Bullying is always wrong. There is no doubt about that, but we don’t often think about it from the bully’s perspective.
There are many excuses why someone might resort to bullying: problems at home, they feel outcast themselves, they want to be popular among their friends, and so on.
In Gina Kong’s case, she bullied people because she enjoyed feeling powerful. Yet, that was before she talked with her mother about the issue and learned why bullying is wrong.
When Gina Kong was in middle school, she bullied other girls for no reason.
Nowadays, kids bully in all sorts of different ways. They don’t have to be mean directly to someone, they can instead shame them anonymously through social media. Yet, back when Kong was in middle school, bullies had to take a more direct approach.
“I was an old-fashioned bully; the type that would terrorize little girls through mocking, name-calling, and excluding them from activities,” she wrote for PopSugar.
“I was never a physical bully, but my strategic actions had the same desired effect: other kids feared me and listened to whatever I said.”
It was that sense of power that made Kong feel like bullying. She had no reason to go after her victims, and she didn’t feel better about herself when she shamed them.
She liked forcing others to do what she said, and that included the group of cronies she amassed when she started bullying. She saw them as her friends, at the time.
“We always traveled in a pack, ready to rule our kingdom that was recess,” Kong wrote.
When Kong’s mom learned about one of her victims named Sylvia, she confronted Kong’s behavior.
One of Kong’s victims was a girl named Sylvia. She was a nice girl from Kong’s class who locked herself in the bathroom crying because of bullying. Kong’s mother would receive phone calls from Sylvia’s mom and these calls got her questioning her daughter.
Kong’s mom asked her daughter if she knew Sylvia but Kong wouldn’t tell the truth right away. She pretended not to know Sylvia at all.
“Since I was a master manipulator, [mom] didn’t know anything about how I behaved at school,” Kong wrote.
Yet, as time passed and Kong’s mom received more and more phone calls, and those lies became less and less believable. One day, Kong and her mother had a long chat about bullying that ended up changing the rest of her life.
Kong’s mom taught her about empathy and the power of compliments.
“At that young age, I normally would have obeyed my parents mostly out of fear of getting in trouble and less out of respect for our developing relationship, but this conversation was different,” Kong wrote.
“There was deep disappointment in my mom’s tone, but she was also understanding because I was still a child.”
Kong’s mother had never had a talk with her about empathy before because she assumed it was common sense. Yet, in telling her about it, she was able to change her daughter’s behaviors for good.
The mother asked Kong to walk her through each instance of bullying. Then she went through each scenario one by one asking Kong how she would feel being on the receiving end.
“I don’t know why, but it didn’t click until that moment,” Kong said. “I felt so sad and disappointed in myself.”
She also advised Kong to start giving other girls compliments instead of insults, advice that she took to heart.
“I felt powerful when I was a bully, but my mom taught me that I can feel just as powerful, if not more so, when I’m kind,” she said.
Since then, Kong has tried her hardest to understand others and be kind to them. It was her mother’s advice that led her to be a kind and successful adult.