What a question to ask, Do bullies deserve empathy? I was on a radio show from Boston Massachusetts where I was explaining the importance that bystanders speak up when they witness bullying. I was stating that speaking up not only allows us to help out targeted victims of bullying but also allows us to get to the root of the problem of why this student feels like they have to hurt another student physically, or emotionally.
You would have thought I said a bad word… the people who came onto the radio show said that we should just let the bullies rot, kick them out of school and never let them back. I can understand that the people who were calling in all sounded like they were bullied in school and still to this day they are so emotionally scared inside.
I can relate to these callers because I also was bullied for over 3 and a half years. I never told anyone because I was so embarrassed. Today I still think of this bully and what I would do if I ever saw him again but with that being said I found out years later that this boy who was bullying me had a very rough life. His parents got divorced and both of them didn’t want the kids. He was sent out east to stay with his uncle who was in a biker gang.
I talk about this all the time, what children see children do. He was brought up to fight. I’m sure he was hurting inside because his parents left him. So what do we do, let it go, and allow his bad behavior to receive great results by hurting other people? or do we try to help these bullies out who are also hurting inside?
Don’t get me wrong bullies deserve any consequences for bullying other students but once they have paid for their actions we need to turn the page and start working with these students on conflict resolution, building their self-esteem up so they don’t feel like they have to control someone to receive attention.
The goal of speaking up is to alert an adult to what is happening. Once adults know what is happening it is our responsibility to help all students and get them back on track to becoming productive citizens in their school and community. This means helping targeted victims and bullies by building up their self-esteem and working on their social skills.
WE all have something amazing to offer to this world and it becomes easier when we have empathy, compassion, and respect for our classmates and people in our community.