Recently I came across a post on Facebook by Annie Fox (http://anniefox.com/cruel.php) and found her web site Cruel's Not Cool. My son has been mistaken for a bully in the past due to some behaviour issues. In fact he was what some call a provocative victim - someone who kind of gets himself in over his head with kids socially and then can't retreat and tries to fight his way out.
We hosted a Dare to Care session for parents at our school and the administration followed it up with a kid's version. It helped me solidify some thoughts and feelings I have about bullies and bullying and victims and victimization.
I'll give you some background: I had bullying tendencies as a child. I bullied my brother and some kids at school... then somewhere along the way the tables were turned and I became a victim throughout grades 6-9. It was a horrible time in my life and I really feel I got dealt a much tougher deal than what I'd dished out. I think when I bullied as a kid I was a situational type of bully... there was no systematic bullying, which is one of the necessary ingredients to be a true bully. But let me get back on track with my thoughts...
First I think we have to realize that adults can display some bullying behaviour that is masked as "authority" or "demanding respect". They forget that you must give respect to gain it and they write off kids' feelings as moot... so not surprising kids behave the same way to others.
Second, I think we need to consider that no child grows up as a natural bully. they were all bullied before... likely by adults first.
So often we think bullies need to be made to feel worse for their actions but we forget that if they were at peace inside themselves and feeling ok about themselves, they wouldn't be bullies in the first place and no amount of shunning or brow beating will make them choose better actions in the first place, it will just make them bury their emotions for a later date, sometimes in adulthood in the workplace.
As a society we save all our compassion for the victims, we have none left for the bullies. Imagine if we treated them as victims as well, or saved some compassion for them. It's obvious that they are hurting inside and it's just overflowing...
The solution that society finds acceptable is to tell the bully that he or she is wrong/bad/evil/horrible. That in itself is a form of bullying, systematically (a system, society) telling someone they are "less than". It's not discipline, discipline comes from the word discipleship: "One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another".
To me, this means we have to embrace and assist bullies, to help them heal and find their missing pieces. Because when they do that, they can fully understand how their actions affect others and they can fix the wrongs their actions created.