Sunday, March 18, 2012


Recently a young girl has been talking to me about the subject of 'Bullying' and how she has been experiencing it in her life. It made me take a step back and caused a flood of memories and emotions inside my beat up brain. I'm not the person I am without being bullied. Did it make me a better person? I don't know if  it made me better, but it did make me  who I am. I'm not going to pull up statistics and research articles - I'm just going to say what my experience has been  and what I have learned about it.

I was a small skinny kid that didn't have all the cool clothes or shoes. My family didn't have an over abundance of money and what they did have didn't manage to trickle down in to my pockets at all. I was teased a lot. In a strange way I was lucky that one of my abusive step fathers I had grew up in a male strong family and in a school area where him and his brothers were the bully kings. And he noticed I was going to have a rough road ahead of me. One Christmas I received a 'Father and Son' boxing glove set along with a 'Darth Vader' inflatable punching bag. I took to it very naturally, it empowered me to not have to take the physical abuse from the bullies at school. I was still scrawny and not dressed in the cool clothes but any bully that wanted to hit me now had to worry about getting hit back hard.

Sounds kind of like a great "Karate Kid" type story doesn't it? Well during the era I lived in school shootings were still unheard of and in the end it became ridiculous trying to make it even one day in high school without an altercation. I ended up beating up the weightlifting champion and star linebacker on our state championship holding football team who was also a champion bully. It garnered me some respect but brought more tests of other tough guys wanting to prove themselves against the game scrawny kid. Never mind they came with their buddies to help or even had some melee weapons with them - the weird scrawny kid needed to be put in his place.

The ending was a young man older then myself in high school who was the senior's star athlete. I got called 'faggot' and pushed or punched from behind from him at least once a week or more and he would walk away with his entourage slapping him on the back for being such a great guy. One weekend his last year of high school he died in a drunk driving accident.

The entire school shut down with hundreds of sobbing teens skulking around the hallways trying to console themselves. I made it known I didn't give one shit about that kid dying. And why should I? He was making my life hell. Even though I was able to decently defend myself, that by no means meant I enjoyed fighting. Even now when I meet real fighters for kickboxing or MMA I hear them talk about the stress and even fear experienced before a fight. These are some of the toughest guys and girls you will ever meet and they puke, shake, count all the exits of the building they are fighting in - and these people train almost everyday for fighting. It is said if you are not nervous at all before a fight you are either crazy or a liar. Now imagine how much stress and fear it can put on a young kid that is just trying to get by in high school, junior high school or even elementary... It was sad that a bully died but I was under no obligation to pretend I was upset about it. In fact I was a little happy, it was almost like a real example of 'Karma' that manifested in my own life.

I know some people are going to say "So what, a little bit of teasing and horseplay isn't a big deal" or "Today's kids are babied too much, a little bit of adversity is good for them". Well imagine you are walking into work as an adult and the three of the biggest guys are waiting for you in the office and push you around and make fun of your outfit and knock you down and give you a bloody nose. Can you imagine the lawsuits? Those men would also be liable for legal action and possible arrest and more than likely loose their jobs as well. So why do we let our children do this to each other? We are doing a huge injustice to our young people by neglecting teaching them how to properly live as an adult in society by letting bullying continue.

It really confuses me in the age we live in with school shootings almost becoming routine that bullying is still a large problem in our young people's lives. Even more frustrating is how we as an adult society addresses this problem. The new political trend is to pass more laws, install metal detectors, set up security guards on school grounds. But how does this actually address the problem of bullying? One thing we all know is bad begets bad, violence causes more violence, good brings more good, etc.

These young people that bring the bully personality to schools are getting it from somewhere. And if you want to argue it is inherent in the human psyche then not enough is being done in these young people's home to stifle this wrong behavior. Why are these children getting infinite passes on behavior as an adult would get you a criminal record and possible jail time? I think it's right to give young people a few chances to redeem mistakes. But this unmentioned social behavior that exists in the hallways in between classes and during lunch time and wherever a teacher isn't present happens almost daily shouldn't be given a blind eye.

We don't need more laws. The current laws we have are enough to address the problem. If one kid punches and beats up another, one warning should be given depending on the situation. Then anything after that it's time to press charges for assault and harassment. Send these kids to juvenile hall and give them a small taste of what will await for them in their adult future if they continue this behavior. And the parents need to be held liable if you want the freedom to have children you must be willing to bare the legal consequences of raising a young bully or thug.

Another thing is why is it we only teach young people about critical thinking, morality (this doesn't mean religion), and philosophy in college? Why are we wasting that all important time period when they are most impressionable on advanced math classes that 90% of them will never use as an adult and we neglect teaching them classes that 100% can use everyday in their daily lives?

To most people right and wrong seems easy enough to understand. I think for the most part a lot of that is just in our brains. But as one thing we now understand that not everyone's brains work correctly or the same. Not everyone experiences the benefits of having great parents or parents at all even.

Teaching what right and wrong is and what is good and  bad and how to deal with social problems and other people is possible. Some of my own most profound moments of learning in my life came from teachers. One in high school and once in college. Going through a critical thinking class was very mind opening. It was incredible to witness that even adults who were pursuing a greater education still were not developed enough at times mentally to deal with conflicts or others problems in their lives. It was incredible to witness right before my eyes people's minds opening up and were changed for a lifetime at an exact moment of clarity from learning. It makes me really wonder what kind of societal and cultural changes can be made if these classes were taught at a younger age.

If you want to argue it's the media, movies, television, video games, etc.  are making kids more violent. That doesn't cut it. We as a people have been violent forever, and historically even more so then today. Trying to censor everything and pass laws against everything that one group of people dislike will only kill our personal freedoms.  We would be better off teaching our young people how to be better thinkers and deal with these issues better in their daily lives.