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10 former bullies share what inspired them to become kinder

Change is possible.

bullying, stop bullying
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Bullying is often modeled by parental behavior.

Bullies are made, not born. Bullying traits might be picked up in a variety of ways, but violence, aggression and cruelty are most certainly learned behaviors during a child’s development.

The book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychology,” co-authored by psychiatrist Jack C. Westman M.D. and science writer Victoria Costello, lists five major factors that most often lead to bullying: physical punishment, watching aggressive behavior in adults, violent television, problems with processing emotions and undiagnosed mental illness.

The underlying theme in these causes? A lack of empathy. Bullies are often taught—whether directly or subversively—that dominance and control are more vital than compassion and understanding. This results in pain for not only the intended target, but for the oppressor themselves.

how to stop a bullyHurt people hurt people. Photo by yang miao on Unsplash

But just as it can be learned, bullying can be unlearned—through supportive friendships, trusted role models and maybe even professional help. People are always capable of change when given the necessary tools to do so.

Recently, a Reddit user asked former bullies (and former “mean girls,” for as we all know this is not necessarily a gender-specific phenomenon) to share what “finally brought a change.”

The answers were inspiring. They not only showed that yes, the adage is true, “hurt people hurt people,” but also that powerful transformation can happen simply by taking accountability. Many of these former bullies admitted to growing up in less-than-ideal environments and did not know any other way to cope. But eventually they were given fresh insight, and with that were better able to choose kindness.

The world might seem like a cold and uncaring place at times, but these 10 stories are a beautiful reminder that change is always possible.


Wasn't really a bully but I wasn't nice either. I…was mean to people who I thought deserved it, and it didn't help that there were also other people who were just as mean and judgmental as I was. It got to the point that I was needlessly fighting my friends and only when I was confronted about my attitude and I got to hear my friend's perspective that I shifted.

…Took a lot of time and educated myself on how to be better. Also therapy lol. Anger management, anxiety management, etc. I couldn't erase who I was and I accept that part of me. I'm not saying I'm all perfect now…I know there's still a lot of work to do, but all in all it's loads better than before. I'm glad I had the chance to grow up and get better." – @AnxiousCrownNinja

Right after high school was the turning point for me… I was having a lot of discord with my own friends due to my attitude and it took hearing their honest feedback about how my approach was alienating them for me to start doing major self reflection. I decided I didn't want people to fear me and I certainly didn't want to alienate my own friends, so I started talking less and listening more. I made an honest effort to care more about people as individuals-I got interested in the unique strengths each person brings to the table and did what I could to start learning from others. I humbled myself a lot over the years. I worked on saying I'm sorry and admitting when I was wrong. And years later I've gotten into therapy to continue to work on myself. I'll never be warm and fuzzy as that's just not my personality, but I'm a much better person than I was when I was younger.” – @Babhak

Was essentially bullied at home by my family and I took it out on those around me. Thankfully I had some friends that let me know I was being a dick and I apologized to the people I hurt, I'll always hate myself for the way I acted and I don't think that will ever change. I still catch myself being a grumbling asshole sometimes but I will never let myself be who I used to be.” – @raikonai

I got a job as a video game tester and worked with people who were bullied when they were younger. We'd tell stories and things I found funny they found traumatic and mean. As cliche as it is, I never thought about it from their perspective or thought my behavior was bullying until then. Helped me see it from the other side, I'm much more empathic now. Pretty ashamed about my behavior when I was younger.” – @GCJallDAY

When I realized I was just like my dad, and I really dislike my dad.” – @kastawamy

what cause bullying, cyberbullying

We don't have to become our parents.

Photo by Muhmed Alaa El-Bank on Unsplash

I come from a small town where families have generational feuds. It also didn't help that my family is poor and very ghetto/redneck and very racially mixed. All of my aunts and uncles and parents are some form of addict in one way or another. I didn't have a chance. I truly didn't. The kids I went to school with weren't allowed to hang out with me and my siblings. I remember going to a friend's house and their parents asked me my last name and they told me to leave once they heard it. I was severely bullied in elementary school and teachers didn't care to help because of the family I came from. I had one teacher just be vicious to me because my mom was selling her kid weed. I was pretty much feral and didn't have manners and just in general an autistic kid.

So I quickly learned that anger was the best shield. I bullied my bullies back. They can't catch you off guard if you're the attacker. I fought the people who came at my family with as much violence as they gave me. It bled onto kids who were friends with my bullies. They turned into essentially collateral damage. I was a bully but I was also the blood in the water in a school system that encouraged violence. It's taken me a long time to deal with [what] my home town put me through. I switched towns and changed my name. That helped a lot. I ended up in juvy after a giant fight with several family members. To say I was scared straight is an understatement. I was required to go to group therapy as part of the program I was put in to reform me. The judge knew my family and gave me a shot I took advantage of. He played a huge role in my mindset on my circumstance. I learned how to handle my trauma in a more productive way over the course of years and so much hard work. I ended up having to change my name so I wouldn't be harassed by cops and those who knew my family.

I'll definitely say this again—I grew up in a system where you had to do everything you could to survive. I can't really stomach what I did…I've left apologies in so many inboxes as an adult. I've even made friends with some of them.” – @beastgalblue

Over time and with new experiences, I stopped hating myself and my life. Then, I started seeing value in my existence and realized I actually impacted people. Happiness, for myself and others, became my reason for living. My middle school health teacher used to tell us that bullies are hurting and that's why they bully. Miss Costello, wherever you are, you were right. I've never met a bully who was happy with themselves or their life. I tell my students all the time that hurt people hurt people, and I stand by that. The fastest way to help a bully change is to show them love, kindness, and compassion.” – @mha3620

I was a mean girl. Cheer, popular, thought I was better than everyone else. During summer break in high school I went to camp. I was bullied by some of the other girls there so relentlessly. From hazing, to humiliating me, lying to get me in trouble. It was bad. After that I changed. Wish it was earlier.” – @lesbomommy

means girls, girl bullies

Learning from mistakes is all part of the human experience.

Photo by Scotty Turner on Unsplash

“I was one of those jocks who picks on the weaker kids who couldn’t really defend themselves, in order to make the crowd laugh…It was never anything too physical or over the top, so parents or others never got involved, but I know that I made life a pain for some individuals while in elementary school.

Anyhow, this PE teacher of mine took me into his office after hours one day and explained that I should try to use my authority better, and that while it might feel good to make others laugh on someone else's behalf, it feels a lot better to be an overall good guy.

Never really had any good male influence in my life before that, so that really stuck with me, and from high school and onward I tried to reach out and confront others in school that bullied others. Oftentimes we just don’t know better.” – @KingBob3922

I grew up in an abusive home and did it out of self-protection. Verbally hurt them before they could hurt you. I know my behavior didn’t make me popular or really make me feel better but I needed to lash out on the easiest targets. fast forward to having no friends in my mid 20 s and needed to figure out why.

I actually became friends with older coworkers [and] as a proxy parental influence they gently guided me. ‘Why would you say that to someone? Why would you say that about yourself? Why do you talk that way? Why is everything a fight? What's wrong with being different? What's wrong with making mistakes?’ No judgments, just gentle questions that I couldn't answer until I looked hard at myself.

I'm glad that someone took the time to see past my anger, my pushing people away, my misery and saw a young person that just needed some kindness.” – @OrdinaryPride8811

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.


The French Bulldog’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past decade. They were the #14 most popular breed in 2012, and since then, registrations have gone up 1,000%, bringing them to the top of the breed popularity rankings.

The AKC says that the American Hairless Terrier, Gordon Setter, Italian Greyhound and Anatolian Shepherd Dog also grew in popularity between 2021 and 2022.

The French Bulldog was famous among America’s upper class around the turn of the 20th century but then fell out of favor. Their resurgence is partly based on several celebrities who have gone public with their Frenchie love. Leonardo DiCaprio, Megan Thee Stallion, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Reese Witherspoon and Lady Gaga all own French Bulldogs.

The breed earned a lot of attention as show dogs last year when a Frenchie named Winston took second place at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and first in the National Dog Show.

The breed made national news in early 2021 when Gaga’s dog walker was shot in the chest while walking two of her Frenchies in a dog heist. He recovered from his injuries, and the dogs were later returned.

They’ve also become popular because of their unique look and personalities.

“They’re comical, friendly, loving little dogs,” French Bull Dog Club of America spokesperson Patty Sosa told the AP. She said they are city-friendly with modest grooming needs and “they offer a lot in a small package.”

They are also popular with people who live in apartments. According to the AKC, Frenchies don’t bark much and do not require a lot of outdoor exercise.

The French Bulldog stands out among other breeds because it looks like a miniature bulldog but has large, expressive bat-like ears that are its trademark feature. However, their popularity isn’t without controversy. “French bulldogs can be a polarizing topic,” veterinarian Dr. Carrie Stefaniak told the AP.

american kennel club, french bulldog, most popular dog

An adorable French Bulldog

via Pixabay

French Bulldogs have been bred to have abnormally large heads, which means that large litters usually need to be delivered by C-section, an expensive procedure that can be dangerous for the mother. They are also prone to multiple health problems, including skin, ear, and eye infections. Their flat face means they often suffer from respiratory problems and heat intolerance.

Frenchies are also more prone to spine deformations and nerve pain as they age.

Here are the AKC’s top ten most popular dog breeds for 2022.

1 French Bulldogs

2 Labrador Retrievers

3 Golden Retrievers

4 German Shepherd Dogs

5 Poodles

6 Bulldogs

7 Rottweilers

8 Beagles

9 Dachshunds

10 German Shorthaired Pointers


This article originally appeared on 03.17.23

Representative Image from Canva

There's no way they didn't understand what she was saying.

Okay, so maybe dogs don’t understand everything we tell them exactly as a human would. But is that gonna stop us from having full blown conversations with them? Of course not. And the times they do seem to comprehend what’s being communicated—pure comedy.

Take this dog mom’s hilarious pre-grooming pep talk with Shih-Tzus Branston, Pickle and Gizmo. She minced no words telling them exactly how this trip was gonna go. And the message seemed to be received.

Branston (the troublemaker, apparently) got a firm warning of what not to do, including telling white lies about his upbringing.

“I don’t need you running in telling the first dog you see that this is what this is what your hair used to look like when you lived in the Bronx running up and down the block, cause I know for a fact, Branston, that you live in a rural village,” she tells him.

Viewers, however, seemed on board with Branston’s Bronx-affiliation, even if it was a little white lie. One person joked, “don’t be mad at the treats that I got, I’m still Branny from the block.”

In the video, Branston is also instructed to not tell everyone that he “identifies as a BUll Mastiff,” which gets the most adorable look of disappointment for wee little Branston.

As for Gizmo and Pickle—mom’s best advice is to pretend like they don’t know Branston.

Perhaps the best part is mom’s British accent, which makes the entire clip feel like something pulled straight outta “Ted Lasso.” That, or the complete shock the Shih-tzu trio has at being informed of their weight class.

Watch:

@branstonandpickle01 Your NOT from the Bronx and you never ran up and down the block!! #dogsoftiktok #peptalktoyourdog #branstonwehavearrived #shihtzusoftiktok #peptalkbranston #funnydogvideos #funnyvideos #nyc #bronx #funny #dogs #dogtok ♬ original sound - Branston,Pickle&Gizmo

Perhaps Branston, Pickle, and Gizmo’s mom isn’t totally off-base by giving them a talking to. According to the website allshihtzu.com, this breed had a “unique intelligence,” which gets best demonstrated by their attuned, empathic connection to their human families. Meaning that while they might not have the same kind of smarts as border collies or other herding dogs, their super power is picking up social cues.

And, again, even if they had no earthly idea what their mom was saying, odds are she’d still be talking to them anyway. Why? Because pets are our babies. And baby talk is fun.jk

Island School Class, circa 1970s.

Parents, do you think your child would be able to survive if they were transported back to the '70s or '80s? Could they live at a time before the digital revolution put a huge chunk of our lives online?

These days, everyone has a phone in their pocket, but before then, if you were in public and needed to call someone, you used a pay phone. Can you remember the last time you stuck 50 cents into one and grabbed the grubby handset?

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, roughly 100,000 pay phones remain in the U.S., down from 2 million in 1999.

Do you think a 10-year-old kid would have any idea how to use a payphone in 2022? Would they be able to use a Thomas Guide map to find out how to get somewhere? If they stepped into a time warp and wound up in 1975, could they throw a Led Zeppelin album on the record player at a party?


Another big difference between now and life in the '70s and '80s has been public attitudes toward smoking cigarettes. In 1965, 42.4% of Americans smoked and now, it’s just 12.5%. This sea change in public opinion about smoking means there are fewer places where smoking is deemed acceptable.

But in the early '80s, you could smoke on a bus, on a plane, in a movie theater, in restaurants, in the classroom and even in hospitals. How would a child of today react if their third grade teacher lit up a heater in the middle of math class?

Dan Wuori, senior director of early learning at the Hunt Institute, tweeted that his high school had a smoking area “for the kids.” He then asked his followers to share “something you experienced as a kid that would blow your children’s minds.”


A lot of folks responded with stories of how ubiquitous smoking was when they were in school. While others explained that life was perilous for a kid, whether it was the school playground equipment or questionable car seats.

Here are a few responses that’ll show today’s kids just how crazy life used to be in the '70s and '80s.

First of all, let’s talk about smoking.

Want to call someone? Need to get picked up from baseball practice? You can’t text mom or dad, you’ll have to grab a quarter and use a pay phone.

People had little regard for their kids’ safety or health.

You could buy a soda in school.

Things were a lot different before the internet.

Remember pen pals?

A lot of people bemoan the fact that the children of today aren’t as tough as they were a few decades back. But that’s probably because the parents of today are better attuned to their kids’ needs so they don't have to cheat death to make it through the day.

But just imagine how easy parenting would be if all you had to do was throw your kids a bag of Doritos and a Coke for lunch and you never worried about strapping them into a car seat?


This article originally appeared on 06.08.22

What is Depression?

In the United States, close to 10% of the population has depression, but sometimes it can take a long time for someone to even understand that they have it.

One difficulty in diagnosis is trying to distinguish between feeling down and experiencing clinical depression. This TED-Ed video from December 2015 can help make the distinction. With simple animation, the video explains how clinical depression lasts longer than two weeks with a range of symptoms that can include changes in appetite, poor concentration, restlessness, sleep disorders (either too much or too little), and suicidal ideation. The video briefly discusses the neuroscience behind the illness, outlines treatments, and offers advice on how you can help a friend or loved one who may have depression.


Unlike the many pharmaceutical ads out there with their cute mascots and vague symptoms, the video uses animation to provide clarity about the mental disorder. It's similar in its poignant simplicity to the HBO short documentary "My Depression," based on Liz Swados' book of the same name.


This article originally appeared on 08.17.19

New baby and a happy dad.


When San Francisco photographer Lisa Robinson was about to have her second child, she was both excited and nervous.

Sure, those are the feelings most moms-to-be experience before giving birth, but Lisa's nerves were tied to something different.

She and her husband already had a 9-year-old son but desperately wanted another baby. They spent years trying to get pregnant again, but after countless failed attempts and two miscarriages, they decided to stop trying.


Of course, that's when Lisa ended up becoming pregnant with her daughter, Anora. Since it was such a miraculous pregnancy, Lisa wanted to do something special to commemorate her daughter's birth.

So she turned to her craft — photography — as a way to both commemorate the special day, and keep herself calm and focused throughout the birthing process.

Normally, Lisa takes portraits and does wedding photography, so she knew the logistics of being her own birth photographer would be a somewhat precarious new adventure — to say the least.

pregnancy, hospital, giving birth, POV

She initially suggested the idea to her husband Alec as a joke.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"After some thought," she says, "I figured I would try it out and that it could capture some amazing memories for us and our daughter."

In the end, she says, Alec was supportive and thought it would be great if she could pull it off. Her doctors and nurses were all for Lisa taking pictures, too, especially because it really seemed to help her manage the pain and stress.

In the hospital, she realized it was a lot harder to hold her camera steady than she initially thought it would be.

tocodynamometer, labor, selfies

She had labor shakes but would periodically take pictures between contractions.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Eventually when it was time to push and I was able to take the photos as I was pushing, I focused on my daughter and my husband and not so much the camera," she says.

"I didn't know if I was in focus or capturing everything but it was amazing to do.”

The shots she ended up getting speak for themselves:

nurse, strangers, medical care,

Warm and encouraging smiles from the nurse.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

experiment, images, capture, document, record

Newborn Anora's first experience with breastfeeding.

Photo by Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

"Everybody was supportive and kind of surprised that I was able to capture things throughout. I even remember laughing along with them at one point as I was pushing," Lisa recalled.

In the end, Lisa was so glad she went through with her experiment. She got incredible pictures — and it actually did make her labor easier.

Would she recommend every mom-to-be document their birth in this way? Absolutely not. What works for one person may not work at all for another.

However, if you do have a hobby that relaxes you, figuring out how to incorporate it into one of the most stressful moments in your life is a pretty good way to keep yourself calm and focused.

Expecting and love the idea of documenting your own birthing process?

Take some advice from Lisa: "Don't put pressure on yourself to get 'the shot'" she says, "and enjoy the moment as much as you can.”

Lisa's mom took this last one.

grandma, hobby, birthing process

Mom and daughter earned the rest.

Photo via Lisa Robinson/Lisa Robinson Photography.

This article originally appeared on 06.30.16