Often times, bullying is done via the bullies travelling in packs. In “He Was Weird,” many of Mark’s bullying experiences come as a result of not one bully, but more than one. The obvious reason for this is numbers. If there is more than one, the victim is less likely to fight back and if the victim dares to try, all of those involved now feel justified in taking their revenge. Furthermore, the bullies can feed off each other, especially if there is one person doing most of the bullying. That person can feed off his comrades knowing they have his back and intimidating the victim even more. In either case, there is a great advantage in bullying in a pack.
Before I move onto the distinct advantage I was talking about, I must step forward and make a confession, which, thinking back, I am ashamed to have done this. There were actually some rare occasions where the bullies left me alone in favour of another target. While, having been were that person was, I should have been more empathetic towards this other victim. Instead, I would join in with the group bullying. If I were to come across any of these victims now, I would apologize for this wrongdoing. My mindset at the time was that I was getting some sort of payback for the crap normally thrown at me. It felt good to be the aggressor as opposed to the victim. Unfortunately, these other victims were never any of the ones who were bullying me, just other victims like me and I was wrong to join in with any bullying of them.
Of all the advantages of bullying in groups, the one distinct advantage that I have experienced is that it gives individuals in the group the opportunity to avoid accountability. In most cases of group bullying, there are usually some individuals who take a back seat. They may not do anything physical or verbal but they are there and find the victim’s suffering amusing. However, if brought to account by anyone in authority, these people are quick to scream to high heavens that they didn’t do anything. It wasn’t them. The one fortunate thing here is that often, these people are very quick to give up the ring leaders in the bullying.
The reverse is true if the victim identifies those in the group who do most of the bullying. Even though they are the most vocal in any bullying, if brought to account, they are quick to grass up the rest of the group with the “It wasn’t just me, it was …” By doing this, it diminishes the severity of any bullying and they can also claim that they are being unfairly singled out by the victim. In any case, at least in my past experiences, any sanction for said bullying by those in authority to deal with it are likely to be less severe. See, bullying in a group makes it much easier to get away with it.
I think the best way to deal with the accountability issue is to make all in the group accountable. Sure, you may have simply stood back and watched, but did you do anything to stop it? Furthermore, because you were part of the group, you must have condoned the suffering being dished out on the victim. Likewise, there may have been others in the group and they will be held accountable, you were one of the main bullies and should be accountable for that.