“We create our own reality.” People in spiritual communities nurture each other with daily bits of wisdom ~ nuggets of profoundly sacred truth that explain how powerful each of us truly are. Reminding our fellow seekers that we are not victims, we send encouragement to tap into our infinite and shared intelligence. With each shot of renewed hope and optimism, we help each other to step into the challenges of the day and live in our highest potential.

Sadly, there are many children who begin their day thinking they are miserable failures. The reality of their mind tells them that there is no one to trust, no one who sees or hears them and nothing valuable to strive for. The only time they feel powerful is when they are hurting something or someone weaker who cannot stand up to them. Deep inside they feel alone and unworthy. These are the children who become bullies.

There have always been bullies who taunted others, whether in the playgrounds or on the streets. When I was a kid growing up in The Bronx we practiced the mantra, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” In today’s world words have taken on a new energy and they are taking a toll on the emotional, spiritual and in some cases, the physical well-being of less empowered children.

Why does it seem like it is getting worse? Because energy is increasing, taking on greater momentum and the need to feel powerful is mirroring the world in which the bully lives.

So, we are all left wondering what to do about this phenomenon. In order to find a transformational answer, we must look at the similarities between bullies and their victims. The key is in their shared energy.

The sad realization is that at a very deep level neither bullies nor their victims feel good about themselves. The bully hides feelings of worthlessness and emptiness inside while gathering strength and value by creating a ‘gang’ of followers looking for their identity through a collective spirit of meanness.

Victims are often loners who struggle to belong or ‘good kids’ who have been taught to please others. It is challenging for them to connect with their inner strength and bring forth a strong sense of worthiness. They make perfect prey for the bully because on an energetic level the bully can sense the fragility of the other child’s persona.

As a former teacher, it used to amaze me how quickly the bullies identified and stalked their prey. In a school of 1,000 children, it wouldn’t take long for the bully mentality to emerge in the playground and the predators quickly sniffed out the weakest link and identified their victim.

Children who are victims feel powerless, frightened and embarrassed by their inability to stand tall in the face of taunts. They often come from good families who strive to instill values and responsibility. What can parents, teachers and society as a whole do to stop the rampant mocking and teasing that goes over the line and begins to rob the victim of his spirit, well-being and at worse, desire to live?

We can attempt to deal with the issue with a sense of force and power. We can treat bullying as something that will not be tolerated. Parents and educators can join forces to create a no tolerance policy that includes taking away cell phones and computer privileges. Bullying on school property can be grounds for suspension. Parents can be held responsible for their child’s behavior. The only problem with this approach is that it escalates the issue at the base of all bullying which is feeling angry and powerless. The child who has been suspended will lose their computer privileges or is punished will just take his revenge underground and find new ways to feel his dominance.

I’m suggesting that we be willing to include another approach. There is a Chinese proverb that says: “Peace in the world begins with peace in our homes. Peace in our homes begins with peace in our hearts.” It is a parent’s duty to be a role model for their children. If we want our children to be kind, understanding and empathetic people they MUST see that behavior modeled for them. You cannot threaten or embarrass children into being kind. While we all want children to be ‘nice’ to each other, there are many children not seeing their parents being ‘nice’ to other people.

Now is the time we adults take responsibility for the words we use, the judgments we make, the jokes we crack and the political rhetoric we so freely throw about. Start listening to conversations around the dinner table, while sipping wine or beer on the weekends, at the ball games and while driving in the car.

How tolerant are we for people who are different from us?

How do we speak about people of different faiths, races, cultural and economic backgrounds or political viewpoints?

It is time we adults started to listen to and take responsibility for our own ‘bullying language and attitudes.’

Parents and teachers can also be more mindful of the messages we give to children about their self-worth and their ability to stand up for themselves. There actually is a way to discipline children so that they do not feel they must always give in to the powerful ones. There is a way to teach ‘nice’ children to be responsible without swiping away their sense of dignity. There is a way to allow children to speak their truth, disagree with authority and express their opinions without someone winning and someone losing. There is a way to live with our children without threats, punishments and loss of dignity. We can all feel a healthy sense of empowerment when challenges are seen as opportunities to grow.

I believe that we can stop generating the emotional environments that create bullies and victims. It begins in our homes, in our schools and most importantly, in our own hearts.

There are many people in the spiritual community who do not have children and I encourage you to send love to all of our young people. They deserve to know what we know, that we all create our own reality and that each of us has the ability to step into our healthy power.

When you see parents struggling with their children you might gently suggest that there are resources to help them raise successful kids who not only get good grades and clean up their rooms but also really feel good about themselves ~ so good, in fact, that their energy would never line up with the vibration necessary to become either a bully or a victim.