Understand Bullying: The Role of Shame

  • taking Advantage of power
  • using Aggression
  • and Accepting mistreatment

Pathways TO Shame / Pathways OF Shame:

In the bullying context, we navigate in and out of Shame — coming from Fear, Frustration, Anger, or Surrender — and back again. We often believe that just experiencing the emotion of fear makes a person “a coward” — and that belief leads to shame. Likewise with surrender — which we might imagine an irredeemably cowardly act. Frustration can be seem to mean incompetence — and therefore unworthiness — leading to shame. And, anger, acted-out in a way that violates personal values or social mores — or even just causes an unexpectedly poor outcome — can also lead down the dark path of shame.

The Shame Vortex: Targets of Bullying

It doesn’t matter whether they’re vulnerable due to frustration, fear, shame, or sadness. These emotional states make a person more vulnerable to choosing surrender as a way to deal with abuses of power, or aggression. Once a person chooses to surrender, they must deal with the social and personal interpretations of that.

The Shame Vortex: Bullies

It doesn’t matter whether they’re coming from frustration, fear, shame, or sadness. These emotional states often lead into anger — and to acting out through abuse of social power or other aggression. Once a person chooses to express anger through action, they must deal with the social and personal interpretations of that.

The Crime of Punishment:

Another way to visualize and understand a shame-bullying system, and the adult participation in maintaining it is this flow chart: The Crime of Punishment.

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