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So, people talk a lot about bullies. It’s bad to bully, we need to support kids, stop bullying, harsher punishments for bullying. You know the line.

But I think we’re missing something about bullies.

Bullies, while stereotypically are dumb, are actually highly intelligent and socially savvy individuals. While my own experience with bullies is limited I have run into a few. And they tend to follow a pattern.

1) Pick on the Weak:

Bullies tend to go after those who are weaker than them. Generally this is physical, but it can also be psychological. They look for those who do not have a social support structure that can back them up, or look for those whose social support is on the weaker level too and then dominate the entire group. Some bullies will even gang up so they can take on larger groups of weaker individuals who have massed together.

2) Isolate the victim.

If the person they wish to target is part of a social group, and they can, they will isolate that person from said social group either during the attack or work to separate them permanently. This allows the target to be further and further isolated, making it easier to bully them.

3) Play the system(s)

Bullies tend to be very socially savvy. The best place to look for a bully is not among the “dark” kids like punks and goths (those stereotypically known for “shootings”) but the better dressed, more “normal” kids. The Queen Bees, the Jocks, and other socially acceptable groups are often where a bully will build their base. While this is not a hard universal law, it is more common. But bullies can be in any group, and often they are the ones who know how to play on social sympathies, especially if they have an out such as a disability.

Be assured that the bully knows how to play the larger social system and administrative systems as well. Often enough, when I hear about a kid being hit by the system for being a bully, I wonder if that kid was the true bully. Let me explain.

I once knew a bully in a chat-room. She was a young girl, about mid teens or so, and she was an unholy terror. Bullied everyone in the room to do what she wanted. If anyone complained, she ran to the person “in charge” (we had no mods, just a young woman who was “den mother” that we all respected) and whine and cry about how said complainer was bullying her, and to make them stop. To anyone in the outside world suddenly that person who complained was now the “bully” and to be socially dealt with for picking on a teenage girl (and society hates people who pick on teenage girls and might drive them to depression). The girl knew how to play the systems.

I think my longtime readers can guess how I dealt with her.

So here is my question:

How many kids out there that get called bullies are just like the person who complained about the girl’s behavior? How many of those that complain about being bullied by so and so are in fact the bullies teaching their victim that even Society Itself is against them and with their tormentor? How many have those in power labeled a bully who was in fact a victim?

What happens when the victim finally decides to embrace the titles and jeers and put down of his tormenters and stop being the victim, but become the monster they call him to be?