How to Stop a Bully

“Vulture Culture” is everywhere in our society – but bystanders have power to curb its force

One doesn’t have to look far to see that a culture of bullying is all around us. On a recent broadcast of JustLove, Psychologist Dr. Susan Lipkins spoke with Msgr. Kevin Sullivan about something she calls “Vulture Culture” – which poisons our perceptions and our behaviors, everywhere from the school yard, to the workplace, to social media, to reality TV.

Dr. Lipkins suggested that the demeaning and degrading actions of judges on reality TV are the most prominent perpetrators of public bullying, noting that “We’re involved in a culture that has a mentality of winners and losers.”

“We’ve become a far less civil society,” she said. “We seem to reward the lack of civility in so many different ways.”

Listen to our full interview with Dr. Lipkins below:

How do we fight the dangerous cycles of bullying and hazing? Dr. Lipkins offers Catholic Charities an outline of the warning signs of hazing and the ways to halt cruel and destructive behaviors:


1. The leaders of the group are very aggressive and intimidating.

2. You have heard rumors from your peers about activities that are hazardous.

3. Your gut is churning and you sense danger.

4. You have been warned by authorities that the group has a reputation for being extreme.

5. You don't want to acknowledge it, but you have witnessed some events which are dangerous or are inconsistent with your own morals and values.

6. You feel stuck. You are already involved and do not know how to get out of the group or process.



  1. Depending on your position in the group, you can try to influence others to think before they act, and to consider the long-term consequences.
  2. Create connections with your peers, and have a plan of action in case a dangerous situation arises.
  3. IF YOU ARE A BYSTANDER, DO NOT GO AGAINST THE GROUP ALONE. Unless you are in a powerful position of leadership, opposing the group as an individual will cause you pain and suffering. It you can organize the group to act together to prevent the perpetrators and the victims from getting into trouble than do it. If not, do not try to stop violence alone. However, you can try to get help or report the incident as an individual - either anonymously or by revealing your identity.


  1. Teach your children that no person has the right to violate another's body.
  2. Model behaviors which you want your children to imitate.
  3. Protect your child by making the school and other authorities accountable for the actions of their staffs.
  4. Demonstrate by doing; therefore have your child see you organize as a group in order to fight for a cause.
  5. Support your children when they sense danger or injustice. Discuss actions that they might do.
  6. Teach them, at the appropriate age, (middle school) about hazardous hazing.
  7. If you are a bystander in any situation, consider your options and explain them to your child.
  8. Before your children are in a situation without adult supervision, have discussions about responsibility and consequences - legal and ethical.
  9. When relevant, check to see the kinds of adult supervision, rules and laws that are in place for the location that your children will be in.
  10. Have complete information about the place where your child may be when under the supervision of others. Make sure you can contact them and vice-versa.
  11. Let your child know, that regardless of the stated policy, if there is a true emergency, where they are significantly threatened, that they can reach you by phone; and that they should call.