What Is Worse – a Sexual Predator or a Bully?

I read an article yesterday that disturbed me. Do you remember the news last year about the task force appointed to look into the problem of online sexual predators? Apparently the threat isn’t as big as once thought. Or is it? That task force released a report yesterday stating the problem of bullying – both online and offline – presents a larger threat than sexual predators. If you recall, MySpace and Facebook were thrown into the light with the fear that social networks such as these harbored sexual predators. Many popular perceptions of online danger were heavily fueled by the media. Certainly the trouble hasn’t just disappeared, so where lies the truth? The report states that the only online predator cases that exist explain the children and teenagers were already at risk – being troubled by depression, drug abuse, or problems at home.

How much difference exists between these issues? If you think about it, both problems are predatory in nature. Situations of either sort have ended tragically. One could easily turn into the other. It is sad to consider we live in a world where the issue of online sexual predators and pedophiles waiting to pounce on innocent children takes a back burner to the increasing problem of bullying.

I remember bullying when I was younger. Kids are not nice, and they have become more brutal every day. Thanks to the advances in technology these bullies can do their thing all on their own, without assistance from their friends to taunt and tease. All they need is a cell phone or a computer and they are fully armed. You’ve seen the headlines; children (and in some cases, their parents) taunt and tease unrelentingly, causing these kids to commit suicide to ease their pain.

If you think bullying exists only in schools… you’re wrong. These bullies grow up – and if not corrected, continue their abusive behavior in the workplace. They take their hate and contempt through every part of their life, online and offline. They park on social networking sites, blogs, forums, chat rooms, and easily become comfortable in the practice known as trolling. This doesn’t mean all trolls are predators, but the behavior strikes an alarming similarity.

Are you being bullied? Don’t just sit there and take it – report it! Nobody will think you are a wimp or a baby. Go to your parents, a teacher, your boss, or an adult you trust that would do the right thing. If you know of someone who is being bullied, don’t assume that it’s all in good fun or the person can take care of themselves. You just might be wrong.

Have you been bullied? Share your success stories with us so others may learn from your difficulties and find strength to fight back.

11 thoughts on “What Is Worse – a Sexual Predator or a Bully?”

  1. I have an 8 year old and a 9 year old. I’ve told my daughter, half-jokingly and half-seriously… the kids in school, the geeks, they’re the ones who grow up to be rich! 😉

    Something else important to say to readers, and have readers say to their children: There is no one, NO ONE in your life that is worth killing yourself over.

  2. Bullying might be something that children have to also endure and might be more blatant, but sexual predators are worse. Why? They are both sexual deviants and bullies. Additionally, human trafficking is a growing problem that is probably heightened do this type of prowl. Parents can teach their children things that can help them face a bully. What can they teach their children about someone who sexually abuses them?

    I was bullied as a child, and I was taught how to defend myself, and I have not psychological scars. However, friends who were raped as children, do.

  3. Great post, Chris. I know I immediately think of the MySpace incident with the suicide and the whacko Mom.
    I agree with you – The anonymity of the internet facilitates but does not create bullies or predators.
    I’m with Susan, teach your kids to be careful and respectful… and hang with the geeks!
    Good times geeking out with you at MacWorld!

  4. I have had problems with bullies, I usually just ignored it to a point. This one kid slammed the side of my head into a concrete wall. That was the last time I would take it. I got onto him and knocked him out cold. I haven’t had problems since then. I’ve dealt with bullies most of my life.

  5. I work for someone who has admitted that they were bullied as a child. Guess what! She is a horrible bully to everyone who reports to her (myself included, although I called her out and it stopped, so apparently she only likes victims who cower). I think it is like an abused child who grows up to be an abuser of his/her own children. The victim finds victims of her own and the cycle continues. topping bullying very early is important for everyone in a society.

  6. Chris,
    I am so glad that you tackled this subject. Being bullied is humiliating and hurtful, I know – I have been there. It is important to understand that bullying is not ok and should not be tolerated. Follow the advice in this article. If you are being subjected to hateful bullying or even aggressive sexual behavior, get some help! Let somebody know.

  7. I hate it when people say “no one will think your a wimp.” It’s utter bullshit. Ya, normal thinking people like you and me won’t see it as a sign of weakness. But what about the kids peers? Ya, they do look down on it. Talk, and a lot more people can turn on you.

    I know this from personal experience.

    Take a wild guess. What do you think a kid cares about more? What some random adults that spend the day boring the crap out of him say, or his peers, who he just wants to fit in with and have some fun?

    “Just be yourself… do the right thing.” That was some of the WORST advise I ever got growing up. In the teen & preteen world, life doesn’t work like that? Don’t like it? Tough. Kids won’t change.

    You have to rewrite the way you go around. You don’t need to live a lie, but acting on instinct can quickly get you outcasted. Doing the right thing can get you outcasted. I’m not saying go around and break the rules, but don’t take them so seriously.

  8. bullys are bad in are school they used to bully me intill this one huge guy punched me and I decided to fight back.. all i have to say is he got what he deserved because he also hit a few girls and they where scared once i finaly stode up for my self I got somewhere also i know some ppl on facebook and myspace who atempt to bully me but i just send them a message saying well if thats how you think about me then goodbye and then i block them.

  9. I’m sorry the headlines on this article allow people to draw the wrong conclusions, like “Threats exaggerated.” It’s a mistake to base decisions on comparisons stating that cyberbullying isn’t much worse than other bullying. Or which is worse, a sexual predator or a bully? Or that it’s even important to state that there’s no easy solution. What a waste of time and money.

    Cyberbullies and predators on social networking sites will be with us forever. Of course we’ll find some software to help, but you can never guarantee safety in the real world. Wanting absolute safety is the wrong approach.

    And of course there’s no easy solution. No one is really dumb enough to think there’s an easy solution. No amount of software will make the internet any safer than giving your money to Bernard Madoff or crossing the street.

    Don’t pay attention to the pseudo-science of the report. We must pay attention to our individual kids and teach them that “friends” on social sites aren’t really friends, they’re merely virtual acquaintances. Dealing with virtual people is much more difficult than dealing with people face-to-face. And we all know how difficult that can be.

    There are no safe environments. That was the message I always got from reading the great hero stories when I was growing up. And each tale challenged me to prepare myself for similar dangers.

    Schools and the real world have never been safe. I remember a biography of Harpo Marx (remember the Marx Brothers). He went to school for one day. The kids threw him out the window (first floor). He came back in. They threw him out again. After the third time he didn’t go back in. And never did again.

    Schools and social networks are testing grounds for the real world. And the real world is not and should not be safe. Facing risks and danger helps us develop good sense, good character and the qualities necessary to survive. Imagine growing up on a farm, in an wilderness village or in the middle ages. Not safe. I grew up in New York City. Not safe. Millennia ago we had to learn what a saber-toothed tiger’s foot prints looked like and how long ago they were left. The world still requires survival skills, even if different ones.

    Parents have the responsibility to monitor and guide children and teenagers. Of course kids will object. How many of us thought our parents were right when they tried to limit what we wanted to do? We must be wise enough as parents to know best and strong enough to stand up to the kids’ anger.

    Bullies are not all the same, but their patterns of behavior, their tactics, are the same. That’s why we can find ways to stop most of them. Sometimes, fighting is the key to success. If we don’t stop bullies, they’ll think we’re easy prey. Like sharks, they’ll just go after us more.

    When children learn how to stop bullies in their tracks, they’ll develop strength of character, determination, resilience and skill. They’ll need these qualities to succeed against the real world bullies they’ll face as adults.

  10. I think everyone needs to take a step back and realize this: the same media that hyped Internet predators on social networks is now glorifying obvious results (to those of us embedded in the issue) that show the fears are overblown and that cyberbullying is a bigger issue.

    Bottom line: The predators do exist, but the threat of cyberbullying is far greater. Predators we have to hunt down and lock up. Cyberbullies live in your home. The real message here is parental involvement and awareness. Know how your child acts online towards others and how they participate in the digital world. Know where they go and who they talk to and how. You don’t have to spy and analyze, but you should simply know.

    I firmly believe that we could take a huge step towards a ‘nicer’ internet and less bullying if every parent today just said “no more” and went back to basics with their parenting messages: Play nice with others.

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