An article has affected me as I read it, by way of reddit. The link to it is coming up later in the post - but first, my views on the whole bullying phenomena in USA.
I was bullied at school - my school was 50-60% black, and me being a lanky, tall white guy made me an immediate target to every black kid who wanted to put one up over the "white boy". Perhaps because I was a strong guy, it was a badge of honor to do that for them - that's my theory.
But bullying in schools is not about race, social standing, money - it is simply about kids being assholes, no matter the race, social status etc. This happens in all white, all asian schools also. Kids find out that being different from the norm, or simply for no reason at all, they become bullied, beat up, laughed at, and yes, mentally tortured.
One main thing to remember - in America, when two kids "fight", even when one kid is totally innocent and only defends himself or even does not throw a punch because he is being pummeled, they BOTH ARE SUSPENDED.
The school authorities in USA do not get into the nuances of the situation, they do not bother to ask questions - they simply suspend both students. In situations where a group of students gang up and sadistically beat up one victim - you guessed it, all of them get the same punishment - suspension from school.
Think about it.
In your adult life, imagine this situation - you are walking down a hallway of your corporate HQ building where you work every day, minding your own business... and somebody walks up to you and, for no reason, punches you in the face. Shocked, you try to defend yourself, but due to surprise, he pummels you, leaving scars and bruises on your body.
The managers finally come on the scene, separate you two and then - they give both of you the SAME punishment - suspension, which means that for a few days (or even weeks or months) both of you will not be able to come to work, and in the future, other prospective employers will be able to see this as a black mark in your record - "Aha! He was suspended for fighting! Must be a trouble maker!".
But this is exactly what happens in your son's/daughter's school!
One thing to remember if you are a parent of a bullied child - the teachers and the school principal ARE NOT your friends. In fact, it would help if you force yourself to look at those "school authorities" as enemies, for that is what they truly are.
Teachers do not want any hassle, and so will ignore all but the most egregious kids' excesses. Short of murder or an earthquake, the teacher in a classroom will ignore bullies spitting, poking or sneering/making faces at their "target" kid - they simply do not want a hassle.
In case of an incident, teachers do not get into who did what, but simply, arbitrarily, give all parties in the incident the SAME punishment. I know it sounds insanely unfair, but that is happening in EVERY school in America - it is systemic.
So, if you are a parent of a bullied child, here is what you MUST do to avoid either your child being physically hurt and/or being traumatized for life:
1) Talk to your child - once you see the danger signs of your kid coming back home sullen, fearful and dejected right after school, I guarantee it that he/she has been bullied. I would venture at least 30% of all kids in school are.
2) When you talk, explain to him/her that you were bullied in your life (lie if you need to), make it sound like it happens to everybody, but that sometimes a person bullied needs help and you are there to help - make sure you don't go psycho and make it sound like you will go to school on a "Rambo" rampage beating up the bullies and so "embarass" him/her - because then your child will clam up, shut up and tell you that everything is fine.
3) Gather all the information about the bullying you can from your child.
After a talk with your child, you can have several conclusions:
1) Perhaps your child IS the bully, in which case it would behoove you to show him/her the error of their way
2) The bullying is just verbal teasing, which in many cases is bad enough. Work on your kid to give him/her more self esteem and to be more assured in school, walk more proudly, try not to be a target and learn how to verbally defend himself/herself.
3) The bullying can reach a critical phase, which is physical abuse. In this case, do NOT report it to school, but get the names of the guilty parties from your child, and MARCH to the police station - make a report.
It is not worth it to "bother" the school principal and teachers once step 3 is reached, because, believe me, they really, truly and utterly do not care and want to be just left alone and spared the hassle. Also it makes them look bad as teachers and school officials, so it is much better in their view to just make everybody involved be "guilty" and give detention to all kids involved.
But we as adults do not play this shitty game of CYA, especially when it is OUR kids who are involved.
So, if it got into actual physical contact between your kid and bully/bullies, make a report in the police station. Feel free to march into the principal's office with a police officer, and tell that person exactly what you think about the situation.
Once that is done, tell your bullied child that after EVERY time an act of bullying happens, to go immediately to a nearest teacher/security guard and inform them about it. Then immediately call you from a nearest phone.
Of course, the bully group will find a way to tease/mentally torture the your kid without being caught. Your child will simply need to become mentally strong and believe me, this will make him/her a much better adult.
Crucially, you must teach your child to NOT be afraid and cowed, either by the bullies and even more importantly by the teachers, who as I said before do NOT have his/her best interest at heart.
If something happens in a class, say a spitball that hits your kid in the back, the thing to do is to get up, interrupt the teacher who CHOOSES not to notice anything, and loudly say: "I was just hit by a spitball from behind".
Even the most jaded teacher, who is riding this shithole to his/her retirement, will be forced to act.
Your child will get RESPECT because he/she will be walking PROUDLY through the hallways, and not afraid, because he/she has YOUR BACKING NO MATTER WHAT.
The majority of the kids in school will thank your child and perhaps even you personally, as they also are affected by the bullies - and guess what? The other kids at school will break thru their fear and terror of the bullies, and inform the school authorities about their being bullied. Of course, you should realize by now that the school authorities will try to hush up and cover up this situation, because the more incidents there are the worse they look - so they will actively work AGAINST the whistleblowers.
But perhaps other parents will take a cue from your actions, and ACT.
(If that happens, congratulations - you and YOUR CHILD are now heroes in that school).
One last important point to make is that the bullies are in school not to learn anything, but simply to get off on torturing another kid or kids, mentally and/or physically.
How does school look like and feel like for the children in it?
How can I ram this point here - I hope that you have watched documentaries on TV about prison. The ones where interviewed inmates always stress that one must have the eyes in the back in the head and watch everybody and everything, because trouble can come from any direction, at any time.
There you have it - this is your child's school.
THIS then is your child's daily life:
NYTimes: A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly
He is Billy Wolfe, high school sophomore, struggling.
Moments earlier he left the sanctuary that is his home, passing those framed photographs of himself as a carefree child, back when he was 5. And now he is at the bus stop, wearing a baseball cap, vulnerable at 15.
A car the color of a school bus pulls up with a boy who tells his brother beside him that he’s going to beat up Billy Wolfe. While one records the assault with a cellphone camera, the other walks up to the oblivious Billy and punches him hard enough to leave a fist-size welt on his forehead.
The video shows Billy staggering, then dropping his book bag to fight back, lanky arms flailing. But the screams of his sister stop things cold.
The aggressor heads to school, to show friends the video of his Billy moment, while Billy heads home, again. It’s not yet 8 in the morning.
Whatever the reason, addressing the bullying of Billy has become a second job for his parents: Curt, a senior data analyst, and Penney, the owner of an office-supply company. They have binders of school records and police reports, along with photos documenting the bruises and black eyes. They are well known to school officials, perhaps even too well known, but they make no apologies for being vigilant. They also reject any suggestion that they should move out of the district because of this.
The many incidents seem to blur together into one protracted assault. When Billy attaches a bully’s name to one beating, his mother corrects him. “That was Benny, sweetie,” she says. “That was in the eighth grade.”
It began years ago when a boy called the house and asked Billy if he wanted to buy a certain sex toy, heh-heh. Billy told his mother, who informed the boy’s mother. The next day the boy showed Billy a list with the names of 20 boys who wanted to beat Billy up.
Ms. Wolfe says she and her husband knew it was coming. She says they tried to warn school officials — and then bam: the prank caller beat up Billy in the bathroom of McNair Middle School.
Not long after, a boy on the school bus pummeled Billy, but somehow Billy was the one suspended, despite his pleas that the bus’s security camera would prove his innocence. Days later, Ms. Wolfe recalls, the principal summoned her, presented a box of tissues, and played the bus video that clearly showed Billy was telling the truth.
"Not long after, a boy on the school bus pummeled Billy, but somehow Billy was the one suspended, despite his pleas that the bus’s security camera would prove his innocence."
Welcome to the world of your child.
Do you still think that you can trust the teachers to do the right thing? Do you think the teachers have the best interest of your child at heart - or simply want to cover their ass, using the school bureaucracy and the whole sick system to do so?
Doesn't this prove my point right there?
Things got worse. At Woodland Junior High School, some boys in a wood shop class goaded a bigger boy into believing that Billy had been talking trash about his mother. Billy, busy building a miniature house, didn’t see it coming: the boy hit him so hard in the left cheek that he briefly lost consciousness.
Ms. Wolfe remembers the family dentist sewing up the inside of Billy’s cheek, and a school official refusing to call the police, saying it looked like Billy got what he deserved. Most of all, she remembers the sight of her son.
“He kept spitting blood out,” she says, the memory strong enough still to break her voice.
By now Billy feared school. Sometimes he was doubled over with stress, asking his parents why. But it kept on coming.
"By now Billy feared school. Sometimes he was doubled over with stress, asking his parents why. But it kept on coming."
I blame the parents here. This was allowed to go on for too long. I cannot fathom how these "smart" educated people did not march into the police station and make a report.
In ninth grade, a couple of the same boys started a Facebook page called “Every One That Hates Billy Wolfe.” It featured a photograph of Billy’s face superimposed over a likeness of Peter Pan, and provided this description of its purpose: “There is no reason anyone should like billy he’s a little bitch. And a homosexual that NO ONE LIKES.”
So how do the teachers at the school act in this situation?
Here is the sentence that takes the cake - here is the whole system exposed for what it is and the teachers as the callous, inept, unprofessional, clearly uncaring individuals that they are:
Some teachers think he’s a sweet kid; others think he is easily distracted, occasionally disruptive, even disrespectful. He has received a few suspensions for misbehavior, though none for bullying.
You see - it is Billy who is the troublemaker here. If only he would shut up and let the bullies KILL HIM - then there would be peace and quiet for the teachers and school officials, and they could quietly coast to their "well deserved" retirement.
Judging by school records, at least one official seems to think Billy contributes to the trouble that swirls around him. For example, Billy and the boy who punched him at the bus stop had exchanged words and shoves a few days earlier.
Again, it is ALL Billy's fault!
Mr. Wilbourn said federal law protected the privacy of students, so parents of a bullied child should not assume that disciplinary action had not been taken. He also said it was left to the discretion of staff members to determine if an incident required police notification
Mr. Wilbourn, the school official, is frankly full of shit here.
If you are a parent of a bullied child, if your kid comes home from school sullen, dejected, with a fearful look in his/her eye, do not wait!
Or something like this or even this can happen next.
And even then, remember - the teachers will NOT act, and do their best to hush up the whole incident, to keep their jobs.
Here are the reddit.com readers' comments on this story (a few of them I chose):
I made a knife in auto shop when I was 14. (It was actually pretty cool, I cut apart a shopping cart with an arc welder, but anyway.)
I was caught with it, and I told the principal that I was being bullied so bad that I made it so people would leave me alone.
He told me "well, if people are beating you up, then you must be doing something to deserve it."
At that point I pretty much lost all respect for authority. That ultimately led me to become a "bad kid" because it was clear I was on my own.
I knew a kid in highschool like this that was bullied (more than the rest of us) but he always seemed to shrug it off and be able to laugh about it. In the fall of his second year his parents found him hanging in their garage. I remember being angry at him, thinking if you're going to kill yourself anyway why didn't you take all those fuckers with you.
I was bullied in middle school quite a bit. The issue as I see it is with the attitude of the school towards fighting back. I was an honor student, and an all around "good kid". If I was picked on and somebody saw it, the school would give the kid who was responsible a two or three day suspension and I wouldn't get anything. I saw people who fought back, and due to the bullshit zero tolerance violence policy, both of them got suspensions.
When Joe Asshole's kid gets his 15th suspension for the year, Joe Asshole doesn't care and the kid basically gets some free time off of school. When Jane Honorstudent's kid gets a suspension though, the consequences they face at home are much much worse than any beating could be.
That being said, if you fight back one time, and you're vicious enough about it, you never have to fight again...
I wish I had had a parent like you. Mine told me not to fight back because a suspension wasn't worth it in the long run. When I finally snapped, I was lucky I didn't kill the poor bastard. It was just a red rage type situation and if I wasn't stopped by a teacher I probably would have been doing time in juvie for murder. Broke his nose and dented in a locker that I wound up having to pay for...with his face. It was like years of aggression being let out in one swift motion. If I had been taught that it was OK to fight back from the start, I doubt it would have gotten that far. I got in deep shit with the school and my folks, but I was never picked on again.
You know I was bullied in 8th grade. I had a group of 10th graders trying to beat me up. I even called out the school councillor for not doing his job to protect me and the fucker smacked me in the hallways. Then the Principal pulled me into his office and said if I couldn't find a way to deal with it then the school wouldn't do anything either.
Same here dude - I lost all respect for authority when that happened.
This sounds more like the reality I know about insofar as bullying is concerned.
How very true. I have seen this first hand. We moved to an area that is predominantly Hispanic and 80% of the kids enrolled in the school district are Hispanic. Being from California, we thought "Oh, no problem! We love everyone! Yay tolerance!"
On DAY #2 our son was assaulted by some Hispanic kid who was heard saying "fuck you, white boy" and "white people don't belong here any more."
The school officials literally said "Well, he is the minority, and he is a white boy." If he had gone up and clubbed some Mexican and said "Fuck you, spic" he'd have been charged with a hate crime. So for several weeks he endured girls saying "Stupid white boy" and other Hispanic kids shunning him simply because he is white & blonde. He has endured kids saying he must be related to Hitler because he's blonde & white. He also had several years of martial arts. The fourth time he was assaulted by a racist Hispanic, he finally fought back and fought back hard. it was successful. Now we had to deal with the parents of the other kid playing the race card, but that's another story. The point is that he hasn't had a problem since. Testing into the 'advanced' classes also helped. It put him in an entirely different group.
I remember most of my highschool days with disgust, I know how it is to get a daily beating... by the time I graduated and went to university I had days full of violent thoughts, this really fucks with your mind... to get a hold of myself and get back my self confidence I started martial arts training... and after that, well, making a fist and letting my knuckles speak for themselves, is really the most fighting (except training and competition) I had to do since then...
it is the truth that the american school system does nothing to stop attacks like these. whether verbal or physical the attackers are allowed to continue the aggresion. in the kent,wa. school district a gay student was harassed to no end, he eventually sued the district for 15 million dollars. you would think that would bring about a change in policies, wrong. children are still overly harrassed by their peers in this district. its when a few of these kids crack under the pressure that we experience a columbine.
The worse part is neither do the parents. My wife's a teacher dealing with a bully in her class, and the boy's dad is convinced his child is somehow being picked on by the school. He's a fucking moron, and my wife is pissed as hell about it, and the school refuses to deal with it because they haven't seen anything for themselves.
a school official refusing to call the police, saying it looked like Billy got what he deserved.
What. The. Fuck?
that was my life in elementary school. I got beat up b/c i was small. i got beat up b/c i cried easily. I got beat up b/c my sister had a learning disability.
Yet for some reason, the school was unable to do anything about it, except give me suspensions.
I was a smart kid, so i figured if i was going to get punished for being beat up, then I might as well fight back. It was convenient that at this time i also had a growth spurt, so I was one of the tallest kids in my school, so I used this to my advantage. And i didn't really care if i fought dirty, especially if I was up 5 against one or something stupid like that. I remember this one guy came up to me one time and punched me in the back of the head, and then pushed me over a fire hydrant, bruising my back.
We were playing street hockey, so I sacked him with my hockey stick as hard as I could (he was 4 years older than me, and i was in about grade 3), and then hit him in the head with it... a long story short, I ended up in anger management classes for kids at this point with a couple of other kids in my class who had been bullying me (which I certaintly needed at this point, as I was a pissed off kid).
That seemed to work for everyone, or maybe we just grew up, as after a couple of incidents that played out like that other one, things settled down.
It's funny in retrospect though that nothing was done to punish my bullies, until I started to fight back/severely beat them.
Teachers punish people who don't obey, labelling them mentally ill.
Bullies punish people who aren't popular, labelling them nerds.
Although they frown on each other, teachers and bullies are both shock troops of the 'socialization' process.
Graduates of socialization respect both teachers and bullies. (We've been conditioned to. How could it be otherwise?)
We claim that teachers have our best interests at heart, and that bullies don't really hurt people, or that where they do, the victims deserve it.
The parents are fools for not notifying the police themselves. Assault charges should have been pressed immediately in every case.
I had a close friend in middle school who went through a similar situation. When the school did nothing his parents simply contacted the police. It came to an end very quickly after that.
When my son was in 8th grade, a totally psycho mom of one of his friends was bullying him. An adult woman, harassing a 13 yr old kid! She would wait for him at the bus stop and follow him to our house in her car, bitching at him the entire way. He'd had some kind of fight with her son and she was pissed over it. This went on for over a month, and my kid took it until one day he told her, "fuck you!" (with which I was totally ok).
I called her, tried to speak with her in an intelligent manner, and all she did was babble and scream at me on the phone. I'd had enough, and called the cops. They sent an officer to our house and my son and I told him the story.
Total, honest truth - this cop got irate with my son for "disrespecting his elders", got all up in his face and threatened to take him to kiddie jail. I was flabbergasted. I told him that my son had done nothing wrong, that this woman was totally nutso, but he didn't want to hear it. Obviously, it had to be the kid's fault, right? He totally ignored every part of what had been happening except for the fact that a 13 yr old boy had told a 40-something yr old woman to fuck off.
I told him he needed to get the hell out of my house, and made arrangements for someone to be at the bus stop every day for a while til the nutter calmed down.
God I hate the police.
The notion that it takes two to provoke a fight is completely untrue. When I was in middle school there were at least two kids who would hit me repeatedly, one in gym class, the other while I was on the bus. They did it for no reason at all - I just looked like a vulnerable target. The sad part is that one day I retaliated in the gym locker room after being hassled by the kid for the whole quarter. I ended up with the same punishment as the provoker, and when I explained my situation the school didn't give a shit. And now I had the kid's posse after me. What the hell was my 13 year old kid self suppose to do in this situation. I can't even tell you how let down and alone I felt, that the people who were suppose to protect me acted so ambivalent about my safety. It's the worst feeling ever.
"The notion that it takes two to provoke a fight is completely untrue. When I was in middle school there were at least two kids who would hit me repeatedly, one in gym class, the other while I was on the bus. They did it for no reason at all - I just looked like a vulnerable target."
"The sad part is that one day I retaliated in the gym locker room after being hassled by the kid for the whole quarter. I ended up with the same punishment as the provoker, and when I explained my situation the school didn't give a shit."
"I can't even tell you how let down and alone I felt, that the people who were suppose to protect me acted so ambivalent about my safety. It's the worst feeling ever."