LINCOLN, Maine — Bullies demean others for a host of reasons attributed to flaws in character, upbringing and environment. Yet the most disturbing fact about bullying, Mattanawcook Academy officials say, might be found in the simplest reason some bullying occurs:
Bullies like it.
Bullies find satisfaction in causing injury or suffering because they “have strong needs for power and dominance. They seem to enjoy being in control and subduing others,” according to Mattanawcook Academy’s bully prevention program.
Bullies often find material or psychological reward in bullying, “such as forcing [victims] to give them money or enjoying the attention, status, and prestige they are granted by other students” for their behavior.
According to the MA program, almost 30 percent of youth in the U.S. are estimated to be involved in bullying as targets or bullies. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6-10, cited in the MA program, 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being targeted, and another 6 percent reported being both victims and bullies.
Victims often suffer from headaches, stomach pains, or sleeping problems and endure fears of going to school, to the bathroom or playing in a playground or riding a school bus. They might lose interest in school, have trouble concentrating, and do poorly academically.
At Monday’s presentation, bystanders were encouraged to separate victims and bullies; to contact victims, especially after incidents; or to report incidents. Parents were encouraged to tell victims to report incidents to trusted adults.
Bullies, according to the MA program, keep bullying as long as it works — as long as it makes them feel more powerful. Defuse that power and often, the bullying ends.