Friday, October 19, 2012

The Hot Topic Today: Bullying

I've been thinking a lot about bullying lately. I don't know if it's that kids these days are just too damned sensitive and coddled, but bullying just didn't seem like a big deal when I was a kid. And before you jump on me for being insensitive because yes, I understand a little girl just killed herself over it, and that's not okay, but I was bullied as a kid too. So looking at my experiences, and with kids today, even though there is an added element of the Internet, I'm wondering, is the generational  gap so wide, is how kids are raised now vs thirty years ago so different?

See, as a kid, my ears developed a lot of wax. No matter how often my mom would pin me down and have at me with the Q-Tips, the next day I would be full of earwax again. It was just how I was. I knew it and accepted it. Unfortunately, when you develop a lot of wax, it's visible in the ear canal, especially when you always wear your long hair in a ponytail. Kids are cruel, and would make comments, and once or twice in junior high, an eighth grader would put Q-Tips on my lunch table and run off snickering. I shrugged it off. Earwax wasn't something I could control, and frankly, at that age I was surprised they weren't picking on me for my acne or the fact that I didn't shower or wash my hair. It just wasn't a big deal. And while hurtful, it wasn't exactly malicious. Not what I would consider malicious, anyway, and certainly not life-damaging. I had no reason for retaliation or tears.

High school was a different story. A very horrible rumor was spread through school that I had used a racial slur in reference to a student that had passed away in a car accident the year prior (people that know me know I will jump people's shit for using the N-word). This  could have gotten me kicked out of school. However, I realized the root cause of this rumor, the source, and worked with my guidance counselor and dean of students (my school didn't have a vice principal, but a rotating pair of dean of students) to address the situation. It didn't stop the threats I received from the student body to beat me up, but some people were reasonable enough to listen to my side and no violence ever happened.

I also had a friend named Chris in high school and sometimes I think I was his only friend. He was a huge geek and I used to make him pay me in Magic cards for my geography homework. He had the worst acne I've ever seen in my life, but he was a pretty decent person. His family raised Arabian horses and I was fascinated by that. Unfortunately, everyone seemed to hate this kid, and I'm not sure why. Granted, it's been a long time since high school, so he could have been a jerk to people, we all have it in us. I remember him being bullied pretty frequently. One day, I remember going between sections (our school was color coded into sections) to another class and seeing him being separated from another student. Have you seen what a fist can do to severe cystic acne? It's not pretty. He'd gotten some punches in, too, and his nostrils were flared, panting, filled with adrenaline and rage. He'd snapped and had enough. Of course, it got him suspended, but he fought back instead of laying back and taking it. I don't think that was his only fight in our high school career, either.

So now, when I hear about bullying, I think, why don't kids talk to their teachers/guidance counselors/principals/parents? Sure, some are apathetic, but I keep thinking of the articles I've read about Amanda Todd, and how she didn't really have much parental involvement. Sure, she was driven to the hospital when she drank bleach, but she was cutting for a while. Why didn't she have a behavioral therapist working with her, why didn't anyone get involved? You can know for damn sure when some malicious cunt was trying to get me kicked out of school by spreading rumors about me, my mother was there like a rabid bear.

John's very disingenuous roommate that I wrote about a few days ago has a 19 year old daughter that was getting bullied last year on the bus. I don't know if it's still happening, but their response to it? Just let it be. Doing anything will make it worse. I'm not saying get violent. But if you're getting consistently harassed by a kid that already has a probation officer, grow a fucking backbone and report their behavior! I just don't get it! Retaliation isn't always violent, sometimes it means protecting yourself and others and doing the right thing.

Before I blocked the person on Facebook, I read a thread about bullying in another local school posted by someone that is a friend of a friend. Parents of kids who had been bullied actually said that their sensitive and gentle children shouldn't have to stand up for themselves. People. Seriously. Do  you think weakness of character is going to get your child far in life? Standing up to a bully is only going to make a stronger individual. If you are always afraid that you're going to be hurt by the bully, then you're going to be afraid of everything your entire life. Parents, raise your kids with some goddamned backbone and stop coddling them! Bullying will always happen as long as there is someone bigger/stronger/more aggressive/more cunning but that doesn't mean the whole world must cower to them.

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