Antagonist vs. protagonist, Cinderella vs. the evil stepmother, Harry Potter vs. Voldemort, Red Riding Hood vs. the Big Bad Wolf and Jerry vs. Archie (“The Chocolate Wars”) all share similar storylines. The antagonist, or the villain, is always committing a cruel act, or causing mayhem; the protagonist usually swoops in and gains the happy ending in this situation.
Due to the chaos the antagonists cause, they are usually on the negative side of the general public’s opinion and support. One might even go to the extent that people have hatred for the antagonist for ruining the perfect happily ever after. However, has anyone wondered the antagonist’s P.O.V., or the factors that caused them to be evil?
Similar to these stories and characters, in reality there are bullies and victims. Bullying is not a new issue, but rather an old one that is continuously occurring over the years. Research shows that 1 out of 4 students are being bullied in the U.S. Many may assume that the actions of these individuals, these bullies, are due to cruelty or lack of empathy. However, research shows that the problem goes into farther depth than this. There is not a specific factor or quality, but a range of situations and factors that can influence the creation of a “bully.”
Dr. Olweus recorded that common characteristics that bullies share is that they are often impulsive, defiant, and show little empathy. A 2000 study and hormone tests proved that bullies are among the most popular. This can be dangerous as to the influence they may project on others around them. Bullying can affect the bullies, the victims, and even the bystanders. They also have average self-esteem, rather than low self-esteem.
However, advocates state that some of the factors that create a bully are also the lack of attention in a home situation, the influence of an adult role model that is a bully, being victims of bullying themselves, peer pressure, trying to ward the attention off of themselves, releasing their emotions through lashing out, or simply because others are different from their expectations. These are considerable motivations and influences that have affected the bullies themselves. One may go as far to say that the bullies are a little lost, and have suffered their own pain.
Aitana Esquivelzeta, a direct relative to someone who was bullied, said that her relative could forgive those people because she knew that they were unsure of who they were.
Some programs even suggest being kind to the bully. They recommend an offer of companionship, and silent friendship to help prevent bullies from acting out even more.
An anonymous source shared a direct experience.
“When I was younger, my parents had gotten a divorce, which took a toll on my life and prevented me from relating to others. I was sad all the time and covered it up by being a rebel without a cause,” she said. “The other kids wore expensive clothes, which I could not afford because of the divorce, so I didn’t make friends or get along with anyone. Whenever someone would talk to me or poke fun, I would get overly defensive. I would snap back or respond with something horrible. This would go on for years, and people became more and more distant. I never thought I was bullying people, just protecting myself. Looking back, I saw that I was worse than those people. I was a bully and I hadn’t even noticed it! People might have thought that I was mean for no reason… that I was the weird girl who was introverted and aggressive in some ways. To me, I was just the girl who had divorced parents and needed a friend to tell me it was all going to be OK.”
These factors must be taken into consideration when considering that bullying is a constant in adolescent and adult’s lives. It is essential to the understanding and the possible prevention of pain and the continuous cycle. Moreover, when it is seen in daily life, it can be considered from a different angle and understanding a situation could possibly change the path a bully has taken. Furthermore, studies done by the U.S. Department of Education and Secret Service show that about 66 percent of the perpetrators of school shootings all felt harassed, bullied, or hurt at one point. Thus, it could be considered life threatening to not help or understand the minds of bullies.