Each school day in the US, approximately 160,000 kids do not go to school for fear of being bullied. [Source: CDC]
Could a Teen Bully be a Young Sociopath in Training?
I know the life history of two sociopaths, one currently in her early-50s, and the other in her late-50s. In both cases, I believe it’s safe to say they were born with personality disorders. As young children and teens, they were already acting out unpolished characteristics of a sociopath, as it would still require experience for them to hone their narcissistic, manipulating and maliciously-deceptive skills.
Both of these individuals exhibited clear warning signs while they were still minors, even though each displayed them in very different ways. In neither case, did their behavior draw any intervention. So it may be safe to say that it would not necessarily be a simple process to identify young people with one of the sociopathic disorders.
Then again, do we have our eyes open?
THE BULLY SYNDROME NOW PLAYING AT SCHOOLS EVERYWHERE
As I began looking into the problem of student harassment, a friend of mine gave me the name of a clinical psychologist, Dr. Bob, PhD [not his real name], who’s entire life’s work is focussed on school-aged individuals. He is the full-time, Lead Psychologist at the largest school district in the state (by enrollment), and also maintains a ongoing calendar on the lecture circuit.
Dr. Bob’s focus is in discussing the seriousness of the Bully Syndrome, how to identify those involved and take the appropriate action. He is called on to address administrators, counselors, and teachers in school districts nationwide.
I took a chance and simply called him at his home number one evening, and he gave me over an hour of his time. I found him to be an exceptionally passionate man about what our kids face everyday in school. As Dr. Bob explained, there are three categories that kids fall into in regards to the Bully Syndrome.
1) The Bully :: First, of course, is the Bully. His or her agenda is fairly clear, as they are troubled youths, needing attention, getting it by intimidation, and assembling a following.
2) The Target :: The second is the selected Target, i.e., the victim, someone that the bully chooses who will not be a threat to them. Hence, behind that invincible and confident exterior, the bully is actually a coward.
3) The Bystanders :: And lastly, are all the Bystanders, many of whom had been friends of the selected Target. What happens next will be determined by the bystanders.
As a group, the bystanders hold all the power. Unfortunately, they rarely think of themselves as a group. They are afraid. Scared to speak up. Afraid that they will become the next target. What they don’t realize is if they all walked over and stood along side the selected target, the bully would be forced to retreat, and probably not return.
According to Dr. Bob, one national study concluded that the majority of bystanders end up making the decision to join the bully. And as simple as that, they abandon their friend, and to gain favor in the eyes of the bully, they join in and also bully their now ex-friend.
Boys tend to be more outright physically hostile, though physical attacks are not beyond their female counterparts. But the goal is the same: they terrorize their selected target, and thereby alienating them from virtually everyone else. No one wants to risk becoming a target, so before long, that target couldn’t feel much more alone, rejected as a complete outcast, and even despised.
The psychological damage inflicted on that individual could literally change that person’s life. And to think this all began with one, control-hungry bully. One person showing no remorse for terrorizing an innocent individual so as to inflate their own feeling of control and importance.
Beginning to sound familiar?
I was bullied a generation ago.
It surely seems that little has changed over 40 years. If you believe that bullying only happens in inner-city, public schools, it’s time to take the blinders off. If you say it doesn’t happen in your kid’s school, because you checked and the school has an unblemished record, that’s the entire goal of a cover-up.
I grew up in a fairly affluent area of northern California, and attended Catholic schools. As it’s fairly common knowledge, parents who did a poor job of creating a solid foundation for their kids, resulting in uncontrollable and troubled older kids (and the parents are clueless why), often send their kids to private school to “straighten them up.”
I had a bully so obsessed with me, that when he discovered I was accepted at a prep school for my first year in high school, he got his parents to somehow switch him to my prep school. He was so messed up, that he would play the loyal friend to me, then move into terror mode with no reason, other than his own ego. I changed schools for my sophomore year, and had to keep it a complete secret from everyone, otherwise he would have found out. We were successful, as he was unaware until the first day of classes. I wish I could have seen his face.
In any event, of the few who bullied me, not one was ever punished.
My son lost all his friends in middle school.
My son’s good friends, ones he knew since pre-school, and lived in our neighborhood, were the ones who slowly quit coming over, as they had all joined the bully. My son withdrew. More and more, there was less and less of him that I recognized. But still, he would not talk about it. He was made to feel ashamed.
I had a meeting with his teachers, and when I posed the direct question to them, they looked at each other, obviously stating a silent, “Bully problem? What bully problem?” … and they all claimed ignorance. All, that is, except one.
After all the other teachers finished shrugging their shoulders, one lone teacher spoke-up and said she currently had two boys serving time in after-school detention for harassing my son. I saw her as being brave, as I could tell she felt some trepidation, stating, in front of her colleagues, she knew it was occurring and she took action.
Just like with me, a full generation earlier, no one was disciplined, as mandated by the state, for bullying my son.
State laws mandate bully discipline.
According to Dr. Bob, there is a state law which contains specific mandatory disciplinary guidelines for all school administrators in dealing with school bullies.
1 :: First Offense … one-day, in-school suspension.
2 :: Second Offense … one-week, off-campus suspension.
3 :: Third Offense … expulsion.
Those who are expelled are sent to the district’s remedial school, and that’s where they stay. It just so happened that Dr. Bob’s wife was a special education teacher at the remedial school in my son’s district.
He asked me to take a guess how many kids were expelled because of bullying … “that’s right,” he said, “exactly none, as in zero.” That covers an entire school district — and not even one bully?
Can you begin to see the depth of the cover-up?
My son had been bullied for a year and a half when I pulled him out of that school, and except for that one teacher, the others claimed ignorance. That remedial school, by the way, is occupied primarily by kids who were caught smoking, cutting class, being belligerent to teachers … but none were there for the harassment of other students.
It looks bad for school administrators if their school shows a bully problem. The bully’s methods are quite similar: though boys tend to be more physically aggressive, girls can be quite violent, too. And both males and females lean towards the victim’s psychological destruction (i.e., terror), using malicious, character assassination.
Do we completely miss the warning signs?
Consider this: a pre- or early-teen bully could easily be a young sociopath, becoming familiar with, and honing his or her newfound skills. That’s when they are so easy to identify, and have the best chance for a successful intervention. But as our society continues to build more prisons, we continue to let the bad guys slip right into the real world … and then wait for them to do something bad. Hurt someone. We are going to lose a generation.
So when they are finally caught and convicted of doing the unspeakable, the six-o’clock news will carry the typical sound bites, “I can’t believe it” … “he was always so polite” … “I saw her at service every weekend” … “I just don’t understand.” Of course you don’t … but thank goodness those school administrators can still sleep at night.
It’s a huge, deceptive cover-up against the public trust, but primarily to protect their jobs, their personal finances, and their own fat behinds.
And what do those in charge, the school administrators, consider to be a fair trade-off for their own job security? Only our children … those same innocent kids they vow to foster, teach and help mold, all in a safe, learning environment.
The school administrators establish hidden guidelines, rules apparently to hide their school’s true and unchecked environment of student-on-student intimidation. Remember, factoring in the entire district, the statistics from the remedial school indicate that not one of the schools has a bully problem.
Is this not blatant fraud against the public’s trust?
How many people are in on it, and who are they accountable to?
ADDENDUM: In March of 2003, a volunteer lunch monitor at my son’s middle school observed a group of boys who were standing in a small circle, while becoming louder by laughing and taunting whoever was in the center. She went over to clear the boys, only to discover my son at the center, blocked from leaving, gripping his T-shirt collar and twisting it. The woman brought my son to the counseling center, who then called me. I arrived in less than 30-minutes.
I was told that my son had a problem and I should get help for him. After a year an a half of their denials of any bullying against my son, they now determined that my son was the problem … a very intelligent and quiet young man. I was appalled, and told them I’d be taking him out of the school through at least the end of the week, and during that time, hope to make a determination of his future.
To make a long story short*, I made arrangements for him to finish the school year (about 3 months) living at my sister’s home in another state. When I returned to the school to sign all the paperwork, I got to the one line which asked: Reason for Withdrawal?
The answer had already been filled in: Moving out of state.
I began to believe they had no shame in blatantly continuing the cover-up.
*To follow the full story, please begin with: One Small Lie … Part 1
A family of sociopaths :: Part 1
Protect yourself from any sociopath.
Sociopaths are all the same … right?
What makes a sociopath so dangerous?
Psychopath/Sociopath: Similarities Outweigh Differences
Discovering Your Best Friend is a Sociopath
How do you spot a sociopath?
Identifying a Sociopath
AUDIO: Evidence from Recorded Phone Calls
Do School Administrators Help Young Sociopaths?