Bullies and Bullying ~ Where Bullying Really Starts


The real origin of bullying“It all starts with disrespect. Let someone disrespect you — don’t stand up for yourself right away — and it escalates to teasing and rumours or even physical abuse. But it all falls under same category: Bullying. By organizing Students Against Being Bullied (S.A.B.B.), I along with S.A.B.B. members hope to change the culture of bullying in my High School and across the state of New Jersey by stopping it before it starts.” Ashley Craig from the website Students Against being Bullied (S.A.B.B.)

Bullying is a huge problem in our society. I love what Ashley is doing here, especially since she is a student herself. Don’t get me wrong; my issue is not with bully programs. My issue is with the origins of bullying and whether or not those origins are being addressed.

My first concern is with using the word “LET” in the sentence “let someone disrespect you ~ don’t stand up for yourself right away.” I didn’t LET anyone bully me. I didn’t have a choice in the matter and using the word “let” implies that I could have stopped it.  Please keep in mind that my bullies were adults’ way before they were other kids. I think that bullies learn to bully. Bullying is “modeled to them before they use bullying against others. Does it seem reasonable that a happy and well adjusted child just decides to overpower and abuse another child?  I mean just out of the blue? I am all for facing the issues, but so often we look for the Band-Aids when we need to address the root of the actual problem.

How do bullies “pick” their targets? Do they pick on the child with the most self esteem in the class? NO they actually look for weaker kids to pick on and they learned that from somewhere too. I am not making excuses for the bullies; I am suggesting that there is an origin and that it doesn’t start with the kids.

I think that bullying another person is about trying to get some sort of good feeling or power surge from putting someone else down.  I think that this is learned ~ that “the bully” has seen someone (likely an adult) in their lives get a power surge from picking on them, and the child turned bully has realized that over powering someone else is better than being overpowered. I think that bullies are kids who have been bullied by adults in the first place and that they are trying to have a little impact in their own lives.  I think that adults that bully and abuse kids, communicate to the kids that the person with the most power is in the best position to be in, in life.

I have three children (all of them have graduated high school now) and each of them has dealt with bullying within the school system. The interesting thing is that the worst of the bullying was from the teachers but no one called that “bullying”.  The teachers participated in the anti bullying programs, but I don’t think they ever considered that they themselves modeled bullying within the school as an acceptable and even functional way of operating. Teachers bullying children has been long accepted as part of school culture.  They call it authority. They teach “respect” for authority while excusing the fact that things such as calling kids a bunch of brats, public humiliation, throwing chalk or other objects at students, denying human rights, swearing and threatening to do bodily harm are ALL abusive behaviours ~ some of them illegal, but they don’t consider that to be bullying. Teachers will use guilt and shame tactics to get students to do what they want. What about when the whole class knows that the teacher is “having a bad day” but no one considers that a bad day or a bad mood is NO excuse to treat others badly. How often do teachers have to apologize or even be accountable for anything they do when their actions express that a student is regarded as “less important or valuable” then the teacher or adult is? And since this type of adult on child bullying is not very often addressed or resolved it seems that our society accepts that teacher on student bullying is acceptable too.  But accepting it or ignoring it doesn’t mean that it isn’t bullying.

My kids have been in 4 different schools since kindergarten so it isn’t that we just happened to go to a bad school.

I think it is time for our societies anti bullying programs to start talking about the abuse that kids learn to take from adults. All adults ~not just teachers, or parents, but coaches, bus drivers and store clerks.  I know that child on child abuse IS a valid type of abuse and that bullying is a huge issue in our society, but what I am questioning here is “WHERE does bullying really START?” And is it a “learned behaviour?”

It seems that our whole society is based on a pecking order system and that somewhere along the way kids learn that the most powerful one wins. Bully mentality is like a “survival of the fittest” thing. There are thousands of examples of it in our society; Consider the misuse of power by those who are “in power”. Consider the adults who communicate to children that they don’t matter, or that their wishes and feelings don’t matter. Consider adults who abuse children physically, sexually, emotionally or spiritually.  All of this is bullying.  Think about adults who “feel better” about themselves when they reduce another human being to someone who is beneath them.  Consider the feelings that come with making someone “less valuable than them”.  Children learn that power is very often survival. They learn that the most powerful one wins.

Try teaching a young child to stand up for themselves if the bully is their parent. That won’t go over very well and most kids won’t tell an adult at school what is going on at home. I realize that this is a huge problem but I wonder if students had a few adults that they could actually trust; adults that modeled equal value for all people, if a bigger difference in school culture could be made. Maybe the focus could be more on adults and teachers as the role models to these kids and maybe they could be the recipients of the anti bullying training and bully awareness information. Maybe there should be a crack down on the adults and not just on the kids.

We teach this stuff to children about how to stand up for themselves when it comes to other children, but what about when it comes from adults? As Ashley says ~ “it all starts with disrespect” and children have a pretty hard time standing up to disrespectful adults, never mind getting “permission” to stand up to disrespectful and bullying adults.

Would a teacher throw something at another teacher to get their attention? Would a teacher call another teacher a brat or a moron? I don’t think so. Would a teacher make another teacher do push-ups as a consequence or send a parent helper to stand in the corner? So why can they treat kids that way? The way that we model behaviour to kids is how they learn how relationships work.  When humiliation tactics work, humiliation tactics become the acceptable way to conduct a relationship. These students grow up to be adults with kids of their own.

If we are going to stop bullying where it starts, I think we have to really take a look at where it actually starts and start there.

Please share your thoughts,

Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

The Emerging from Broken bookThe Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

Related Posts ~ My parents did the best they could according to whom?


41 response to "Bullies and Bullying ~ Where Bullying Really Starts"

  1. By: kat Posted: 25th October

    let me just say i have been bullied i was so young and it wa s just hard i came home angry and cring it is nothin that is cool or fun it is just so crude and your website is so helpful

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th October

      Hi Kat
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken!
      Thank you for sharing. Glad you are here!
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: ThisMomHelps Posted: 20th October

    I am firmly believing that putting down the wishes of a child or making sure they are under an adult by rash words, is definitely to be looked at as a cause. My son has been bullied by an Aunt and her children and his biggest thing is fighting the littler guys to look big, along with doing some other things like taking away something. I have been wondering how not to raise a bully but someone who can stop bullying when it starts and still be able to catch an good fortunate life. So I thank you, this selection made a lot of sense and will help me stop more of my sons’ bad behavior. It has been 3 years since living in the Aunt;s home and he is becoming someone better than being or doing the bullying, but there are a few loose ends

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 20th October

      Hi ThisMomHleps
      Great to hear from a mom who is thinking about these things and making a difference in her childs life!
      Welcome to EFB
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Jenny Posted: 8th September

    Thank you for the encouragement Darlene…I will keep stepping forward

  4. By: Jenny Posted: 7th September


    I am currently dealing with bullying at my daughter’s new school…it really sucks!!!

    But guess what? Her teachers seem to be bullies…I honestly don’t even feel comfortable volunteering in their class…that is weird…I have never felt that way….

    This post also triggered a HUGE part of me….I am a bully to my daughter and I hate that about me…I want so badly to change that…my mother was a bully to all 3 of us…my sister struggles with self image issues constantly as do I….both my brother and my sister have had alcohol issues and I am just a mess sober…I cried and cried last night because I feel like the worst mother….I don’t want my daughter to grow up and hate me…I don’t want her to feel unloved like I have for most of my life…it kills me to think of what a mess I have already put her through….

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th September

      Hi Jenny
      That is what I am saying… with my kids it was almost always the adults! And the system was so unfair! Adult bullies were never told!
      I can honestly say that if was through realizing how I was bullied and mistreated by my mother that I was able to change my attitudes when it came to my own kids. It was through seeing and owning the truth that I finally became the person that I wanted to be!
      Hugs Darlene

  5. By: Kate Posted: 1st September

    Liquid chlorophyll is also very healing for the skin.

  6. By: Kate Posted: 1st September

    I live on liquid chlorophyll. It made my last 1,000 road trip expedition the best one I’ve had, minimized the stress of it!

  7. By: Kate Posted: 1st September

    Oh yes! This is the kind of story I have been waiting for !!!!
    BTW, liquid Chlorophyl is so good for people with injuries, surgeries, etc., it is full of relaxing nutrients that ease inflammation and pain, sleep, nerves, etc., and it helps smooth elimination (this worked for me after surgery when NONE of their bowel durgs would work, and they wouldn’t let me go home until my bowels moved).

  8. By: Krissy Posted: 31st August

    So sorry to hear about your son. Please give him my best wishes. Praying and hoping for the very best.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 2nd September

      Hi Krissy and Renee
      Thanks for your well wishes for my son! He walked a bit yesterday without help. He has a long road ahead but he is going to be okay!
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Kate Posted: 30th August

    My 16yo son was t-boned in his car today over the lunch hour. He is a new driver this summer and now working. Add school, and I was afraid of how the adjustment would go. He tried to go left in a very busy and didn’t see the guy that hit him. Our car is likely totalled. He called me and we got there asap. He was the only one the ground, sitting on concrete with his head resting against a brick wall, bawling his eyes out. I went up and sat next to him and kissed his cheek and put my arm around him. I asked the paramedic something like “is this how we do things, leaving his head against a brick wall?” The guy locked eyes with me and got intense about my son’s condition and how he was fine, crawled out of the car, and vitals were fine, etc., and of course, my son keeps saying, “Mom, it’s fine.” And i told the paramedic, “Thank you for the information.” Then, he let me have it some more about how I never told him that I was his mother and he can’t just tell other people all that information and would I want him to, etc., and finally, the other paramedic took over the conversation and finished it for him and was a lot nicer. I called the fire department/ambulance and complained.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st August

      Oh my gosh Kate!
      I am so sorry to hear this happened to your son! I am going to write a blog post soon about my son and how one of the nurses treated him when he had his accident and came into the hospital blood from head to toe.

      Everyone ~ My 19 year old son crashed his motorcycle on sunday night ~ he hit a deer head on and I am taking care of him full time for a bit. I won’t be able to keep up with EFB for a while. He is going to be fine but he has a broken arm and no skin on his butt ~ he can’t walk yet and he is in extreem pain but he is going to recover so really I am so grateful.

      I am posting a guest post tomorrow and there may be a few more of those then usual.
      Thanks everyone,
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Ellie Posted: 30th August

    I grew up in a very controled enviroment I knew I was usless and a waste of space because most of the time I was kept in at breaks/lunch times, not allowed by the teachers to mix with other kids and by the time I got to secondary school I thought it was ok for one of the teachers to call me maggot hey at least I was acknowledged. So its not suprising that the other kids bullied me and as you would expect my self esteem was zero. Its taken me a long time to build up my sence of self and self worth. The thing with bulling is its a global problem and those who say theres no bulling going on in their schools is burying their head in the sand.

  11. By: Young Mom Posted: 29th August

    Thank you! I’ve read Toxic parents and Quivering Daughters, I’ll look into the other book by Susan Forward.

  12. By: Barb Posted: 28th August

    Hi Darlene –

    I apologize for not acknowledging you in the article. The link came from Marjie Knudsen so I initially thought she wrote it. We’re ALL with you on this Darlene.

    Thanks again for the post.


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 29th August

      Hi Barb,
      No worries!

      Everyone ~ my son has been in an accident on his motorcycle. I’m taking some time off to care for him.
      Hugs, Darlene

  13. By: Kate Posted: 28th August

    I agree with you, I just think that these teachers are controlling their anger. They are specifically using it to injur others.

  14. By: Sandy Posted: 28th August

    I really enjoyed your post. The school district where my kids go has some really great anti-bullying programs in the elementary schools. When they get up to the middle school, it is a whole different ball game. The teachers and principal are not like the nice folks who focus on emotion. Instead, the attitudes can be harsh and the kids don’t know how to make that transition. While there have been bullying issues from other kids, most of the issues are adults behaving badly.
    I sent my son to a private high school for freshman year, thinking that these issues would improve. My son came home with regular stories of his miserable emglish teacher who used embarassment to control the class. I do not see this as effective or healthy and it is not acceptable.
    I have pulled my kids from classes where teachers couldn’t produce self control. It is very sad to people who are well educated behaving worse than the kids!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th August

      Hi Sandy
      This is exactly what I am talking about. My kids have had far more issues with the teachers then they ever did with other kids. I tried private school too and in some ways it was worse becasue there was this added dynamic teaching “don’t bring shame on this school” which enforced “don’t tell” what is going on.
      Thanks for sharing.
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Pam Posted: 28th August

    Darlene, We tried all forms of schooling also. I think what I learned is that my kid’s education was my responsibility and to adapt to the needs of my children as they grew and developed. It’s good to have choices. The one I wish we could have done differently though is that my youngest was intellectually ready for college at 16 but not emotionally. If I had it to do over, he would have worked and taken college courses at home.

  16. By: Barb Posted: 28th August

    Marjie, I so agree with your perspective here. It all starts at home. Bullies have been bullied and have learned to demean others to gain power. I think far too much emphasis it put on the kids and not enough on where it all starts. This is why I do the work that I do. Sometimes we have to go back even further than the parents because parents bully their kids the way they were bullied by their own parents. They have to learn how to stop the cycle.

    Excellent post!

  17. By: Kate Posted: 28th August

    Young Mom,

    You might like Quivering Daughters on Facebook, Hillary, is the author,
    she was home schooled,

  18. By: Marjie Knudsen Posted: 28th August

    wow, Darlene. Excellent job describing the way adults model bullying, and the impact it has on our kids. Thank you for such a great post!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th August

      Hi Marjie!
      Thanks! This is a little out of my usual area, but as you know, a subject very close to my heart. I see this as one of the foundational issues of where the adults who are broken, get broken in the first place! (so I guess it isn’t really out of my usual area! LOL )
      Hugs, and thanks for stopping by!

      Hi Barb,
      Welcome to EFB
      Sounds like you are and I are on the same page with this!
      Thanks for your comments,
      Hugs, Darlene

  19. By: joy Posted: 28th August


    I want so much to not let myself be bullied but . .am still trying to learn and am taking it the process one little step at a time. .I think there are different steps. and I think am still in the first step.. Thank you, Darlene, for all your very kind words all the time. .you are so so kind


    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th August

      That is what I wanted to. And it happened for me! I remember wondering why some people who seemed so nice to other people were not so nice to me. I realized as I grew in this process that it was all about my own inner value. I had to learn to value myself ~ enough to stand up to them. I am not very nice to people who speak to me as though I am nothing. I don’t bully them back ~ I ask them questions that shock them. I say things like “why are you talking to me that way as though I am “nothing” as though I have no feelings, as though I am beneath you?” No one ever has an answer. But they stop becasue I am right. I had to own my anger at this injustice towards me as a person. I had to own my equality and believe in myself. This was the process Joy.
      You can do it too!
      Hugs, Darlene

  20. By: joy Posted: 28th August

    Young MOm

    I have two books were recommended way back but i have yet to start reading one is Emotional blackmail by Susan Forward. I have it but just havent started .. so much other “homework” and another is emotional vampires..

    Both them I have but I haven’t read. Susan Forward also has another book Toxic Parents.. for anyone who is child abuse victims. I have that in google books

    I am so tired from reading my school required reading that for theray i prefer not to stress so much . If my T would ask me to read something I would

    The books I mentioned I heard of before I met my present T. I think she is doing just fine. so .. I will hold my reading till I get a break from all my studies..


  21. By: Pam Posted: 27th August

    Darelene, I think a weak parent may also raise a bully because they allow their child to bully them. I’ve also seen this with kids who spend more waking hours with their grandparents than their parents. Grandma’s mean well but if they aren’t physically up to the task, the kids often push them around. There has to be a balance struck between what is often a power struggle between the care-giver and child or true discipline. I think too many people see discipline as having control over a child rather than teaching the child to have self-control. I don’t know what it is like in Canada but in America there are a lot of kids that run the show. They have no respect for authority and what they are being raised to do when they grow up is go to prison. Some kids are bullied at home and take it out on weaker kids at school but there are the ones who never hear no without being able to move that boundary. I think there are, at least, two causes.

    When my grandson started kindergarten, there was a lot of empasis on bullies. None of the little kids really knew what a bully was and it wasn’t made clear to them but they all knew they’d better beware! My grandson was trying to protect all of the little girls from bullies and he was getting in trouble for it. After he and I had a long talk about what a bully was, it clicked and he did better. My point is that often I’ve seen these kind of programs make a bigger problem than existed before the program was implemented. An example in my own life, is that there was really no drug abuse in my school until an intensive drug abuse education program was put into place. It made a lot of kids very curious and it was clear that it would really get under the adults skin. I think they would be better served to require the parents be educated in these social programs and let the parents teach their own children.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th August

      Hi Joy
      I felt very similar to what you are describing Joy. In my recovery, it was in learning to love myself and having the courage to draw new boundaries that I was able to stop attracting bullies or abusers. I just don’t attract them anymore. This is “the process” and you are on the journey! Everyone is NOT kind and I had to finally accept that, and decide that I wasn’t going to put up with ‘unkind’ and that the way people treat me was not my fault and that I didn’t deserve it.
      Keep hanging in!
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Young Mom
      I don’t have any books to recommend about bullying. We tried public school, then Christian school, then homeschool and then made arrangements for our kids to go to another public school in a different town for high school, in an attempt to do what was best for them. I would say that the first three options were all equally difficult but I am proud of the efforts we made to make the best decisions for our kids. I think that when kids know they are loved at home it makes all the difference in the world through the tough times at school.
      Hugs, Darlene

      Hi Pam,
      Yes, there are all sorts of emotional problems and factors that contribute to the whole problem. There are a lot of kids that run the show here too, lots of parenting problems, (but letting the kids run the show is not love, and also ill prepares kids to grow up, as I think you are pointing out) I think there are many problems/causes. Most of them point to lack of love in the true definition of the word, love.
      When my son was in grade 2, the focus on anti bullying was on the witnesses! The “watchers” as they were called, seemed to have the most responsibility! No wonder people turn a blind eye to abuse in our society. I agree that parents, and adults in general, need to be educated about the way kids learn things.
      Thanks for your comments
      hugs, Darlene

  22. By: Young Mom Posted: 27th August

    Can you reccomend any good books for parents to read on bullying and how to prepare kids for school? I grew up in an abusive homeschooling family, and I don’t think that homeschooling is for us. I really want to do the best I can guiding my children through school, but having been told by my parents that it was the worst place on earth, isn’t helping my confidence at all.

  23. By: joy Posted: 27th August

    Hi Darlene

    Seems I have been properly trained and readied to be the prime candidate for every and any bully there is.. Since I never was allowed to speak up or stand up for myself as a child in the home. I didn’t know such a thing was permitted outside the home. I was primed by my own mom to be the ideal victim for any bully.

    I did let people bully me and sometimes still do because I don’t have the right tools or no-how to stop them .. Moreover. .bullies sometimes can come in sheep’s clothing. .They only pounce once they have you where they want you .

    I have been bullied all my life because I was ill prepared to know how not to be. .I was taught to take mistreatment ..it became my normal to be ridiculed, insulted ..beat up.. so why should I expect any different from anyone else

    In school I did get beat up and called names etc et. in the church we we would spiritually bullied into believing things as dogma . absolutely must believe belief..and if we didnt we acquired mortal sins which we had to confess and get penances for..

    I have not known too many people in my life who were not bullies to me. i attract them like magnets attract steel. I am afraid , timid, shy. and this is just what they like

    I have been beat up time and again by people on the internet. they draw me into their confidence and as soon as I don’t jump how i like they beat me up with their words then drop me off their friends list..

    I simply don’t know why i keep allowing this but i think its because I try be kind to everyone and believe every one will be the same..

    Bullies never attack strong people they attack the weak . and seems without me even talking they know it.

    My boss was a bully. . .in so many ways.. That one pretend therapist on face book is a bully and is probably still bullying someone but they attack us weak people .. and then as the final straw after they beat us up plenty leave us to ourselves hurting and confused.

    I know my problem is lack of training. . not learning as a child but how could i learned to shut up and suffer the hits and hurt.s

    This is a very hard subject because I still need to learn how to protect myself from bullies and they are every where.



  24. By: Kate Posted: 27th August

    church as well, the way we are put down week after week and told that the answer is to keep coming back the next week

  25. By: Kate Posted: 27th August

    Brings up a slew of bad memories from school days to subbing in the schools and seeing how other teachers abuse whole classrooms and individual students.

    Yes, respect education needs to be taken to the next level. Thank you for pointing this out so well!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th August

      Thanks Kate,
      I think that there is a lot of resistance to this kind of thinking in our society (possibly because the people reading this are adults now) … as with ALL abuse, it is so much easier to blame kids and therefore to make the solution the responsibility of the kids. But as long as society does that, the problem will not resolve. Kids who have been abused and treated with less value, will not regard others with equal value. It is that whole “pecking order system”. Kids need to be mentored first. Kids need to know that fair play works. They need to see that there is mutual value and respect before they decide to try it themselves.
      Hugs, Darlene

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.