Sometimes we take exception. Sometimes we make one.

Top Ten Myths About Bullies

In which an effort is made to dispel the most egregious errors encountered by those forced to confront said villainous behavior and in which the author recounts, with understandable ambiguity, assorted personal trials and tribulations which, in anecdotal fashion, supply the modest verification of the theses set forth 

 It becomes necessary at the outset to define our term lest any reader be misled and wade through the arguments presented only to discover it is not a topic of interest  to them and thereby a waste of their time. To those remaining at the end of the article: no refund of time or energy will be given nor will there be any legal recourse available to you in protest of said policy.

 To be clear this essay is not about fish found in or around New Zealand, known as “bully” fish such as pakoko or titarakura – small freshwater fish of the genera Gobiomorphus and Philynodon.

 Neither is the discussion at hand concerned with the adjective “bully” i.e. dashing, jolly, my bully boy nor the interjection “bully” used as “bully for you, well done! bravo! 

And lastly, although this one offers etymological mysteries worth exploring, this essay makes no investigation of “bully” as used in the 1500’s: “sweetheart,” applied to either sex, from the Dutch boel“lover,brother.”

Oh, and one more disclaimer; this essay makes no further statement about “bully”  as  a desperate, freewheeling scramble for a Soccer ball by a number of players, usually in the goal area; nor about “bully” in Field Hockey –  a method of putting the ball into play in which two opponents, facing each other, tap their sticks on the ground near the ball and then make contact with each other’s sticks over the ball three times, after which each tries to gain possession of the ball. 

 Those readers who have persisted to this point are well advised and well equipped to understand the general purpose of this essay.  I trust both of you will leave a comment.



  Acceptable definitions of bully include; a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people; and similarly – a person who hurts, persecutes, or intimidates weaker people.

 Through my lifetime – and I do not intend this to be my last will and testament (unless all of the sundry bullies I have encountered happen to read this, unite and form a coalition to …. well let’s not dwell on that thought) – through my lifetime I have read about, watched and heard about bullies; their number is legion (and perhaps their name, too.) I have read about historical figures who qualify; I have known many fictional and real bullies; the Bible has a veritable menagerie of them – for some reason King Ahab comes to mind, although the real villain of that story is Queen Jezebel – but I must ask the reader to stop interrupting my train of thought because – let’s see, where was I – oh yes! Bullies I have known.


I only mention all this to make the self-serving statement that I know about bullies. I have suffered at their devices, at times stood up to them, and on the rare occasion seen some of them handily defeated.  I only offer in this essay a list of the greatest and most dangerous myths about bullies.


Myth Number 10:  “If someone makes you cry or will not let you have your way, they are a bully.” 

 Not necessarily; in most cases it just means you are a crybaby, or selfish, or spoiled, or lazy or well, that’s the general idea.

 Myth Number 9: “Bullies only know how to use their brawn, not their brains.”

 Again, not necessarily.   Some bullies are very, very, smart.  This is a dangerous assumption and leads people to try and “out think” the bully when a better option might be to “out run” the bully. Looks cowardly but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. As Bret Maverick once said, “He who runs away lives to run away another day.”

 Myth Number 8: “If you stand up to A Bully, they will back down.”

 No. No. No! Sometimes that only brings you into range to have the living daylights beaten out of you.  I was told this myth as a child and implemented it unsuccessfully on a number of occasions. I have also made this mistake as an adult; some lessons are harder to learn than others.

 Myth Number 7: “No one likes a Bully.”

 Heard that one in the third grade.  Turns out many of the girls liked him a lot; some of the boys admired and followed him like ducklings imprinted on a Mama Duck and one of the teachers thought he was “made of sterner stuff” than the rest of us and the bully’s dad bragged that “he was a chip off the ole block.” Stand up to a bully in some crowds and the crowd will beat the living daylights out of you.  Trust me on this one. This is a true story.

 Myth Number 6: “Bullies will grow up and out of their bullydom.”

 Again, I have seen no statistical or even anecdotal evidence to verify this. What I have seen is bullies get older, bigger and meaner. Not all of them mind you; some of them get the living daylights beaten out of them along the way. Sad, but true.  As the little girl said, “I’ll cry all night” when that happens.

 Myth Number 5: “Bullies only use their physical advantage to get their way.”

 Now this is a slight variation of myth number 9 but it deserves emphasis.  I have seen bullies use every tool, every technique, and every trick imaginable.  I have seen rich bullies use money; I have seen poor bullies use poverty; I have seen sad people use grief, sick people use illness, officials use their office; friends use guilt, scholars use credentials, preachers use pulpits, reporters use microphones, fools use folly and whole groups of people use history – all in blatant efforts to bully others.


Myth Number 4: “Bullies get what’s coming to them.”

Not in this life – not on your life.  I know judgment is coming; but I recommend that you leave vengeance to God and to eternity. Don’t waste time and energy in the here and now watching or waiting or trying to get even or justice or satisfaction. 

 Myth Number 3: “Bullying is caused by _________.”

 Now, first a confession to my readers, or reader if that other fellow left early – I rather arbitrarily chose 10 for this list, knowing I could at any time change it to 11 or 7 or 5; writers seldom mention that but it is more common than most list makers would like you to know; however number 3 could be expanded to make this a list of 27 or 37 things about bullying that no one would ever read. My point is that you can fill in that blank with anything you can think of  – sports, business, religion, patriarchy,  matriarchy, fallen arches – or preface those with “the lack of: sports, business, religion, patriarchy, matriarchy, golden arches – you get the idea.  The fact is bullying occurs anywhere and everywhere; in church, out of church, in the best neighborhood, and in the worst. In the courtroom, in the cloakroom, in the boardroom, in the locker-room, in the bedroom, in the classroom, in the – well, everywhere. Bullying is just one more manifestation of sin that comes from the human heart. 

 Myth Number 2: “We should make bullying illegal.”

 I would draft this legislation, vote for this legislation, enforce this legislation – if it would work; but – and this is very controversial but still true – it will not work. At best, it is a futile gesture; at worst, it is another form of bullying; ironic, I know, but sadly true.  You may be happy to know that the conduct of bullies is often illegal and already punishable by fines, and/or incarceration; and the court of public opinion (usually) frowns upon it.  There is often a great deal of head-shaking, hand-wringing about it (with stern letters to follow) but that’s about it. The fact is it cannot be outlawed, proscribed or made void where prohibited. It’s rather like the cockroaches of which bullies often remind me. Ubiquitous, unstoppable and inescapable this side of the Great White Throne Judgment.

 Myth Number 1:

 And before I list this last myth, permit me a brief moment of self-congratulatory self-satisfaction about guessing right on the number of myths; I was mowing my lawn in between times and had to wait for it all to take shape in the grist forming in the mill of my mind… anyway

 Myth Number 1:  “Bullies ruin everything.”  

 Oddly, you might want to argue with me about this one; but hear me out.  In my final analysis, I do not think the bully ruins anything; don’t get me wrong – it’s not for lack of effort; there is much thrashing, and weeping and wailing, much sound and fury – but it signifies nothing. The bully causes my backbone to stiffen; he still causes me to step into the arena, he still makes me want to defend and protect the weak, to speak the truth, to stand for right – even if I stand alone. And when I lay my head on my pillow at night, when my conscience assesses my day, when I stand before my Judge – I will not be sorry that I did.


P.S. Christians will understand about the Others:


Hebrews 11:32-40 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: 36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

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