Hitting Back a Bully Can Be Risky

A link to a New York Daily News article appears at the end of this post.

The school where this altercation occurred is located in Franklin, Indiana.  Although the arrest of the child is videotaped, there’s no real proof of what happened before that.  Two different accounts are shared.

I attended public and private schools during the 1960s and 70s, and saw a pattern which I don’t believe has changed.  Students are told in advance by teachers and administrators, “If someone hurts you, don’t hit back.  Tell the teacher.”  Then, when there’s a report of an incident, the teacher or administrator says or does something to discourage the kid from saying anything else about it.

The dismissal of a bullied child’s report can be delivered in different ways.  The adult might say, “Don’t let it bother you,” “I’m very busy right now,” “That means he likes you,” (this particular reply is common when a child reports sexual harassment or sexual assault) or “You can’t prove that.”  Sometimes the adult walks away from the child as a way of saying, through body language, Listening to this trash is beneath my dignity.  Personally, I hope the adults who use that last option will someday suffer an unexpected intestinal gas leak in front of a classroom full of six year-olds.

In high school, I knew of one teacher who made lengthy speeches about how bullies were in terrible pain, and why the students who were hurt by those monsters must feel and show compassion.  She took personal offense whenever a bullied child said anything graceless about an abusive classmate.  She also made a point of occasionally running up to one bully in particular, and hugging her (the hug was unwanted).  That teacher never advocated stopping any act of cruelty, and she was proud of her alleged wisdom in dealing with the human condition.  She was an ignorant little critter who lacked self-awareness.  She mistakenly believed actions that disgraced her character were her strong points.

Some adults pretend to make an effort to get the bullying stopped.  They listen patiently and appear concerned, but nothing’s done.

Of all the adults who make their own lives easier by exerting no real effort to protect their students, underage patients, children, et al from physical and mental cruelty, who are the biggest cowards?  Every one of them competes so well for that title.

Occasionally, the shit hits the fan.  The child who is tormented for months or years loses his or her temper, and the school is finally forced to take the situation seriously.  So, the tormented child is in a lot of trouble.

I remember a school shooting which occurred in California a long time ago.  I believe it happened in a middle school.  Through some miracle, no one suffered gunshot wounds after a bullied child opened fire in a classroom.

A police detective who spoke to a television reporter made a point of saying the bullied child had told no one he was being mistreated by classmates.

The police don’t ordinarily repeat a lot of details about what allegedly leads up to a crime because doing so can interfere with an investigation.  Saying too much may influence witness accounts or compromise a prosecution.  The detective was claiming the kid stayed quiet for a long time before blowing a gasket, though.

I believe that detective’s statement to the news media was intended to protect the school faculty and administration.  The public wasn’t supposed to know that schools allow bullies to run wild.

Hey, for all we know, the detective might have been making a true statement.  Some kids really do hold it in.  However, we should not deny that his statement worked to the advantage of adults at the school.

Bullying among adults is often treated the same way.  Recall Meryl Streep’s emphatic claim that she didn’t know what Harvey Weinstein was doing.  If you admit you know something bad is going on, you’ll have to answer to the bullies.  So, if you’re watching out for your own interests you’ll look the other way and if the lid ever gets blown off of the scandal you’ll claim ignorance.

It’s all about self-protection, and to hell with any hapless person who gets mowed down in the process.



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