MOUNT VERNON — Advanced technology, such as media connections and social networking, has made it easier for bullies to attack their victims, and the number of bullying cases is on the rise.
Because the majority of bullying incidents seem to occur in the middle school setting, some authorities believe the perpetrators may not realize how devastating their actions can be. Psychologist Dennis Marikis, director of Mount Vernon Psychological Services, said he believes bullying sometimes really is intentional.
“I think that bullies like the authority and power,” he said. “Maybe they are seeing it as their own compensation for feeling powerless at home, or maybe they see this modeled for them. Either way, sometimes they identify with people in their family who are bullies, or sometimes, they feel kind of weak and inadequate at home, so they take it out in the school environment.”
He said bullies may also enjoy the attention they get when they do their bullying in front of an audience. “They get personal support from others who think it’s funny and laugh,” he added. “Sometimes they do it because it increases their self-esteem when they are aggressive. When no one speaks up against the behavior, the bully learns he or she can get away with it. Bullies need to know they won’t get those rewards for [bullying.]”
Bullies may get some kind of reward in the short term, but persistent bullies can also face serious consequences. Knox County Juvenile Court Judge James Ronk said the court usually responds to bullies in the same way it responds to other youth offenders.
“For something that’s hurtful like bullying,” he said, “we’d have some true punishments involved, like going to juvenile detention [jail], Podville or the community youth program.”
As with other juvenile offenders, the court requires counseling for bullies.