Some Thoughts On Bullying

I want to tell you all a story. It’s true, but for privacy’s sake, I have to withhold most of the details. A student was being tormented by a group of bullies. Another student confronted the bullies and demanded they stop. In response, one of the bullies assaulted the second student. Second student immediately punched the assailant in the face. The incident ended with the assailant receiving a minor punishment, the second student getting the maximum punishment the district could legally hand out, and the first student is still being tormented by the same group of bullies.

You want to know what the really sad part is? That story isn’t the exception: it’s the rule. And not just at this one school district, but around the country.

Not so long ago, it was expected, even demanded of students that they stand up to bullies. If Bubba Joe was picking on Little Billy, and you saw it, it was Billy’s jobto make Bubba Joe stop, and if that meant splitting Bubba Joe’s lip, then oh well. Bubba had it coming to him. Billy might get sent to the principal’s office, but so would Bubba, and it was almost guaranteed that Bubba would come out with a much harsher punishment than Billy… if Billy even got punished at all. And rest assured that when Billt got home, Mommy and Daddy would praise him for doing The Right Thing.

Now? Now, if Bubba Joe beats up Little Billy, odds are that Billy will get in as much trouble as Bubba Joe, if not worse, even if he doesn’t fight back. Most schools nowadays have so-called “Zero Tolerance” rules that punish the victims for getting into “a fight,” even if said “fight” is Little Billy cowered against a locker whilst Bubba Joe beats the snot out of him. And if Billy dares to take a swing at Bubba Joe to protect himself, odds are he’ll wind up getting arrested and thrown in Juvie for “assaulting” Bubba Joe.

This begs the question: WHAT THE FLUFF HAS HAPPENED TO THIS COUNTRY?!?!?! How in the fluff did The Right Thing change from “make the bully stop hurting you” to “bend over and take it?” And why have we made defenselessness not only acceptable, but praiseworthy?

As someone who was a victim of bullying from Pre-K through my high school graduation,  I can tell you exactly how today’s public schools deal with bullying: they don’t. The teachers and administrators tell you that if you’re bullied, you should tell a teacher. Well, guess what: I did. Repeatedly. Nothing happened. Same deal with all of my friends who were being bullied too. The administration looked the other way, even when a bully in my elementary school classes was beating me daily with a fully-loaded backpack. It was only when Mama Raptor threatened legal action against the school that something was done: I was transferred to a different classroom. No action was taken against the bully.

And telling the bully that they’re hurting you and making you feel bad? Forget it. They know they’re hurting you. They want to hurt you.

Bullies don’t care about academic punishment. It’s a game to them. They are cowards who understand one thing and one thing only: violence. I finally did get the bully who’d been picking on me in elementary school to stop by demonstrating my Tae-Kwon-Do skills in the school’s talent show. My routine ended with me breaking a board with a side kick. The bully never picked on me again. Unfortunately for me, new bullies took his place. And I never had the opportunity to break a board in their presence. And I couldn’t use my skills on them directly: now without violating my school’s bulls*** Zero Tolerance policy and getting suspended… and then getting in even worse trouble with my parents.

Oh, and speaking of Zero Tolerance policies: they aren’t. They’re more like “Bully Tolerance” or “Victim Intolerance” policies. Because the administrators always know that the bullying is occurring. Oh, they might claim that there’s “no evidence” of anything happening, but that’s totall bulls***. Because how can they claim “no evidence” when they have teachers coming to them on a daily basis saying that Little Billy told them that Bubba Joe punched them and stole their lunch money. One or two such reports? Sure, I could see that. But daily reports, from different teachers, all saying the same thing? If you believe that that’s “no evidence” I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

But the instant that Little Billy finally snaps and gives Bubba Joe a black eye, you can rest assured that those same administrators who “saw no evidence” of any bullying will throw the book at Billy, give him the harshest punishment they can, and possibly even involve the police. While Bubba Joe, who started the whole thing, gets off with maybe nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

So, how do we stop the bullying problem? Easy: as I said bullies understand only force and violence. So their victims should – no, must – respond in kind. In a perfect world, in a just world, Little Billy should be within his rights to kick Bubba Joe in the nuts and give him a bloody nose. I guarantee you that if victims were allowed to do that to their bullies, then the bullying epidemic that is plaguing our schools would cease. Why? Because bullies are cowards. They prey on those weaker than themselves, those who are either unable or unwilling to fight back. You stand up to a bully, you tell them “No! I am not going to let you hurt me anymore!” and accompany said remark with a front snap kick to their balls, they’re going to make a concentrated effort to stay very, very far away from you.

But do we do that? Do we allow victims of bullying to defend themselves against their tormentors? No. Instead, we teach them to knuckle under and take it while the people who promise to protect them look the other way. And when they finally take matters into their own hands, using the only method that will actually work, we punishthem and let their tormenters off Scott-free.

That is wrong, pure and simple. Because it show the bullies that they can carry out their reigns of terror and torment without fear of any meaningful consequences. Schools can drop millions of dollars into so-called anti-bullying programs all they want, but they aren’t going to do a lick of good. You really want to stop bullying? Then let Little Billy stand up to Bubba Joe and give the bully what’s coming to him without fear of life-ruining punishment.

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One thought on “Some Thoughts On Bullying

  1. You seriously read my mind. I love this post and it is so true. I’m amazed that now there is a documentary on Bullying out, but bullying has been around for such a long time. Great post and look forward to seeing more.

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