffuses bullying? You may think that watching and ignoring liberates you from the responsibility of the situation. It’s quite the contrary because being in the wings means feeding the bully an audience and this only propels the actions of the bully further. You may be thinking it’s none of your business, it could harm you, if you report it then it would make matters worse, or you may even believe the victim deserves it.

Do you know that bullying can have some severe side effects which include anxiety, anger, depression, and frustration. At best these symptoms can be cured after long hours of therapy but leave nightmare memories in the victim, and at worst it can lead the victim to turn into a bully themselves. Would you want to feel responsible or take responsibility?

Please feel free to share this beautiful piece with your friends, family members, classmates and colleagues at work. Let us help stop bullying in whatever form and in every environment.

Reproduced from ©Goldie Nanwani's Thoughts Translated