Your Responsibility To Run Like Hell

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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22 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Empowering the bullied is ultimately the right move, but I really don’t trust schools to get it right. As with your PE example, I expect a lot of school employees will just use the idea of empowering the bullied as an excuse to get away with some empty advice and call it good. There’s zero accountability, even after one of the bullied kids shoots up the place.Report

  2. Avatar PD Shaw says:

    I were to point to one thing that stands out as different my school experience from my kid’s is no fights. I think that’s mostly because hardly anybody walks to school; and P.E. and recess are far more limited these days. And the anti-bullying initiatives seem to be directed at the subtle forms of chick-bullying (everybody has to watch Mean Girls at some point) or recognizing cyber-bullying.

    Obviously, I cannot say no fights ever, but my formative experience was a lot of fights and initiations.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Zero tolerance is the stupidest school policy towards discipline and I’m really glad that my schooling was done before it. A big problem with dealing with bullies though is that many of them simply don’t care as you noted. You can punish them again and again but they will continue doing it because they seem to derive a small measure of status from it. Unless schools can find a way to ensure bragging about being mean, bullying, and the resulting punishment doesn’t carry any social reward, at least some kids are going to do it. Dealing with the more negative aspects of human behavior like status seeking and socially hierarchy is really tough for school administrators.Report

  4. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Former OT regular James Hanley shared a post on Facebook of a young man being bitter about parents teaching their kids to accept the different when these people made fun of him without mercy for being a nerd during his school years. One of my observations was that very few people want to raise their children cynically. We all want to be “don’t judge a book by its cover” rather than superficial charm often counts more than deep down qualities even when it is true in the childhood and adult worlds. Raising children cynically is seen as horrible because a lot of it sounds terrible. I’m wondering how many bullies are raised cynically by their parents, taught actively or passively that superficial charm is important and to target the different.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Well some people do but we think those people are horrible usually.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        They are horrible in the abstract, but it’s not like you can easily identify such parents and effectively shame them into changing their behavior.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        We might think this is horrible parenting and its very morally problematic and ethically challenged but as Dark Matter pointed out, these parents will say that they are training their children to succeed in an unjust world. They would argue that not admitting this means that their kids might end up as human hamburger meat. You see the same for the parents that really push for their kids to excel in school and get into a really good university at the expensive of their childhood. As those parents would reason it, your a kid for about fifth of your life and adult for the rest of it. If gutting the childhood is required for a prosperous if not necessarily happy adulthood is necessary than so be it.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Cynicism is underrated. The word I’d use is “realistic”, and most of it imho is positive. Facing the world as it exists, rather than as we want it to exist, results in functionality and success. I want my kids to have realistic expectations of their abilities, the abilities of everyone around them, the probabilities of success on various choices. The (not a fictional example) kid in my kid’s high school with a “go for broke” life plan on being a famous actor doesn’t have a realistic chance of success, that’s true even if he does actually win the lottery.

      On a side note “superficial charm” doesn’t cut it in most professions, maybe that works in marketing and sales but whatever.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Dark Matter says:

        Whether you call it cynicism or realism, facing the world as it exist leads to a lot of self-serving behavior. Sometimes you need to pretend things are how we want them to be rather than how they are to effectuate positive change. A lot of civilization is based on polite fictions. There is also a difference between “chances of you becoming a successful and famous Hollywood actor are non-existent” and the type of cynicism that leads people to justify bullying of people whose only offense is to be different and possess low social status. Most of us don’t want to live in a world where the Heathers are correct.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to LeeEsq says:

          You see the same for the parents that really push for their kids to excel in school and get into a really good university at the expensive of their childhood.

          I don’t see why “excel in school” needs to be “at the expense of their childhood”.

          It is better to be a live jackal than a dead lion. However it is better still to be a live lion.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter in reply to LeeEsq says:

          Whether you call it cynicism or realism, facing the world as it exist leads to a lot of self-serving behavior.

          False choice. It’s the equiv of some Priest claiming you need (his flavor of) God in order for ethics to exist. Society benefits a lot from cooperation, but yes, on some other levels my kids are in competition with all other kids. Cynicism doesn’t instantly lead to bullying.

          Thus far the big complain (school-wise) I get from my kids is in group projects they do all the work while having to share the credit. I sit them down and explain that yes, the other kids are spunging off them. That sucks here and now, but in the long term lacking work ethic, discipline, and laziness become their own punishments.

          The most popular kid my age in my elementary school and middle school was a loser in high school, and we never heard from him after that. No one just wakes up one morning and discovers they’re a doctor or engineer or running a successful business. It takes a lot of work to get to that point.

          My kids go to public school, many/most children at that age do dysfunctional things. IMHO it’s appropriate to call that out as problematic. My second daughter is in high school, both she and her best friend want to be doctors. Her friend engages in behavior that’s not optimal for setting herself up for that profession. I think she won’t figure that out for about five more years but my kid sees that right now. It’s not enough to say “I want G”, you also need to say “I’m here at ‘A’, to get to ‘G’ I need to do B,C,D,E, & F.”

          IMHO some of the kids in my girls grade are setting themselves up for failure latter in life. I get that I’m very judgemental, I also get that I’ll be wrong a fair amount. They’ll get their act together at the last minute and do something, or they’ll find some nitch I don’t see. The best paid person from my generation may be a guy who owns his own plumbing outfit and he skipped college to bounce in a strip bar. But him being the best paid of my generation wasn’t the way to bet.Report

  5. Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

    Promoting an egoless approach to relationships is great between adults, but every classroom is full of horrible little monsters looking for an “egoless” kid to see how far they can push them without getting any pushback. It’s in their nature to push limits and kids who don’t set those limits will be pushed until they do.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    Some tales from my old jujitsu instructor’s “bully safe” classes (for kids) seems appropriate.

    I remember watching in disbelief as they went through some submission (armbar, rear naked choke) all the while yelling “Are you going to stop bullying me?”. I suppose it would work. I can’t imagine the embarrassment of a big bully getting taken down and having his arm bent back at the elbow-which can be very painful. Apparently the schools in my area have the same policy–suspend everyone. Given that, and how I was raised, I think I’d be advocating “break the arm”. Hell, you’re going to get suspended anyway–might was well teach the bully a lesson. What’s the phrase? “He won’t feel the pain UNTIL he wakes up.

    If I had my kinds in school, they’d know jujitsu and use it effectively. Note, a co-student’s kid, who is 10 and small, can take down kids twice his size and weight easily. I’ve seen it.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Damon says:

      For me, the beginning of the end of my bullying was the day I decided to hit back, and hard. I had a pack of bullies that would jump me on my way home from school. One day in 8th grade, as they made their approach (off campus), I took the heavy 6 foot chain I used to lock my bike (it was wrapped around the frame, but not locked to it, I was ready for them), dropped my bike, and started charging at them, swinging for their heads. I guess when shit suddenly got real for them, they decided that was enough, never had a problem with them after that.

      I got a lot of detentions after that, because I was done. You hit me, you were getting hit back with whatever I could put my hands on (& I got real good at making sure I had something handy and innocuous I could put my hands on). I wasn’t strong yet, but mechanical advantage was my friend. Yet my school had a bumper crop of bullies. By the end of my Freshman year of HS, it was all over. Everyone had gotten the message that it wasn’t worth the pain or trouble to mix it up with me.

      Still, 10+ years of bullying left it’s mark.

      That said, schools might better serve the students by dealing with the bullies in other ways.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        “That said, schools might better serve the students by dealing with the bullies in other ways.”

        Agreed. But there will always be “prey” until we evolve some more.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        This kind off matches the advice I gave my son when he was being bullied in grade school. I told him “Just stand there, let the kid talk and taunt and tease until there is a good crowd around. ‘Cause there will be in a second. And when there is, hit the kid as hard as possible in the nose, you want to bloody it. And then just stand there, waiting to take your punishment from the adults. Everyone will see that you aren’t afraid (though you might be shaking in your shoes.) Everyone will see you won’t accept this behavior. Everyone will know you are willing to risk getting in trouble to stand up. No one will bully you again. And in the end, when you are in trouble, I will stand up for you. But only you can stop the bullying.”

        Not verbatim, but you get the picture. He never had to do this, but he was never bullied again. He now had confidence and you could see it. The idea that he both needed to be the one ending it and he would be supported was all he needed.

        I didn’t want him bullied like I was.Report

  7. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Without necessarily calling out anyone here (because I don’t know enough about anyone’s particular situation to say whether this applies to them), I do think there is a bad tendency right now to label EVERYTHING bullying and an even worse tendency for the label “bully” to itself be used as a mean of harassment or even bullying itself. I’ve heard people accuse kids as young as 3 of bullying and watched parents race to a school administrator’s office to label the other kid in an age-appropriate conflict the bully because once you get one kid labeled the bully, it totally frames the narrative.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to Kazzy says:

      This is different from what you’re saying, Kazzy, but I also think there’s a tendency to think of the world as bullies and non-bullies. The bullies are the bad guys/gals and the non-bullies are the good-guys/gals. I think there’s a lot more gray area there, starting with the possibility that the bullies are sometimes bullied and the bullied are not always innocent in the bullying interaction.

      Even though I say that, I should add that I believe there are indeed often victims. I’m drawing largely on my own experiences, and I have no insight into what others went through.Report

  8. The schools I attended had a somewhat different policy from Will’s schools’. One was punished for fighting, regardless of who started it or whether it was self-defense or whether one side was disproportionately stronger than the other. But one wasn’t punished for being hit. It was still a “zero tolerance” policy, but it was “zero tolerance” for fighting.

    At least that was the theory. The practice could be different, and I’m sure the policy suffered from the many drawbacks of zero tolerance.Report

  9. Avatar Pete Mack says:

    The more I think about this, the more I think it needs amendment. Yeah, you don’t want to fight in school as a general rule. But in particular cases, not fighting causes more problems than actually fighting. Just accept the punishment and move on, afterwards.Report

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