Bullying

Several people in the faculty lounge were discussing bullying. One retired teacher said that in her day, everybody rode on the bus together and there wasn’t any bullying. Everybody played together and just got along.

A younger lady shared how her daughter had been the victim of pretty vicious tiny girl bullying in the 2nd grade in which nasty little girls laughed and whispered about her, told the teacher lies about the the little girl, stole her pencils and school work out of her desk, did things like sneaky hair pulling and kicking her on the bus and in class with teacher’s back turned (and then denying everything), and treating the other children that tried to help the little girl to the same tactics. If the child(ren) had attempted to fight back in any physical way, she would have been the one expelled from school. I wish I could say that this is an exception or an anomaly, but it isn’t.

I shared a story about bullying from my youth. I was a tall, skinny bookworm that preferred the company of my books to that of most of my (unread) peers. I was new in that particular school that year. A group of adolescent boys had run past me on the sidewalk, shoving me aside, knocking me and my books off the sidewalk, and nearly sent me sprawling. Nearly. I grabbed one by the hair, yanked him back, and whacked him across the face with my bag of books. A Steinbeck novel is not just hours of reading escapism but also makes a pretty effective weapon, along with my sci fi loves of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov! I knocked out a front tooth and served notice that the skinny alta gringa didn’t take no shit, and I had no further trouble.

I don’t think that anybody there truly understood what I was saying because I didn’t come right out and use a Powerpoint presentation with the salient points in bullet paragraphs. We have a lot more bullying in schools now because kids that are being bullied are actively prevented from defending themselves, and the strategies that are being used to stop bullies and bullying aren’t very effective. “It’s not nice to pull hair (etc.)” isn’t a very strong disincentive. Writing multiple page reports about the problem and sending them up the ladder punishes the teacher who has a shitload of paperwork already, and then the teacher is punished again because administration blames the teacher for not having control of the class. Suspending a kid from school so that he or she gets to stay home for three days and watch movies and play video games (or burglarize the neighboring houses)? Oh, please. Yeah, that would have made me walk the straight and narrow back in the day. Snort. Notifying parents only works if the parents care. Many don’t. Some parents that are notified come up to school and cuss out the school receptionist and principal.

Back in my school days, if somebody was sneaky pulling somebody’s hair while teacher wasn’t looking, they would turn around and punch them in the nose and teacher would say it served them right. This was actually a very good incentive for children to not engage in bullying. A big bully’s size advantage could be overcome by numerical superiority of many smaller children who Have Had Enough (or the element of surprise). A bully might be publicly humiliated by a much smaller child whipping his ass. In other words, bullies got a taste of what they dished out frequently enough that it provided a painful disincentive for picking on other kids. Not anymore.

You know why the kid that is defending him or herself from a bully’s assault gets kicked out of school, too, under “zero tolerance for violence” rules? My personal belief is that it is because at least one of the parents of said bully child is his or herself a bully and has in the past (or present) threatened administrators, school board and teachers with lawsuits and bodily harm. Rather than incur the wrath of said parent about why their pwecious 150 lb. 5th grade bully was kicked out of school for smacking around a 50 lb. third grader and the 50 lb. third grader who kicked them in self defense wasn’t, the rules are now incredibly stupid so that everybody gets kicked out.

5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    no2liberals said,

    I never got bullied past the first grade, when a kid in my class picked a fight with me on the first day of school. I had two older brothers and was no stranger with scraping, and they both were in grades above me in the same school. When the little sphincter got his ass handed to him, he ran to find his older 5th grade brother and they both came after me. I informed big brother I had two brothers on the playground and who they were, he turned to his little brother and yelled at him to fight his on fights.
    I also never bulled or tolerated bullies, just always a sheepdog for those smaller, weaker souls that couldn’t or wouldn’t fight back.
    My oldest brother kept getting beat up in our own front yard several times a week when he got home from the second grade, by a couple of 5th graders who lived down the street. He told my Mom what was going on when she got home from work one day. She looked him in the eye and didn’t tell him to talk to his father when he got home, or tell the principle, she told him that the next time he came by to hit him with whatever he could find as hard as he could.
    So he came home and went to the back yard and picked up a piece of a tree limb that he could handle, laid it in the front yard by the side walk and when he saw the kids coming, picked it up and swung for all he was worth. He nailed the leader of the bullies, knocked him off his bike and sent him crying and screaming, promising to tell his Dad. He never had another problem with those, or any other, kids at school.
    I agree that the way the rules are now, attempting to defend yourself will just get the good kids into trouble. However, the way things are now, instead of a couple of kids fighting it out, one is likely to go home for a gun and go on a rampage.
    BTW, I know that is supposed to be snow, but it is really irritating.
    I hate the crap in real life sumpin’ fierce, but here, it just reminds of me of falling ash from a big ol’Florida wild fire.

  2. 2

    kcduffy said,

    I was always the new kid, I was always little, I was always pretty smart. My mother was usually a teacher in the school. For awhile my mother was the principal.

    Life at school, in many ways, was often not fun for me.

  3. 3

    JenDaisy said,

    Heh, I remember when we lived in Arizona and one of the kids at the bus stop tried to bully me…. I got pissed, lost my temper and beat the crap outta him with Uncle Toms Cabin. The hard backed copy. Never bothered me again and did not talk about the funny way I talked. When we moved to florida in I was in high school, the no crap tolerence continued when I would get right back in the face of a would- be bully. I have pushed them into fences and etc if they tried to stop me. I never once got into trouble. Prob because I was mostly quiet and made good grades and didnt cause trouble.
    But the little neighbor kids around my house get an earful if they mess with my kids. Mainly because Jacob (6) is too soft to standup for himself right now. I am working on it though. His brother Dylan (3) is already taking after me and has already punched a mean boy in the face who were calling him names and trying to take his toys…. this kid was 7. He is not usually mean with hitting and/or kicking- until someone messes with him. So I am ok with that. I do not want my kids bullied that seems to be present in schools and when the principal calles me up when Dylan is older to pick him up and he was defending himself I will be ok with that and take the issue up with the school board or whoever will be a higher authority.

  4. 4

    kcduffy said,

    My sister never took anything off anyone – she knocked the much older much bigger neighbor girl on her can when my sister was just 3…and now she takes offense at the slightest hint – or makes one up, if she has to, just LOVES being offended. I picked the guys to fight, so girls generally left me alone.

    Lovely Daughter encountered racism for the first time at her last school & ended up arrested for terroristic threatening. Six weeks later I took her outl and home-schooled her toward passing the GED.

  5. 5

    swampie said,

    I would advise parents that are able and willing to school their children themselves to do so. Otherwise, keep active in their school, know their friends, keep aware about school events. Kids won’t always tell their parents when bad things happen.


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