Insidious Bullying: A Lethal Combination

Bully (bullied, bullying)

[boo l-ee]

noun, plural bullies.

  1. a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgersand intimidates smaller or weaker people.
  1. Archaic. a man hired to do violence.
  1. Obsolete. a pimp; procurer.
  1. Obsolete. good friend; good fellow.
  1. Obsolete. sweetheart; darling.

verb (used with object), bullied, bullying.

  1. to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer.

verb (used without object), bullied, bullying.

  1. to be loudly arrogant and overbearing.

Adjective (typically used by the British)

  1. Informal. fine; excellent; very good.
  1. dashing; jovial; high-spirited.

Interjection (typically used by the British)

  1. Informal. good! well done!

Read all of the definitions above. Note that definition numbers 3, 4 and 5 are obsolete. Also as I live in the USA, definition numbers 8, 9 and 10 are irrelevant for this writing piece. Let’s concentrate on definitions 1, 2, 6 and 7.

Definition 1:   a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.  This is the bully most people think of when they think of the word and who they know who fits the description. This type of person is easy to spot and sometimes avoid as you know what’s coming. Not all bullies fit this description completely. The above definition implies, loud and argumentative; not implied but just as important, are the insidious bullies.

Definition 2:   Archaic. a man hired to do violence. This certainly fits the profile but is what a bully was years ago.

Definition 6:  verb. (used with object) to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer.  This is definitely the correct definition of the act itself and can be blatant or insidious.

Definition 7:   verb (used without object) to be loudly arrogant and overbearing.  This pertains to a person whose personality is shown with action.

All of these definitions contribute to the plague that is the bane of many students existence. What is insidious though?

Insidious –

[in-sid-ee-uh s]


  1. intended to entrap or beguile:

an insidious plan.

  1. stealthily treacherous or deceitful:

an insidious enemy.

  1. operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmlessway but actually with grave effect:

an insidious disease.

Now put these two definitions together and you get a lethal combination. Both the bully and the victim of the bully are victims. Why does the bully do what he/she does? Obviously something tweeks them to behave that way and they need an understanding too. Bullying is about the victim, therefore, is about the bully as well. However, both the bully and their victim need to be treated separately to help either of them out.

Not all bullies are sociopaths, many just deal with their environmental issues by acting out through bullying.* This understanding does not change what happens to their victim though. Their victim may not be able to handle the constant battle. Over time, the incessant bullying wears them down to the point of no return in too many cases, if not while in school then soon after into early adulthood. Death can be the ultimate end of not stopped, whether it’s the death of the victim’s dreams, confidence, relationships and worse case scenario, death of the victim themselves, (which to some victims, their death is a blessing for them and their only way out.)

Insidious bullying is done through cyber bullying, spreading rumors, nasty whispers in the hall, constant, quiet put downs while victim is in ear shot, anything to break a person. This type of bully constantly shreds their victim’s feeling of self-confidence, self worth and identity of who they thought they were. The bully works their diabolical magic into the psyche of their victim to believe they, the victim are not valued in society breaking them down to the lowest form. My personal opinion is the bully gets off on it for a quick rush they need.

Insidious bullying like blatant bullying, often gets other kids in on the act, usually going along with the bully so as not to draw attention to themselves and become a victim. They too are a victim though. Many of these kids feel remorse after participating, no matter how subtle their participation is, and this takes a psychological toll on them as well.

The saddest part to insidious bullying is that is often harder for outsiders to realize what is going on and therefore being stopped. So, closer attention needs to be paid to students and with the constant staffing cuts in education, this is harder to accomplish. If the entire surrounding society pays closer attention and is proactive, then bullying may be able to be stopped. Education is key and so is awareness.

Think hard about both definitions; bully, bullying, bullied and insidious, then look around, take note and do what you can to help stop it.. Kids need help, both the bullies and their victims. This carries on into adulthood and the workplace. It needs to STOP!

These links offer good advice and more insight into this heinous crime, and it IS a crime.



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