To have any hope of dealing with an issue, the problem has first to be identified in its true context. It maybe convenient for society to approach what is referred to as “bullying” at arms length, but the problem is a behavioural issue that is omnipresent. Bullying is just another name for sociopathic behaviour. Kids who bully at school tend to continue the trait throughout their adult lives. They become the “neighbours from hell,” the spiteful co-worker, the angry boss, the cruel military sergeant and so on. Some traits are nascent, but many are learned behaviours.
The modus operandi for bullies is remarkably similar to the sociopath. First they identify a victim, usually an individual who displays vulnerability. They then start victimising the quarry while going on a charm offensive with everyone else. Once the charm starts to work they then implant negative ideas about the victim in order to completely isolate the poor soul.
Here's where the dilemma occurs. Everyone falls for the charming predator and acknowledges the negativity about the innocent victim. When attacks are made on victims they are inevitably one-sided events with everyone pitching in to help the likeable predator. If the victim complains it usually falls on deaf ears as it is difficult to make anything stick against a popular individual. Very often complaints are dismissed on the basis that the predator is a good person and that the real issue rests with the victim. The worst thing a victim can hear is, “I don't know what your problem is with your nemesis, she/he is liked by everyone.”
The bully/sociopath delights in deceit. The more they can wrong-foot everyone the more the revel in their wickedness. In truth, they are incomplete human beings as they lack empathy. This doesn't mean to say they are stupid, far from it, a few PhD scholars have been known display these traits.
At the high-end of the scale where the term psychopath is used, plausibility allows monsters to evade detection. One of the most alarming was Peter Sutcliffe who successfully evaded detection after being interrogated 3 times in the Yorkshire Ripper case. Each time he sweet-talked the cops into believing he wasn't capable of harming a fly, however his luck ran out when he was caught red-handed hitting a prostitute over the head with a hammer.
This all may seem far removed from school-ground bullies, but is it? The school bully thinks she/he is far too clever to get caught. If Sutcliffe could fool experienced police officers, what chance has a schoolteacher have of detecting predatory behaviour?
There is but one effective tool. If records of complaints are carefully logged, the same individuals will appear time and time again. Bullies in school become bullies in the workplace. In recent times, industry has acknowledged the need to identify workplace troublemakers and the use of historical records of incidents is widely employed.
It is believed that around 5% of the population has a tendency towards predatory behaviour. Don't believe it? Just think back to any class at your school, any military grouping, any workplace and it is almost certain that at least one person will spring to mind.
Perhaps the saddest fact of all is that much of the drama we consume embraces predatory/psychopathic behaviour. We may find it fascinating to watch, alas when it happens in real life it is not so amusing. Those who are watching Mr Selfridge on TV ONE will doubtless acknowledge the predatory behaviour of Lord Loxley and the seemingly helplessness of the victim!