Is Sandusky a Bully? Of course, he is!

As a psychotherapist and the author of Stop Bullying Now, I felt compelled to comment. One of the definitions of being a bully is transgression with an imbalance of power.  As an assistant coach at Penn State University, a Big Ten school, Sandusky certainly had power and authority which he seriously abused. Although he is not diagnosed as mentally ill, one would think he would have to be to repeatedly commit so many crimes against his own players who looked to him for guidance.  

In a previous article on Karen Klein, the school bus monitor who was bullied by students, I referred to the chemical changes in the brain from “The Winner Effect.”  People with power get internally drugged by their dominance and have delusions of grandeur. The release of testosterone causes them to become more aggressive and take insane risks as Mr. Sandusky did repeatedly. People of power believe they are above the law and because they often get away with their uncivilized behaviors, they are rewarded for their abuse and criminal activities. 

Sandusky also represents what I refer to as the “arrogant bully” who feels entitled to harass others because of an inflated, but false, sense of self-esteem. 

People with true self-esteem and self-respect tend to play by the rules. Sandusky’s actions exemplify narcissistic behavior that has no boundaries. He was oblivious to not only the harm he inflicted on the students he coached, but also to his wife, Dottie, his son, Matt, and the legendary Joe Paterno, previous head coach at Penn State. He marred the reputation of a respectable university.  He tore down what so many had spent a lifetime building up. 

The bystander issue must also be addressed.  For every incident of bullying, 85% of the people involved are bystanders.  If you are not part of the solution, you ARE part of the problem. Passivity is permission. His wife, Dottie, obviously did not want to rock the boat and found refuge in her denial which is not a problem-solving tactic.

The school will continue to be challenged and sued for any possible coverup which enables those who commit the crime. There is no gray area here.  Many had a choice to be proactive and prevent the harm done to these young boys who were simply seeking a hero and the joy of being part of a winning team. 

Our brains get confused and  have a difficult time processing the transgressions of those we admire, respect and want to emulate.

His son did the right thing by reporting his victimization as well, but what a tough decision to make as we are all taught the lessons of loyalty to our parents. So much pain was endured by so many for one man’s pleasure.  

May Sandusky’s despicable behavior be a lesson to each of us. First of all, our children are not pawns, they are little people who need protection, guidance and a voice. You and I are responsible. Then too, most kids who bully have first been bullied themselves, oftentimes they learn it from their parents or siblings in their own homes. To stop the cycles of violence, we must all accept responsibility for the problem and be willing to take action and do the “right” thing.   We know right from wrong, but for things to change, we must take action. 

On a personal note, I am a believer that we must learn to forgive and “let go.”  (This one is tough!)  However, we do need to hold onto our emotions until the lesson is learned and them move on with a renewed approach to parenting, protection and future possibilities. 

Edie Raether – The Bully Buster – is an international speaker and bestselling author of several books including Stop Bullying Now.

Visit her at


Amazing Grades: 101 Best Ways To Improve Your Grades Faster