Counselor sheds light on both sides of bullying dilemma

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There are always two sides to a coin and in this case, there are those who bully and those who are the victims of bullying. 

“Today with technology and phones and iPads and everything, there is really not a break from it,” said Supervisor of Counseling for Maury County Public Schools, Dr. Robb Killen. 

The two sides can be more alike than you might think, especially when it comes to who is getting bullied. 

“Typically, they have been bullied themselves by other students, siblings, someone in the family or they have witnessed it in their household,” said Killen. 

Licensed professional counselor, Cody Higgs, has dealt with both victims of bullying and those who bully.  

Higgs said bullies can be a product of the environment and relationships they experience on a daily basis. 

“So, what we know from kids who are bullying is they are more likely to display aggressive behavior, impulsive behavior, maybe antisocial behavior,” said Higgs. “Not quite understanding or having the empathy for other people’s feelings.” 

Killen added, “If we look at the true definition of bullying, I would say most times it is not a mental disorder, it is just a learned relational trait.”   

One place those learned traits are experimented with and used are in schools. A target is found and the bullying begins. 

“They need attention and they are not getting it, so they seek attention by hurting others,” said Spring Hill Middle School counselor Toshiro Goodman. 

Goodman said seventh and eighth grade can be tough years for some and that is why she tries to address problems early.  

“When I talk to those bullies I don’t think they know the depth of how they are hurting the victim,” Goodman said.   

Experts say with the introduction of social media bullying has evolved. Kids aren’t just bullied for a few hours at school, but also online and it can be constant. 

“One post can have devastating effects,” said Higgs. 

While victims of bullying receive counseling, so do those who are bullying and, according to Higgs, it can help significantly. 

“There is individual counseling, family counseling, even sometimes group counseling,” said Higgs. “Those can be helpful and can help to figure out why this happened in the first place.” 

Bullying can be different from boys to girls. Higgs said with boys it tends to be more face-to-face and physical in nature, while girls tend to be more relational. 

“It may go to social media, it may go to the lunch room and girls may never talk to each other during the bullying process,” said Higgs “The person doing the bullying and the person being bullied might not have contact, but they know what is happening and that can have a much more widening affect. 

Experts also warn to be careful with labels. 

“We really want to be careful not to label a student and have a label we can’t take off, like that kid is a bad kid, he is a bully,” said Killen. 

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