"Fiction is the purest art. Commercial fiction is the butter, the darkest chocolate, and the finest malt. That's why we are so addicted to it."--Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli
I have to leave for work in ten minutes so I did not have time to read the whole post but I felt I add to add something. Sorry, I will not have time for a rewrite.Years ago I wrote an article for The Day in New London and in it I basically said:For every person who witnesses, theft, abuse of any kind, bullying, rape and any injustice you can come up with, if you do not stand UP to the perpetrator, you stand WITH the perpetrator as their SILENT ACCOMPLICE. As decent human beings we must all right the injustices against others by speaking a word, a phrase, stepping forward, not back, call the police, tell the teacher, arm your children with self-worth so they can save themselves and others.My mother used to say, ‘grow balls, speak up.’I’ve got to run. May none of you out there today be A SILENT ACCOMPLICE !
Great post. I love this woman.
I love that post. I subbed to her blog, and I am really glad that you posted a link. Thank you!
Unfortunately she doesn't know what she is talking about.She pictures a bully as some big dumb kid that takes kids money. That's a stereotype. Most modern day bullying is complex, non-physical, and perpetrators are often highly intelligent kids. It makes them far more dangerous than the traditional bully of our age. Those guys used to bruise our cheeks and pride. The modern kind kill people. Whoever invented the phrase, "sticks and bones will break my bones but words can't hurt me" is full of utter crap and we all know it! My son was bullied last year by a girl who kept calling him fat and dump and a whole bunch of other names. He was in severe distress. He didn't want to go to school. His grades suffered. He lost his confidence. Talking to the teacher, principle's office, and everybody else didn't help. You see, he is a big, athletic, powerfully-built boy and she is a tiny "defenseless girly-girl." I attempted to talk to her mother. The woman said, "Your son is lying!" You see, an apple doesn't fall far from the tree, even if it's an orange tree... There is gotta be a tree nearby, or so I've been told...His teacher said, "I cannot believe she is still doing it. I spoke to her about this."I told my son to tell the girl, "I can lose weight but you will always be ugly." I said if she keeps teasing him to start teasing her back about her looks. (She is not ugly, by the way.)What an uproar this advice caused! Everybody got really pissed at me and said the usual dumb shit like, "Just tell an adult."This never works!My gentle son who is in love with the world was also upset with the advice and said that he will never, ever, going to do that.How did it all end? I'm sorry to say that he finished the year being bullied and we made sure he was not in the same class as the future divorce attorney... We coped out in other words.All this advice of saying something, doing something, is very nice and I agree, this is the only thing we can do - the alternative is doing nothing. But nothing works!They cannot be watched 24/7 and the bully will find the time and place to do their damage to our kids.
Thank you for calling attention to this matter. What really PISSES me off? Some of these young victims could be the future Updikes and Austens of the world. It's not right that Neanderthal illiterates should be allowed to rob the rest of us of true art and beauty. And we wonder why our world is so fucked up... (Yes, I said it.)
@Bryce As I've said in my comment - you oversimplify things.Kids used to be allowed to get physical. Fights were common and were tolerated to a degree. We now live in a modern enlightened society when this behavior is not tolerated. As a result, people who used to keep their sharp tongues safely in their cheeks because they'd get beat up in the school yard, feel safe to say anything.Modern bully is intelligent, organized, Internet savvy, and is far more dangerous. They often drive kids to suicide fully aware of what they are doing. As court documents of one of the cases shows one of the bullies texted to another something like this, "when is this fuker is going to off himself already?"I'm sorry to say that a modern bully is the future Updike torturing a gentle and vulnerable Neanderthal. Coincidentally this is what happened to the real Neanderthals who lived in Europe for 300,000 years prior to our arrival. We, the modern humans, were the bullies that drove them to extinction... P.S. My first post should say "copped out" and not "coped out". I don't feel like deleting and posting it again. :)
Unfortunately, I have to agree with ilyakogan. My fifth grader gets bullied at school, and has been bullied three of the last four years. A lot of the bullies are his friends. We've spoken to teachers and administrators, blah, blah, blah. Nothing helps, but cursing or fighting back definitely don't. The bullies are doing it to get a reaction.
I think I want to make one last comment about this.I have nothing against Wendy Thomas. She seems like a well-intentioned, nice lady.I should probably change the "unfortunately" to "fortunately". I'm glad that she and her son never had to deal with this issue personally and she can address is in a detached, fun, and creative way! :)
I had a bully in 6th grade. She made me her personal project for the entire year. Constant jibes and insults and jeering. If I made the smallest misstep, she was there to make sure the world knew about it.Her favorite? Coming up to me 20 times a day, sniffing me, and then making faces. My family was dirt poor so my things weren't always new and nice. My dad was also a very heavy smoker. She knew this was a perfect way to damage my already non-existent self-worth. Who knows if I actually smelled bad or not? It didn't matter, as long as Dorothy Parker was there, I felt like I did (see I still remember).Since there was no internet and texting, I got to escape it when I wasn't at school. Therefore, I quit going to school. This was in the days when truancy was a nuisance, not a foster care offense. I only showed up for tests and I still got a B in every class except PE. Her family moved away that summer and things returned to semi-normal.I realize now that her life must have been truly pathetic if the high point of it was off-loading on the nerdy kid from the trailerpark on the other side of the airport. Doesn't make it right. Just lets me put it into perspective and move on.I can't imagine what it would have been like if my bully could have extended her reach through social medial and texting. Terri
Janet, thank you for putting up this link to my blog post. It is certainly making for some interesting discussions. The more we can share our stories, the more we can come up with creative solutions. Specifically to the poster who said I didn't know what I was talking about. I am the mother of 6 kids (the 4 oldest are boys, the 2 youngest are girls) trust me, we've had our share of bullying. One of my sons in particular was bullied without stop by one particular boy when he was younger. My son was whipped with a belt, spit on, had his hat thrown out the bus, food taken and destroyed from his lunch box, chairs moved as he was ready to sit so that he would fall, and batteries shoved into his mouth in an attempt to make him swallow them. I had meeting after meeting with the school to no effect. You saw what I saw, blah, blah, blah. I'm a pretty tough mom though, so I made them come up with a plan to protect my son (the boys couldn't be together, couldn't talk to each other, couldn't be paired up, etc) we all agreed to the plan. Things looked good until my son came home with a sprained thumb because the bully had pulled it back so hard on the playground that he sprained the tendons. I went to the police and reported the child. If the school wasn't going to protect him I was. My son had the right to be safe at school. Oh, by the way, I'm talking about 7 year old children here.The police took me very seriously and told me to continue documenting everything and if necessary they would help to get that child moved out of the school. They realized that young bullies like this can grow up into very dangerous people. The police talked to the school and to the boy's parents. The school said I over-reacted (Of course they did, I called them out for ignoring a problem. They said I was being an over-protective mom. As a result of the police involvement, the boys' parents took their son to counseling and it turned out he was trying to kill my son (in ways a 7 year old can think of) because he thought my son was gay. He had learned that gay people should be killed. If I hadn't escalated our episode to the police who knows what would have happened? Bullying affects not only the victim but the family and in particular the mother who tries to protect her babies. I'm sorry for you and your son's experiences. The "FUCK YOU, YOU MISCREANT" is specifically for one type of bullying. It's not a one-size fits all solution. Different situations require different actions. It is only in the sharing of our experiences and our creative tools to combat the situation that we will even have a chance to help and protect our kids. Wendy
An older kid started bullying me in high school for a little while. One day in French class, I punched him. We had a knock-down brawl right there in the middle of class and destroyed the poor teacher's Eiffel Tower display. He kicked my ass and I had a black eye for two weeks. But he never harassed me again. Because he knew I was going to fight back. I agree with ilyakogan above: our overly protective parenting and school administration that seeks to limit violence has, perversely, led to a more sinister form of bullying. If my (future and as-of-yet non-existent) child is ever bullied, my advice to him will be: punch that punk in the nose. Sometimes old school is the best method.
Wendy - well done.In my public defender days I was assigned to rep an 11-year old charged with bullying. Small, slender, bright and under so much stress he jangled like a guitar string stretched almost to breaking.I got into the case and learned that he had lain in wait and come out of the bushes swinging at an older boy. More research. The older boy had been stalking and bullying my client for the entire year. The breaking point was when my kid was carefully carrying a diorama that had won a prize and, well, you know what the other kid did.School records showed my boy had been also been bullying and threatening younger children and being punished by the teachers. I met the family and discovered he was being ridiculed and punished at home for being a sissy-boy who wouldn't stand up for himself.His mom wanted a show trial to "blow the lid off the school."The poor kid was getting it from all sides. The look in his eyes was intelligent and feral. I voted him most likely to end up in a bell tower with a sniper rifle. I finally crafted a solution where charges were dismissed if he went to live with an aunt for a while. Not a perfect solution, but it didn't brand the kid as a criminal at age 11. I do not condone what he did to the younger kids. Not one bit. But it shows that stress will find a crack and leak out. Bullying is often a cycle and must be broken, not just punished.This kid is what helped me get insight into my own bully.Terri
There will always be bullies in the world. We can't change that. All we do, and try to teach our children to do, is change how they respond to it. This phrase gives some power back to the kid being bullied. It is also teaching an "I don't give a crap what you say about me because I think you're a stpid ass anyway" kind of attitude.Basically, I think it rocks.
Bullies are miserable human beings who lead lonely lives and obtain pleasure from inflicting pain on others - can anyone say - sadist (without the sexual part, of course). They must fill up their empty souls by trying to extract the souls of others. They may be intelligent, morons, average, etc. Bottom line is they don't feel good enough about themselves so they must make others feel bad. Bullies target people who, in their opinion, are weak. Trying to bully someone "stronger" than you is difficult and bullies like things easy. The key is to be strong, strong-willed and give off the impression that nobody fucks with you. It really does work. As I said, bullies don't like difficult tasks and won't screw with those who they know they can't intimidate.
Interesting and thought-provoking post. Excellent comments and views from everyone as well. Thank you all so much for sharing so candidly, and giving this chicky something to think about.
I think we should also call into the question the environment that creates bullies. I regularly rail against high school (here for example: http://wp.me/p1NlZX-2J) and what it turns perfectly normal people into. As I said to my sister one night, "I was never bullied in drama club" - give young people some real challenge (putting on a play is always real, even if it's at school) and they forget about the artificial political struggle that is high school.
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