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News Flash: Bullying Hurts Kids!

According to Reuters News, those fabulous Researchers have done it again. They have proved -- statistically! -- that, yes, Virginia, kids get bullied in school and that this may have "serious mental health consequences."

To which the huddled masses here in Ancient Armenia respond with a resounding "DUH!"

The huddled masses of Ancient Armenia had all of this figured out twenty years ago. Kids bully each other. Bullying is abuse. Abuse causes "serious mental health consequences." "Serious mental health consequences" is researcher-speak for "the severe fuckup of one's life," and can be physically as well as mentally devastating (as if mentally devastating wasn't bad enough). How nice of the Researchers to figure this out now. And how wonderful that it's made The News.

I'm sorry, but for decades now, kids have been trying to tell people what these Researchers have apparently just figured out. Kids are being hurt, sometimes severely. And the traditional adult responses have included such gems as:

"They're just jealous."
"Boys will be boys."
"Rub a little dirt on it."
"Don't let the bastards get you down."
"What, you can't take a little teasing? What kind of wuss are you?"
"There's nothing we can do about it."

And my personal favorite:
"These are the best years of your life."

Well, no, asshole grownup. They're not the best years of one's life. If someone is abusing you, those are the worst years of one's life. When just showing up at school is a trial, when going out into the hallway means that you run the risk of being assaulted, when just walking down the street means that you risk having rocks thrown at you or dog shit smeared on you, that does damage. It's the kind of damage that festers and eats away at your mind and your soul. It's the kind of damage that kills people sometimes. And the most well-intentioned of grownups just brush off the abuse that causes it, because the people doing the abusing are other kids.

Maybe it's an effect of grownups not taking kids seriously. "Oh, they're just kids, they don't have the power to really hurt anyone." Wrong. Abuse is abuse, and bullying is just as much abuse as a parent blacking a kid's eye.

I'm torn. On the one hand, I'm glad that the Researchers are finally waking up to what really ought to be a universal truth. On the other hand, I'm pissed off that it took them this long to see what should be as plain as the noses on their faces.

Bullying hurts kids.

DUH.

Comments

( 47 comments — Leave a comment )
telperion1
May. 11th, 2007 04:33 pm (UTC)
*applauds*

Thanks for posting this--I couldn't have said it better myself.
frenchpony
May. 11th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure how much good it will do for the world in general -- it definitely made me feel better to post it, though -- but at least I'm saying something about it. Even if it's just a voice in the void, that's better than no voice in the void, right?
arwensommer
May. 11th, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this (including the resounding "DUH!" which I second without doubt or pause!).

I think I'm more interested even in finding out if they're ever going to research -WHY- adults do this. Is it because they "went through it themselves and didn't have any lasting wounds" (HAH!)? Is it because of the fundamental misunderstanding of children? And what's more... are they going to do something more than state the glaringly obvious and do a follow-up to see just HOW these effects are still felt years later?

(I've been reading psychology textbooks, can you tell?)
frenchpony
May. 11th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
I think that, if The Researchers would just open their eyes and get beyond the "Bullying hurts kids. Who knew?" phase, they'd see that they already know how the effects are still felt years later. There's a lot of fucked-up college students and young adults out there, and I'd lay even money that they were bullied as kids. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Even an ethnomusicologist can do it.

What I want The Researchers to do is to figure out a way to stop the abuse, to grow the cojones necessary to stand up and say that kids abusing kids is wrong and should be stopped.
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frenchpony
May. 11th, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC)
Link to your heart's content.

"They only do that because they like you."

Oooh. That's another good one. All those Grownup Gems. God, I hate them. You can see through them in a New York second.
jay_of_lasgalen
May. 11th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
It's quite earth-shattering what Researchers discover at times - who'd have thought it?

Perhaps I was lucky. I only recall being bullied at school once - when an older boy pushed me over into a patch of stinging nettles. I told my brother - he's five years older than me - and he pushed the boy into the nettles. I still remember the sense of satisfaction that gave me!
frenchpony
May. 11th, 2007 08:10 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how long it takes Researchers to discover what kids know all along. There's abuse, and sometimes a short sharp shock is the best tool for dealing with it.
heartofoshun
May. 11th, 2007 10:23 pm (UTC)
I was told when I was really small that if I didn't give them the satisfaction of yelling and crying that the boys on the playground would not hit me and tease me as much. I actually think it gave me an aggravated sense of the injustice in the world! I've spent most of my life as an activist for what I have perceived to be social justice. That's the flip side of the pain. (Not saying that makes bullying excusable or that abuse is not abuse!)
frenchpony
May. 11th, 2007 10:58 pm (UTC)
It's great when people can take their experience of abuse and turn it into a productive force. But, on the whole, better to not experience the abuse to begin with. Social consciences can develop just fine anyway.
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sinneahtes
May. 12th, 2007 01:37 am (UTC)
I followed the link from stephantasy...

Great post! It's especially interesting to me, as I've seen two mothers on my flist post about bullying over the past couple of days--one of them is the mother of a kid who actually did the bullying (she let him know she did not find it acceptable, and the kid actually feels sorry for what he did--so yeah, I think it does help for adults to face bullies head on (or at least for the parents of bullies to realize that their child is not a special snowflake who is utterly incapable of being a bully)), and another had to call the local police's anti-bullying hotline because a bully kicked her kid in the back at the top of a stairwell to try and make her fall down the steps, and the principal just said the bully has "learning issues" and actually started to walk away as she was talking to him about it.

How messed up is it that a school principal of all people has to get a call from the police before he does the slightest thing about a known bully who could have seriously harmed another kid?

(On a sort of side note, it sounded like this principal had some issues with sexism as well--nothing a woman says is important enough to be listened to, apparently... but that reminds me that people stereotype women and girls (and perhaps kids in general? Not sure) as being too emotional or sensitive for their own goods, which causes them to dismiss the victim rather than take the real issue seriously...)

And those quotes people tell bullied kids makes me see red. They go beyond just dismissing the victim and into enablement territory. "Boys will be boys"--I can't be the only one who believes that's true when people cling to the ridiculous idea that boys are supposed to be jerks, and never try to teach them otherwise?

(And yeah, I'm also wondering why it's such shocking news to anyone that bullying is bad. How many people who were bullied as kids honestly forget that it hurt? Or is it seen as a sign of weakness to admit that that guy in 7th grade who grabbed your stuff and made you play Monkey in the Middle with it still haunts your mind sometimes?)

Er, sorry if that was a mess to read--this topic can make me rambly...
frenchpony
May. 12th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
Oh, I will have to go and look for those two posts, especially the one from the mother of the bully. That sounds like it'd be a good read.

One thing that's especially irritating -- I was looking at the Raven Days website today, and I was reminded that Researchers in the UK were already "discovering" the problem of bullying seven or eight years ago. That just makes me madder at the California Researchers, for not figuring it out sooner.

and the principal just said the bully has "learning issues" and actually started to walk away as she was talking to him about it.

"Learning issues" my aunt Fanny. Last I checked, the DSM-IV did not list "aggravated assault on other children" as a symptom of dyslexia.
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westbeilschmidt
May. 12th, 2007 03:39 am (UTC)
It really puzzles me that certain events like bullying only come to (public) light when it's researched to death and reported in some major publication.

I too was bullied; fortunately I had enough moxy to stop it myself (unlike most kids who are) even though I was in my teens. I was about 16 (had a few close friends in HS), I was teased because I have red hair, wore glasses and was a military brat among other things. Well the bullying came to a head when my tormentor started to sexually harass me. The vice principal and science teacher (wonderful male chauvinistic pigs that they were) used the "Boys will be boys" and "don't knock it, it might be the only meat you get" not very supportive (and obviously illegal remarks) found out what the inside of locker looked like. I lost my temper and shoved all 3 sob's into seperate lockers then reported it - the bullying and the staffs remarks to the principal in turn to the police.

The 3 were charged (luckily, I didn't have to testify against them). The staff (involved) were fired and banned from teaching and the bully went to a juvenile detention centre.
sinneahtes
May. 12th, 2007 03:52 am (UTC)
"don't knock it, it might be the only meat you get"

*jaw drops*

Wow. You ARE made of awesome! (Not that I ever thought otherwise. ;))
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mikekellner
May. 12th, 2007 08:02 am (UTC)
It is a hard problem to deal with, because adults need proof for the wheels of authority to work, and they can't be there to protect kids 24/7. Much of what happens in school is beyond the control of the adults, and the bullies know it.

My daughter was being pushed around and threatened back in third grade, because it is always the sensitive and kind children, usually the very smart ones, who get it the worst. Bullies are cowards and weaklings at heart, and have a kind of radar for victims. In our case, we enrolled our kid in Tae Kwon Do classes and the problem evaporated within months as her attitude changed. It has been good for her in a bunch of other ways, and at age twelve, she earned a First Degree Black Belt. Needless to say, she has no problem with bullies now. But she is also big and strong, and just needed an attitude adjustment to solve the problem. For other kids, that may not work.

A great story from my childhood, back in the 60s in Milwaukee. Me and my friends were Beatnik wannabees, and folk music aficionados. My best friend Chris was in a folk music group, with several of his friends, that performed at various school events. This gained him great notoriety in our school, and attracted the attention of a pair of troglodyte throwbacks who started to push him around and threaten him.

One day while Chris was packing his stuff at his locker, these two losers came up and started pushing him around. Things were looking bad, when out of the blue, this hulk wearing a letterman jacket, plaid shirt, chinos, and loafers grabs the two bullies by their collars and shoves them face first into the lockers, and explains in excruciating detail the painful things that will happen to them if they ever bother his buddy Chris again.

Chris was totally astounded by this, and after the bullies beat a hasty retreat, asked what just happened. It turns out that the hulk was a guy named Rick, the star Halfback on the school football team. His sister was someone we knew, and she had a crush on Chris, and told her big brother that bullies were hassling him. It worked, they left my buddy alone after that.

What worked was the bullies no longer had an easy mark they could harass cost free. The kids don't fear the adults, because they know the adults have no control over everything, and they can always get you when there is no one around. They also knew Rick could get them when no one was around.

If I knew what worked, I'd recommend it. I think that they should need less evidence, and come down harder on bullies. It is my experience and my kid's as well, that they are usually the trouble makers and bad students anyway. I have thought that they need a number of specialized schools in a city system. The regular school for mainstream good kids, a school for the super smart, a school for the slow and mentally handicapped, and a special school for trouble makers and criminals of the future, which features a "Highly structured environment" and teachers who are all former Marines, Policeman, Football & Hockey Players, ect, who are not easily intimidated by boys with bad attitudes. Bullies would go that school.

mk
frenchpony
May. 12th, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
The thing is that even when grownups have proof, a lot of times they just don't care. They keep telling the bullies that "we'll punish you next time we catch you doing this." And, of course, next time never really comes, and the bullies learn that they can get away with things like smashing people's heads into the wall after gym class.

I love your idea for separate schools. That would be a good way to do things.
elliska
May. 13th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
Oh wow! You don't even want to get me started on this topic! And now we have a study, huh? Well wonderful. So now when adults do nothing except say idiotic things like those you cited, we can say they should have known better. Because, after all, without a study, how could you know what impact it might have to be terrified to go to school or terrified to walk down the aisle on the bus or terrified to walk home or be told repeatedly day in and out that you are inadequate for whatever reason someone decided to use against you that day... I won't even get started.
frenchpony
May. 13th, 2007 12:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, because of course getting laughed at or having your braids pulled or your clothes thrown into the shower while you're in gym class or having your head cracked against a wall don't count unless there's a study that proves that it does.

And, of course, this is just the American translation of the study. British Researchers were having their "Who knew?" moment way back in 1999. Damn, people! Queer as Folk made it over here faster!
meggins
May. 27th, 2007 02:18 am (UTC)
This kind of ties in with a conversation I had with a friend I've known since second grade. We found ourselves somewhat baffled at all the school bullying going on. We were far from popular kids, but we never felt at risk from our fellow students. Oh, there was teasing on the playground in elementary school, but it was verbal and, by today's standards, mild. As far as feeling unsafe in school, definitely not an issue. Kid-on-kid abuse simply would not have been tolerated.

And in high school, while we were certainly aware that we weren't in the in crowd, it never went so far that we felt ostracized. No one was really mean to us, and they were sometimes kind.

So, what the hell gives today? How does this vicious behavior survive? Never mind the researchers. They're always finding out things that people already know. But what are the school administrators, teachers, and parents doing? How can they have "zero tolerance" for a pair of nail scissors and yet have students afraid to walk the halls?
frenchpony
May. 28th, 2007 02:58 am (UTC)
But what are the school administrators, teachers, and parents doing? How can they have "zero tolerance" for a pair of nail scissors and yet have students afraid to walk the halls?

The school administrators are either standing around with their thumbs up their asses or trying to figure out how to work NCLB into the curriculum (or possibly both). The teachers are either trying to get actual teaching done around NCLB, or have given up and don't care. The parents believe that their kids are perfect, special little snowflakes.

And nail scissors and Tylenol apparently remain the most feared items that students could possibly possess. . .

saadiira
Jun. 2nd, 2007 06:24 am (UTC)
Well, no, asshole grownup. They're not the best years of one's life. If someone is abusing you, those are the worst years of one's life. When just showing up at school is a trial, when going out into the hallway means that you run the risk of being assaulted, when just walking down the street means that you risk having rocks thrown at you or dog shit smeared on you, that does damage. It's the kind of damage that festers and eats away at your mind and your soul. It's the kind of damage that kills people sometimes. And the most well-intentioned of grownups just brush off the abuse that causes it, because the people doing the abusing are other kids.

Maybe it's an effect of grownups not taking kids seriously. "Oh, they're just kids, they don't have the power to really hurt anyone." Wrong. Abuse is abuse, and bullying is just as much abuse as a parent blacking a kid's eye.


AMEN sister!

My personal 'favorite' was 'What did you do to make them hit you/say something/bring it on/deserve it/etc.'

Err..NOTHING? I didn't even KNOW many of those who were the cruelest to me. I'd never said a word to or about them, harsh or otherwise.

I kept to myself whenever humanly possible, because every day from grades 5-8 was hell on earth for me, and I knew I was going to get hit, spit on, kicked, followed home, chased, harassed, possibly robbed of various items or money, called just about every name in the book, with many of them having to do with my weight, and that NO ONE would do ANYTHING about it.

I had lit fireworks dumped down my blouse, took beatings that included multiple perpetrators, had entire gangs chase me home, and got in trouble and called 'the problem' when I tried to avoid going out to the recess field, said a word about it, or, after one very severe beating, broke a pencil that I owned, very quietly, in half while I tried to keep from just breaking down right there and screaming. That brought on, by my teacher, "see, you've got PROBLEMS."

I managed to let much of this go, and even forgive many people. I finally stopped hating myself in my early thirties. In Highschool, the abuse was 'only' verbal. (I took on a very tough persona, and developed a very sharp tongue. I could dish it BACK like nobody's business, but it still hurt. I never INITIATED the bullying. To this day, I DESPISE all bullies with a passion.)

I have one friend who could not let it all go. Right after Columbine, when they were still saying that those kids did it because they were bullied? She said to me "I totally understand." She was well over thirty, and Highschool was half a lifetime behind her. They were brutal to me, but even worse to her.

-Dira-
saadiira
Jun. 2nd, 2007 06:28 am (UTC)
Oh...continuation of the above thought. Posted too fast. :). On the hated myself side? Yeah. After years of hearing 'what did you do to deserve it?' (Not that it took years for the message to sink in and start working on me), I decided that I was just bad. Unworthy. That I should never have been born. That I was somehow soiled, rotten, that people could tell just by looking that I was no damned good. That's what bullying did for me (Plus, it didn't help that I came home to an emotionally abusive step parent by about halfway through, but this REALLY set me up good for that). It took me half a life time and more to UNDO that. I still feel that I may have gotten much further, been better off socially, etc., had I had all those years not to be getting over complete self-loathing.

-Dira-
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