View Full Version : Bullying

05-05-2005, 02:02 PM
I wasn't sure where to put this but it is a response to Jenna's piece in this week's newsletter and I just wanted to respond but without clogging up her inbox.

Her comments about reaching the parents who have kids with the potential to stand up for the underdog immediately brought to mind a story I read yesterday about Angelina Jolie. It may or may not be true (you know what these celeb gossip stories are like). Angelina's son Maddox has started attending an English school and she was - supposedly - bemoaning the fact that the school was taking away his individuality. They had made her cut his mohican and remove any jewellery, including his favourite helicopter necklace.

I think one of the main problems that encourages bullying is that, even if we are not told directly to do it, we are all expected to conform. There is a "norm" that we are all supposed to follow. From a very young age we are expected to "fit-in." As a result, those who don't fit into that norm are considered weird, geeky, and outsiders, and often ridiculed and bullied.

Yet, in adulthood, we all gradually find our place in life and suddenly being the same as everybody else isn't necessarily appealing. What sort of world would we be living in if there hadn't been more unusual, flamboyant, even outrageous people in our society. Where would we be if we never had people who were prepared to stand up for beliefs that may not match society's current line of thinking? If Salvador Dali, Vivienne Westwood, Nelson Mandela etc......had all conformed to what society expected of them, the world would be a very dull and stagnant place.

At my schools we always had school uniforms - the theory being that we all looked the same and therefore no one would be bullied because their parents couldn't afford the latest trends or wouldn't have bought them for their kids even if they could. Of course, there were still ways of singling people out. If you didn't customise your skirt to be shorter and your tie to be extra thin, or wear the right sock or shoes you were considered a geek.

I'm sure in Maddox's case he will always have a strong individuality because his mum is such a strong, unusual woman (infact, it may be in adulthood that he decides to conform). I can't see her letting him turn into the perfect English schoolboy (if there is such a thing).

I could ramble on for hours, but I'd better do some work.

Lisa x

05-06-2005, 11:15 AM
Hey, thanks, Lisa!

I'd love any input people want to give about bullying, especially personal anecdotes.

05-06-2005, 04:04 PM
I was never the bullier, or the bullied in school. There were a few times people tried to bully me, but I've always been real outspoken and never let others intimidate me. So, I always stuck up for myself. I think it had a lot to do with having a very strong, feisty (sometimes too feisty) mother. Funny thing is, is my mother and me don't and have never really gotten along. So, I always tried NOT to be like her. But no matter how much I like to deny it, I am a lot like her. Maybe that's why we don't get along, because we're so much alike.:Shrug:

There was one time in jr. high school when I saw some kids picking on a girl who was mentally challenged. I did step in and made them stop. But then, I have a sister who is mentally disabled, who I have always had a very close relationship with. I was at the grocery store a couple of years ago and saw the girl from school. I recognized her, she didn't recognize me until I told her my name. After seeing her, I remembered that time in school and wondered if I didn't have a sister who is mentally disabled, would I have still stuck up for her the way I did. I think that I would've, but it made me wonder....

I have a teenage son who gets bullied by kids because he has long hair and dresses kind of hippyish. I like that he chooses to be different. I've always encouraged him to be himself and not to follow the crowd. I've always taught my son to stick up for himself and to never take no garbage from anyone. But I think he takes it a little too far sometimes. I'm trying to teach him a balance between the two, without going overboard. He's been suspended many times for fighting. We're still working on that...:Headbang:


05-06-2005, 09:21 PM
Bullying is a very wide-ranging topic. It takes place on every level of society. Aside from school-yard bullies, there are professional bullies like the Mafia (ala protection rackets), corporate bullies (some would say Microsoft), international bullies (some would say the US), etc.

The topic of bullying is actually a part of a project I am working on that has to do with economic theory. In this respect, bullying is reflective of a tributary system: pay me/give me your sneakers or else. This is probably not where you wish to go with this.

I will say one thing from personal experience. I noticed that a fair number of the bullies I knew in high school ended up in law enforcement or the military. I do not mean to suggest that either institution is primarily made up of bullies/former bullies, since my personal experiences in this regard tell me this is distinctly not the case; it's just an observation from days gone by.


05-07-2005, 12:30 AM
I know a few people who we considered to be a bully in school who went on to become police officers. I think they have the bully mentality. Not necessarily bad/good. That attitude of control and personal empowerment maybe.

I think we all can be guilty of that really. I wasn't a bully in school but I was certainly bullied. Up to a point, I just took it. I was teased because I didn't dress all fancy smancy (still don't...jeans and a t-shirt are my suit of choice!)

I decided in high school I wouldn't take it anymore. I had gotten into scuffles because kids were picking on others who I thought didn't deserve that teasing.

In high school, they finally left me alone because I became unpredictable. Most times I would just innore them. Other times I said things in that sarcastic way that leveled them.

It's not necessarily even just in schools. My kids are homeschooled yet my oldest tends to bully her younger sister. Of course the old adage that someday you will pick on someone who will fight back came true when my youngest doesn't put up with it. (she's an ornery little creature she is...)

I'm sure I've been guilty of it (with my own brother who is younger than I!)

So is it just a second nature perhaps?

05-08-2005, 05:26 AM
i committed the ultimate social crime by being puny and frail following 3 months in the hospital and a year in bed (except some school, dang it) when i was 8 - 9 yrs old. This made me the outcast / runt. I was picked on and beat up mercilessly.
If you need stories, talk to me. It was pretty nasty and bad. But I got them all back, oh yes I did.

05-08-2005, 07:20 AM
I was picked on mercilessly as a young man of junior high age. I was short and underweight for the most part. I was five foot six when I started high school. Between my freshman and junior year, I shot up to six foot three (I've grown one inch since then) and weighed in around 180 by my senior year.

So my advice to all those who are being bullied.......grow!

Brady H.

05-08-2005, 08:12 AM
So my advice to all those who are being bullied.......grow!

:roll: Thank you for this very practical advice.

05-08-2005, 05:21 PM
i committed the ultimate social crime by being puny and frail following 3 months in the hospital and a year in bed (except some school, dang it) when i was 8 - 9 yrs old. This made me the outcast / runt. I was picked on and beat up mercilessly.
If you need stories, talk to me. It was pretty nasty and bad. But I got them all back, oh yes I did.

You have me really curious now. How'd you get them all back?

05-08-2005, 07:07 PM
My child's elementary school has implemented a new tactic on bullying during the last few years. If a kid is caught bullying another, they are put on a "bully list" and lose such things as class trips & other privileges as a result. Those closer to the problem might see a difference in bullying incidents, but personally I still hear of stuff going on so I can't say if it has helped or not.

We've always taught ours (from very small) to never be a part of making fun or being mean to other kids. I think that has resulted in both my kids being more for the underdog in a situation.

We also teach them if someone bullys them to first tell the teacher, if you get no results, then take care of it if you can. If you can't, then we'll step in.
Then there are the instances where you don't have to "take it". . .like the first instance below. You don't always have to wait for someone to step in, just do what you have to do.

Two instances: One boy thought it was funny to pull down other boys (elastic waist) gym shorts in front of everyone. Three years older than my son, it wasn't too even a match. The remedy was to kick the kid where it hurt the first time he tried it with my son. He hasn't bothered him again although it continues with other kids.

My daughter also had a girl that kept opening the bathroom stall on her. She'd wait until she got in the stall and then swing the door open when there was a room full of kids. There were no locks on the stalls. She told the teacher, the principal, the kid's mother who substituted occasionally. Nothing seemed to deter her. I finally told her to pay attention to what shoes the girl was wearing (make sure she had the right girl) and when she stepped up to the stall door next time, to slam it open on her. Luckily it was resolved before she had to resort to that, but you have to give a child permission to fight back sometimes.

Teach them not to make the first aggressive move, but teach them if they have to fight back to make it count. Even a little guy can make a bully's nose bleed with a well aimed punch to the nose.

05-10-2005, 08:45 PM
I attended a seminar on bullying that one of our local hospitals hosted about a year ago. It was fascinating, and I ended up writing an article about it, because one of the things people don't realize is that girls bully too. They just do it in a manner that's different from boys. A boy may beat up his victim, steal his lunch money, and give him a swirlie. A girl, on the other hand, uses social tactics, and will give her victim the silent treatment and make sure she is completely ostracized from all social circles.

Not suprisingly, they found a correllation between parental attitude and bullying. Parents who looked at their kids behavior and said, "Oh, well, boys will be boys" or "Well, that's just what girls do" usually have the kids who are the worst bullies, because there's a tacit acceptance of the behavior. The bully's parents don't understand what all the fuss is about, and think the victim either needs to stand up for themselves (transmitting the message that he's a weakling) or that their must be SOME reason why the kid is being targeted (translation: she asked for it).

Our school district has a zero tolerance policy for bullying. Kids who exhibit bullying behavior -- physical, social or any other type -- will find themselves losing privileges, such as athletic status, attending school functions, or other items. They may also be required to attend special classes, or in very extreme cases where the bully is obviously not going to change his or her pattern, removed from the school.

05-25-2005, 06:36 AM
I had been very happy in school until then, but at the end of grade five my best friend and many of my other close school friends moved away, and I felt very lonely. The new students in grade six were very different from those who left, some not as studious, some very angry because they'd been kicked out of Uganda by Idi Ami, some extremely athletic, some boy/girl crazy; I was the shortest in my class, and completely unathletic due to a lazy eye, so I had nothing in common with the new arrivals. To add to it all, the new teacher for grade six was completely obsessed by athletics, so I had no opportunity to bond with her. The new kids decided that I was, depending on the day and their mood, a great target for their jokes or a great target for their fists. I never said anything to the powers that were, because I knew it would just make it worse, but it got so that I hated going to school. What got me through that time? My family and I joined a historical research social organization, where I was treated as a thinking person who had contributions to make. It made such a difference to know that, not matter what my life was like in school, there were people who understood and liked me; people who I respected listened to me and took my advice. It was such a gift to be able to retreat into that world. If I have any words to help parents who have kids that are being bullied it would be these: Help your child to find the thing they are passionate about, and find a community outside school where they can be with people who treat them as thinking, feeling human beings.

Hope this helps,

05-25-2005, 06:56 AM
I was always bullied, as far back as I can remember. By the time I was eleven, I was chronically anxious and depressed (read my week 4 entry (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=197005#post197005) ); the behaviours that manifested from those issues made me look very weird to my classmates... and I was bullied more, so I retreated into more coping mechanisms, and the cycle went on.

One of my now-friends, who was a classmate in sixth and seventh grade, told me I was considered social poison, 'untouchable' off the low end of the scale. I don't think I realized other kids hated me *that* much.

This friend had been bullied mercilessly, but his mother gave him immense support and helped him work through it. My father, by contrast, both blamed me for provoking bullies and told me to turn the other cheek. I learned that if you turn the other cheek, you get slapped on the other side.

The suicide rate among adults who were bullied as children is astronomical - something like 10%. I'm not sure of these stats, but I remember hearing that of the remaining survivors, 80% grow up to be well-adjusted and fine, and 20% are traumatized for life.

I don't think the stalking in seventh grade pushed me over the edge, but several subsequent sexual assaults, combined with other abuse... well, let's just say it's been grist for several mills of therapy. Sometimes I feel totally normal; other times I look back and I'm amazed I'm still alive.

One thing I know: writing - along with medication and therapy - saved my life.

05-25-2005, 07:26 AM
Of course, by the time I was given permission to leave, it would be too late, and I rarely made it to the lavatory in time. I would either dampen my underwear or wet them thoroughly. Yeah, you guessed it. Cruel, unmerciful, taunting, teasing and bullying.

Ann, one of my friends in high school had a similar problem. I don't know exactly what the cause was and as she got older, it went away, but sometimes when she'd laugh, she'd pee. All of us who hung around with her just accepted it. We never bullied, teased, or anything like that, nor to my knowledge did anyone who wasn't in our "group".

One of the memories I have from my childhood is performing a play with her in front of the class in grade 8, I believe it was. It's a bit fuzzy now, but I think I was playing a doctor and she was playing a patient. At one point, she got the giggles, and, yeah, you guessed it. Only myself and the teacher realized what had happened, and we managed to ad-lib and get her out of the class without anybody noticing. Something lame like, "yes, my dear, I must wrap this sheet around you and take you outside to prepare you for your operation!" but it worked. We had a good laugh about it afterwards (luckily, she didn't pee again!).

Yeah, your story brought back a bunch of memories... maybe you were bullied because it happened when you were younger, or maybe you had a bunch of nasty kids in class with you. Sorry you had to go through it.

As for me, I wasn't in the "cool" group at school. I belonged to the group for the brainy kids (which included not so brainy kids that we liked). But for some reason, all the groups (the cool kids, the brainy kids, the smokers, etc.) respectfully co-existed. I was never bullied. I skipped grade 6 and worried about fitting in when I started grade 7, but it turned out to be a non-issue.