The Difference Between Bullying and Jerky Behavior

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Everyone deals with jerks and disrespect but not everyone gets bullied. Jerks and disrespect are a normal part of life. Bullying, on the other hand, is a whole other animal. Although the behavior of a jerk is hurtful and negative, it does not mean that it can be classified as bullying. So, when is hurtful behavior classified as bullying and how do we tell the difference between bullying and disrespect? What is the difference between a jerk and a bully?

When a person is “just being a jerk”, his/her bad attitude is random, sporadic and directed at anyone at any time. When you encounter a jerk, you’re just in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person but not a target. With jerks, everyone is fair game.

Bullying, on the other hand, is when the ill treatment becomes a habit or pattern and is directed towards one person in particular. Bullying requires a target! It is systematic, deliberate, vicious and always escalates over time. Bullying involves smear campaigns, witch hunts and is relentless. Bullying seeks to destroy.

A jerk is afraid you might want something from him/her.
A bully wants something from you.

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My Mother, Bear Bryant and the Crimson Tide

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My mother and I both are huge Alabama fans and have been for years. When I think of the Crimson Tide, I automatically see the face of Coach Bear Bryant and although he passed away when I was a little girl, I still remember his being tough as nails to push his players to be the best they could possibly be. In fact, he was so tough that he would make sure “puke barrels” were nearby because the practices were so brutal. I have no doubt that Coach Bryant’s influence lives on today and continues to make Alabama one of the top college football teams in the SEC today…decades after his death!

Like Bear Bryant, my mother was also tough as nails…pushing me and my siblings to be smarter, stronger…better than what I ever thought I could be. She was and still is a loving mother, but she could always be tough…even brutal when she knew we were being lazy and not trying as hard as we could try…at anything.

At times, Mom was like a drill sergeant but although it didn’t feel good at the time, I can tell you that her fierceness motivated us to do what we were supposed to do. I don’t think I could’ve graduated college nor become a published author of two books without my mother’s influence.

It is the same with the Crimson Tide. They wouldn’t be the awesome college football team they have always been without the influence of the one and only Bear Bryant. His legacy lives on over three decades after his passing, just as my mother’s legacy will live on in the hearts of her children long after she is gone!

Roll Tide Roll!

Think Before You Act!

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Bullies aren’t stupid clods like they’re portrayed in the movies. They’re sneaky, they’re conniving and they have ways of charming those in authority, lying convincingly and making their victims look like the culprits.

Why? Because they will push you! They push and push until you, the victim, snap! Then you look like the bad guy. You are labeled the crazy person. You are labeled the troublemaker. It happens all the time. I understand this because I’ve been there.

You must think before you act. Bullies have a talent for provoking targets, then feigning victimhood. They’re real good at looking like the victim. That’s why you should never let them push you over the edge. Never let them push your buttons, though I realize that it’s easier said than done.

There are so many victims whom have allowed bullies to drive them to bringing a gun to school and shooting their classmates. But all this does is make the bullies the victims and the target the bad guy! Anytime you bring a lethal weapon to school, you only validate the falsehoods and rumors spread about you! It proves every thing your bullies have said about you to be true! Even worse, it ruins your entire future! Do you think they are worth that?

Instead of handling the harassment with a gun, try reaching for success! Bring your grades up and indulge in your talents and gifts! Win awards for those talents! Do the things that you enjoy the most and bask in the friendships you do have. enjoy time with family!

How you handle bullying is to be successful!

Let’s have a school year with no shootings!

Bullies May Turn Everyone Else Against You. Just Don’t Let Them Turn YOU Against You!

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No matter what other people may thing of you, you are the only one who knows who you truly are. Bullies are known for spinning smear campaigns and witch hunts to turn others against a target because it’s the only way they can make their lies and accusations seem valid. However, no matter how convincing the bullies may be and how many people believe the lies and rumors spread about you, it doesn’t mean the talk is true.

Only you can judge who you really are, nobody else can. I know it’s difficult not to question yourself when it seems that others hate you. Anyone who finds themselves in this situation would ask themselves, “What did I do?” or “What did I say?” It’s only a natural human reaction to being ostracized. It’s difficult not to blame yourself.

But please, for your own self-esteem, do not blame yourself. Remember that the problem lies with the bullies, not with you. You are not responsible for what is happening to you. Believe it!

Although others may turn against you, just make sure that you do not turn against you! Remember that reputation doesn’t equal character!

Continue to love yourself. Continue to take care of yourself and be true to your own heart! Continue to do the things that give you pleasure and surround yourself with those who do love you and want the best for you. Because during this time, you must ‘baby’ your self-esteem and your confidence!

Bullies may turn everyone else against, you! Just don’t allow them to turn you against yourself because you have no reason to hate yourself. So, love yourself even when it seems that others hate you. I promise you that your self-esteem will thank you for it! You will thank yourself for it!

Why Advocate for Bullied Kids?

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Several have asked me why I speak out for bullied kids through writing. There are several reasons:

1. The suicide rate among bullied children and teens is astronomical and I want to send a message that although it may not seem like it, these kids have more to live for than they know.

2. It has helped me heal from when I was bullied years ago. Writing, helping kids find their voices and see their own worth and exposing bullies and their motives for bullying is what keeps me grounded and provides closure to what truly were the most heartbreaking and humiliating years of my life.

3. If I can help one bullied child find their voice, find their power and see the value they bring to this world…if I can show young victims how much they are loved despite what they are told by others at school…if I can convince them to go on living instead of resorting to suicide…then, perhaps, what I want through all those years ago was not in vain.

4. It isn’t about fame or fortune. It isn’t about notoriety. It’s all about turning past negatives into present positives. It’s about insuring that good can come from suffering.

Bullied kids need to hear from an adult who has lived their nightmare, who understands what they are going through and who can relate to how they are feeling.

Bullied kids need to hear that they are NOT alone…that they aren’t the only ones.

Bullied kids need to hear from someone who has survived bullying, grown up, and gone on to reach success and to have a family of their own…someone who is living proof that there can be life, love and happiness after bullying.

They need to hear that life does, indeed, get better.

The Dark Triad (Psychopathy, Narcissism and Machiavellianism) Are Hallmarks of the Seasoned Bully

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If you have ever taken a Psych class, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Dark Triad. Not all psychopaths, Narcissists and Machiavellians are serial killers and rapists. No. Most of these types are right here among us (Scary, I know)! They’re in the classrooms, the hallways, on the street, in the boardroom and yes, even in our own homes if we are unfortunate enough to have a family member who possesses either one of such traits.

Here are a few indicators:

1. Most seasoned bullies are experts at avoiding detection. They are charming to the right people, mainly those in positions of authority (supervisors, teachers, etc.)and they are convincing when they lie. They are good at embellishments and spin. Bullies never tell boldface lies. Their deceptive stories always have a grain of truth to them. However, it is that grain of truth which makes their little white lies so darn convincing. Bullies will often start smear campaigns against their victims for the purpose of silencing them and keeping them from speaking out. If everyone thinks the victim is a bad person, the least likely they are to believe them when they report the abuse. Narcissists, Psychopaths and Machiavellians are known for this.

2. Bullies are deliberately charming to those in authority or those with influence. This charm is just another way to go undetected and make any victim look guilty. They also mask any insecurities, giving off an air of oozing confidence to draw others to them. They build a good name for themselves because they have caught on that having a good reputation is a weapon all it’s own. Who’s going to believe that the All-American Prom Queen, the star of the basketball team, or the most popular and loved kid in town would ever mistreat another person? People with any of the three traits are known for superficial charm as well.

3. They are all about themselves and are completely devoid of empathy. Often, a person such as this has an overinflated sense of their own importance. These people will step on anyone to achieve their own agendas. Having no conscience, they deliberately set out to destroy anyone who does not acknowledge their (the bully’s) importance or who ignores them and doesn’t give them the praise they think they deserve. Seasoned bullies always have to be the center of attention and will not share the spotlight with anyone else. If someone outshines them in any way, this person is in danger of becoming a target of the bully. This are the characteristics of Narcissism and Machiavellianism.

4. They are well-liked by those in authority and they often excel in school and in the workplace due to their bullying. Supervisors and superiors see bullying as being tough and a way to get things done. This is only another characteristic of all three.

Understand that these are the ways bullies get their power and how they are able to destroy others.

Anytime you encounter a bully, please quietly assess the person and how others act around them. If they seem to be the “Golden boy/girl”, you might want to look closer. Sadly, bullies are not how they are portrayed in the movies…stupid clods who have no social skills. Real bullies are sneaky, wily and good in the social arena. They are silver tongued wordsmiths who have a knack for sounding convincing and getting people to like or be impressed with them. So, be on the lookout!

When I Found Out My Son Was Being Bullied at School

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My son went through a six month stint of bullying at an undisclosed middle school when he was thirteen. It was also the year he had become withdrawn and seemed depressed. Even worse was that his grades had been slipping for quite some time…all were signs of bullying. Naturally, I would ask questions. However, my son never wanted to talk about it so I had no choice but to step back. My concern only grew.

Neither my ex-husband nor I caught onto it until we had taken him to a gastroenterologist after he’d complained of stomach pain and nausea. The doctor performed an endoscopy of his esophagus and stomach and the results came back normal. The lining of his upper digestive tract was nice and pink…no ulcers, no red spots…nothing.

That’s when I began asking more questions and this time, would not stop. My son finally admitted that he had been only pretending to be sick to stay home from school. When I asked why, his answer was what I had suspected all along. He was being targeted by his classmates!

His father and I went to the school to meet with the principal and she gave the usual song and dance, one I had heard too many times so many years ago when I, myself was a target of bullying. This principal made excuses for the bullies, citing things such as:

“It’s just a personality conflict”
“Your son needs to grow a thicker skin.”
“Your son needs to toughen up a little.”
“Your son is way too sensitive.”

Blah-blah-blah! Your son this and your son that…victim blaming at its finest! His father and I finally got up and told the female principal in no uncertain terms, “He won’t be back.”

The principal’s eyes grew wide and she sat up straight, almost stiff in her chair.
“And why’s that, may I ask?” She asked.
“Because we’re transferring him to another school.” I snapped.
And we walked out before the principal had time to voice protest.

Once we got him transferred, he improved dramatically…so much that he was able to skip a grade! Because I had been bullied, I was better able to see the signs and take my little boy out of that toxic learning environment before it took hold of him and did some real damage. At his new school, he was able to make friends, get along with his teachers and bring his grades back up, enabling him to win several scholarships to college!

Today, he has his own business and I couldn’t be a prouder mother than I am now!

Bullying In A Small Town

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Conversations about bullying aren’t easy anywhere but in small towns, they’re even more difficult to have…even taboo. In a small town, anonymity is tougher to preserve and conflicts are much harder to avoid when you are a target. In rural areas, kids don’t report bullying because they’re concerned not only about possible retaliation but also what it would mean for their social standing in the town. And in a place where “everybody knows everybody”, adults have the same concern for social repercussions.

In most cases, bullies are well connected in small towns and student confidentiality is next to extinct. I know this for a fact because when I was bullied, I lived in a rural area and any reports I made about the harassment always seemed to “leak” even though the school claimed to have an “open-door policy” and that any reports of any threats to my personal safety would be “kept private”.

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Bullying is never good anywhere but in small towns, it’s much worse and next to unavoidable. Because everybody knows everybody and has very tight connections, victims in these areas must tread lightly and only confide in those they are absolutely sure won’t make the matter the topic of lunch at the local cafe on the square or after-church gossip the following Sunday.

Even worse is that people in small towns never forget…about anything. They tend to hold on to grudges and hatred from high school and continue the harassment of a certain person even into adulthood. They may even unjustly label and target any children the victim has. Remember that everybody knows everybody and attacks from old bullies can continue and to follow a victim around possibly for the rest of their lives.

Sadly, when you are a victim of bullying in a small town, the best recourse is often just to move on to greener pastures. It’s what I did and I’m happier for it.

Being Bullied Will Help You to Appreciate the Friends You Will Make Later in Life

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Though bullying is never good, there can be a silver lining to it. When a person has been mercilessly bullied in the past(in school, college, etc.), they know all too well what it is to be alone. It’s funny how the years go by and the tables turn. Thirty years ago, I was bullied by everyone…for everything . The closest thing I had to friends were only people who tolerated me. I can remember classmates whom had truckloads of friends and seeing them use these friends and even talk about them behind their back. These kids seemed to take their buddies for granted and I can recall questioning the unjustness of it all. God was preparing me for the awesome friends I would have later and knew that I deserved better than these kids…He knew that I deserved the kinds of girlfriends whom are well worth the wait!

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Today, I have the greatest of friends…true friends who love me for just being me…for my mind and my heart! For the good and the bad! You see? When you have been marginalized in the past, you’re less likely to take the people in your life for granted and are more able to appreciate the awesomeness they bring to your life…the love…the laughter…the fun…the joy of being together!

Another takeaway is that you are better able to empathize with others whom are hurting and going through tough times. You’ll more than likely be there for them when the chips are down, which will make you a friend to be cherished!

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The ’90’s: The Decade Before ‘The Great Decline’

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It was the last decade of pride, peace and prosperity…the decade before 9/11 changed life as we knew it and turned everything on it’s ear! The ’90’s was a time when the threat of being attacked on our own soil was only in movies like “Red Dawn”.

The ’90’s had many, many “lasts”…they were the last ten years of great and original movies, TV and music- before Hollywood and television production companies and producers ran out of ideas and reality shows and remakes dominated screens everywhere and music wasn’t yet painful to listen to. Also, commercial breaks had not yet grown to be ten minutes long.

During the ’90’s, one could freely express American pride and stepping on Old Glory was not only frowned upon but unheard of. People took pride in our great military and never ever thought of protesting the funerals of our fallen heroes. No one was afraid to uphold right over wrong.

The ’90’s was a decade when most people from different races got along together as one and spread love to one another…when jobs were plentiful and differences were not only accepted but respected. It was a time when no one took offense so easily to the slightest difference of thought or opinion and the news media reported incidences which were legitimately “newsworthy” and had not yet became one big high school slam book.

I’m not only saying this because it was the decade of my glorious and roaring 20’s but it seems once 9/11 occurred, our way of way took a nosedive.

Where did it all go? The pride? The confidence? The fearlessness? The prosperity? The respect for ourselves and our fellow man?

How did freedom of expression, differences in thought and opinion and common sense become such cardinal sins?

How did morals, values, integrity and decency all become such an antithesis?

How did individuality become demonized?

How did people become such crybabies?

How did self-entitlement become such a pandemic?

How did the pendulum swing so far to the opposite direction in only twenty years?

To this, I can only conclude that we, as Americans, have lost our nerve? We’ve gotten so afraid of offending that a few of our leaders have complacently handed over our cajones and are willing to let other countries and groups use us up and take us for granted! We allow certain groups to dictate whether we can fly our own flag. We, as a country have lost our backbone!

Will we ever have the stones to stand up and take it all back? It is my hope that we can catch the runaway horse and lock it back in the barn where it belongs! It is also my hope that in the future, we can have yet another great and prosperous decade!