Stop being mean…These words are often used when addressing actions that are associated with bullying but if we investigate the truth of the matter being mean is only a small piece of the pie. Think back to a time when you had a cold. In my own experience, I typically begin to feel like I have a sore throat and then begin sneezing and coughing. Most people would say at this point that I’m getting sick. The truth is that the sickness already existed and I am now showing symptoms. Just trust me on this, it will make perfect sense in a moment…

For instance, have you ever been mad at someone in your family and came to school with an attitude towards everyone else? If you haven’t that’s great but I know I did when I was in school and the truth is that I wasn’t upset with the people at school. I was upset with the people at home and that “sickness” created my outward “symptoms” of having a bad attitude. Well the same is true for bullies and that’s where this concept of “hurt people hurt people” comes from. When someone doesn’t know how to properly deal with emotional pain they could then classify as a “hurt person”. When the symptoms of that sickness overflow to those around them their actions cause them to “hurt people” whether it be emotionally or sometimes physically.

Bullies are not the rough and tough images of themselves that they create. The truth is that somewhere along the line someone hurt them and now they act out in a negative way that causes them to hurt others. So if you are having problems with bullying it is important to let someone know for your own safety as well as theirs. Also, if you have been known to bully others, I want to encourage you to reach out to one of the adults in your life and let them know whatever it is that’s upsetting you. Trying to cover up your negative emotions with bad behaviors does not make you strong. It is actually a sign of weakness because it takes strength and courage to face the hard parts of our lives and to be honest with someone about them.

So then what’s the truth about bullying? The truth is that if you are a bully or are being bullied there are people in your life who can help you overcome this in a positive way. We all experience tough times in our lives and dealing with negative emotions isn’t always fun but it is necessary in order for us to grow and mature into strong powerful women.

By: Brittney King, M.Ed., LPC-MHSP

Second-Year Graduate student in the Physical Activity and Health Program. Graduate Assistant to Dr. Elgin Andrews.