(Note to Lepus Studios readers: If my blog feed is running all these lines together with no breaks, please click the blog title to read it in Google Blogger. Sorry for the trouble.)

Once again, it’s time for kids to return to school. That means it’s time for me to write another back-to-school survival guide blog. Each year, I try to write some practical advice for school children to help make their lives a little easier. I have an above average amount of memories from my own childhood and I’m a certified teacher. I’ve seen how schools work from both sides of the fence. Am I an expert? Meh, I can probably write a better survival guide then the ones those kids magazines crank out each September.

If you want to read last year’s blog on getting help from teachers, find it here: http://www.lepusstudios.com/?p=3222

This Year’s Topic: The Bully Field Guide.

Whenever I hear adults reminiscing on how hard school was, they usually don’t gripe about early mornings, dull classes, or even homework. Eight times out of ten, their worst memories are about putting up with other students. We all know that classes and homework make us smarter and better. But putting up with bullies serves no purpose. It just drains our time and energy.

Bullies in real life aren’t always like the bullies on TV. They’re not always big dumb meatheads or ice-queen cheerleaders. I’ve made a list of the four most common types of real-world bullies and some tips on how to deal with them once you’ve identified them.

Remember, for any kind of bully, getting help from parents and teachers is always an option. It can be tough for adults to fix kid’s problems. You may have to ask for help more than once to let them know that the problem is serious. Ask your teacher about talking to the principal or school counselor too. They may have some extra tricks that your parents and teachers can’t pull.

(Note: In the section ahead, I’ve used the pronoun “he” just to keep it short. All of these bullies can be male or female.)

The Sociopath – This bully thinks that he is the center of the universe and other people are just around to amuse him. It’s easy to think of self-centered bullies as spoiled rich kids, but often times, they’re regular kids whose parents never told them “no” enough. These bullies are most often found in high schools (sometimes middle schools). Kids at this age realize that their actions can have big effects on the world. The sociopath likes to try this power out on other kids. To him, it’s fascinating to learn that he can make others unhappy. He also likes the idea that bullying is taboo. Breaking this rule makes him feel dangerous and rebellious. Sociopath bullies don’t push everyone around. They only have a couple of targets, which they attack frequently. They can have real friends and are often good students. Sometimes they get along with teachers, other times they try to push the teachers around too. They are often leaders and will try make their friends join in on the bullying. They avoid a fair fight. They may strike, then run or confront their target only when they have their friends around.

Strategies: Your best bet is to shield yourself. This bully wants to destroy your self-esteem. Remember that you’re not to blame for this. Also, when this bully comes around, stick to your friends. He doesn’t want to challenge all of you.

If you yourself are a sociopath bully, be warned: most of them regret their actions when they grow up. You may be spoiling your future childhood memories.

The Tease: Some kids really enjoy laughing at others. For this bully it’s all about feeling clever and enjoying a laugh. It’s not about hurting your feelings, but that’s a side effect that he can live with. He usually teases everyone, but picks on some kids more than others. Sometimes this bully thinks you’re enjoying the joke. Sometimes he doesn’t care how you feel. These bullies are silly kids who like to get swept up in the moment.

Strategies: Confronting him will either gets him to stop or encourages him. Try confrontation once to see if it works. Don’t sound angry or emotional. Just let them know you don’t want to play. If that doesn’t work, ignore him as much as possible.

The Class Clown: Sometimes this kid is really funny. Sometimes he only thinks he’s funny. This bully runs purely on impulse. He hits people or breaks things just to make something exciting happen. This kid often disrupts class and is always in trouble with teachers. He never plans on hurting you, but he doesn’t really mind if he does. When he realizes he’s done something wrong, he’s too worried about getting out of trouble to think about apologizing. People who act like this do it because they have other problems. Never try to hurt him back. If you later find out about his troubles, you’ll end up feeling guilty. Plus, this kid is likely to go off on you. You don’t want that kind of trouble.

Strategies: You and your friends should never to laugh at anything this kid does, even if it’s funny. Don’t criticize his jokes either. Just say nothing. Other than that, it might be best to stay out of the way. If one of your friends is a class clown bully NEVER encourage him to act out. Sure, it may seem to lift his spirits for a moment, but in the long run, you’re helping him damage himself.

The Vigilante: This is the most common type of school bully: the bully who doesn’t know he’s a bully. He mistakenly thinks his victims are bad guys who deserve to a hard time. He’ll pick on people who make fun of his friends, mess up his stuff, or have a bad attitude. Then he goes to far. He may spend years picking on you because of one rude comment you made by accident. Or he torments people who were already punished by a teacher because he didn’t think the teacher was tough enough. Most of the time, you won’t know why he’s giving you trouble. But he won’t tell you because he thinks you already know. Here’s the weirdest part: To everyone else, he’s probably a real nice kid.

Strategies: Of all bullies, vigilantes are the most open to logic. When he picks on you, say something quick like “How long are you going to keep pushing me?” or “What have I ever done to you?” With any luck, this may make him to think about what he’s doing.

Be warned: Sociopaths can look a lot like vigilantes. Logical arguments may get a vigilante to back off, but it will make a sociopath push harder. I recommend you only try logic once. If it doesn’t work, you may have a sociopath on your hands.

Everyone has the potential to become vigilante bullies if we don’t check ourselves. Let little things go as much as possible. If you ever find yourself fighting with another kid, it’s possible that you’re both vigilante bullying each other. Remember, your goal is not to get even. It’s to stop all the fighting and make your life less complicated.

Good Luck.