Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Does awareness = improvement?

With bullying on everyone's mind, because of Jonah, I'll repost here a comment I made over on Single Dad Laughing, that tells more about my own bullying experience, which I first wrote about here.

But first let me say, I'm not too impressed with the way schools handled bullying when I was a kid, nor how they are handling it these days.  Nowadays, they have big anti-bullying campaigns, and anti-bullying slogans plastered all over the walls.  When I go to lunch with my kids, I see huge posters in the cafeteria saying, "Be a buddy, not a bully!" or "Stop bullying NOW!"  But when I read them I don't feel uplifted; I feel sickened!  What are we teaching our kids?  That would be like hanging a sign in our dining room that says, "Stop rape now!" Appetizing.

Yeah.  That's what I want to see while I'm eating my lunch.

I was bullied in elementary school--very badly--by other girls, in 4th and 5th grade. They beat me up several times, and were very cruel. I've blogged about it a little bit, but it was much worse than I've written about. Like many kids, I basically never told anyone. Finally, at one point, when I'd been hurt pretty badly, I came home and told my Mother. Thank God, she raised hell, and I was protected physically after that, but nothing could stop the mental abuse.

Fortunately, I was able to attend a new school in 6th grade. At that school, I wasn't a bullying target. But another boy in our class was. He was "slow" and came part way through the year from a rural school district. The teacher asked him where he was living, on his first day in our class.  I winced when he proudly answered with a thick West Virginia drawl and an open smile, "VA Mobile Home Park!"  I remember thinking, "Oh, God! He's in for it!"  (Northern Virginia has WAY too much money.)

One day, I saw two bullies back him into the corner of the classroom, after most children had already boarded the bus. The bullies demanded that he recite the times tables, but he couldn't. They taunted him, and jeered at him. I was filled with indescribable rage, and I quietly lifted the heaviest hard-cover Social Studies textbook I could find, and slammed the lead bully over the head with it. He fell to the floor, curled in the fetal position.

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