Unpopular opinion: I was bullied as a child, but I think adults should not try to stop child bullies. The bullies I dealt with made my life miserable until I figured out how to recognize them and strategies to defang them. I have even been a bully myself as I will describe below.
Bullies exist all over our world. Adult bullies include Karen’s, bad bosses, and extend all the way up to dictators. Bullies are people who abuse their power to take advantage of or harass their victims.
Adult bullies are far more dangerous than child bullies. Adult bullies who are bad bosses or coworkers can cost their victims their careers. Adult bullies who are dictators can cost their victims their lives. Adult bullies who are spouses destroy families. Adult bullies can kill their victims or drive them to suicide.
American culture over the last twenty years has tried to get rid of all childhood bullies, and has been fairly successful. But adult bullies have multiplied as there are now far fewer adults equipped to deal with them, and the bullies themselves don’t recognize their behavior as bullying as they never experienced it themselves.
Our goal is to train strong adults, not to shelter our children from every little unpleasant experience that comes their way.
Children who never encounter and learn to handle bullies will grow into adults who are overwhelmed when faced with an adult bully.
I would rather have my kids learn how to fight back against an eleven year old bully, than have their first experience with a bully happen when they are in their twenties working for a bad boss. An adult bully has far more knowledge and skill at keeping their manipulation and abuse hidden, and are much more effective at using their intimidation to get what they want. A child bully does not have the power to be a true threat and makes lots of mistakes, and thus is a much easier practice dummy.
I also have been a bully myself at various points without recognizing my own bad behavior until later. I sometimes bullied my little brothers, kids at school, and my own coworkers when I first entered the workforce. If I had never been bullied myself, I would not have had the empathy to recognize the impact of my bad behavior on others and would not have made changes for the better.
A culture that shelters all of its children from bullies will not recognize the bullies that rise to power in their own country or in other nations, and will end up subject to a bully one way or another.
Bullies always suck, but a child bully is far less scary than an adult. If we allow some childhood bullying, we will have fewer adult bullies and everyone will be better equipped to recognize and deal with them.