Thursday, March 10, 2011

Down With Bullies!

By Ellery Adams (This blog appeared on Lorna's Pet Peeves blog last week, so I apologize to those who aren't getting new material from me today!)

My father went to high school in a rough area of New Jersey. He was a skinny nerd and quickly became the target of a bully and his gang of followers.

In class, this bully would prick the back of my dad’s neck with a thumbtack, warning him that if he ever “squealed,” he’d get the beating of his life.

My dad believed him.

As the days passed, he just couldn’t take it anymore and he decided, even if it meant getting the bea

ting of his life, to confront this bully. He went after him in a hallway where there would be lots of witnesses, deliberately acting as crazy as he could, and paid for his recklessness with more bruises than he could count. But after that, the bully left him alone, in search of easier prey.

When I was in the 3rd grade, a girl named Ingrid used to steal our lunch money in the Girls’ bathroom. One day, my best friend refused to give it to her and this girl, who’d been left back two times and was therefore much bigger than your average third grader, slammed my friend’s face into a wall of lockers, giving her a bloody nose. I jumped on Ingrid to stop her from hurting my friend further and that’s when the teacher came in. We all got suspended and Ingrid continued to steal lunch money for the rest of that year. She went on to be a terror in middle school.

I know that bullies are usually insecure, self-loathing individuals. Once upon a time, they were simply the biggest and meanest, but in today’s schools they are harder to spot. They use text messages and emails to wound their peers, deliberately trying to ruin another student’s life. Even in the adult world, we face bullies. We’ve seen them at work, at sporting events, and on the highways.

In my recent release, A Deadly Cliché, I write about how bullying can mutate the darkness inside a person, drawing forth ugly responses and a desire for revenge. Wouldn’t it be something if our every day bullies had been put in their place from those first days at elementary school and not allowed to grow into monsters?

Do you have any experience with bullying?


Vicki said...

Sadly yes, I was seen as different in school as I have cerebral palsy so I did face some bullying from those who did not take the time or effort to get to know me. Not so much physical bullying, although there was some, as verbal bullying. School was not a pleasant experience but I am a much more sympathetic person and do try not to be judgmental as an adult. You never know what people are facing in their lives.

Leann Sweeney said...

Good thoughts! Timely, too, since the President is getting a committee together about bullying. My father was a redhead and quite short. He was a target, but he fought back. A lot. Very tough neighborhood. My brother was a redhead with a gazillion freckles and he was overweight, too. Man, did he get it. We come in all shapes, sizes and intellects. Bullies bully because no one stops them. As adults, we need to stop being afraid to step in if we see it happening.

Hannah Dennison said...

Yes I did too. I was about 15 and there were 3 girls (white trash variety) who used to taunt me because they thought me a "goody two-shoes." One girl even pushed me into the path of an oncoming bus. Years later I found them on Friends Reunited but was disappointed to discover they all got married and have lovely children. A part of me had hoped they'd end up in jail.

Tiffany0227 said...

I was overweight (well I still am but I am older and more mature to not let it bother me) in grade school and there was this one boy on the bus who picked on me. His name was Dominic and he said horrible words to me. Things like jellyroll, shamoo, moby dick, and other really vulgar words.
This hurt me being a young overweight child with other problems at home I had on my shoulders. I always gave him an earful back and tried to not let it bother me but it really did.

As I got older my interior and my exterior grew tougher. I got mouthier and let people know they were not going to push me or anyone else around. I always stuck up for my friends too. I wanted them to know no one was going to push them around.

I am the same way vicki, I do not make fun of people and I strongly scold those who do. I have a step-son who can eat two packages of hotdogs in one sitting and never gain a pound, he is a stick. I have over heard him saying mean things about overweight people and it hurts me to hear that come out of his mouth.

Tiffany0227 said...

Girls are especially really mean. I have seen a lot of girls do mean things to each other. Working in childcare and education I have witnessd those girls do and say horible things to each other.

The one way that helps me to forgive and forget things is I have to think that I do not know what has happened to these girls/boys (children). We do not know what goes on with these children at home. Maybe they have had some traumatic experience as a child, I pray not but we never know. Most bullies are fighting their own insecurities and troubles. We can only remember that because of these experiences we are better to and thankful their children are wonderful and they don't have to go through the torment. No matter what or how a child's parents are or were no child deserves to go through such humiliation and degradation.

~ Babs ~ said...

I can relate to this as my son is getting bullied. I don't know how many times I have been to the school over and talked to the other kids parents. Logan is almost 8 and he is on the short side and all the other kids are bigger then him. I even had his teacher suggest holding him back in 2nd this year as he is small. Well that did it for me. I took action. My boys getting treated differently anyway as everyone knows they are adopted. So I took Logan to the genetics doctor and they run test every 6 months well he is on the short side as he has the bones of a 6 year old we found out his birth parents are short, but she said he would grow to be between 5'7" to 5'8" give or take a inch in both directions. So I took that to the school and had a long talk with them. Supposedly things will change but Logan still comes home and tells me how he got attack on the playground yesterday. Bullies are so frustrating.
I know we don't know what some of them have been through but my boys came from a drug, alcohol, beating family, been left alone and it gets worse, but my kids did not turn out to be bullies.

Shel said...

I have more experiences with bullying than I care to recall. I was tiny in school (I mean under five feet tall and less than 90 lbs. when I graduated HS). All the guys wanted to date the Barbie looking girls, no one wanted to be seen with someone who looked 12. The girls tormented me and the guys ignored me. I prayed every day that they would just leave me alone, but the only time that ever happened was Jr. Year, right after my dad died.
Nothing was ever done about it on a school level, no matter how much my parents protested.
I'm of the firm opinion that bullying needs to be addressed from preschool onward, and never be allowed to get even a toehold.

Tiffany0227 said...

I am so sorry your son is going through this. School is supposed to be the best years of their life. They are supposed to enjoy their youth, not regret it.

You should definitely take this higher than the school, possibly above the superintendant. Hopefully your son will comfortable enough to give names.

I know some parents frown on this but sometimes the only way to get back is to give them a dose of their own medicine. Does your son feel comfortable taking any martial arts classes. More and likely he will never use it but it helps with self-esteem and self-confidence.

I wish you all the best of luck.
Bless All of You!!

Lauren said...

I'm glad that we are talking more and more openly about bullying and the effects it hason our kids. Bullies are often insecure, but they need to know how hurtful and how big of an impact their actions have on their victims.

I can still remember things I was teased/bullied about when I was in grade school.

-Lauren from ChickAdvisor

Ellery Adams said...

You're right, Lauren. Having things in the light of day makes them harder to ignore. Perhaps this will no longer be tolerated like so many other unacceptable behaviors.

ev said...

We had some really awesome jocks in our school- god forbid they found someone bullying, they dealt with it. And without lifting a finger. Our principal didn't tolerate it either, even 30+ years ago. So it's been around for awhile.

When I remarried and moved, my daughter was ready to start the 8th grade- a hard year, esp if you're new and the school is a tough one. By the age of 12 she was 5'6" and you'd think that would be a deterrent. Not to this one white trash 5'2" piece of work. It started out small and progressed to where she would attack my daughter, who ignored her the best she could. She came home day after day angry and frustrated. It finally escalated to where this kid was attacking her- she pushed her into the lockers and when a teacher came to break it up, the kid punched the teacher. She was on superintendants suspension for 30 days and my daughter got a one-day suspension for fighting.

I called a meeting of all the school personnel (do not fuck with me and my kid!). This was the principal, teachers, counselor and school cop (a local cop). When I asked what was going to be done, I was told that since no weapons were involved there was nothing else that they could do becuase they were both under 16. Huh.

I turned to my daughter, informed her that if she was ever touched again, she now had my permission to defend herself. After the outrage from everyone else, informing that she couldn't do that, I told them if they weren't going to stop it, we would. Legally if I had to.

What no one had been told, was that my kid was under orders not to touch anyone. Because before we moved here she was one belt away from her black belt. She wasn't doing it because she was afraid of this kid but because she knew she could hurt her.

The first day the bitch came back she ran up to my daughter in the lunch room and punched her in the back. My kid spun around, picked her up and threw her across the room. To stunned silence and then applause. And a three-day suspension. Which the secretary in the guidence office "lost" so it never went in her file.

And she was left alone the rest of her school years. I see this loser every now and then- around the city- with one of her 4 kids out of wedlock, at the age of 26. And they all have different fathers. And I know that Karma does play into our lives.

Mardel said...

A long time ago, when I was in high school, I wasn't very social. I was very shy, in fact. Well, this one boy decided that he needed to mess me every day. He used to just say rude things to me (I was short with kind of large breasts). I tried to ignore it until one day, I just kind of lost it. We were standing outside waiting to be let in, the boy was messing with me and the next thing I knew I was punching him over and over around the head and shoulders. He was blocking his face and ducking down, but I was so pissed that I was yelling at himn that I was tired of listening to him and just kept punching him until the teacher walked up and told me to stop. I was never reported to the principal. This was in 1975. The boy has since run for some sort of city office. I never vote for him. ever.

my daughter also had her moment - where a boy would repeatedly throw a basketball in her face. Of course, she never told me about this until after she "dealt" with it. After a few weeks of this, she grabbed the basketball threw it back at his head, then threw a stapler at his head. The boy tried to tell the teacher "aren't you going to do anything about this? she threw a STAPLER at my head!". The teacher just told him he saw nothing.

Of course, this was the same lame teacher that didn't ever report the kid in the first place.

It's amazing what kids get away with, and at the same time, I'm surprised that I and my daughter never got in trouble for fighting or assault.

If we were pushed to this type of behaviour though, no wonder some kids totally lose it and do worse. things are getting worse, and a lot of parents have this "not my kid" mentality. I never stuck up for my kids when I knew they did something wrong. But they also knew that I would stand behind them if they needed it.

Debra said...

Wow ,Ev you are amazing.
Someone decided to pick on me at my Catholic Girls High School. She threatened to beat me up and kept saying I thought I was cute because of my skin tone and hair texture. (We are both African -American). After four years of this, senior year on ring day she started arguing with me about my ring size. It was the final straw. I slapped her so hard across the face I knocked her wig askew. Her makeup came off in my hand, Ewww. After that she tried to be friends with me. Go figure.

Aurian said...

Luckily, I have never come across a bully. But then, I have never been a timid sort, I would fight anyone who picked on me for my looks or something.
I guess the best thing is, to stand up against them as much as you can.

Angela - Bookaunt said...

Unfortunately my daughter has been a victim of a bully not once but twice. It was so bad in her school in Nebraska that we ended up moving her to a new school. She had a teacher that helped look out for her but the teacher moved to a new school then it seemed no one cared even though there was a no bully policy in place. The bullying even spilled over into the church youth group and when we talked to the pastor who was head of the youth group she could not see it - the mother even ended up confronting me in the parking lot yelling and screaming at me while the pastor looked on. I was a member of the church and they were not, well the pastor said my family needed counseling and did not see a problem so we ended up having to leave our church even. I see the daughter learned her bullying from her mother. Now we live in Florida and there were a couple of teenagers that were saying some harsh things about wanting to beat up my daughter and things about her size, she is not a skinny mini but not grossly overweight either and she is very self consious (sp) and has very low self esteem because of the previous bully. I contact the school and luckily she has a teacher her that looks out for her as well as another that could switch her classes for her as the principal did not really seem that concerned. People need to realize that verbal bullying is just as bad as physical and if you have a bullying policy in place it should apply to all types of bullying.