Excerpt from Interview with Sandra Dupont, LA Teen Therapist  by Nixon Virtual Strategies (NVS)

There’s been a lot of news coverage about bullying lately. In your practice, are you seeing a rise in concerns/fears about being bullied? And besides offering the victims of bullying coping skills, how do we as a community help decrease the likelihood of our children becoming bullies, especially when it’s happening both on- and offline now?

With Lady Gaga and Ellen Degeneres, and the new movie Bully, bullying is getting a lot of press these days. Therefore, yes, bullying is being spoken about more frequently in my practice. In fact, I was recently asked to interview victims and bullies for a new anti-bullying TV show called The Hate Thing, which is currently being shared with major networks as a possible series for the Fall.

What I learned from the bullies was that they had all been previously bullied, some by their parents. What may have once seemed like normal parental responses when today’s parents were growing up, are now recognized as causing shame. Rage, acting out, self-loathing and self-doubt, wanting to impress others, intimidate others and even reject others originates from feelings of inadequacy — not feeling like one is good enough.

A large part of my work with families has been to teach parents that they lead by example. It is essential that parents create a safe space for their children to come to them with their problems. To do this, parents need to be able to listen to their children without over-reacting, and then help them learn from their mistakes.

If a child is behaving in an aggressive manner towards other kids, it is important to try and understand their behavior. We also want to look at what the adults in their lives can do to make children feel better about themselves, such that they don’t feel the need to attempt to boost their confidence in inappropriate ways.

I want to caution against getting caught up in rejecting attitudes towards bullies, as this just creates more humiliation and shame – a contributing factor behind their pain.

By understanding and addressing the pain that motivates bullies to lash out at others, we will ultimately diminish the number of bullies … and their victims.

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