5 Sad Ways Apologists Try to Justify Bullying

Friday, April 29, 2016 Stef dela Cruz, MD 2 Comments

“I’m not saying I support bullying. But then again, bullying builds character.”

These words may seem to hold wisdom, but they are dangerously laced with one succinct message: Bullying is okay. These words therefore give bullies the thumbs-up, the implicit go signal.

Here’s the thing: Bullying exists because we let it. If we want bullying to stop, we must also put a stop to our apologist approach to bullying.


In your lifetime, you be will listening to many apologists as they attempt to rationalize bullying and why it “might be good for society”. These may even be people you look up to and love. You will hear them try to explain away bullying as “an evil with a purpose”. They will attempt to dilute its malevolence by stating its arguably good consequences.

They will fail to realize that the moment they try to justify bullying, they have already made the choice to defend it.


5 Apologist Reasons for Bullying (and Why We Need to Stop Using Them)

All tragedies bring out our tough nature, but I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m not for violence against women, but violence against women builds character.” So, why do we say that about bullying? Puzzler.

Of course, that’s not the only thing an apologist would say in an attempt to sublimate bullying. Check these reasons out and find out which ones you’ve already heard.


Apologist reason #1:

”Bullying builds character”

Just because a tragedy builds character doesn’t mean we should belittle the damage it causes.

I don’t even have to look far – just one glance at my doctor colleagues and I can see how bullying inevitably takes its toll on a very important stakeholder: the unsuspecting patient.

Bullying among doctors provides an environment that is unsafe for patients. This is not new knowledge. It therefore follows that if doctors turn a blind eye and fool themselves into believing that bullying brings out the best in them, then they are breaking the very oath they took as healers.

medical disrespect

Apologist reason #2:

“Weak people get bullied”

Bullies love to prey on victims because of their own weaknesses and insecurities. According to social psychologist Roy Baumeister, bullies have “inflated but fragile egos.”

People who have a healthy self-esteem don’t need to bully others. Only those who need to prove to themselves that they are “better” or “stronger” feel the need to bully – it’s their way of masking their own inadequacies.

Apologist reason #3:

”Bullies are a fact of life”

Well, so are rapists, wife beaters, and pedophiles. We vehemently protest all three, so when it comes to bullies, why do we simply shrug our shoulders and say it’s a fact of life?

Think about it. Think long and hard.

Apologist reason #4:

Bullying isn’t as bad as child abuse”

Sorry to burst your bubble, but a new UK study published in Lancet says otherwise.

Among more than 5,000 children included in the study, those who were bullied by their peers had more mental health problems than those who were victims of child abuse. Bullied kids suffered anxiety and depression as young adults – and also attempted to hurt themselves – more than those who were abused during childhood.

Apologist reason #5:

But those bullies are nice to me”

If you are not their target, they have no reason to be mean to you. Keeping mum about witnessing their bullying antics, however, makes you just as bad – if not worse than – those bullies.

Have you ever heard of people who turn a blind eye when they see a bully in action? Do you really want to be one of those people?

Bullies persist because we pretend not to see them. Whenever we witness bullying and do nothing, we give bullies the power to keep doing what they do, making us worse than they are.

When we fall back on the many apologist ways to excuse the behavior of bullies, we choose to say, “It’s okay to hurt someone.”

Standing up for a victim of bullying, as simple as it sounds, can actually be very therapeutic. A 2009 study revealed the value of peer and authority support in minimizing the destruction that bullies leave in their wake.

To put a stop to this horrible culture of abuse, we must take a stand. To change the bully, we must change ourselves.


Stop Apologizing For Bullies, NOW

We cannot stop bullies if we refuse to stop the apologist inside us. Let us stop apologizing for the bad behavior of bullies. Let us stop trying to justify their behavior. No, bullying is not the kind of thing that we should tolerate just because it comes with a silver lining.

If we want to put a stop to bullying, we have to be absolutely against it. No doubts, no excuses. No apologist justifications.

Now, here’s something you can do. Spread the word by sharing this information online! Change starts with you, but it can’t stop there. Involve your friends and loved ones by making sure this reaches them.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. In my opinion the majority of bullying these days occurs online. I have seen people apologize for it. It almost seems like it's ok to do it these online but not offline. All forms of intimidating and bullying need to stop regardless of where they occur.

    1. Bullying is definitely unnecessary. We have the power to put a stop to it, so I hope more people become pro-active about it!

      Thank you for leaving a comment, Mike!