Join 3,499 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


“Is that a serious question?”
June 6, 2012 9:05 AM   Subscribe

How to Bully Children. An article by Sarah Miller.
posted by Lou Stuells (137 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
TIL that children still use the word hobo.
posted by jaduncan at 9:18 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


No hobo
posted by zombieflanders at 9:24 AM on June 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


Cheers is 23 minutes of people insulting each other.

I'm always surprised that more people haven't noticed this.
posted by Trurl at 9:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


*sigh*

Even when I was a kid, it depressed me how so often, the adults that they picked to give kids advice on how to deal with bullying were just so epically clueless.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2012 [49 favorites]


Where I came from "Stop, that's bullying" would result in a display of what bullying really is.
posted by Ardiril at 9:35 AM on June 6, 2012 [46 favorites]


Veep is the meanest show ever. I can't think of another with such a high density of vicious insults without any counterbalancing nice moments. Yes, I enjoy it.
posted by brain_drain at 9:43 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


The was an article in there, and, one not with out merit but, oh, for a greasemonkey script that could strip out self-absorption.

Where I came from "Stop, that's bullying" would result in a display of what bullying really is.

Truly. Bullying is second, if not first, nature to warm blooded carbon based entities. Telling children what is and and what is not bullying is as much a foool's errand as writing them an instruction manual on how to ride a tricycle. It's something everyone already knows how to do.
posted by y2karl at 9:51 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


y2karl, I interpreted the annoying self-absorption as the author trying to prod the reader into wanting to bully her.

I admit "shut up about your awkwardness already" crossed my mind.
posted by anthill at 9:55 AM on June 6, 2012


I got a subtle and perverse feeling that the hobo silliness made Ephrain feel bullied. I couldn't help but picture him as Daryl in this sketch... round about 2:38 to the end.
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read that as "How to Bully Chicken," and conjured up some amusing images of people chasing chickens around a coop.
posted by schmod at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


What a strangely-structured article. The excess of trivia makes it increasingly less interesting to get through, and then suddenly, at the very end, she says-without-saying that something awful happened to her at the hands of a group of boys in high school. I was very intrigued by the title but feel like I don't really get what she's doing here.
posted by clockzero at 10:01 AM on June 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


"He has emotional problems."

"You mean besides pacifism?"
posted by valkyryn at 10:04 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sarah Miller sounds like an overgrown 16 year old (if her tone actually reflects the way she talks and thinks). And this is great, because if she's anywhere near 30, it means I'm not alone in thinking and acting like I'm barely 17.
posted by discopolo at 10:05 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I read that as "How to Bully Chicken," and conjured up some amusing images of people chasing chickens around a coop.

It's being able to run away that allows a chicken integrity and sense of chicken selfhood. It's the being cooped up with 900 that causes social problems.
posted by discopolo at 10:07 AM on June 6, 2012


I really enjoyed that. Thanks for posting it.
posted by davidjmcgee at 10:08 AM on June 6, 2012


Where I came from "Stop, that's bullying" would result in a display of what bullying really is.

Yeah, every time I see an adult tell a kid that the best solution to bullying is to tell the tormentor "stop, you're hurting my feelings!" I just want to lay down and die. That's like saying "here is a big stick which you should now use to hit me!"
posted by elizardbits at 10:08 AM on June 6, 2012 [23 favorites]


Now I kind of WANT to bully everyone in this article.
posted by Legomancer at 10:12 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"stop, you're hurting my feelings!" I just want to lay down and die

Yes, yes, and yes. My wife is a teacher, and she tells my son this whenever he says other kids were being mean to him. I try to gently explain to her that this is probably not the best advice.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:14 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I... yeah. I do not understand when or how turgid navel gazing started being considered writing. I tried to skim through all the self absorption but quickly ran out of article.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Like most advice given to kids (as I recall from being one), this program doesn't seem like it would really work if the kids tried it, and it seems like something kids are more likely to think is dumb than to actually try.

I remember adults -- teachers who worked closely with children every day as their profession -- seeming to be oblivious of the strict moral code against telling (tattling). They were always asking you to tell and always acting like you were guilty yourself if you didn't. Dude. Don't you know telling is totally unacceptable among my peer group?

I'm always astonished by the notion that kids are supposed to know that adults are on their side, though, so I think I went to the wrong school (and had the wrong parents). When I was a kid, adults were not on your side, they would not believe you, they would misunderstand you so consistently that it seemed willful, and they would not help you.
posted by Occula at 10:16 AM on June 6, 2012 [39 favorites]


I... yeah. I do not understand when or how turgid navel gazing started being considered writing.

Well I liked it.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:19 AM on June 6, 2012 [25 favorites]


Previously
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2012


It took me a while to figure out the title. I mean - nowhere in the article could I find any instructions on how to bully children. Then I finally figured it out: the adults were bullying the children by giving them bullshit advice.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


"That's bullying. Stop it."

Oh man, my balls have retracted just thinking about how that would have played out at my old school.
posted by Decani at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


Curiously, I think there are circumstances under which "that's bullying" would have worked for me. One of the ways in which I was bullied was by a kind of concern-trolling, where people would pretend to be friendly to me in ways that were transparent to me and all the other children/teens but that were not obvious to adults. You know, asking "sympathetic" questions that were really mocking in content and understanding, or "inviting" me to things mockingly. The whole logic of it was that if I responded with anger I was crazy (because they were "just being friendly!") or with sincerity I was a dupe (since obviously I was too dumb to know that no one would ever ask me on a date/to be on the team/etc). On a couple of occasions, I actually did loudly and clearly tell people what they were doing - not "this is bullying" but "you are being fake to me to shame me, because you suck" and they actually stopped for the moment.
posted by Frowner at 10:29 AM on June 6, 2012 [13 favorites]


The fucking worst part of this is that when these methods do nothing to stop the bullying, the administration is likely to blame the kids not paying enough attention in these classes, and wholly overlooking the simple human fact that most kids are vicious cliquey little shits when traveling in packs, no matter how decent they are individually. A half hour of parroting milquetoast phrases a week isn't going to change that.
posted by elizardbits at 10:30 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


"That's bullying. Stop it."

By itself that advice won't help--but as part of a coordinated anti-bullying policy it's actually a useful step. If the school is enforcing a social norm that bullying is unacceptable then naming an act as "bullying" is actually a significant and powerful step.

One of the things that really leads to the pervasiveness and persistence of bullying cultures is the attitude that this is a normal and inevitable (even if unpleasant) part of the childhood experience--an attitude on display in this thread. The fact is that anti-bullying programs have been proven to be effective in significantly reducing incidents of bullying at schools where they have been implemented.
posted by yoink at 10:33 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Christ, I couldn't make it through the discursive self-absorption long enough to get to the meat of the story — which, given that I made it through like five paragraphs, should have been far enough. What the hell was the point of this aside from Sarah Miller needing an editor like whoa?
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Look - this simply isn't going to work for a kid who is either outsized or outnumbered. You don't train kids to resist bullying by standing up for themselves, you train kids to resist bullying by standing up for each other.
posted by Mooski at 10:35 AM on June 6, 2012 [47 favorites]


I've told this story here before, but I used to work in an agency that occasionally did bullying prevention programs for youth in inner-city schools, and my boss told me that she'd seen a meeting to present this program, "Don't Laugh at Me," with Peter Yarrow actually there to sing the folk song and everything, at one of the schools in Hartford. I asked her what the kids' reaction was and she said, "Well. . . they laughed at him."

That about sums up my feelings about bullying prevention programs as a whole. This article was right about there also.
posted by dlugoczaj at 10:36 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I interpreted the annoying self-absorption as the author trying to prod the reader into wanting to bully her.

Well, it worked like a charm on a few MeFites...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:39 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


it means I'm not alone in thinking and acting like I'm barely 17.

I think that's pretty normal, actually; we reach a point at which we feel we understand ourselves as whole, entire, capable self-sustaining entities that can take care of ourselves, and pretty much feel that age for the rest of our lives. I'm 41, but I still feel 17, and I doubt that will ever go away. I really have no idea who that guy in the mirror is, some days.

As for the bullying thing, I'll throw this out to see what kind of response it gets...here's what I've taught my six-year-olds over the last few years:

- If someone keeps being mean to you, and you don't like it, and they won't stop when you tell them, then they're not your friend, no matter what they say.

- Don't put up with mean kids. Walk away, or run away, and if they won't let you leave, do anything it takes to be safe, even if that means hitting, kicking and biting them. Be sure to yell "get away from me" as you're escaping, so the teachers/camp counselors know you're not fighting.

- If you can get away from someone but you choose to fight them instead, you'll get in trouble at school AND at home with me, so don't do that.

Not looking to derail, so if you think I'm doing it wrong, send me a MeMail.
posted by davejay at 10:39 AM on June 6, 2012 [24 favorites]


So we've established that mefites in general are skeptical of at least some types of anti-bullying program. What would work to prevent bullying? (Not "how can an individual child stop bullies in your experience?" as we pretty much know that it's either "not at all" or "by punching them really hard and winning" but rather how can schools stop bullying?)

(I'm in the "the problem is the nature of the institution, half prison and half capitalist training camp with some panopticon on top and as long as the institution is unchanged bullying is largely unstoppable" camp, but that's just me.)
posted by Frowner at 10:41 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


In the prep school I went to, anyone who got violent was *expelled.* I credit this with the primarily civil climate at my school (though there weren't enough safeguards against emotional abuse from genuine psychopaths, of which there was at least one in my class).

It makes me deeply sad that adults can't intervene at this level in all schools (yes, even bullies deserve education, and what's more some serious therapy), but I am frequently disappointed that more adults don't intervene more in bullying and model self-confidence, self-nurture, and kind and civil behavior, and then demand that of kids as well. I really don't expect interventions with kids work half so well as interventions to ensure adults handle bullying well (tho as an earlier poster mentioned, the jury's still out on the research) and actually understand the effects of their own behavior on others.
posted by gusandrews at 10:47 AM on June 6, 2012


Glad to see I wasn't the only one having this reaction to the writing. I got a few paragraphs in and realized the thing was starting to wander aimlessly - at which point I glance over to the scroll bar and see I am only about twenty-five percent of the way in - so I see if my skimming skills are as good as they used to be.

Yep! Skimmed the rest in about twenty seconds, and judging from the comments here, I pretty much got it.
posted by Xoebe at 10:49 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


What would work to prevent bullying?

There is a considerable body of research out there on this topic--it's not something we have to just pull out of our collective assi. "Steps to Respect" is one highly regarded and quite widely implemented anti-bullying program, for example. Here's a page that summarizes some of the research that has been done demonstrating that it can produce quite dramatic results quite quickly: http://www.cfchildren.org/steps-to-respect/research.aspx
posted by yoink at 10:51 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


The only time I ever saw bullying stop was when I told the guy that was picking on the stuttering kid, that I would send him home to his mother in seven separate suitcases (thanks Elfquest!). Despite having 30 pounds on me, the bully never picked on the stutterer again.

(that I was known as the kid who knew how to make explosives with piss and cotton balls probably didn't hurt.)

This article is about weenies.
posted by notsnot at 10:52 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


If the school is enforcing a social norm that bullying is unacceptable then naming an act as "bullying" is actually a significant and powerful step.

So, my kids' school spent a great deal of time hammering "no put-downs" into their kindergarten heads, where any kid caught "giving a put-down" to another kid had to give them five "put-ups" on the spot, and they had to be truthful. I thought this was a good thing, I reinforced it at home, and it seemed to go well.

Now they're in first grade, and my son called his sister a crybaby recently, because she was upset. When their mother chastised him for the put-down, here's what he said: "It isn't a put-down; if you cry, you're being a crybaby. My teachers told me so!"

He then told a story where he was crying because a kid being mean to him, and the kid calling him a crybaby, and him going to a playground aide and telling her about the put-down, and the aide told him "Well, if you're crying, you're being a crybaby." This made him even more upset, and so after recess he told his teacher about the kid AND the aide giving him the put-down, and his teacher told him the same thing, that he was being a crybaby.

You can imagine how their mother and I cringed at this, and we've taken it up with the school and made sure my son knows that the aide and the teacher and the kid were all giving him a put-down and shouldn't have...but there's nothing I can do about the lesson that the aide and the teacher taught him quite succinctly: adults do not practice what they preach, and so they cannot be trusted.

Incidentally, at no point did they ask him why he was crying, or who the kid was that originally put him down. Par for the course in my own schooling, and for many of the people in this thread, but still...you hope things will be different until you realize they won't be, and then you start teaching your kid to stand up for themselves and defend themselves (since nobody else will do it for them.)

So yes, if the school is actually enforcing the social norm, that's a positive thing...but if they're just giving it lip-service without following through, it really doesn't do any good at all.
posted by davejay at 10:53 AM on June 6, 2012 [20 favorites]


Look - this simply isn't going to work for a kid who is either outsized or outnumbered.

They did actually address this:
I digest my disappointment as the lights go down, and a transparency goes up:

Refusing bullying safely

These things might make it unsafe for you to refuse bullying on your own:

The person bullying you is older.
More than one person is ganging up on you.
You have no friends who can help you.
No adult is nearby.
You feel trapped.

Remember: anytime that you don’t feel safe, get help from an adult immediately.

Ask yourself: Is it safe for me to refuse by speaking out?
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:54 AM on June 6, 2012


This article was written such that I couldn't even understand it.
posted by 200burritos at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


"naming an act as 'bullying' is actually a significant and powerful step." - Only if the act is actual bullying. Verbal harassment is *not* bullying by any stretch of the imagination. Intimidation by implying violence barely makes the cut. True bullying starts with actual physical contact.

Diluting the definition will generally result in the response (as noyk indicates), "You want bullying? *This* is bullying."

"Steps to Respect" - All yours for just $329 per grade. Contact us if you wish to spend $5000 or more.
posted by Ardiril at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


What would work to prevent bullying? (Not "how can an individual child stop bullies in your experience?" as we pretty much know that it's either "not at all" or "by punching them really hard and winning" but rather how can schools stop bullying?

Honestly? Simply not tolerating it, and acknowledging that it is happening. When I was bullied in 6th/7th grade by another kid, the best thing that ever happened to me wasn't me finally punching him in the face -- which stopped it immediately and for good -- but was the fact that I did this because my 7th grade teacher walked over, confided in me that he saw what was going on and that it was bad, and then told me to punch him in the face to stop him from doing it again. It was that acknowledgement and approval that made the difference, and can make the difference at a school-wide level.

That doesn't mean the school should always say "punch the other kid" -- just that they should step in when they see it going on, and deal with the aggressor, and acknowledge to the victim that they're being mistreated. Consistently, and clearly. Actions + consequences.
posted by davejay at 10:58 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


This article about tease-proofing strikes me as pretty close to how I coped with playground bullies: http://www.loveandlogic.com/pdfs/teaseproof.pdf

I find clueless approaches so infuriating precisely because there are good models for reducing bullying.

The author's snarky caricatures don't help elucidate the problem because without naming the program explicitly (which she can't really do without exceptional meanness, because she filled the story with ad hominem swipes), the reader is left with a stereotype of the anti-bullying educator and no actual substance about the big picture.

I'd be much more interested in reading an account of a brilliant anti-bullying facilitator or educator. Good facilitation is really difficult, but aspects of it can be replicated and taught so that we can end clowns clowning around.
posted by Skwirl at 10:59 AM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think there are lessons to be learned from the (relatively successful) anti-drunk-driving campaigns to change social norms. By clearly defining the behaviours we want to stop, and clearly stating that we want to stop them, it is possible to change norms.

It's a long, slow process; there's lots of resistance to it, especially at the beginning. But drunk driving is not OK any more, and catcalling is becoming less so (I watched 4 guys shame the asshole wolf-whistler next to them outside the coffee shop, within seconds. They were *way* faster than I was, and they were not at all gentle about their attempts at behaviour modification). Bullying can be reduced too.

Sometimes just saying you want someone to stop doing something is enough. One thing I think would help is to have the peers do the shaming: rather than having the roleplaying exercise involve two people, have it involve three. A bully, a victim, and an intervener. When intervention is normalized, when it's comfortable to call someone out when they do something you've been taught not to accept, then it's harder to bully without someone calling you on it.
posted by Fraxas at 11:00 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


By itself that advice won't help--but as part of a coordinated anti-bullying policy it's actually a useful step. If the school is enforcing a social norm that bullying is unacceptable then naming an act as "bullying" is actually a significant and powerful step.
No.

I mean this in the nicest way, but you're being a clueless adult. There is no "coordinated anti-bullying policy" that is effective. Most people who think this type of thing is effective usually weren't bullied that much as kids -- or were at least oblivious to it if not unaware that they were doing it themselves. This is a fundamental failure to understand humanity.

Bullying is about power, either taking it away from someone else or using what you've got. In a school with an "anti-bullying" social norm, the bullying might become more passive aggressive, but it will still be there. Hell, half the adults in my school were bullies. A portion of the adults I interact with are bullies of one kind or another. Life does not have an anti bullying policy.

I don't think it gets any easier to deal with as you get older, incidentally -- perhaps we learn more about different kinds of assholes and how to deal with them -- or maybe we just claim enough personal power (gah!) that most people can't get to us, most of the time. Given the kind of thing that happens to those who are different, less numerous or weaker in stature all over the planet, I tend to think it's the latter...
posted by smidgen at 11:05 AM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


“A-ha,” Efrain says, overhearing. “I get it. You only care about the TV shows . . . "

STOP, THAT'S BULLYING!
posted by peep at 11:09 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed the bloggy writing style. Considering it was an entertaining quick-sketch of about a dozen other people, I don't really get the self-absorbed angle that other people are seeing.
posted by hermitosis at 11:13 AM on June 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


So yes, if the school is actually enforcing the social norm, that's a positive thing...but if they're just giving it lip-service without following through, it really doesn't do any good at all.

Well, yes. By the same token, if your teacher is utterly incompetent, then you won't learn anything in their classroom. That isn't, however, an indictment of the very idea of education.

Verbal harassment is *not* bullying by any stretch of the imagination. Intimidation by implying violence barely makes the cut. True bullying starts with actual physical contact.

This wasn't true even in terms of how kids used the word back (lo these many decades ago) when I was on the playground. The vast majority of bullying is verbal. In fact, I would say that most of the really worst bullying, among kids, is verbal. It takes a special kind of incompetence among adults to ignore a kid actually getting bloodied and bruised every day, but a surprising number of adults will turn their backs when they see some poor kid being the subject of chanted derision from their fellows.

Anyway, the fact that you have a private and personal definition of the word "bullying" that requires physical violence is a fact about you; it has nothing to do with how the rest of the world deals with the problem.

"Steps to Respect" - All yours for just $329 per grade. Contact us if you wish to spend $5000 or more.

Bullying is such an important problem that the only solutions worth considering are ones that cost nothing?
posted by yoink at 11:13 AM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I mean this in the nicest way, but you're being a clueless adult. There is no "coordinated anti-bullying policy" that is effective.

I totally agree with this. By distancing the programming so far from the kids' reality, you're ensuring that they'll never equate the bad stuff happening to them with the lessons being taught -- as the last line about gossip really illustrates. They learn the lesson and know the "right" answers, but aren't necessarily able to internalize and apply it because they can't relate in the slightest.
posted by hermitosis at 11:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is no "coordinated anti-bullying policy" that is effective.

And, again, there is a large amount of actual research into behavior at schools that demonstrates that this claim is entirely and utterly incorrect.

The belief that bullying is an inevitable part of childhood and that it is not worth trying to do anything to mitigate it is just incredibly damaging. By propagating that belief you are actively aiding and abetting the bullies.
posted by yoink at 11:15 AM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


That doesn't mean the school should always say "punch the other kid" -- just that they should step in when they see it going on, and deal with the aggressor, and acknowledge to the victim that they're being mistreated. Consistently, and clearly. Actions + consequences.
No, they should have the kid punch the other kid -- or tell them off or whatever makes for the best reaction. Counselling is ok, but the reason is worked is that the response came from you, not the teacher. What do you think will happen when no teachers are around to complain to? Outside the school? Or teachers who are less sympathetic? Adults are used to authority being wielded like a club, and might respond, but kids just see that you're so weak you need an adult to protect you.
This article about tease-proofing strikes me as pretty close to how I coped with playground bullies: http://www.loveandlogic.com/pdfs/teaseproof.pdf
This seems like it's selling something. TO wit:
In the event that child admitted that he had not used his/her skill, the teacher said, “How sad that you let him get away with it. Do you suppose you are going to continue to let him get by with it or are you going to use your skill? It’s your choice, but tattling to me is no longer a choice.”
Mr. Mendez tells us that the amount of tattling and complaining has been reduced by over 90%.
Uh....
posted by smidgen at 11:16 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I agreed with the idea of practicing a line, but then the story went off the rails. Of course making complaining ("tattling"? really? this terminology is a major problem) against the rules will decrease it.
posted by jeather at 11:21 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


the reason is worked is that the response came from you, not the teacher.

Well, what I'm saying is that the punch stopped the bullying, but the punch itself isn't what really sticks in my head; it, and the bullying stopping, were relative non-events in my memory. The thing that still sits there, crystal clear, is how I felt when he acknowledged the bullying (where I had thought I was all alone in my suffering, and that nobody noticed or understood what was going on or cared about me), and how I felt when I realized he was trusting me to do something that normally wouldn't be allowed, for my own well-being.

I still remember his name (Mr. Dunlop), I still remember his face, and I still remember him fondly...all from that one small moment in time. Honestly, if it hadn't stopped the bullying, I would have asked him what to do next.
posted by davejay at 11:23 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Verbal harassment is *not* bullying by any stretch of the imagination. Intimidation by implying violence barely makes the cut. True bullying starts with actual physical contact.

You didn't spend any time within range of the Mean Girls in eighth grade, did you?
posted by ambrosia at 11:26 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


I actually really enjoyed this – I liked the meandering, casual voice. I liked that she was just as out of her element and overly eager to bond with the bullying people as the bullying people were with the kids. I found it funny, in spots, and moving, in places, and it highlighted how painfully "off" the approach is of that anti-bullying project.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 11:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Verbal harassment is *not* bullying by any stretch of the imagination. Intimidation by implying violence barely makes the cut. True bullying starts with actual physical contact.

I was only bullied with actual physical violence a handful of times, mostly because I was so cowed by the verbal abuse that I hid on the utter fringe of existence to the point of being nearly invisible. I may have had more attacks of anxiety and acid reflux than bruises, but I wasn't any less broken by the experience.
posted by hermitosis at 11:30 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Jesus christ every time someone posts an article to mefi that is anything other than a court deposition there's just a chorus of GOSH WOULD THIS PERSON JUST STOP WRITING ALREADY.

Can you imagine what would happen if DFW were an unknown and "Consider the Lobster" had been posted here? "Can you believe this guy with his footnotes? I can't even understand what he's talking about. Does he even have a point?"

I mean look I don't click with every single written piece ever but would it kill y'all to make an effort? Are you aware that it's possible to try to like things that initially turn you off? And that doing so is often rewarding?

What the hell do you people read anyway? Federal tax code? The ingredients on the shredded wheat box?

Snarl, huff, grrrrr.

Anyway.

The social world that especially young kids like in the piece, in that 5-12 range, is so different from the adult one. They're not great at language yet (some of them never really figure out communication), their impulse control is much lower, and they feel emotions so keenly. There have been times, especially watching my niece, where I'm sympathetic towards her indignant fury because the interactions are so lopsided. She'll do something ridiculous in the way that kids do, make some crazy demand, and the adults will laugh because it's hilarious. So not only is she not getting what she wanted, but we're all laughing at her.

Interestingly, her parents, and my parents, and me, and my boyfriend are all kind of worried she'll turn into one of the mean girls. Well ok, my boyfriend loves mean girls and sort of thinks it would be awesome, but he's bad.

I'm wandering.

The point is that I really don't think there's a single answer you can give for ameliorating or eliminating bullying in school. Every school and every year within a school will have their own culture, their own peculiar cliques and bands and troupes. I think one of the things that worked was that there were a few teachers at school who were designated safe, and these were legitimately some of the nicest people there. You could always go to their classroom if you needed an escape and someone to talk to. I never made use of that - didn't need to - but I bet plenty of kids have.

Is the program as presented by Ms Miller very effective? It sure doesn't seem to be, but who knows what might stick in some kid's head and prove useful later on?
posted by kavasa at 11:36 AM on June 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


The only time I spend thinking about these things in my waking hours in threads or discussions like this. It is not something I dwell on or still feels affects my life.

But when I have nightmares that I'm still in junior high/high school, it's not the punches in the hallway or other physical abuse that I dream about, it's the harassment, threats, and anxiety that comes from it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:36 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is no "coordinated anti-bullying policy" that is effective.
And, again, there is a large amount of actual research into behavior at schools that demonstrates that this claim is entirely and utterly incorrect.
Citation needed. Here's one that disagrees, and here's one that agrees with you but cites 20% reduction in a specific definition of reported bullying as "success". Which is good, but not great.

So, you are right, "no" is too strong a word. But IMO "effective" is too strong a word too.
posted by smidgen at 11:37 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: "Steps to Respect", all yours for just $329.
posted by mhoye at 11:38 AM on June 6, 2012


Verbal harassment is *not* bullying by any stretch of the imagination. Intimidation by implying violence barely makes the cut. True bullying starts with actual physical contact.

I couldn't disagree more. I'm not equating verbal harassment with actual physical violence, but it sure IS bullying. Someone can say things that make you want to curl up and die, and it can leave a sick-gut feeling that lingers for thirty-plus years.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 11:38 AM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


What the hell was the point of this aside from Sarah Miller needing an editor like whoa?

yeah, I eventually concluded she was getting paid by the word, so I stopped reading, feeling vaguely bullied. Guess I'm still a child.

Though, if the overall point is that many/most adults often don't even remotely get bullying, it's a good one. It's like most people just outgrow it -- that consciousness of a world where so much is based on raw coercion, threats, real violence. And I can see why it's an easy thing to do. Why poison all our sweet memories of innocence with bitter reality?
posted by philip-random at 11:39 AM on June 6, 2012


In the event that child admitted that he had not
used his/her skill, the teacher said,“How sad that you
let him get away with it.Do you suppose you are going
to continue to let him get by with it or are you going
to use your skill? It’s your choice, but tattling to me is
no longer a choice.”
Mr.Mendez tells us that the amount of tattling and
complaining has been reduced by over 90%. He also
proudly tells about one of his students who came to
him asking if they had to use the one-liner he taught
them, or could they make up their own.


Yes, this from the Love and Logic link upthread is pretty scary. I was an adherent of kiddie omerta both for practical and ethical reasons, but hearing an adult say that I "no longer had the choice" of telling them if things got really bad would have fucked me up. As much as I was bullied by a couple of teachers, I always assumed that in the last instance of extreme physical violence, adults would protect me - and I went in pretty much daily fear of extreme physical violence. (My assumption was that my classmates would, like, push me in front of a bus or something for laughs, being to stupid to understand that I could actually die.)
posted by Frowner at 11:42 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


that would be "too stupid to understand that I could actually die". Ahem.
posted by Frowner at 11:42 AM on June 6, 2012


I had a bully in grade 7 and 8. The worst part was that when he would make fun of me our peers would laugh at his "jokes" and my friends were too scared to defend me. I have never felt more alone or had so much damage done to my self image, because when that happens you begin to wonder if the bully is right. Maybe you really are stupid and ugly. It must be true if everyone else agrees by laughing and your friends remain silent...
posted by HMSSM at 11:47 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jesus christ every time someone posts an article to mefi that is anything other than a court deposition there's just a chorus of GOSH WOULD THIS PERSON JUST STOP WRITING ALREADY.

I dunno. Have you actually read any depositions? They're bloody awful. I've got a stack of 'em right here that I'm laboriously summarizing. Or would be if I weren't on MetaFilter. Whatever.
posted by valkyryn at 11:49 AM on June 6, 2012


By itself that advice won't help--but as part of a coordinated anti-bullying policy it's actually a useful step. If the school is enforcing a social norm that bullying is unacceptable then naming an act as "bullying" is actually a significant and powerful step.

I can see these kind of programs being effect for maybe really little kids, when their brains are still pretty malleable and they haven't yet become hardened by society, but they probably the most value comes from (hopefully)getting the teachers to wake the fuck up. It would be nice if they held them accountable for the peer abuse that goes on under their watch.

but was the fact that I did this because my 7th grade teacher walked over, confided in me that he saw what was going on and that it was bad, and then told me to punch him in the face to stop him from doing it again.

The sad thing is Mr. Dunlop would probably be fired if anyone ever found out he said something like that to you.

In my experience, the only way to get bullying to stop is just to be so sick of it that you can't help but have the attitude that if they even think about fucking with you again you will wail on them like they've never been wailed on before even if you die doing it and be ready, nay eager, to back it up Ralphie-style. But then you never have to, because they can totally sense it, and will leave you alone from then on.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:49 AM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


It might be helpful if schools investigated different kinds of bullying.

Like, some kids get bullied but have a circle of friends. Some kids are absolutely the goat and have no friends - anyone can pick on them (homo sacer, eh?). Sometimes bullying is racialized. Sometimes bullying is about sexual attraction (girls who, for example, have large breasts) and sometimes it's about defining the bad/other female body (girls who are fat or otherwise deemed unfuckable).

Some kinds of bullying - probably the lightweight kind experienced by kids with friends and who are not being targeted because of race - probably does respond to "stop bullying me, that's wrong" and to a culture of anti-bullying.

I think a lot of mefites experienced the more serious kinds of bullying, the kinds where adults were complicit or there was a lot of violence or there was a racist element or there were no other friends to back you up. I know that I was bullied pretty seriously for years by kids and teachers, and that I went through perhaps three years in my teens when I literally had no friends and was utterly socially alone. Something like 30% of kids report being bullied, for example, and I know that what I experienced was much worse than what that 30% of my peers went through.


Because of the extremity of what we experienced - and because what we experienced was not the usual childhood dominance stuff but deeper and more complex, and because we know it would not have responded to the kind of lightweight stuff proposed here - we tend to be skeptical of measures that actually probably would improve life for many average kids.

What to do about kids like us who were bullied so sustainedly and with so much administrative/adult complicity? God knows. Get out as quickly as you can, and don't have any kids yourself.
posted by Frowner at 11:50 AM on June 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


> girls who are fat or otherwise deemed unfuckable

challenge accepted.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:54 AM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was actually pulled in by the style. It had the smell of the real to me, which means things don't always go directly from point A to point B, and there's as much going on inside your head as there is taking place with other people.

As for the method they're teaching the kids, I cringed at
“You’re bullying me. Please stop.”
and immediately thought "That's it; you've lost".

"Please"????? Here's my take on being a weenie (as notsnot puts it). The bully thinks they have the right to bully you, and you actually think you don't have the right to stop them. "Please" cedes that right to them. If I had kids I would stress so hard that no-one has the right to bully them, and that they have every right to stand up to it. Be smart, be proportionate, but they have every right to resist.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:57 AM on June 6, 2012



> girls who are fat or otherwise deemed unfuckable

challenge accepted.


Not "deemed by Frowner", though! I mean, I was a fat CAFAB kid whose body was mocked precisely because it was the Bad Other body - not feminine, not small, not narrow-shouldered, not beautiful-skinned, not even fat and voluptuous. I was totally the female grotesque, and that was back in the eighties when there were fewer fat kids - it was pretty much just me and one other girl. Growing up fat twenty years ago was very, very different from now - not that it's a cake-walk now, but you are seldom the only fat person in the room, there are more clothing options, etc.
posted by Frowner at 11:58 AM on June 6, 2012


Sarah Miller sounds like an overgrown 16 year old... And this is great, because if she's anywhere near 30, it means I'm not alone in thinking and acting like I'm barely 17.

I seem to recall reading an anecdote by a famous French writer who wrote of having met a priest who had been part of the Resistance. During the war, the man had been captured, tortured and imprisoned.

Between hearing confession and what and who you encountered during the War, you must have learned a great deal about human nature, or something to that effect, said the writer.

I learned, said the priest, that there is no such thing as a grown up.

My own belief is that we are born with the ability to feel the pain we cause others and, not only that, to feel joy in doing so. Cruelty in us is innate whereas compassion is an artisanal craft requiring much conscious thought, effort and practice and the great project of our lives is learning to be kind.
posted by y2karl at 12:01 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


And of course I missed the link at the top of the thread... so you did indeed have citations (of a somewhat one-sided sort):
"Looking for research findings on the Steps to Respect program for a grant proposal or to bolster buy-in? Read the following summaries of findings, organized by publication date. "
I apologize for the snark anyway. I certainly want people to try and make things better... I'm just a bit skeptical. Given what I know and what I experienced, I'm not holding out hope.
posted by smidgen at 12:01 PM on June 6, 2012


I dunno. Have you actually read any depositions? They're bloody awful.
Haha, no. But I imagine them to be very dry enumerations of facts, as opposed to writing with any sort of distinctive voice, as in the linked article.

Frowner - situations like that really defeat my ability to even think about positive solutions. First you'd have to have an administration, at least one adult, who was connected enough and observant enough to notice. Then that adult would have to make an entire student body empathize with the kid they've been torturing. How would you do that in a way that wouldn't backfire and make everything worse? I have no idea.
posted by kavasa at 12:03 PM on June 6, 2012


What would work to prevent bullying? (Not "how can an individual child stop bullies in your experience?" as we pretty much know that it's either "not at all" or "by punching them really hard and winning" but rather how can schools stop bullying?

Asking the creators of such programs to set aside their child-psychology training and early childhood education textbooks for a few seconds and think back to what being a child was actually like would be a good place to start.

Verbal harassment is *not* bullying by any stretch of the imagination.

The hell you say. It totally is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:03 PM on June 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


No showing off, Ambrosia Voyeur; clearly you know that your profile picture gives half of MeFi a crush on you.
posted by jaduncan at 12:03 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


davejay, I'm glad to hear that you're dealing so directly with your kids on this, but one thing you said triggered (yes, triggered) something with me.
- If you can get away from someone but you choose to fight them instead, you'll get in trouble at school AND at home with me, so don't do that.
Hopefully your kids won't suffer so much that it will become an issue, but there's a risk that they finally just get fucking tired of running away all the time, and they'll be left with a lot of anger over the fact that they never stood up for themselves.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:04 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


No showing off, Ambrosia Voyeur; clearly you know that your profile picture gives half of MeFi a crush on you.

I add, by the way, that there is a world of difference between being a feminine, relatively small fat person with a proportionate waist who has access to a broad range of clothing and being a large, blocky, wide-shouldered genderqueer kid with access to their mom's hand-me-downs from 1982 which didn't even fit. It's great that many young fat women today can readily name their sexuality and experience it positively, but that doesn't mean that your experience of being desiring and desired has anything to do with mine, nor does it mean that I did not accept the "challenge" of my body or sexuality.
posted by Frowner at 12:08 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is a waste of time to argue over the exact definition of bullying. The problem is that there are behaviors children (and adults) have the affect others in a negative way and should be stopped. A particular category of those behaviors are lumped together into this concept/thing called "bullying." Quite frankly, I don't care if you lump verbal abuse into that label or not, I would hope we all agree that most/all verbal abuse is bad and should be stopped, just like any physical abuse.

Now you/some may argue that verbal harassment is different and/or should not be treated the same as physical intimidation/harassment. I think you would be wrong, but that's a more fruitful line of debate than whether or not a certain label applies.
posted by Bort at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2012


TIL that children still use the word hobo.

My first graders use the word hobo all the time, but they think it means any homeless person. One girl told me she read it in an American Girl book.
posted by Huck500 at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2012


Cheers is 23 minutes of people insulting each other.

Indeed. Despite her inability to make a point in this regard, The author's enthusiasm about her young friend's project was well placed. The argument that television sitcom dialogue contributes the coarsening of discourse in everyday life has something to be said for it.

But, while one often meets in real life people who can be as mean-spirited as, say, Carla in Cheers, they almost always lack excellent writers providing them with well honed acidic witticisms.
posted by y2karl at 12:18 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, jaduncan, your statistic is quite the surprise. But it's a nice feeling to "be back," as it were.

> I was a fat CAFAB kid whose body was mocked precisely because it was the Bad Other body - not feminine, not small, not narrow-shouldered, not beautiful-skinned, not even fat and voluptuous.

Well, I can relate to an extent. Big-boned and weird and unfeminine by disposition and heavy. I was called fatso and weirdo for the first time in preschool. All I had to protect me was some kind of inborn megalomaniac confidence that rendered critiques incomprehensible. (Made easier when the worst bullying I ever got was this gang of cholas in 8th grade PE calling me "Roach." Like, what?) That was the spirit my joke was made in. Unfuckable? I'LL SHOW YOU!

But I don't mean to talk about myself. It's interesting how introspective the subject of bullying is, how difficult it is to comparatively contextualize our childhood experiences, how driven we are to try to map them by grownup ideas of normalcy. Grownups, even us now, just can't understand, it seems.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:18 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I add, by the way, that there is a world of difference between being a feminine, relatively small fat person with a proportionate waist

whoa, now you're just reading way to much into a thumbnail picture of me in a corset.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:20 PM on June 6, 2012


In the event that child admitted that he had not used his/her skill, the teacher said, “How sad that you let him get away with it. Do you suppose you are going to continue to let him get by with it or are you going to use your skill? It’s your choice, but tattling to me is no longer a choice.”

This is UNBELIEVABLE to me. Blaming the victim, right there, and that kid's learned a great lesson. Somewhere down the line one of those kids is going to believe the idiot who tells him/her that it's too bad that s/he let his/her rapist get away with it because s/he didn't fight hard enough. If that kid ever talks about it at all.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:21 PM on June 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


I loved the writing style, think the author is funny, found the article compelling, and now have an Internet Crush on Sarah Miller.
posted by maxwelton at 12:43 PM on June 6, 2012


Blaming the victim, right there, and that kid's learned a great lesson.

That's exactly what it is and that was pretty much my teacher's attitude when I was being bullied (I didn' tattle, she just bore witness to it about a hundred times): basically "you are being treated like garbage because you deserve to be treated like garbage". Nice anti-bullying strategy - basically just figuring out a way for teachers not to have to deal with it.

I forgave the boys who bullied me a long time ago, since they were, after all, just boys, but I doubt I'll ever forgive that teacher.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:48 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


So we've established that mefites in general are skeptical of at least some types of anti-bullying program. What would work to prevent bullying? (Not "how can an individual child stop bullies in your experience?" as we pretty much know that it's either "not at all" or "by punching them really hard and winning" but rather how can schools stop bullying?)

Well since "bullying" means one person asserting power over another, and that has been a problem with human children and adults since the dawn of time, I don't think it's going to be easy.

Teachers and school administrators blaming the kids who do the bullying, and not the victims, is probably the only thing that has a chance of working- *if* the blaming of the bullies is done in a fair, humane, sensible way, and we don't forget we are dealing with children.

I actually get a little nervous and skeptical every time I hear about an "Anti-bullying" program. Because this is America, and American schools. Someone will say "zero tolerance" (I believe many already have), and next thing you know we're putting kids who get in a fight or insult another kid in jail. If there's a way to decrease bullying without draconian punishments, I'm all for it. But most of the programs I hear about seem to be focused on adults bullying the bullies with horrifically harsh discipline.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:18 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can see it now: Each teacher has to expel and ruin the lives of ten "bullies" per semester or he gets his pay cut.

Accountability!
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:30 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it just horribly regressive of me that I think the correct response to bullying is a punch to the face (of the bully)? Even if you get your ass kicked, people will realize that there is some risk in harassing you, especially if you make that first shot count. What gets called "bullying" in the case of children is more properly termed "assault," and I think self-defense is as warranted for kids as it is for adults. In fact, I think the term "bullying" itself subliminally carries a bit of that kids-will-be-kids mentality. It should really be considered a kind of criminal activity...every person, adult or child, has the right to go about their day without being intimidated or humiliated.
posted by Edgewise at 1:31 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


That was a good essay, but not half as good as it could have been if, as clockzero suggests, she'd cut out the long, self-lacerating mumble at the start, and given us more than two sentences at the end about the group of boys who bullied her when she was a junior in high school.

I was bullied a lot in elementary school because I was strange and everyone thought I was mentally retarded (for pretty good reason, really; I couldn't count to twenty by the end of first grade, or recite the alphabet in the second-- I didn't know what the alphabet was, or what relationship it had to language), and I remember a number of occasions when the entire class burst out laughing at something I said, followed by a chorus of variations on a theme of 'you are so stupid', which my second and fifth grade teachers weren't above conducting, at times.

Which didn't bother me all that much (my parents were very upset, though). I was comfortable being the dumbest kid in class, and to this day I kind of like it when people think I'm stupid.

What I absolutely could not tolerate was having to go to school and sit doing nothing when the entire, gorgeous world beckoned to me through the windows.

School is a prison, and we will never be able to keep the inmates there from ganging up on each other.
posted by jamjam at 1:38 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


True bullying starts with actual physical contact.

No, bullying has nothing to do with physical contact and everything to do with being persistent and relentless. You can bully someone into suicidal depression without ever laying a finger on her; conversely, you can come to blows with someone without it ever being a case of bullying.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:41 PM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well since "bullying" means one person asserting power over another,

Too broad. My boss asserts power over me, but it's not abusive and not bullying. If I'm a bottom and during play my top asserts power over me that leaves whip marks, I wouldn't call that bullying either.

I was in five schools from K-7 (we moved a bunch) in three different countries; I only experienced bullying at one, in which I was threatened almost daily but escaped by means of running away a lot, but had power asserted over me a lot in varying contexts, the vast majority of which could not be classified as bullying by anyone, including me.
posted by rtha at 1:42 PM on June 6, 2012


Citation needed.

I gave a citation to a page of study results above. Here's a write up of one recent study of the Steps To Respect program. They found, studying the implementation of the program in 33 different schools, an average reduction in violent bullying of 33%. That sounds highly effective to me, and well worth the relatively small cost the nonprofit Steps to Success organization charges for their program.

here's one that agrees with you but cites 20% reduction in a specific definition of reported bullying as "success". Which is good, but not great

If you'd bothered to read that study it is a metacritique of many different studies into many different anti-bullying programs. What they found was that on average the programs overall produced at least a 20% reduction in all forms of bullying. That means that the effective programs clearly do a great deal better than 20% reductions, while the ineffective programs do, unsurprisingly, worse. That said, I cannot imagine another widespread social ill in which a 20% reduction would be regarded as an insignificant improvement. If you agree that bullying is a serious problem then you shoukd agree that mitigating that problem by one fifth is a worthy and laudable outcome. And the evidence shows that even a less-than-best practice anti-bullying program will achieve that goal. Frankly, I find this desperate need to cling, in the face of all evidence, to the belief that bullying is an inevitable and unaddressable part of every childhood bizarre and disquieting.
posted by yoink at 1:48 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


As the parent of an elementary school student who has been fed this meaningless anti-bullying pap for years, all I can say is I love this article, and thanks for posting.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:49 PM on June 6, 2012


In fact, I think the term "bullying" itself subliminally carries a bit of that kids-will-be-kids mentality. It should really be considered a kind of criminal activity...every person, adult or child, has the right to go about their day without being intimidated or humiliated.

I believe children are not fully grown mentally. They have poor impulse control and are heavily peer influenced. They are extremely prone to having a mob mentality when left with little or no supervision. As such, I'm willing to cut children some slack and not treat them like criminals. Give them a chance or three to correct their actions before treating them like criminals.
posted by Bort at 1:50 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Verbal harassment is *not* bullying by any stretch of the imagination.

What the actual fuck.
posted by Aquaman at 1:56 PM on June 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


They are extremely prone to having a mob mentality when left with little or no supervision.

This is a serious flaw in the mass institutional schooling model, and a reason I'm really glad I never had to go through it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:05 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


After trying lots of other things as a kid, I came to the conclusion that the only solution was to learn to fight. I was really skinny, and that didn't go well at first, but was ultimately a successful strategy. Learning to stand up to assholes and learning to fight well was one of the hardest and best things I ever did.

There are, of course, situations in which this won't succeed--if, say, you're radically outsized or outnumbered. I don't know what advice to give females, or extremely small or weak males. But if fighting is an option, I strongly suggest that people learn to do it.

Not only is it prudent, there is a moral obligation to stand up for the innocent, including yourself.

Obviously, whiny responses like those suggested in the article aren't going to work. As others have noted, "please stop bullying me" is almost guaranteed to make things worse.

I do agree with the person who said that one solution is collective action--people, children included, need to learn to stand up for others as well as themselves.

Teachers also need to learn to help. When I was a kid, they were worse than useless, punishing habitual, evil psychopathic bullies and those who stood up to them equally. I ultimately came to believe that the teachers themselves were afraid of the bullies--though I went to a rural school where they were in no physical danger. I came to believe that they themselves had been bullied and saw that they often sought out a kind of friendship with the bullies, as if they were somehow...I don't know...seeking the favor of bullies as a way of getting over their own bad experiences or something.

Anyway. It's a sad fact about the world that violence is sometimes the only solution.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 2:08 PM on June 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Indeed, she is a volunteer for some program which has a name I will not print but which is something like Gateway to Kindness, or Paths to Friendship, or Roads to Understanding.

Just making it clear here that Miller is clearly talking about "Steps to Respect," in case there was any confusion about that.

yoink: I don't doubt that these programs do some good, and are worth the time and money for the good that they do, but I also assume that the programs involve a lot more than what we've seen described in the article, and that the most efficacious parts of the programs involve training the teachers rather than the kids. Hell, just the fact that a school is implementing this sort of thing means that they are taking the issue more seriously than they had before, and that's bound to show a drop in incidents, and if Steps to Respect trains the teachers and administrators on how to recognize bullying and intervene, then hell yes that's a good thing.

However, the article shows that the parts of the program dealing with the kids themselves show fuck-all understanding of kids and their social strata and power dynamics. There is a condescending, know-nothing breed of child psychologist that Efrain absolutely exemplifies and all of the eye-rolling in here is coming from a recognition of that type.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:08 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


In retrospect, you might say that the school sessions on bullying prevention, and on drug avoidance and on don't-stick-your-hand-out-of-a-window-or-you'll-be-hit-by-a-bus, help teach kids to hate academia for a young age - or, conversely, to cling to academia and develop contempt for everything that's not a book or a teacher. What you've got here are teachers who think that abstract terminology and identification is all that it takes to solve a problem, and that's insane. It's like the mathematician who wakes up to a fire in his house, works out a way to put it out, declares "The solution exists!", and goes back to bed. Well-meaning madness.

The problem is that kids are not little balls of logic and rationality. Neither are adults for that matter so I think the teachers here are clinging to utter delusion. There's selfishness and amorality and lots and lots of emotion driving every action anybody takes, to some degree or another, and any solution that doesn't take that shit into account isn't actually a solution, it's an answer to a book problem. Abstraction and logic are how you solve problems, but they have to be tied into some semblance of reality and relativity - they have to build upon a real, existing scenario, and find solutions that exist within that context, which this approach fucking doesn't.

You can't acknowledge the bully, because bullies bully for fun, and your response is what gives them the pleasure. You can't beat the bully by outsmarting or outthinking them, not unless you play their exact game as well as they do, and if you do that you might end up being a bully yourself. I taught myself the absurd cruel rules for another kid's spite and contempt, and I ended up spiteful and contemptful. If you happen to intimidate a bully more than they intimidate you, well, then you're already not a target for bullying.

So what do you do? Sometimes ignoring them, or not giving a shit, makes them go away, though not always, and it's a lot harder to fake ignorance or apathy than people who've never tried assume. Sometimes you can find ways to avoid them entirely, though not always. Sometimes you can approach them in a non-bullying context and get their mind off cruelties, though that borders on sucking up to them. So does trying to fit in better - if you're teaching yourself to conform and avoid punishment, then on one level the bullies are winning.

Eventually the fix is that kids band together and form their own little clique, which is centered enough that the rest of the school leaves them somewhat alone. Not entirely alone, but enough to get by. If kids don't have other likeminded kids to clique up with, then there's a problem, and not one which necessarily has a solution. Not all problems do. Sometimes the solution doesn't exist, hope you don't get too burnt. Then the only solution is for adults to engage the bullies directly, either by expelling them or threatening them or somehow creating a context in which they don't want to bully. I think parents can discourage their kids from bullying better than teachers can. Kids learn this shit from somebody, after all.

If you're bullied or have a kid who's being bullied, your best bet is probably to find a way to scare the bullies off. I know a lot of kids who'd yell psychotic things and make huge grotesque threats and make bullies think they were seriously unstable and not to be fucked with. There's an ugly social cost to that approach but it seemed to work. Now, though, schools are so hypersensitive to threatening language that this might land you in more shit than just up-and-fighting another kid. Which is nastily ironic, considering the violence which so frightened schools often (though not always) came from kids who turned violent as a last resort, when years of bullying and harassment taught them to believe that there was no way to stop feeling hurt other than to make an abrupt exit, and often to punish others before they left.

In seventh grade a teacher told us about the Unibomber, and warned our class that you'd better be nice to the smart kids, or else you might be their first targets one day. Everybody in that class immediately said hi to me, asked me how I was, told me how much they liked me. Kids understand irony pretty damn well. That was the only time some of them talked to me all year.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:56 PM on June 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


The bullying I received from peers and teachers in public school k-12, and later including bullying by several male and female physicians and psychologists from whom I sought care, and also by male and female professors at my University (always done without witnesses) when I was in my 30s, has been, in the long run, the most powerful influence upon the development of my mature adult personality. I'm a recluse and I know it's the right choice for me.

The idea that verbal abuse *isn't* bullying is so wrong, it defies my comprehension.
posted by Galadhwen at 3:00 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was distracted by trying to figure out which part of our local woods the author was coyishly referring to and then got Christmas Story Ovaltined by Nevada City. Nevada City? I'm sure bullying there sucks as much as it does anywhere else, but the bottom kind of dropped out and it became Sad Letters From Mayberry in my mind. These children's futures will likely not resemble Blackboard Jungle.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:04 PM on June 6, 2012


After trying lots of other things as a kid, I came to the conclusion that the only solution was to learn to fight... There are, of course, situations in which this won't succeed--if, say, you're radically outsized or outnumbered. I don't know what advice to give females, or extremely small or weak males. But if fighting is an option, I strongly suggest that people learn to do it.

I was on the receiving end of female and male bullying from year 7 right through to year 12. It was all verbal (with one incident that came dangerously close to a physical assault). As a chick, I found that one process and one process only actually worked:

1) To reach the point where you actually no longer cared about being accepted, or having friends at school;
2) Having reached this state, to tell all and sundry concerned to "Fuck Off" - by this point your genuine boredom with the underlying ridiculousness of the social machinations the girls (they will most likely be girls) are trying to pull off will be obvious.
3) Become the school loner (hopefully you have social contacts outside of school to make it easier, but if not it is still doable).

So much about female-female bullying in schools is about the threat of social contact being removed and the resulting shame. By the time I was 17 I really no longer cared about being accepted by this very small representation of people. I spent my free time at school reading books in the sun or in the library (I also often got notes from my parent that allowed me to cut class to go to the university library to do my own study).

The interesting thing was that I wasn't alone in this strategy. There were at least 10 other girls (in a class of 150) who were doing the same thing, because it worked.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 3:14 PM on June 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


I live in a county whose Indian name quite possibly translates to “sacred land of older women in forest-green Subarus” but from the way she fixes her eye on me it's clear she thinks it might translate to “playground for middle-aged women in bright-red Toyotas.”

That's bullying.

Also you live in Nevada County, which means snowy in Spanish.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:26 PM on June 6, 2012


I never spent an entire year in the same school from first grade through eighth grade. Some years there were 3 different schools. (Air Force brat). I was always the new kid and hence an instant target for the bullies, and every school had them. However, I was ironically lucky. I was quite large for my age in childhood, and I almost always made only A's in school. So I could handle the changes in curriculum just fine and I was able to defend myself too. However, no one likes the status quo of a school to be upset. They always already had "the smart kid" and the "big athletic kid". The bullies hated me for the latter and the teachers for the former.

I learned to fight early. the teachers weren't much problem, because as we all should remember, the adults are really irrelevant. If a teacher messed with me or mis graded my work, I was relentless in pursuing justice. On the few occasions when my in-school efforts were insufficient I would bring my Mom in. Really not a big deal, but it did teach me how insufferably venal and stupid 80% of teachers are.

Kid bullies I had to physically fight. It got to the point that I could immediately on entering a classroom pick out the kid that was going to try push me around. I also soon learned to get this over with as soon as possible. It usually happened on the playground of course. My pre fight speech was letting the guy know that I would do my best to beat him to death, that if I got him on the ground he better pray for a teacher to show up because I would never stop. By the 3rd grade or so, my strategy was cemented. A very hard blow to the nose of a person almost always stops the fight. There's lots of blood, it hurts like Hell and causes tears to run. (It also often results in two black eyes...a great reminder for the other kids that hangs around for a week or ten days.) A few times I got hit hard, but no matter how bad it hurt or how much blood there was I would never stop. The few times I actually took a beating (none after the 4th grade) the teacher still had to pull me off the guy.

The funny thing is that the guy I fought almost invariably became a friend, whether I won or he won. Also invariably, the bullied kids would seek me out (for obvious reasons I guess), and I never tolerated anyone bullying people in my presence. Just step in and tell them to knock it the fuck off or deal with me. So I ate lunch at the nerds' table, played sports with the athletes and had passing friendships with the hoods.

By some miracle turn in my Dad's career I was able to attend the same high school all 4 years. It was heaven. I had no fights from 9th grade until senior year and that was not really anything to do with bullying.

Kids are primitive. They understand physical pain. Bullies are cowards (seriously!) And as my grandfather taught me, People can't walk all over you if you don't lay down.

My now grown son is and always has been a small, brilliant person. He faced some bullying activity in school too. He got martial arts training and sharpened his acid tongue. No one was ever successful in bullying him. I taught hiim what I was taught, what I had learned from experience and to never allow any other human being to erode his self-esteem. He's a well adjusted near-pacifist who, like his dad, now laughs about the shit heads that tried to bully him in school.

The one constant about all this is that the adults were almost always useless. This article seems a brilliant illustration of that venerable truth.
posted by txmon at 3:48 PM on June 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


One great thing about clueless adults is that they generally bond kids into a unit that mocks the clueless adults rather than each other. And I genuinely salute the adults who are willing to stick their necks out to be the one who is mocked, rather than the person doing the mocking or snarking.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:50 PM on June 6, 2012


and I have a small scar that shows, no, bullies are not always cowards. Sometimes they're really good fighters and quite willing to back up their words, and I say that as someone was a pretty scrappy 9 year old.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:54 PM on June 6, 2012


Just for the record, I love Alice Russel-Wallace and txmon. I can tell they're kindred spirits. I'm sure there are more above, too. The outgunned and outnumbered who have the willpower to take the fight to the bastards...you are my siblings.

In my current department, we have several pacifists. One of them is a particularly reasonable person, and she has thanked me several times for saying to her that pacifism is immoral. It's not that she has accepted the claim, it's that she had never thought the thought before. To her credit, she takes the claim and the associated arguments seriously. I'm right about it, incidentally.

It's amazing that we have this society...it glorifies violence of all kinds, but dissuades people from actually fighting even the best and most justified of fights. I really just do not get it.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:07 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Stop it, that's bullying!" is certainly a phrase easily appropriated by bullies to bully. Any kid knows how to reverse things and claim that the victim is actually the aggressor. A successful bully tactic is to claim victimhood.
posted by Knigel at 5:08 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Miller is clearly talking about "Steps to Respect," in case there was any confusion about that

She sure is. Right there in the "Grade 4 lesson video excerpt" (linked at the bottom of the page) you get Sarah, Jolene, and Ronda.
posted by tangerine at 5:19 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember someone telling me once about an experiment where one monkey was taken from a group of monkeys and painted green. When it was reintroduced into the group, they immediately attacked it. Certainly, like so many in this thread, this was my experience in childhood. I grew up in a very small town, where your social position was determined by second grade. Mine was most definitely Green Monkey.

Bullied ? Oh, yes. Ganged up on ? Check -- I had grade school, junior high and high school experiences similar to the ones suffered at the hands of teenage Mitt Romney and friends.

Worse yet, I had to live with a crazy man, verbally abusive to the nth power and explosively violent, too. Until my mother finally up and left and took me with her.

So, I got to spend the last year and a half of high school in a new town where I go to be the weird new kid who was kind of cool. Which is what saved me -- a year or so of life where people treated me like a human being. God knows where I would be, had that not happened.

I am not so crazy about the article but I understand what Ms. Miller is trying to say and see her point. And I see the points of most everyone else. Except the admonitions to slug it out. I have never had the heart for physically hurting people.

Whether or not there is any truth to that story of the painted monkey, I would say, that from the evidence, there are more green monkeys here than in the population at large.

Over the years, I have gotten invitations to high school reunions from my class in that small town and have never answered a one. Why do they think I would want to see or talk to them ? Perhaps to get all Howard Alan Treesong on their asses ? Maybe once, but mean kids grow up to be sad and miserable so-called adults dealing with all same shit everyone else does.

And I have better things to do.
posted by y2karl at 5:47 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Verbal harassment is *not* bullying by any stretch of the imagination. Intimidation by implying violence barely makes the cut. True bullying starts with actual physical contact.


posted by Ardiril at 10:58 AM on June 6 [1 favorite +] [!]


You, my friend, have no goddamned idea what you are talking about.
posted by tantrumthecat at 6:50 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any number of people here have already said as much in as many words and most of them more kindly. I hope yours is the last shot. Given the topic, this is the last place we need a pile on.
posted by y2karl at 6:56 PM on June 6, 2012


Any number of people here have already said as much in as many words and most of them more kindly. I hope yours is the last shot. Given the topic, this is the last place we need a pile on.
posted by y2karl at 6:56 PM on June 6 [+] [!]


Kindness doesn't enter into the equation for me when I see statements like that. I think it's a kick in the junk to anyone who's been verbally bullied.

But I do see your point. So let's move on.
posted by tantrumthecat at 7:10 PM on June 6, 2012


Because someone says something offensive, are we supposed to be quiet while everyone gets to take a shot ?I am just not that into torches and pitchforks, pileons, and public shaming in general. Espeoially when it is a case of someone who wrote one comment many found offensive and and yet did not stick around tp punch it with everyone who disagreed with his or her sentiment, even if it was well, duh shooting fish in a barrel wrong. I totally disagree with what Ardiril wrote, but, all the same, when three or four people have said the same thing already, well, it gets old. I fail to see the necessity of everyone having to get their individual licks in.
posted by y2karl at 8:43 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yet another reason why I can never ever have children. I'd learn from the elementary school or my own kid that they were being bullied, whereupon we'd have a little lesson at the kitchen table.

"Now, I'm going to teach you how to use bad words. They aren't to be used every day, or even every time you're being bullied or upset, but should be used like a very rare kind of magic.

Mmm, not so much like Harry Potter, more like....His Dark Materials. You know when Lyra and Will figured out that using the Knife too much would hurt the multiple worlds? Like that, but we'll talk about 'moderation' a little more later. Haha, no, the words aren't really -bad-. It's more so you don't get in too much trouble.
Just use these words carefully and you'll terrify those little idiots on the playground. Use it too often and you'll become boring. Understand? This knowledge should be used carefully.
Also, if I hear that your casually saying these around school or around the house, I'll turn into a rampaging rhinocerous.
Yes, that'd be hilarious.
Now, let's start with the word 'fuck'..."
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:55 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


....for the record, we'd practice shouting "NO" and "HELP" (and when such things should be said) just as much as we'd practice saying in a cold and calm manner, "Why don't you go fuck yourself?" and "Why are you fucking with me, asshole?"

Because there are those dangerous situations that call for adult supervision...but there are also the situations when you can look in your bully's eyes and see the weakness and fear there. If I'd been told that it's okay to tell little Sarah what's-her-face to eat shit and die, I'd have been a lot more confident and a lot happier in elementary school at least. Sure, I was a bookworm and read those words all the time, but I didn't know I could say them.

I dunno. I don't think children are tiny adults, but I do think kids should be given the respect they deserve, especially when they deal with situations which can be just as, if not more, dangerous than what the average adult in middle America goes through. Adults will say shitty things and look like they want to hurt you somehow, but it seems somewhat more manageable somehow in the end. There's usually a way to deal with it that's sane because you can understand that there's a world beyond that shitty person.

But kids....kids will say shitty things and look like they want to fucking murder you. And they throw rocks. And they not only make a point not to invite you to their birthday parties, but they make a point to tell you you're not invited. And that's your whole world. Which is why kid suicides are so common, I think. Kids just need to be show that 1. that's not the whole world and 2. not all conflicts have to be ended in a pacifist way.
Adults don't always pull their punches, so why do we expect kids to play nice-nice in every situation? You can still be a kid and have innocent fun while knowing how to deal such epithets as "I don't give a rat's ass what you say, Tom; I'm not a pussy for wanting to play the god damn violin. So shut the fuck up."

*Shrug* Maybe that's just me though.
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:22 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cheers is 23 minutes of people insulting each other.

Someone recently pointed out to me that Pepé Le Pew engages in more-or-less non-stop sexual harassment and sexual assault.
posted by Ritchie at 10:18 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


and he smells bad.
posted by philip-random at 11:10 PM on June 6, 2012


If there's a way to decrease bullying without draconian punishments, I'm all for it.

Fire all P.E. teachers and abolish all school sports other than gym class. Make sure gym class is not run by some muscled up nobody who never made it further than peewee league and is taking their resentment out on the kids they're supposed to teach. In general make school, especially high school more like a job than the centrepoint of a child's social experiences: no after school activities and such.

That won't stop bullying cold of course but stops the pernicious atmosphere in which it thrives.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:45 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a good article from the point of view of how clueless adults are about the actual world of kids. I think they must have amnesia, or have become so mired in theory and political correctness that the real world never intrudes on their thinking. Talking about humorous insults on TV shows has nothing to do with how ugly real kid bullies are, and how damaging they can be. Kids know that, so no wonder they and the author looked askance at the anti-bullying "experts" and their lame presentation.

As a girl who was viciously bullied in Jr. High to the point that I made myself virtually invisible and feared even nice boys all through high school, I can assure you that even verbal bullying is not just saying "you are too short to play volleyball" or "I saw you shoplift". No, it is more like obscene words and gestures directed at a little girl who does not even know the meaning of those things yet, but knows they are filthy and frightening. It is someone threatening to kill your pets. It is someone telling you every day how ugly you are, the stupid guidance counselor telling you "they just do that because they like you." No, they did not like me, they hated me and wanted me dead, and at that point I agreed with them. but luckily was too afraid to do anything about it.

Yes, adults need to stick up for kids being bullied, and take it seriously, but kids in that position also need to know that a chance snide remark or funny wisecrack is not bullying, and what a nightmare real bullying is. I actually wish I had known martial arts at 13 and had beat those boys into the ground, not just said "stop bullying me". I did not want them to like me, they were ignorant louts, I just wanted them to leave me alone, and giving them all a bloody nose would have been very satisfying.

Does this crap have effects? I am a woman in my 60s and it still upsets me to think about.
posted by mermayd at 3:55 AM on June 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I totally disagree with what Ardiril wrote, but, all the same, when three or four people have said the same thing already, well, it gets old. I fail to see the necessity of everyone having to get their individual licks in.

....Feeling bullied?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:12 AM on June 7, 2012


and he smells bad.

THAT'S BULLYING.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:29 AM on June 7, 2012


....Feeling bullied?

You know, you already used that bon mot as the title of your MeMail. What you called a cheap shot there seems here more a shot in the foot. I still don't get it. Why should I feel bullied ? And, if it was supposed to be funny, you will have to explain it; and if you have to explain it, it just ain't that funny. It hardly seems worth writing once, let alone twice.

I am a woman in my 60s and it still upsets me to think about.

I remember a seminar I attended in the late 70s, where, after one group exercise, a man in his 60s got up and spoke in tears recalling how he was treated by his older brother. At the time, I thought to myself, Jesus Christ, am I going to feeling like that when I am his age ?

Well, from time to time, Yes. That we remember the pain of childhood all our lives is my conclusion now. And, too, that there are never easy answers.

My own experience is that, in dilutions ranging from homeopathic to toxic overdose, we suffer the most cruelty from those with whom we spend the most time and, by far, the bulk of that occurs at home. That is my bias on the topic. Your experience may vary.
posted by y2karl at 9:21 AM on June 7, 2012


I still don't get it. Why should I feel bullied ?

You were insisting that verbal abuse isn't bullying, but then you're turning around and saying "okay, cut it out with the pileon." If verbal abuse isn't "bullying", then I'm not sure why "piled upon" is distressing.

Unless....you're feeling bullied, which would be quite ironic, no?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


And because i hit "post" too soon -- I am in some way hoping that this is cause for you to reflect upon a stance you posted, stating that "verbal abuse isn't bullying," because you're getting a far milder verbal pushback than what passes for verbal abuse, and it's causing your own hackles to raise considerably. Consider how much worse actual verbal abuse would feel, and then consider whether you may be mistaken about whether verbal abuse "isn't bullying."

That's all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:50 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


My own experience is that, in dilutions ranging from homeopathic to toxic overdose, we suffer the most cruelty from those with whom we spend the most time and, by far, the bulk of that occurs at home. That is my bias on the topic. Your experience may vary.

Yeah, one of the pleasant surprises (if you can call it that) of my life is that I've been fortunate enough to never encounter a bully as thorough, as nasty, as troubled as my older brother. And what was truly fucked up about it was that I sort of had to let him win. That is, the times I fought back (he wasn't that much bigger than me), it quickly became clear to me that he would effectively fight me to the death -- it mattered that much to him. And yeah, I tried to bring it up with my parents but they either A. just didn't get it, or B. felt they wouldn't be doing me any favors by getting involved (ie: solving my problems for me) -- thanks, mom + dad.

Long story/short -- I learned to tiptoe around my brother when he had that "look" about him, and it worked for the most part. Over time, he grew out of it, reconciled whatever demons were driving him and evolved into the wonderful, thoughtful, poetic person he is today (though he did eventually take a few anger management courses).

So yeah, bullying -- f***ing complex topic. Foolish to imagine it's anything but. But, of course, that's what the adults are in Sarah Miller's story: fools.
posted by philip-random at 10:15 AM on June 7, 2012


Adults don't always pull their punches, so why do we expect kids to play nice-nice in every situation? You can still be a kid and have innocent fun while knowing how to deal such epithets as "I don't give a rat's ass what you say, Tom; I'm not a pussy for wanting to play the god damn violin. So shut the fuck up."

I'd like to emphasize that many kids - especially but not exclusively girls - are very strongly told to be "good", to follow orders, to "behave" and that hitting is wrong. And above all, not to cause trouble for adults. Some of this is probably inevitable - hitting is generally wrong, you can't always teach toddlers nuanced moral reasoning and after that the damage is done, and there are lots of situations when kids need to do as they are bid and adults can't spend a lot of time with them. But it definitely puts some bullied kids in a conflicted moral position - definitely when I was little I knew it was bad to use bad language and to hurt others, so I knew not only that my bullies were being bad but that I must not be bad myself and thus had no real options except to go to school like a martyr to a provincial suburban stake. I definitely evolved a really, really unhelpful worldview of "there is everyone else, united in their awfulness, stupidity and bullying, and then there is Frowner alone who is obligated to behave well unlike everyone else no matter what it costs her". I would argue that the particular variety of Christianity on display at home contributed to this, since it was very much the "you will suffer for your beliefs and that's how it should be because the world is corrupt" kind.

Even now, it's really hard for me to ask for help. It took me until my late thirties to even realize that I tend not to ask for help because I assume that no one will help me. It took a recent run-in with a potential romantic interest to realize that people actually do see and remember me when I am introduced - hitherto, despite being a fairly politically active radical-about-town, I had tended to assume that people who meet me don't really see me, have no interest in talking to me and want only to forget my loathesome presence as soon as possible.

Admittedly, it did prepare me for a life of political activism and for the cesspit of ignorance, cruelty for its own sake, selfishness and folly that is American civic life.
posted by Frowner at 10:25 AM on June 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: Ardirll wrote the comment that offended you so much, and which everybody else here disagrees with, including y2karl, who was merely asking for civility in a thread about, you know, bullying. Maybe cool it down with trying to prove the point so much. Jesus.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:02 AM on June 7, 2012


Ah.

y2karl, I am sincerely sorry, and I will shut up now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:16 AM on June 7, 2012


You were insisting that verbal abuse isn't bullying, but then you're turning around and saying "okay, cut it out with the pileon." If verbal abuse isn't "bullying", then I'm not sure why "piled upon" is distressing.

Ardiril made one comment that verbal abuse wasn't bullying, a comment written with some heat, to which more than one person responded in a fair amount of heat. Ardiril, not me.

I could not agree but what I got from it was that he was writing with conviction from personal experience unknown to me and I saw no reason to respond to him. I did not agree with his contention, and, moreover, made that point several times before you made any comment on the topic.

Now, as I did not write, never agreed with nor endorsed the concept or that comment, I just don't know where you get that I was saying verbal abuse wasn't bullying.

What he said, he said, not me. What I was saying was I find it tiring when people read the thread and see who said what and get riled up but then, more importantly, don't read who said what back to who said what already and then multiple individuals more or less write the same thing over and over. Here, I found it tiresome, pointless and, in a thread about bullying, well, kind of bullying in the sense of many going after one for saying what he did. He being ardiril and not me

Now, on the topic of reading the thread, man, you FAIL in more ways than one. Trying reading the thread closer next time before you respond. And get that shot foot treated as you have multiple wounds now.
posted by y2karl at 11:29 AM on June 7, 2012


Well, I could have hit preview before posting as I see the point has already been made.
posted by y2karl at 11:30 AM on June 7, 2012


I deserved it anyway!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:09 PM on June 7, 2012


I don't really understand the solution that everyone seems to be coming to, that saying stuff like "why don't you go fuck yourself?" and screwing up the courage to physically fight your bullies will make them stop. Does that really work in most schools? I must've been unlucky because I guess I went to a 'rough' middle school and neither were successful for me, at all. The f-bombs and verbally standing up for myself just got the bullies riled up more, and once I showed that I was willing to fight, things got really bad. I seem to remember 7th grade being a daily cagematch with me going up against a revolving cast of a dozen vicious little thugs. Broken glasses, constant bruises, no one (adult or otherwise) had any solution. I don't hold any grudges or anything, but there was a lot of random violence outside the school, inside the school, in locker rooms, anywhere. It's stayed with me throughout my entire life. Part of my adult low-level daily awareness is staying on guard for people being fucked up and cruel to me, and it's hard for me to relax. This shit shapes you and stays with you...
posted by naju at 12:12 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The f-bombs and verbally standing up for myself just got the bullies riled up more, and once I showed that I was willing to fight, things got really bad.

I agree with this to a degree; however, the solution presented in an article ("Please stop! That's bullying!") seems even less effective.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:27 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, agreed there. I just can't think of any satisfying solution that will work for kids across the board. I couldn't come up with any solution to my bullying when I was experiencing it, and I still can't (aside from big systematic changes in the way schools are run.)
posted by naju at 1:42 PM on June 7, 2012


I guess my offer that we should be teaching our kids how to say these bad words, and that there are certain situations wherein they shouldn't have to behave or follow adult-given orders, is based on the idea that most kids have a sense of pride and/or honor.

As innocent as we make children out to be, I think many kids would rather feel that they're at least trying to fight back (whether or not there's actual fighting involved). After all, if the kind of bullies from naju's situation are going to rough you up whether you act submissive OR defiant, then to hell with it. Fear is just as much maintained by the bullied as by those that bully, so why teach children to beat themselves down? Let the downtrodden have their bad words and their snarky comebacks; some kids may decide not to use that method of defense, instead opting for the camouflaged moth method, but those that do might feel they played their hand well and feel better for it.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:52 AM on June 12, 2012


« Older An extended look inside...  |  LinkedIn has spilled 6.5 milli... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments