Bullies suck. Plain and simple that’s what they are and a bully can be a kid or an adult. There is no age gap in being a bully. There is no way in separating them by looks. There is no gender gap either but all of us know one when we see one. We’ve come in contact with them all of our lives and guess what? They seem to be multiplying at an amazing rate.
When I wrote the title, my first thought was of “Farkus” the guy with the coonskin cap and the yellow teeth in the movie “A Christmas Story.” He bullied all the boys but oh how he loved to pick on “Ralphie,” the main character in the movie. Course “Farkus” got his just due when Ralphie went balistic and got in a fist throwing mania at him.
There are all kinds of forms of bullying: There are the rumor spreaders, the liars, the jealous ones, the ones who leave another out, the threateners, the pickers and the ones who want attention from their peers. As a kid, I ran into all of those forms and the first time I got bullied was in the second grade. My parents and I moved and I had to go to a different school: It was hard for me to adjust at first for I was six years old. That very first day of my being there, the teacher decided to take us to a big room for an afternoon play period. She announced that we were going to play “The Farmer in the Dell.” Had no idea what was going on till she said that she’d let other kids choose who would be the farmer, the wife and the animals. Well that happened and I was the only one not chosen. I was crushed. Had to listen to the song being played on the record player and watch everyone else and the teacher did nothing about me.
That was so long ago and yet I never forgot it as you can tell. I had been left out and had no idea that was being bullied but it was.
Spent another year at that school and fit in but again my parents moved and I was in another school not knowing a soul. But this time I decided that I wasn’t going to be left out [how I don’t know in retrospect] and I wasn’t; actually spent three years with the same group of kids and felt oh so secure. Then came junior high school: I was eleven in the seventh grade and no I wasn’t bullied but I sure saw other kids being bullied by what they had on or how they looked. And it shocked me. Was anything done to the bullies? Yes the teachers did report incidents to the bullies’ parents but who knows if anything happened? One thing I did know and that is that the kids affected were hurt and became withdrawn. Shouldn’t have happened. Was inexcusable and yet it happened.
In the middle of the eighth grade, my parents decided to move again [actually it was my mom who wanted to move and not my dad or me] and I found myself in another city and in another junior high. Twelve years old and the year before I had lost one important man in my life—my grandfather and in a matter of months, I lost my dad due to the fact that my parents got divorced. I was shattered. And I didn’t fit in for I came from a jr. high school that was more laid back and found myself in a school of cliques of girls and boys. I had nice clothes but wasn’t among the rich or the popular: The latter changed and I was so grateful.
Yet I saw bullying all the time and it was girls as well as boys: They picked on poorer kids, ones who were overweight or those who were different—even by the way their hair looked or other mudane reasons. I took it all in and stored it in my mind and felt scared and ashamed that they did that to others. The teachers seemed to ignore what went on in class; remember one boy who took his pencil and stabbed girls in the rear end. Can you imagine doing that now? Well, it happened. A girl in my homeroom stole our gym clothes and some were never found. Why she took them is still a mystery to this day for it made no sense.
After a year and a half, I was in high school and fourteen years old. But now I was mixed in with kids from my former jr. high as well as another jr. high and the bullying went on till I was a senior. Luckily, I wasn’t a victim but so many were—picked on for their clothes, their hair, how they looked, their size, their lack of excelling in sports or rumors were started and many found themselves ostracized for no reason at all—except the rumors. I would say hi to them or smile and others did too; whether it helped or not, it did make a difference in some later on.
Next came college and yes bullying was alive and well for it was in the form of chosing who would belong to a sorority or fraternity, who was chosen for sports, homecoming queens or whatever. I was chosen by many sororities and also for queens of many groups but others weren’t for they were the “nerd” type [hello Bill Gates in today’s world who might night have been picked on but became a giant in industry!] or poor or any excuse by the bullies. I had a good friend who had a rumor started about her and those of us who knew her, knew it wasn’t true but it devastated her to the point that she quit school and was never the same the rest of her life. The rumor started destroyed her whole being. I never forgot it; how could I?
When I graduated and became a teacher, I made a point to be a watcher for bullies. Wouldn’t let it happen in my classroom ever and if it did, they had to suffer the consequences by a phone call to parents, meeting the principal in his or her office and isolated in the classroom. Of course I ran into adult bullies in the form of teachers as all teachers can attest to—the ones who loved to start rumors or run to the principal with superficial reasons.
What does a bully want? Attention. Plain and simple. Well, I might add a want for feeling superior when in fact he or she is actually inferior. And they are everywhere—in neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, high forms of government, entertainment and industries. Just pick a place and the bully is there. So what can you do to help someone who is being bullied? Offer a smile or say hello and let them know that they matter. They do.
The other day I read on facebook [when a bullying statement was passed around] a reply from someone and it was this: “You should never bully anyone and besides that kid might wind up to be your boss some day!” What words of wisdom. And as for bullies, they just suck!