Bullying will always be a part of our lives and will probably never go away completely. There will always be people who will try to exert power over others. Unless something is done about it, that’s when we have problems. Bullies can be put in their place, and sometimes it takes more than one to speak up.
One of the biggest problems that we have in the US today is that bullies have no accountability for their actions and a lot of people, fellow kids and grownups, do nothing about it. Our government has handicapped a lot of the old ways of dealing with the problem with laws–the bullies are protected and the victims are exposed and vulnerable if the victim and/or their parents can’t handle it. That is not to say bullying didn’t happen still in the old days, but bullies were less likely to get away with it when they got busted, and an adult dealt with it in an effective manner.
In my elementary school years and back when my parents and grandparents were in school, if a bully got busted, they went to the principal’s or teacher’s office and got a paddling. Then that teacher or principal would call the kid’s parents where they got a spanking at home. Even the meanest kids didn’t want that call home. I have some real pistols in my family and extended family, but they still didn’t want that call home–they tell me this even as middle aged adults looking back. Nowadays though, we don’t have that luxury. Nothing gets done. No accountability.
This post is not about getting on the soapbox about getting paddling back in schools–that’s not the silver bullet. I was still tormented and terrorized with paddling in school, so there’s your proof that it isn’t a cure-all. Bubba was a lot more careful about what he did, and he didn’t antagonize the teacher and/or the principal when that was around. There are other things that can be done to deal with the problem in a constructive manner. Sometimes Bubba and Betty both would get a paddling–not that it happened to me, but it happened nonetheless.
After some thought and analysis over the years I have noticed what the weakness of bullying is, but it is not normally exploited. If it was, it wouldn’t be a problem. It takes more than one to exert their firepower on its Achilles’ heel. One person’s arrow isn’t going to do it. Dictators are not overthrown by one person armies in the real world–that only happens in movies and books. Things can get started by one person, but they can’t be finished. Since I had the mind of a Spartan warrior in this case and I write stories about warriors, battle strategy seems like a fitting analogy for this post.
The Anatomy of a Bully
Bullies are sometimes hurt kids themselves, but for whatever reason they direct their anger an pain at others. Others just have that dominant personality. Or, they could just be a future dictator in the making; he just doesn’t need to be elected President. Bullies can be jealous of other kids and attack them. 98% of the time though, bullies don’t attack their target one on one.
The Posse: Bullies usually attack in groups or three or more. As I said in an earlier post, they attack like packs of velociraptors. Bullies seem to get their strength in numbers. It’s easy to be big and bad when it’s odds of 5:1! Needless to say if it comes to a fight, bullies don’t fight fair. It doesn’t even have to be a fist fight for it to happen that way. There won’t be a 1:1 fight. If the chief bully goes down, that’s when the posse steps in, and then it’s game over for the target.
Love of Spectator Sports: This is when the bully causes a scene to draw in spectators. The spectators stand around and watch the 5:1 battle. They seem to form a circle around the contenders. It’s like being transported back into ancient Rome into the Colosseum. The more people are there the more Bubba gets strength to torment the victim.
Note to spectators: You don’t have to do anything to the victim to make them feel like you are against them. Standing around and doing nothing makes them feel like you are against them just the same. Doing nothing seems like you are condoning what is happening, and you are just as involved in it. Instead of the odds of 5:1; the odds are 50:1 in the eyes of the victim. I’ve been here. That’s why victims can feel like everybody hates them, and they aren’t worth anyone’s time to have a helping hand. Sometimes after Bubba and his posse get through, some of the spectators continue the torment afterward. This is kicking someone while they’re down. Shame on you! This is where the isolation and loneliness comes from. Being bullied by itself is tough enough, but factor this in…
On the subject of the spectator role–I never understood it. For the person who wanted to say something but didn’t–why? Kudos to those that did. They are the examples of what is coming up next. I would have said something on someone’s behalf if I was on this side of the field. In a bullying scenario I was always on the field fighting Bubba and his posse.
Bubba’s Achilles’ Heel
Bubba’s love of spectator sports and strength in numbers is his strength and his weakness at the same time. Everything all depends on what the spectators do and what grownups do. When another kid stand up to the bully on the victim’s behalf, he looses some power. If it’s just him and his posse, the odds aren’t so great for the bully posse like it is with spectators. This is usually when Bubba will tuck his tail and run. He’ll try to isolate Betty again later on. If it’s 1:1 and another kids steps in to contend Bubba, he gets out of Dodge like a scalded dog. He may threaten the other kid, too, but it is mostly an act of desperation to reinstate power.
Now, if more and more people took up for Betty and stood up to Bubba he would loose even more power. If he had also bullied other people then they should all stand together to overthrow the tyrant. However, it just doesn’t happen. I don’t understand that. I can’t wrap my head around it. It defies every logical neuron in my body!
Just as Bubba draws power from a crowd, so can the victims; it’s just that most of the time the victims are isolated and alone like no one cares about them. That is one of the cruxes of the problem. This is why people become hermits and kill themselves. This is where the perception that “no one likes me and everybody hates me” comes from.
Now back to the kids who have interceded. Victims usually appreciate the helping hand–everyone needs help now and then even if we are holding our own OK–it does feel better to not stand alone all the time–even for the strongest ones. We sometimes reach out to them and hope to befriend them. The pity is that there isn’t more of those kids. I have talked to a couple people about this bullying series. Kids who intercede are perceived as heroes by the victims and by adults, and maybe by spectators. We need more kids like that. The more kids we have like that the better. Adults can’t do much to help the kids nowadays, and some do nothing, so it is left up to the kids to make a difference. Some kids don’t care if they get in trouble for helping another kid. Sometimes when adults realize that Jim was beating up Bubba to help out Betty, Jim may get off the hook for his act of charity.
To add there is no neutral territory here. Whether you realize it or not you have chosen a side in both Betty and Bubba’s perspective.
The more and more people who stand against the bully and his posse the better. He has just lost his control over the masses. This is when dictators vacate the premises and hole up in a bunker somewhere. Five people can’t take on and torment fifty people. Also, note people defending themselves are usually fiercer fighters than those who are the aggressors. There is just something amazing about that survival instinct. Even the fiercest great white shark won’t stick around to take a chunk out of an entire pod of dolphins!
This can be done by kids and grown ups. Kids can form groups who have all been bullied by Bubba and work together. We don’t need to work with shrinks and such unless we have suffered extreme trauma and PTSD. Adults need to do more to help the victims in some way and not leave it up the victim’s parents alone. There are things that can be done. There are ways to handle Bubba too, but discipline in today’s schools isn’t nothing but a slap on the wrist in most cases. “Oooh, ISS, big deal. Saturday school makes me shake in my boots,” Bubba would say in utter sarcasm. “Betty’s gonna get it when I get out!” Sometimes Bubba’s parents contribute to the problem by antagonizing the teacher, hopping on the bandwagon, or condoning his behavior by doing nothing or denying the problem. Maybe the parents of all of Bubba’s victims could form a group.
Anyway this point being is that when people band and work together is when change can happen. This is when tyrants fall is when the tyrannized and tormented come together and work as one–not against each other and divided. Remember: what is killing the victims is being alone, isolated, and unassisted when things get too hot to handle, but victims can’t become needy and wished to have their hand held. They still need to be able to hold their own, but they can’t fight all wars as a one person army and not expect to receive some war wounds.
Forming a support group and such also stems from a perception of bullying and how it compares with domestic violence, child abuse, and harassment. That’s next week!