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Content Lioness

Anti-bullying message

Posted on 2010.10.20 at 16:39
 I am wearing purple today in honor of *all* bullying victims. I feel that by singling out only the gay ones we do them a disservice by pointing out a large part what made them insecure in the first place. I don't think that sexual orientation should matter except to the one(s) a person is sexually involved with.

As a survivor of some really horrendous bullying that didn't stop until I *made* it stop some time in my early twenties (yes, it can extend further than childhood), I want to tell kids that yes, it does get better, but you have to find it within yourself to make it better too. 

We as a society have to grab the bullies by the collar and make them stop. We have to find out what's making the bullies want to harm others to make themselves feel better. If treatment doesn't work, prosecution needs to happen for repeat offenders -- assault is assault, no matter what the age of the offender. It's not something to ignore as "kid stuff" because those kids grow up to be abusers and keep going with being abusers unless they're made to STOP.

It hasn't necessarily gotten worse in recent years; it's just gotten more media attention. Older schoolmates had me beaten into a fetal position while my grandmother helplessly tried to make them stop. She was walking me home to try to protect me from bullies; they didn't care and beat me up in front of her anyway. This was more than thirty years ago. There were no headlines for me, no vigils to keep people from hurting me, no arrests of my long-term bullies. Some of them kept going for an effing *decade* -- I saw some of the same people in high school, and they kept going with it. What happened? I got suspended for fighting back. Great message to send a smart kid -- no wonder I cut out of school in favor of self-motivated study and life experience instead. No wonder I turned to books in libraries to fuel my ravenous need for knowledge -- I was getting next to nothing out of a public school education other than the message that I didn't really matter and that the bullies were protected while I wasn't. I know I was far from the only one -- some of you are here on my f'list, and know who you are. 

But I survived. I moved on to a great career in publishing and learned a ton there; I've changed careers and am looking for my next move there. I've met thousands of fascinating people, and most of them are not bullies.  My first husband (married at age 20; separated from at 21) turned out to be a bully, and I walked away. I'd thought he learned, but a recent email exchange via FB proved otherwise. No one bullies me anymore -- hello, welcome to my blocklist. He's the one and only member. I still encounter would-be bullies (mostly out to make me feel bad for my physical appearance, like they have the right to comment), but have a thicker skin and ability to slough off the abuse. I guess that came with age and experience. 

So how do we teach the kids that you *don't* have to take it? We have such mixed messages about reporting such things to authorities -- horrible words like "tattling" and "snitching" and the associated shunning of those who speak up do nothing to help encourage victims to stand up and report their bullies. What the hell is a victim supposed to do?


mevennen at 2010-10-20 22:39 (UTC) (Link)
I don't know. I stopped bullies in my school by suddenly turning on them, but that was a dynamic that worked in a particular social context at a particular time. I learned that terrifying people who tried to bully me was the only way to make them stop, that they are cowards, and that their pack would respond to retaliation. But sometimes people and packs don't, and I don't know what you do then.

I am very sad that you got suspended for fighting back. I feel that this was a betrayal of you.
lyonessnyc at 2011-01-11 05:07 (UTC) (Link)
I know, it's been months since you posted this.

Interestingly, the girl in question (the frenemy who got me suspended when she jumped me in the hall) and I are now FB friends, and she's told me that what she did that day has haunted her since high school. I told her that I'd forgiven her, obviously, since I accepted her friend request, and she said she was grateful for that, but still felt bad for what she did.

THese are not my monkeys… this is not my circus…
wldrose at 2010-10-21 05:45 (UTC) (Link)
if you build in the kid a respect for themselves and others and help them demonstrate it when they have to let the right people know whats going on it will be seen as a logical extension of who they are rather than a way for them to gain favor and that will take much of the tattle tale out of it.

handlebar605 at 2010-10-21 14:30 (UTC) (Link)
I don't know, but it seems to me as if an Average person's fear of the unknown, can include those who find it easier to learn things in school, since _They_ must be _Weird_ if they can learn shit like that and Everyone Knows that the Abnormal Should be left out in the wilderness to Die!

the one time I got into a fight, was because I responded to bullying. I didn't get jumped, but I was challenged to a fight or maybe I did the challenging (it was over 40 years ago on Long Island). After that, I just practiced not responding. I ended up getting trained to operate Naval Nuclear Power Plants in the Navy.
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