Divide and conquer by interacting with bullies one-on-one at a calm moment. As a group, that mob mentality takes over and they become overly aggressive. Making connections with each one individually helps you NOT become a target for a gang of bullies.
Sometimes your child might have to face just one bully. The other eleven articles in this twelve-article series will be most helpful in that situation. Sadly, sometimes children have to face a gang of bullies. This is extremely challenging and hard since that gang often operates under a mob mentality where it appears that there is little you can do stop or stall them.
What is meant by the term ‘mob mentality’?
Mob mentality is when a whole group of people act as if they are one person or as if they are operating under one mind. The most dominant person of the group or gang leads the others in some kind of negative campaign. This negative campaign can be verbal, it can be in the form of some kind of physical attack, or it can be acts of vandalism.
When a group is operating under that mob mentality, there is little use trying to reason with them during the heat of the moment. It is only when you can get them off by themselves, one at time, that you will have much or any success in dealing with them.
Mrs. R and the gang of kids
In 1995, a teacher we will call Mrs. R (for rescue) taught in an inner-city elementary school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A projects housing complex was located right across the street. Two of her fifth-grade girls were feuding. After school, a little first-grade girl ran up to Mrs. R in tears. She said that there was a bunch of kids who had zeroed in on one of those two girls. Let’s call her Girl Y. Quickly, Mrs. R ran outside. There was a mob of about 40 to 50 kids all yelling “Fight, Fight, Fight!” In the center of that mob were three key people. There was Girl Y. There was the other fifth-grade girl who we will call Girl X. Lastly, there was the high-school age big sister of Girl X.
Mrs. R. focused her attention on the underdog of the present situation, so to speak. In other words, she intended to hone her rescuing efforts on the most vulnerable child, the one in imminent danger of bodily harmed. Mrs. R’s impulse was to do whatever she could to save that child from danger. She would have done the same for either girl; however, Girl Y was the child most in need.
With no thought for her own safety, the adrenaline rush Mrs. R felt propelled her to the center of that mob of kids. The high-school girl was ordering her younger sister to hit Girl Y. For whatever reason, Girl X was hesitant or reluctant or simply hadn’t yet found the time to follow through. Mrs. R grabbed Girl Y gently but firmly by the arm and led her out of that mob and into the school. She immediately took the fifth grader to the Guidance Counselor to be comforted. In the meantime, the mother of Girl X came into the school, filled with rage that Mrs. R had assisted the other girl. Mrs. R tried to explain that she would have done the same for her daughter, had she been the one in danger. It became quite apparent that the mother did not believe Mrs. R’s explanation. Later, Mrs. R realized that it was probably pretty stupid of her to do what she did as that mob could have turned on her and beaten her up instead. Most likely, angels were looking out for all of them as no one got hit or hurt in any way.
Gangs of kids often utilize the technique of psychological warfare
So back to the discussion about mob mentality. Sometimes, a gang of kids utilizes the technique of psychological warfare to get a new member for their group.
What is meant by psychological warfare? It is a type of brainwashing technique where the gang members attempt to play with the mind of their prospective victims. They often use this technique to get new members to their group. It involves a number of steps.
The gang is nice to the prospective member some days and mean on other days. They push him or her around. They pick on him or her. Then just as the prospective member is about to avoid them, the gang will again act really, really nice to him or her.
A gang will often make threats to make that prospective member feel scared. Then they will find some opportunity to make it look like somebody else is out to hurt them. That way, they can look like a hero as they pretend to protect this prospective member.
The gang tries to isolate the prospective member from their former friends. If a gang can get that person to that point where he or she feels like there is no one else to turn to but them, that prospective member would end up doing just about anything the gang told them to do. In other words, they prey on the weak and try to separate them from the herd, so to speak.
This prospective member, usually a guy, but sometimes a girl, wants to feel like he or she belongs. He or she needs to feel safe. When this young person gets to the point where he or she begins to believe that the ONLY WAY that he or she can be safe is to become a part of that gang, the gang pretty much has complete control over that person. Their psychological warfare attempt has been successful, and the gang now has a new member.
Why do kids feel the need to join a gang?
Why do kids feel the need to join a gang? Sometimes it is due to having a bad home life. Sometimes it is due to not having many friends and they have a low self-esteem. There could be other reasons as well. Anybody care to comment to share what you know about why kids join gangs?
How do you avoid joining a gang?
How do you avoid joining a gang? You need to find ways to raise up your self-esteem. You can get advice and mentoring from a trusted friend, family member, or another adult. You can find a way to get happier and more fulfilled by doing things that make you feel happy. You can join a club or a team. You can get more friends of the right sort. In other words, self-mentor.
Wife beaters and girlfriend beaters also use psychological warfare techniques
Psychological Warfare is often the same technique utilized by a wife or girlfriend abuser. He tries to isolate his wife or girlfriend from her family and friends. He threatens that if she tells about the abuse, she will be hurt worse or he will come after someone she loves. He probably deprives her of easy transportation or enough money to get away. He does whatever he can to make her feel like he is the only person who will put up with her or care for her. He disguises all his acts of violence by stating that he does this out of love. Her self-esteem becomes less and less until she feels that she actually deserves this abuse. She doesn’t tell others, not only out of fear of further harm, she fears that no one will believe her. She also probably feels ashamed that she chose the wrong man. She spirals further and further into his web until he has complete control over her.
What is extra tragic is that this boy or man was probably a bully from elementary school forward. Since he was able to get away with years of bullying others with little or no consequences, he now brings that bullying tendency forward into his current life with his girlfriend or wife.
Bullying often starts in elementary school
Knowing that bullying often starts in elementary school is one of the main motivations of the author to spend hours of her free time creating her “Be Bully Free” program for elementary school students. She is passionate about finding ways to help victims deal with bullies in more positive, proactive ways. For more information about this Bully Free program, please visit http://moredunntales.com/be-bully-free.html.
What we can learn from alpha, beta, and omega wolves
Watching documentaries about wolves are very interesting. Two points in particular tie in beautifully with this article.
The author of Wolf Park.org describes the role of the Alpha Wolf. He is like the leader of a gang. The Alpha Wolf has the right to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He decides when it is time to start hunting. He is the one who chooses the resting place. The rest of the pack will follow his lead and join in.
It also sounds like wolves use that process of psychological warfare on their prey. The author of Wolf Park.org had some interesting ways to describe this process. The wolves, of course, hunt in a pack. He mentions that some documentaries incorrectly state that wolves growl or snarl at their prey with their hackles raised. He explains that wolves only growl and snarl at each other in order to gain or maintain higher status than the other wolf. He said that for a wolf to growl at its prey would be akin to us “getting angry at an ice cream cone he or she was about to eat.” He said instead, wolves who hunt look very happy and excited. They even act rather friendly. Their tails wag, their ears are up, and they get very quiet. They “stare at their prey and look very focused.” That would be similar to the way a gang would focus their attention on a potential member. They would appear friendly but really be quite menacing.
Wolves continue their acts of psychological warfare on their lowest-ranked wolf of the pack – the Omega Wolf. As the author of Wolf Park.org describes, the other wolves of the pack will sometimes pick on the Omega Wolf by biting it and driving it away from food. At other times, they may tolerate its presence and allow it to become part of some of the group activities. As you can well imagine, the Omega Wolf, and the prospective gang member, would both always be on their guard, not knowing whether this was the day they were going to receive receptive treatment or humiliating treatment.
What should you do if your child becomes the focus of a gang of bullies?
In case your child becomes the focus of a gang of bullies who plans to try to initiate your child into the gang, of course, teach your child the methods mentioned earlier in this article of finding ways to self-mentor by increasing his or her self-esteem, reaching out to you or another trusted adult or friend, or encouraging your child to join a club or team or to find better friends.
Divide and conquer
If your child becomes the focus of a gang of bullies who plan to visit verbal or physical abuse on him or her, then it is a good idea to teach him or her about the policy of ‘Divide and Conquer’.
An old ad from Home Depot also uses this terminology of ‘divide and conquer’. It suggested that people could get overwhelmed and feel helpless if they faced the prospect of having to fix or clean-up an entire house. Instead, they should use the process of ‘divide and conquer’ by approaching the clean-up or fix-up of one room at a time.
In a similar fashion, it would be extra intimidating to face a whole gang of any type. A person or small group of people with a different agenda from that gang of bullies or ruffians would not be able to make much of an impact to change that gangs’ goal to cause damage or harm. The best option is in moments of calm, aim to make one-on-one connections with each member of that gang. Then the next time that person has to face the gang as a whole, they are more likely to have a more positive outcome.
This process is demonstrated in a story called “JoJo and the Three Bully B’s.” The link to that story is posted in the resource section below. Two other stories are also included that address the topics of psychological warfare and mob mentality.
A fun activity for parent and child
To further reinforce the importance of using good posture, play these two songs about bullies. Learn the songs and sing them together. Practice the skills indicated in the songs to make your child much more bully-proof. Here’s the links:
1. Click this link for “Anti-Bullying song for kids #1: My Bully Buster Song” on rootshed.com
2. Click this link for Another Bully Buster Song on YouTube. (Song is embedded within this article.)
Now that your child knows that using the process of ‘divide and conquer’ can help him or her achieve a happier life now and in the long run, it may feel like a worthier activity to practice and perfect.
Please note: This article was originally posted in 2009 under the former publishing tool. When it was discovered that it had some missing links and videos, etc., I edited it and re-published it as you see above.
Return to Hub page for “Avoid Bullying with these 12 tips”
Two stories about mob mentality and psychological warfare
1. Tyler Chooses Between Dennis and Shawn’s Gang: Shawn and his gang were waging psychological warfare on Tyler. One day, Dennis playfully nudged Tyler while he was with them. Instead of laughing in welcome, Tyler and the gang accused Dennis of hitting Tyler and warned him he better watch his back.
2. Sam Chooses to Self-Mentor Instead of to Give in to Psychological Warfare: Remember Shawn and his gang? You will hear some more details about their psychological warfare attempts in this story called, “Sam Chooses to Self Mentor Instead of to Give in to Psychological Warfare.”
A story exemplifying how to divide and conquer with a gang of bullies
1. JoJo and the Three Bully B’s: Fourth-grader JoJo has become the victim of bullying by the sixth-grade gang known as the Bully B’s: Bob, Bo, and Bill. JoJo’s mission is to discover a way to deal with them in a positive manner before they decide to beat him up again.
- Wolf Country.net – The Wolf Pack
- Wolf Park.org – Frequently Asked Questions About Wolves
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