Hurt People Hurt People

A bully in the schoolyard and a bully in the home or the office are the same. One intimidates his classmates, another harasses his family or associates.  And so it follows, that our remedy in the past for both issues has been the same.

Harbor the victims and punish the perpetrator.  That hasn’t worked so well. Bullying is an ever increasing epidemic in both the playground and the workplace and we can’t seem to build shelters fast enough to house our battered women and children.

We have focused our efforts on the offended and neglected the offender!  If we wish to cure the sickness, we must identify, attack and eradicate the virus causing the disease.  We all know that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting the results to change and yet….we continue applying the same band-aid to an ever-bleeding wound.

The dictionary defines a bully “as someone who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.” The unspoken cultural connotation is that a bully is stronger, bigger or more powerful individual and because he exerts this power through aggression, he is unlikeable.

The bully often doesn’t care about being unlikeable but he does desire attention, control and power. In his own bizarre way he is seeking respect. He believes if others fear him, they respect him.  What we believe drives our behavior.  To eradicate bullying we must change the rewards we unconsciously give to that behavior. Stop telling bullies they are strong and their victims are weak. There has to be a change on our part before there can be a change on their part.

Tell them the truth; bullies are people who emotionally damaged, socially ignorant or both! They are weak people who have been hurt and they seek to hide their feelings of inadequacy by hurting others. They think, “If I pretend to be an angry bear, you will never know I am a defenseless cub.” They are weak… but…they don’t have to stay that way!

What to do:

Bullies have misguided minds not malignant spirits. They are to be affirmed for their intellect not their physical prowess or intimidating tactics. We are to teach them to be mentally sharp by evaluating the risks and rewards of their behavior.

Mistreating people may give them 15 minutes of power and victory but it will also result in consequences that cause them days of detention or months in jail and as well as financial loss due to loss of job or financial penalties. Our conversation has to center on them winning. The only way they can do that long term is to take responsibility for their behavior.

People can not exist without oxygen. It’s everywhere, we don’t have to like it but we  need it to thrive and flourish. The bully needs to learn that he doesn’t have to like people, the weather or his circumstances but like oxygen, they’re always going to be there. He may not be able to change “them” BUT  he does have the power to change his emotional reaction into an intelligent response.

It will be his attitude and intellect, not his muscle or machismo, that will determine whether he flourishes or fails. Our society does not tolerate the tyrant!

The bully has been injured in some way. That is not an excuse for poor behavior but a obvious observation.  No nonsense straight forward education is the answer and it begins by saying to the one who is acting out:

“This cannot continue. You are smart. You are strong and I care about you.  You are a winner and I refuse to let you sabotage your own future!”


20 big ones!Nick Della Valle is a co-founder of Breath of CHRIST Ministries  ( and author of the book “3300 Miles for Christ.”  He and his wife Lucy are missionaries to America; storytellers for

At 4’8” tall and 98 pounds, Nick knows what it is like to bephysically intimidated.  He gives a first hand account of not only  overcoming those situations but also understanding what drives the intimidator.

How we choose to respond to situations and circumstances affectsnot just the moment, but the pattern for dealing with difficulties that may await us in the future.