I have been studying bullying in children around the world for the past 30 years. It amazes me that the current political debate stage has become like a schoolyard. I have argued that bullies will only do what bystanders allow. We are responsible as a society for this bully show. There are 3 parts to this.
- The bully uses power and shames to gain social dominance and in this case political dominance.
- The bully needs bystanders who all relate to the bully’s aggression and enjoy a contact high from the venom resulting from the bully’s shaming. Kids are cruel and so are adults.
- Bullies shame by calling other’s names, spreading stories, using social media to spew venom, excluding, and space invasion.
I couldn’t believe Trump’s bullying behavior. The world is forced into the role of bystander to this schoolyard behavior.
Hillary is no victim. That is why the bully Trump shifts his target to fit the mood of his obviously angry base. Hillary stands her ground. I am still wondering what a woman has to do to be recognized as dedicated and skilled. Nevertheless, we are forced into a choice in watching this theatre of what has become school yard behavior of a bully. Many bystanders empathize with the bully enjoying a vicarious thrill from the bully’s shaming actions. Others identify with the victim; so if Hillary stands up and isn’t the victim. Then, who is being victimized? I think it is the public and we deserve it.
Our research has taught us that bullies are the same in a schoolyard, or God forbid, national leaders. James Gilligan studied young murderers in Massachusetts prisons for 20 years. He concluded that shame leads to violence. The more we tried to control bullying using various approaches, the more we learned that the bully really is a creation of a group and sustained by the bystanders in the group. In schools, no adults interfere and the bully draws fuel from the group’s aggression. The lack of leadership is a necessary ingredient to the continuation of bullying. The venom is now out of control.
This is clearly happening in these debates. I want to hear ideas not slurs. We are being victimized and denied information needed to guide our thinking and voting. Cheers to Hillary for not becoming victimized and showing young women and children that they don’t have to be bullied. Unfortunately, children have more options than either Trump or Hillary. Blaming the bully or the victim does not lead to solutions to the core problems at the heart of the shared American venom activated by the Trump bullying. America has to face up to the ugly realities of inequality which breeds worldwide shame and violence. Not voting is the ultimate in bystander behavior.
Learn more about Dr. Frank C. Sacco’s work on bullying.
Listen to “Back of Bully” featuring Little Feat:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/184741782″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]