I’m seeing some posts about bullying, so I thought I’d add a couple of cents.
When I was going to school, from kindergarten through the end of high school, I would have a hard time remembering a day when I was not bullied in one form or another, including verbal harassment all the way through actually getting bloody from getting punched. Note that much of the bullying was from the teachers themselves as well as the students.
I was bullied as I walked to school. Oftentimes I was pushed down to the ground and my lunch money was stolen. I was bullied when I returned home from school, just for the heck of it. I was pushed to the ground in the halls in school, and kicked in class. I was pushed and shoved in the halls, and let’s not even get starting on the PE class and the laughter of other students snapping that towel…
And the teachers! I was hit in the head multiple times by a ruler, slapped, paddled, pushed down and belittled. The words were the worst. According to several teachers, I was stupid, I was an idiot, I’d never amount to anything, I couldn’t learn and I was just not worth the trouble.
That’s the way it was in the 1960s and 1970s for a young man. And I was a white child in an all white school (for the most part) so I probably had it far easier than today’s mix of races.
One day in the 5th grade something snapped. I was on the way home from school and a much bigger, older student shoved me and took my money.
I completely lost it.I got up and started flailing my arms wildly and smashed him in the face, hard enough to draw blood.
He beat the crap out of me. I got home covered in blood (mine and his), bruised and in lots of pain.
But the bully and his bully friends never once harassed me again.
I am not saying the answer to bullying is violence. I am saying the answer is to DO SOMETHING. In my case at that time, the right thing to do without question was to fight and even lose. But that’s not always the right decision.
In junior high school the bullying continued until one day I met the very first black person I’d ever known. He and I became friends, and, interestingly, after that the bullying stopped. As it turned out, everyone was terrified of the only black kid in the school. If only they had known he was far more afraid of them than they were of him! He and I were friends for a couple of years until we both moved on. We both learned a lot about each other and we learned to put prejudice behind us.
So sometimes the answer is to find an ally.
Not once did going to the authorities, the teacher or principle, ever result in a god damn thing except even worse bullying.
It’s a difficult problem and it’s one that I really never solved. By the time I was in high school all I wanted to do was get the hell out. I never wanted to see a school again as long as I lived. I did manage to go to college, but I only lasted until I got a job offer.
Even college had the bullying. I learned there was a pecking order and I was low on the food chain.
Turning the other cheek doesn’t work (tried that). The bullies just laugh and bully even more.
An eye for an eye doesn’t work (tried that). This just furthers the chain of violence.
Reporting to the authorities rarely works. The authorities don’t care, as a rule, and will respond with bureaucratic bullshit that does nothing for anyone, and only guarantees to make the bully pissed and want revenge.
I learned to be strong, to stand up to the bullies and to gain allies for mutual defense.
In spite of all the bullying, i survived, flourished and prospered. Most of the bullies wound up dead, in jail, hooked on drugs or alcohol or worse.
I won, the bullies lost.