Monday, October 15, 2012


Bullying.  A REALLY big issue among young people these days.

Of course, there have always been bullies. Many people, though, are blaming the current extent of the problem on today's technology -- iPhones, texting, Facebook, etc.  And I do not doubt that these things have greatly exacerbated the phenomenon.  I wonder, though, if something else is going on. Something having to do with the fact that -- at least since my kids were small -- children have been discouraged from standing up for themselves in the face of bullies. They have been told to "use their words" and to just avoid/ignore these nasty people. But, as we all should know, real bullies do not care about words and they will often hunt you down if they smell fear.

When I was in the third grade, there was a real bully in my class -- a girl, who was a fair amount bigger than most of the other children.  And she was downright mean. She would, for example, pin the second graders to the wall and demand their ice cream money.  The school authorities, for whatever reason, seemed helpless in the face of her nastiness. This girl used to come up behind me each and every day, as I was walking to my mother's car after class, and punch me. I would go home and cry about this to my parents. I had no idea what to do.  I had complained to my teacher, but no one at the school stopped this occurrence.  And I was at my wit's end.  One night, my father told me, "The next time she hits you, turn around and punch her."  I was terrified at the thought of this. I had never fought with anyone. Well, except for my siblings.  But, I decided to follow his advice. The next day, she walked up behind me and hit me, as per usual. I then spun around and let her have it.  Me -- in my Catholic school uniform skirt, bobby socks, and pigtails.  She ran off crying.  Upon returning to school the following morning, I was the hero of grades one through three and the girl never bothered me again.

I had a similar experience in middle school.  There was a sturdily built bully boy who used to constantly get in my face -- and the faces of others -- with his little nasty ways.  He used to crowd and body slam me fairly often.  One day, I slugged him.  His days of pestering me came to an end, and we even developed a sort of "friendship" -- mutual peace through the end of eighth grade, anyway.

Kids nowadays, though, would be suspended or even expelled, and their parents possibly sued, for standing up for themselves in the manner I have just described.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not for violence among children and teens.  But, true bullies -- in my opinion -- need to be faced down, especially at the beginning of their "bullying careers."  If a kid learns early on that his nasty behavior won't be tolerated by the nice kids, there is a better chance to nip the whole thing in the bud.  As it is now, good kids are being put into a position of weakness and vulnerability, while the bullies have all the real power.

And this is just ass-backwards.

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