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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.



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.

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.


by Illsaysheis

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