And I Remember A Time When Indian Rope Burns Were Just Fun…

Today, October 19th, is apparently Stop Bullying Awareness Day.

Now, I’m not going to go off on a sarcastic rant on this, like some might expect me to.
Instead, I’ll offer my support, and throw a few kernels of information and ideas out there.

I may be a Man-Mountain now.
However, until puberty took me firmly in its grasp, I used to be a short stick of a kid with a bulbous head, and glasses.
The only thing missing was a target on my back.
My father taught me how to deal with bullies.
I also learned the value of knowing when to go to an adult and when not to.
(because sometimes that just makes matters worse)
Once I started coming into my size he taught me how to fight.
Not schoolyard fighting either, fighting like a full grown man.
He didn’t condone fighting, but he did know that messages aren’t always comprehended unless delivered in a language that the other party understands.
He taught me how to fight, but with two conditions;

1) That I stand up for others when they are bullied
2) That I never use what he taught me to bully others

The fighting, and the moral lessons, made a significant impact upon my life.
I used those lessons to keep myself and my friends safe.
Those lessons didn’t cease to have meaning when my childhood was over either.
Their significance still proves true today.

During my time in High School a major factor in the prevention of Bullying was my Principal.
He had a zero tolerance policy for fighting and bullying.
He was strict, and he never wavered.
Sure, there was still some fighting and bullying.
Our school never needed Metal Detectors or security guards like some other area schools relied on.
All we ever needed was a couple of teachers that walked the halls and didn’t take shit.
When kids transferred in from other schools they learned quickly enough.

Both of those stories serve to demonstrate my biggest point about bullying.
Bullying Prevention is both a Personal and Public responsibility.
We need to know our own abilities and how they can serve the purpose.
Plus, we have to be in communication with others and work together.

Now, some points I’d like to make about Bullies:

1-  I was told by numerous people that all you have to do is stand up to a Bully, that they’re afraid of real confrontation.  That’s false.   Much like Rape, bullying is a crime about Power and Control.
That makes it even more satisfying when they have to break their victim.

2- Taking on a bully in a public display isn’t really a good idea.  Some people think that it’s a way that is more likely to gain help for the victim, or that the Bully loses face because they’re opposed.
This has some merit, but, the majority of the time, whether the bully wins or loses they end up an object of ridicule to some of the witnesses.  This equals embarrassment, which can equal more vindictive actions next time.

3- Kids are told to always tell an adult.  This can make matters worse sometimes.  The first step should be communication between the victim and the bully.  Sometimes a bully is singling a person out because they don’t know how else to interact.  Most often, the bully is just a dick.  Never assume.  The kids should learn when to get help and when not to.
However, they should ALWAYS have someone they can talk to about problems without repercussions.
I like establishing a “Safe Area”, a spot where anything can be talked about without getting in trouble.

4- Bullies are really cowards.  Hogwash.   Bullies are bastards that get off on power and are learning baseline psychotic behavior that can translate to far worse when they’re adults.  Don’t turn the bully into a victim in their own way, break the damn cycle before Biff goes from pulling the wings off of flies to boiling human skulls to be used as soup bowls.

5- Kids need to know how to defend themselves.  They also need to know how to take a hit without taking as much damage.  As much as we want to be there to protect them we can’t always be right there.
And they need to learn how to rely on themselves eventually.

Okay, so that’s all I really have to say about Bullying for now.
I’m no real expert.
These are just my opinions based on my experience.
If any of you have additional thoughts or tips, please, let me hear them.


2 Responses to And I Remember A Time When Indian Rope Burns Were Just Fun…

  1. Great post. It is true – there is some personal responsibility to be as prepared as possible to deal with bullying — and that many bullies are NOT “victims” themselves. Again, personal responsibility comes into play here.

    I’m reminded of what a school acquaintance told me when I was talking about the classmate that made my life a living hell for about 6 years of my school career. She told me that this classmate, “T”, had a really awful home life, father was a druggie/alcoholic (which I never knew) and that “she came from a bad place”, and was therefore implying that “T” was a victim herself, and deserved pity. And while I will allow that yes, perhaps there is some pity that can be allowed there for a child to have to grow up in those circumstances, ultimately, “T” was still responsible for her own actions.

    She didn’t have to choose to bully other kids, especially a quiet, awkward, sensitive girl that was an easy target. She didn’t have to choose to be so vicious, cruel and calculating, and turn an entire classroom of gradeschoolers into bullies and/or accomplices in the terror. This was all done by the sheer threat of their non-compliance causing them to be the next target. But she made those choices. She could have risen from her situation, like others I’ve known, and recognized that compassion and love were the way to succeed. She could have sympathized with others, seeing in them a bit of her personal hell. But she threw this all aside, for the power trip and boost it gave her ego to tear another person down.

    So it shouldn’t be a surprise that while I, having made plenty of mistakes and not being a perfect person, have managed to be a fairly successful adult, raising a family, having a job, and being a productive member of society; while “T” threw away an athletic scholarship at a great college, fell into drugs and dealing them, and ended up in prison for about 10 years, before getting out last year. I hear she had a baby right out of prison too. Again, we are the result of our choices.

    While I do still bear a lot of anger and resentment towards her, and the scars she made will never fully heal, I do hope that her heart has healed enough for her to have compassion and be a responsible loving mother to her child. For her to perhaps someday realize that she didn’t make the best choices when she was young, and maybe even feel a tiny bit of remorse for the cruel person she was. For her child, and for her — I hope.

    Ultimately, YOU are the product of YOUR choices — not your environment, your parents, your home, whatever. Yes, certain circumstances can present you with different choices, and the right choices may be easier to make when your surroundings are positive. But many great people, as well as everyday peers, have made the right choices in the midst of unspeakable horrors. We all have choices – use yours well.

  2. […] hard to say.  When this post began life as a response to this blog post at I was talking about choices, and how we are a […]

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