The Bully Cycle And How To Make It  Stop!

For adults who want to learn more about Verbal Judo principles and how you help us combat bullying, join us for our FREE 90-minute community event on October 16th at 12pm.


Until we meet, know that bullying is a cycle.  Here is some info on how the cycle works.


The Bully Cycle

The Bully Cycle was developed by Dan Olweus, a psychologist from Norway. Each participant listed below plays an instrumental role in the cycle and has the ability to help make the Cycle stop.


• The bully

• The target

• The crowd

• The person(s) of authority

• The Coaches


In order for bullying to occur and the cycle to begin, there has to be both a Bully and a Target. For this example, let’s call the Bully “Johnny” and the target “Caitlin.” Johnny is calling Caitlin names in the hallway…


“You’re ugly and a loser,” Johnny says. “Only losers wear those shoes!”


The Bully, Johnny, can choose on his own to stop bullying, although this is an unlikely option. Johnny would need to understand the consequences of his actions, which is difficult for young students to do.


The Target, Caitlin, can make bullying stop. She can stand up to the Bully. “I actually really like my shoes, sorry you feel that way!” She can reach out to a trusted adult for help (i.e. teacher, parent, principle, the crowd) as well.


The Crowd can help stop the cycle. The target, Caitlin, can enlist the help of the crowd. For example, Johnny is now calling Caitlin names on the playground.


            “You’re ugly and a loser!”


There are students standing near Johnny and Caitlin. Caitlin turns to the Crowd and says…


            “Did you just hear Johnny call me names? Did you hear him call me ugly and a loser?”


By enlisting the Crowd, there are now witnesses to Johnny calling her names. If Caitlin talks to a teacher, there are people who can back up her story.


Another example:

Bullies can at times thrive on the attention of a crowd. They like an audience. They may thrive on receiving negative attention or want to feel “cool.” If the crowd doesn’t participate, or stands up against the bully, the cycle can stop.


The Coaches and the Person of Authority – These are trusted adults that Caitlin, or any target, can go to and explain what is happening. These are people who can intervene and stop the cycle.


“Mrs. Smith, Johnny has been calling me names at recess. The other kids have seen and heard it. Can you please ask him to stop? We have all tried, but he won’t stop.”


Now that we’ve got that covered… let’s think about our school or workplace.


  • Have you ever seen someone get bullied? Are you or anyone else doing anything to stop the cycle? Don’t be a bystander. Help out!


  • If you see something wrong, or someone upset, don’t assume that a trusted adult knows. If you see something, say something.


  • Sometimes we want to handle bullies ourselves… Remember that the first line of defense is our words. Talk to your peers, friends, family and trusted adults. Make them aware of what is happening!


    -Team Krav Maga New York

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