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snopes 07 November 2011 06:51 PM

Bullying
 
Comment: I wonder if there is any truth to this one, or if it's another
morality play on Facebook:

"A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them
the following exercise to perform. She had the children take out a piece
of paper and told them to crumple it up, stomp on it and really mess it
up, not to rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and
look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’
re sorry. Now, even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the
paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those
scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is
what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re
sorry, but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the
children in the classroom told her the message hit home. *Copy and paste
this if you are against bullying."

DemonWolf 07 November 2011 06:55 PM

I'm ll in favor of anti-bullying initiiatives, but most of the ones that I see really miss the mark.

Bullies never see themselves as bullies. When they pick on a kids they, in their own mind, are not bullying, they are "just kidding." The kid being bullied is often not seen as bullied, s/he is seen as needing a thinker skin. And it's ok to be mean to that kid because s/he's a "spaz" or some other label that signifies the kid as not being of equal social standing as the bully.

Telling the kids "don't bully" is a waste of breath. Teach the teachers to recognize it and how to counteract it.

SplishFish 07 November 2011 08:44 PM

Agreed on all points, DemonWolf. In fact, I think the OP is a metaphor better directed at adults rather than kids. Especially your point about the bullied child needing a thicker skin. That's usually the parents' or teachers' response, in my experience.

DemonWolf 07 November 2011 09:16 PM

Unfortunatly, It's easy for the teacher to see a little teasing and assume it's "kids will be kids." But some teachers don't realize that that is just the tip of the iceberg. I used to get told, "fight back, then they'll stop."

I was short, underweight, wore thick glasses, was nerdy, and was socially awkward. All fighting back would do was ean me a beating. Even if I beat the kid in front of me, he'd be back the next day with friends. Telling a teacher would only make things worse. The teacher interfering would make things worse. Telling my parents would make it worse. There was onlly thing I could to that worked - I faked sick a lot.

It's too bad the teachers were unable to see the signs, they were all there, but they never looked. If you'd asked any of the kids who made my life a living hell if they were bullies, they'd tell you, and belive it 100%, that they weren't.

I've had a few come up to me years after the fact and try to be friendly and nice (As in, "Hey! An old classmate! Let's reminisce!) I'm not any of them understood why I had little interest in talking.

snapdragonfly 07 November 2011 10:01 PM

Fighting back doesn't make them stop either.

One nasty little miscreant who used to poke my son with a sharpened pencil lead every time he had to walk by his desk to get to the sharpener at the back of the room, finally drove my son too far and BOOM he decked him - laid him out with a black eye.

The result was my son got out of school suspension for 3 days. The kid who provoked him got in school suspension which was a joke at that school. Their attitude was of course, a prim, judgemental "well, they aren't supposed to HIT and your son was the one who HIT". Were that to happen now and the new improved Mean As Hell Snapdragonfly to be dealing with it, I would have filed charges on the little shit for assault with a weapon and on the teacher for being complicet by not catching him doing it every day for 4 months. As it was I objected and complained and let them know I was real unimpressed with how they dealt with it and expected improvement (which did not happen)

Anyway - all the little clique of snotty monsters picked on him as much as ever after that and in fact I overheard them the next summer taunting him at the swimming pool about the event and they had somehow rewritten history as my son being the one who got his ass kicked. :rolleyes:

Our solution was to take him out of that school and put him into one that didn't have to be told not to tolerate bullying - they already didn't, and they didn't seem to have any problems figuring out how to implement it, either. It was real simple. When someone bullied - THEY were the ones who got punished, not the victims. I know - brilliant, right?

Cybill 07 November 2011 11:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DemonWolf (Post 1552307)

Bullies never see themselves as bullies. When they pick on a kids they, in their own mind, are not bullying, they are "just kidding." The kid being bullied is often not seen as bullied, s/he is seen as needing a thinker skin. And it's ok to be mean to that kid because s/he's a "spaz" or some other label that signifies the kid as not being of equal social standing as the bully.

A really excellent book that deals with this is One Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. I'd really recommend this as a teaching tool for anyone who has children to show them how subtle bullying can be. It's not going to solve anything for anyone but it is a great way to get some dialogue going.

snapdragonfly 08 November 2011 12:46 AM

I had that book! Yes, it is a very good illustration of different manifestations of bullying.

rockland6674 08 November 2011 12:56 AM

When I was in 9th grade, another student threatened me with a hypodermic needle which was disguised to look like a regular ball-point pen when it was covered by a cap at the bottom. I told the guidance counselor about the incident. His response was that said student was "a good kid" who wouldn't be using a hypodermic needle. I forget the rest of what he said, but it amounted to "Drop it, for your own good."

RivkahChaya 08 November 2011 01:41 AM

I was a kid who potentially could have been really socially awkward, but I had a cousin who was a little older, who had really brilliant social skills, and used to give me a gentle nudge (figuratively) when I was being weird.

Some kids really do need a boost with social skills, which is no excuse for picking on them-- if anything it makes it worse-- teasing a kid with a lot of self-confidence, and the ability to produce snappy comebacks for any occasion is qualatitively different from teasing someone whose self-esteem is already low.

I'd like to see schools have mandatory anti-aggression, or sensitivity programs for anyone caught harassing another kid, but I'd also like to see voluntary programs for kids who are having trouble making friends. That's not a judgment, or a statement against people being themselves. You can still be yourself, but maybe learn a little bit about making social overtures. There's nothing wrong with not being the most gifted social butterfly in your class. Schools provide extra help for kids having trouble with reading, and math, and physical skills. I don't see why they shouldn't provide extra help here, too. Again, I'm not saying that means people who get picked on deserve it because they might be socially awkward (and I'm sure not all are), any more than I'd say someone with trouble reading deserves to be illiterate.

Cervus 08 November 2011 03:19 AM

Agreed that bullies don't ever see themselves as bullies. Their excuse is that they're just teasing, or the kid deserves it because s/he is weird or quiet. Or else they just don't even think about why they're doing it; everyone just picks on this particular kid just because.

However, one aspect of bullying that I think needs to get more attention is exclusion from a group. Like an entire group of girls at a lunch table getting up and leaving simply because you sat at that table. Or never, ever having anyone agree to be partnered with you for an assignment, so the teacher has to force people to be your lab partners. And you can see the loathing and reluctance on their faces. Or being openly criticized for your entire wardrobe and hairstyle because you're not trendy. Knowing that even if you wore the right brand-name clothing and had the trendiest haircut, you'd still never be accepted by these girls.

Adults often don't see that stuff as bullying, but things like that form part of the exclusion and isolation that goes along with being bullied for years. Bullying is not just physical mistreatment or saying nasty things about someone (the only physical bullying I endured was getting spit on, and having pennies and rubber bands flicked at my head during class). When girls bully other girls, it's often very subtle and focuses on excluding someone from a group or clique, which can be accomplish with body language, glances, whispers, notes, gossip, and flat-out ignoring that person or not allowing them to participate in group activities. A lot of this stuff goes under the radar of adult eyes. When it starts in elementary school and continues through high school graduation, the target of the bullying often never has a chance to develop any kind of self esteem or confidence. After a while, you know exactly where you stand in school society, and you give up any hope of acceptance. And lack of self-esteem becomes obvious, which encourages more bullying to a presumably easy target. And of course when the quiet, bullied kid does finally decide to stand up for himself/herself, s/he is the one who gets in trouble for fighting back. (As you can tell, this is what happened to me.) In my experience, the fighting back is fueled by years of pent-up rejection, anger, frustration, and disgust at oneself and the entire social pecking order.

I had high school teachers, as well as the assistant principal and my parents, scorn me for sitting alone and imply that it was my fault for not being social and making friends. They were so freakin' clueless...

Mickey Blue 08 November 2011 03:50 AM

The other thing is that the world of school is usually not divided up into bullies and not bullies. Often its more or less a food chain with lots of people in the middle who are bullied and bully themselves. I know I was bullied a lot in school, and I bullied other kids too, I think its cause when you bully somebody else it makes you feel 'big', lets you work out the aggression you wish you could heave at the person hurting you.

Towards the top of the chain you have two types of bullies; the charismatic ones who are often on good terms with the teachers, popular, get good grades, etc, and the opposite type which are often troublemakers.

RivkahChaya 08 November 2011 09:01 AM

If I remember correctly, there are usually a couple of really popular charasmatic kids who are genuinely nice, which is how they got to be so popular. Everyone like them, and is vying for the number two spot. The ones who have it jealously guard it, and swing back and forth between putting down the third tier kids, to let them know they are third tier, and being accepting of them, to maintain the size of the social group, because the bigger it is, the more attractive it is to the real outliers, who don't really understand the inner dynamics. There are also some second tier social grouops, like the really smart kids, who are in the AP and gifted classes together. Some of them may be in the main in-crowd, and some may be in their own little group. They have a "you leave us alone, we'll leave you alone," bargain with the group of really popular kids, in the sense that they don't try to break in, and they don't get picked on.

The real targets come from the fourth tier kids who haven't found some secondary group of their own. That's why teachers tend to see them as non-comformists, or "weird," or not trying to make friends.

Also, IME and YMMV, of course, the worse of this happened in junior high. In high school, there were a lot more groups to belong to, and a much greater chance of finding a place. Maybe a few years of maturity helped the second and third tier types (the third tiers being the ones who mostly did they bullying of "everyone else") decide that spending time scheming to put other people down wasn't really worth it. I don't know. I went to a high school in Indiana, away from the kids I went to junior high with, so I don't have a good perspective there.

fitz1980 08 November 2011 09:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DemonWolf (Post 1552450)
I've had a few come up to me years after the fact and try to be friendly and nice (As in, "Hey! An old classmate! Let's reminisce!) I'm not any of them understood why I had little interest in talking.

Kurt Cobain wrote a song inspired by that. As he became a well known rock star (first locally in Seattle and than later the world) he'd run into adults who had bullied him when they had been kids. Rather than apologize for having been young, stupid and mean they would act like they were buddy-buddy with him and talk about how much they loved his music. He once claimed that many of the kids who bullied him later became his biggest fans and that was not a thing he was happy about.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Bloom

fitz1980 08 November 2011 09:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by snapdragonfly (Post 1552495)
Fighting back doesn't make them stop either.

One nasty little miscreant who used to poke my son with a sharpened pencil lead every time he had to walk by his desk to get to the sharpener at the back of the room, finally drove my son too far and BOOM he decked him - laid him out with a black eye.

The result was my son got out of school suspension for 3 days. The kid who provoked him got in school suspension which was a joke at that school. Their attitude was of course, a prim, judgemental "well, they aren't supposed to HIT and your son was the one who HIT".

Been there, done that. In middle school I was often the target of bullying. It was mostly little stuff like trying to trip me one time or knocking my books out of my hand as I was walking. Doing it once might qualify as "friendly ribbing" but it was literally my whole middle school life and the people who did it were not my friends. And than when I did fight back I knew that I'd get the same punishment as the bully would get.

In the 6th grade I got into it with another kid and we ended up in the principle's office. The kid who had bullied me literally told the principle "well look at him, he's a dork" as his explanation for our fight. The principle admonished him a bit and than suspended both of us, as if we had both committed the same offense. Ironically I was most worried that my parents would find out about the whole thing and I'd be in trouble at home for getting into trouble at school.

The worst part of the system was that:

If you fight back than you get the same punishment as the bully gets, because it's "fighting."

If you go to teachers or administration than you get labeled as a "pussy," "tattletale" or "fag" and than are the target of more bullying.

If you let it go than you let it go and one individual thing doesn't see that big of a thing. But if it happens all of the time than it's like getting pecked to death by baby ducks. It's not one thing that disturbs you; it's the fact that everybody around feels that it's find to trip you, run into you or knock your stuff out of your hands and that's your entire life.

Ramblin' Dave 08 November 2011 12:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fitz1980 (Post 1552737)
Kurt Cobain wrote a song inspired by that.

Somewhat unfair of me, I suppose, but that is exactly why I never liked Nirvana. They hit it big my freshman year in college, and I could never get past the incongruity of all my well-off, well-adjusted classmates loving the music of a guy they probably would have picked on relentlessly in high school.

DemonWolf 08 November 2011 01:33 PM

This thread has my brain in a bad place now. Nightmares again last night.

My way of dealing with the bullying was to join the football team despite my lack of social skills or hand/eye coordination or size (My mom has actually told me that the movie Lucas reminded her of me). I did fairly well despite that. But senior year I got the rude awakening that they merely tolerated me, never actually respected me. When they ran out of freshman to haze one day and I was careless enough not to make myself scarce they reminded my of where I really stood in the pecking order. I still have scars. Physical scars. That I can show you.

The reality is that all the times they stood up for me or helped to protect me from bullies was actually more of a "nobody bullies our members but us" attitude.

I played the rest of the year with scabs on my elbows that ripped open and soaked through the wrappings every time I bent my arms. It was excruciating.

I lettered in football that year.

Alarm 08 November 2011 02:32 PM

The way I've found to get rid of bullying is to be much more aggresive than the bully himself.

The problem with that, is that you get taken to the principal's office more, and might even become a bully in turn.

It's a fine line to walk between keeping the bullies in line and falling to the dark side. :(

snapdragonfly 08 November 2011 03:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fitz1980 (Post 1552745)
The worst part of the system was that:

If you fight back than you get the same punishment as the bully gets, because it's "fighting."

If you go to teachers or administration than you get labeled as a "pussy," "tattletale" or "fag" and than are the target of more bullying.

If you let it go than you let it go and one individual thing doesn't see that big of a thing. But if it happens all of the time than it's like getting pecked to death by baby ducks. It's not one thing that disturbs you; it's the fact that everybody around feels that it's find to trip you, run into you or knock your stuff out of your hands and that's your entire life.

Exactly. Which is why the more effective anti bullying tactics that some schools have adopted focus on training the 95% of kids who are neither targets nor bullies -but who are scared of being a target themselves and without training, don't know how to protect themselves or others - on how to get involved and be a big part of the solution instead of just onlookers. When a system like that has the full support of the principal and those teachers who I suspect are bullies too, aren't permitted to pile on the victims also, life is considerably better than the lord of the flies scenario they allow to play out so often.

snapdragonfly 08 November 2011 03:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Alarm (Post 1552808)
The way I've found to get rid of bullying is to be much more aggresive than the bully himself.

The problem with that, is that you get taken to the principal's office more, and might even become a bully in turn.

It's a fine line to walk between keeping the bullies in line and falling to the dark side. :(

They would have kicked my son out of school if he'd gotten aggressive enough to scare them all off - not a good solution. :(

Lainie 08 November 2011 03:20 PM

The "get agggressive" solution also doesn't work with the kind of bullying Cervus described, which is a much of the bullying that girls face.


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