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Bullying

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I'm pretty sure that everyone experiences instances of bullying at some point in their lives. Some deal with it better than others; some head it off at the pass and it becomes just a series of isolated and rare events, whilst others don't manage to neutralize it early enough or at all, and end up being ground down by it for years.

I suffered from ruthless bullying all the way through school and it cut my self-esteem into ribbons and contributed to my spending the first 20 years of my life pretty downtrodden and very isolated.

I've learned that the choice of who gets bullied can be pretty arbitrary and is mainly nothing to do with the actual qualities or characteristics of the victim themselves. But if there is any deciding factor it's this: bullies only pick on people who they believe will not fight back. But the crucial factor in 'successful' bullying is that the victim must not glimpse this thruth: the victim must absolutely believe that they really ARE ugly, dumb, that nobody likes them, that they're not worthy of being treated as a human being. Because if they begin to realize the BS level of what the bullies tell them then they just might start fighting back.

But I've learned that simply losing my temper and yelling doesn't help - it didn't work at school either. If I did that, the bullies would just laugh at me and then I'd feel ten times worse. So the only way to check-mate it is to unleash my inner sadist and throw some barb that makes them feel ten times shittier than they wanted to make me feel. But not everyone has it in them to do this.

Is that it then? It's rather sad if that's it; if the choice is to either bully or be bullied. There must be another way.

I'd like if people here could talk about their experiences of bullying, and if anyone's found a way to deal with it, what is it?

Parents - how do you deal with it when your children get bullied?

I'm interested in comments from people who might be or have been bullies themselves. I want to explore the mindset of both bully and victim, in the hope that I'll be inspired with *something* to tell my 11 year old daughter when she comes home crying again tomorrow :(
 

heart

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I experienced verbal abuse and sometimes physical from peers in school. I experienced teachers supporting and backing up the emotional abuse at times. I can see now it was my extreme shyness, withdrawal that was the trigger, which likely came because I was stressed from situations at home.

I can tell people that ignoring and turning the other cheek doesn't help a bit. Reaction is not what children seem to be after when they act as a larger group. It is more about social bonding together to exclude another person. It is trendy and hip and feels good to have something to rally around from what it seems to me.

If I had a child who was experiencing this, I would place them into therapy with someone who some expert training in bullying/mobbing. I have no idea how to adequately cope with this.

All the nonsense that parents tell children to make themselves feel better DOES NOT help when you are the child having to face this everyday. It needs a deeper, more professional answer. It's a really ugly sort of problem. :hug: to anyone having to deal with this.

If your child get tagged with the "it's trendy to pick on him/her" then it is not the typical "learning to get on with others" that you've (general you, no one in particular) been programmed to see it as. It's like a witch burning hysteria.
 

Lateralus

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I was usually one of the smallest kids in my classes, growing up. It wasn't just genetic, I was also a year younger than most of the other kids. I'm sure I was a potential bully target, but I never really faced much bullying in school (nor was I a bully). I'm not really sure why. Maybe because I usually appeared confident?
 

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I spent a great deal of my school career being bullied. Up until junior year of high school. I didn't bully anyone back, and I didn't change myself for anyone. What was my savior is that I didn't allow them to get me down. I've always been pretty thick-headed, and eventually I made friends with other people who got bullied. We had a group big enough that our individual bullies left us alone. Any bullying that came from another group, we leaned on each other to deal with. I had a best friend also since 1st grade that helped me get through it. Not to say it didn't effect me at all.. I'm one of the few kids I know that got a real swirlie, I always carried extra clothes from overhead slushies, and I had knee-length hair so gum was my enemy. I didn't need to be especially close to the people, we just shared a common enemy and that made us all friends. Those friends introduced me to the stoners, and I was in auto-tech so making friends there eventually just made my circle big enough to where I'd be a potential threat from quantity if bullied.

The problem was it took me a long time to talk to anyone else aside my best friend. I spent a good portion of my life depressed and closed in, I was a hermit for all I can tell. Everyone has to find their own way to come out on top.. Nothing really stopped entirely until after high school. Even now, I come across people that try to get me down and pick on me.. but I have the confidence and support to put an end to that quick now. You're very limited on your options as a child, and I feel it's based a lot on your inner strength.
 

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heart - I relate to what you say. The solutions they tell you about such as ignoring them - doesn't work; standing up for yourself - they laugh at you or you get beaten to a pulp because they outnumber you; telling the teacher - they hit you all the harder when the teacher's gone... none of these things work. You're right that it's a witch burning mentality... it seems the only person who can turn things around is the victim themselves but it's incredibly unlikely that most people will have either the intelligence, articulateness or social smarts to be able to realize what they have to do and then have the courage to do it.


I was usually one of the smallest kids in my classes, growing up. It wasn't just genetic, I was also a year younger than most of the other kids. I'm sure I was a potential bully target, but I never really faced much bullying in school (nor was I a bully). I'm not really sure why. Maybe because I usually appeared confident?

You remind me of a kid I knew in school whose name was Reuben, had red hair, glasses, freckles - everything said he was a textbook case of a victim waiting to be bullied. And yet he was one of the most popular kids in school. Because yes, he was confident and just didn't let the bastards grind him down.

If I may ask, how was your home life then, at that time? I knew that Reuben had a very supportive and loving family, they were all very outgoing and socialized a lot, visiting friends, having barbecues, they were just, well I don't know, there was something about his family that made me not surprised that he could face bullying attempts with a cheerful laugh and somehow diffuse it.

In my case I had criminally negligent parents so I was already more than half way to believing I was worthless before the bullies even got to me.

I sometimes blame myself sorta, for my daughter being bullied... well, not blame as much as just figure it's possibly largely because she's not had a mother to teach her the female social smarts, she's lived mainly in a male dominated environment where challenging is done face to face and settled that way too, after which y'know, there are periods of peace before the next challenge. The nasty sorta social manipulation that girls do in schools is something she's just not been equipped by her home life to handle....
 

Lateralus

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You remind me of a kid I knew in school whose name was Reuben, had red hair, glasses, freckles - everything said he was a textbook case of a victim waiting to be bullied. And yet he was one of the most popular kids in school. Because yes, he was confident and just didn't let the bastards grind him down.
I wouldn't say I was a textbook case, no glasses or anything like that, but I could fit some profiles. ;)

If I may ask, how was your home life then, at that time? I knew that Reuben had a very supportive and loving family, they were all very outgoing and socialized a lot, visiting friends, having barbecues, they were just, well I don't know, there was something about his family that made me not surprised that he could face bullying attempts with a cheerful laugh and somehow diffuse it.
My home life was anything but tranquil. I had overwhelmingly protective parents. Going to school was my only opportunity to escape their stranglehold and extrovert.

After thinking about it a little more, something else that probably helped me was that I was disruptive in class, in a clownish sort of way.
 

heart

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it seems the only person who can turn things around is the victim themselves but it's incredibly unlikely that most people will have either the intelligence, articulateness or social smarts to be able to realize what they have to do and then have the courage to do it.

At the point at which a child becomes an accepted target, the child would have to understand how to use psychology to deal with the hysteria of the situation. In those links above, this person tries to remove many of the myths and incorrect assumptions and coping techiniques that were told in our cultural.
 

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My home life was anything but tranquil. I had overwhelmingly protective parents. Going to school was my only opportunity to escape their stranglehold and extrovert.

That's how I would've seen it too, had the bullies not started on me. I literally went for days without speaking a word so much that my voice became hoarse from disuse.

After thinking about it a little more, something else that probably helped me was that I was disruptive in class, in a class-clownish sort of way.

Does this mean that you underachieved? Or did you somehow manage to still achieve your potential whilst clowning around and being disruptive? I used to know kids who 'earned' popularity in this way, but the price seemed to be gross underachievement.

kyuuei - yes it does seem a vital thing for someone to have friends to lean on. At my daughter's previous school she was coping with it until her best friend moved away, then it became so bad that I took her out and homeschooled her for a while. The trouble is that what often happens, especially with girl bullies, is that they isolate you from those friends, they seem very adept at stirring trouble between friends and turning them against you so that you remain isolated.

What my daughter has at the moment is that at her new school there are two kids (in a year of over 250) who went to her old school, and one of these is - for reasons unknown - apparently spreading rumours about her being 'messed up'. My daughter's very sensitive and seems to really put a high premium on what 'others' think of her, so just one kid saying she was messed up at a bus stop was enough to have her in self-loathing tears all night. You know how they say it takes a hundred compliments to undo the psychological damage of every insult? they were talking about her!!
 

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Lateralus - would it be accurate though to say that, though you didn't like your home situation, you did feel confident that you were valued and loved by your parents? cos I didn't have any reason to feel I was... so I found it all too easy to believe when the bullies treated me like an insect that I deserved it, and so harder to stand up against it.
 

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My heart aches just reading this, substitute. There's scarcely anything worse than knowing one of our children is going through this.

I don't know what you say to a child and am glad to see that you've been given some references. I probably thought that I did back in the day! I truly can't remember how I handled this but it did pass.

I noticed this for my daughter at about the same age. Little girls can be especially mean to each other and it's crushing. I did observe that the role was passed around from week to week and alliances shifted just as often. That's small comfort, I know.

I remember kids from my school, though, who became a scapegoat for as long as they were attending and I often think about what may have happened to them. I can't imagine living with that kind of emotional torture day-in, day-out for all those formative years.

And that comment about the teacher can be true. I've seen mean-spirited teachers who allow and even support that kind of situation. So if you aren't getting staff support for your issue there I imagine it's time to speak up.

Some thoughtful teachers are at a loss for tactics against bullying. Some think to avoid appearing to favor the bullied child that it will go away for fear of adding fuel to the fire.

You are fortunate to be parenting in a time where this problem is increasingly recognized and taken seriously so there will be someone, surely, at the school who will hear you out should this begin to be a persistent problem.

I do know that some of the kids who had a tough time in school turned out to be very gentle and appealing humans as though tempered by fire. Sometimes I wonder how any of us got through school without being permanently scarred.

I'm not prone to give advice but I can manage this much: Not responding to the bullying sometimes will work after a veeery tough trial period.

Comfort and courage, susbstitute, from another parent. The same for your daughter.
 

Lateralus

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Does this mean that you underachieved? Or did you somehow manage to still achieve your potential whilst clowning around and being disruptive? I used to know kids who 'earned' popularity in this way, but the price seemed to be gross underachievement.
I probably would have if I had been left to my own devices. But there was no way my father would let me. I was a straight-A student all the way through high school. The teachers loved me, which probably allowed me to get away with more disruption than other children.
 

heart

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I'm not prone to give advice but I can manage this much: Not responding to the bullying sometimes will work after a veeery tough trial period.

This is a myth.

Myths about child bullying, school bullying, school phobia, no blame etc

Ignore it
Never ignore bullying; bullies use provocation to elicit a response from their target and if you ignore it the provocation will get worse. When people say "ignore it" they mean "don't engage and don't respond". When bullying starts, recognise it immediately, keep a log of events, do your research, and get your parents and teachers involved. Be persistent. You have a right not to be bullied, harassed, assaulted or abused.
 

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I found that fighting dirty, at places where the teachers couldn't intervene or witness anything was great for scaring the shit out of bullies. I think a couple of them actually thought I was going to kill them :D Two of them are to this day really scared of me, and i'm not really a mean person at all. They just stepped on my ego and a couple of others as well, and I made sure they paid. But there was this one guy, who I never got the chance to beat the crap out of, and I still hope I'll run into him some dark night. :) I wonder if all ENTJ's are like me in that aspect, I never ever forget if someone have done something humiliating to me.

While the approach I took didn't make me popular, it made them leave me alone and treat me with respect, out of fear. I don't need such people to like me, anyway. If they are not strong enough to handle that they didn't get all the love they needed when they were babies, perhaps they should suffer.
 

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Hmm, yeah YLJ I can see how that approach might work for a reasonably strong boy, but for a shy and sensitive little girl I really can't see telling her to beat the crap out of them as being a viable solution ;) Even if I told her I've no doubt that she'd never be able to do it and besides, I've also no doubt that if she did do it, they'd come back on her next time with twice the numbers and she'd pay tenfold.

I was looking at the links you gave heart and I found this interesting:

Bullies are popular children
Bullies are often surrounded by other children, not through popularity but through fear. The bully is rarely able to sustain a friendship (which is based on trust, dependability, loyalty and mutual respect) but instead forms alliances which are part of their strategy for power and control. A hard look at the bully and his or her cohorts will reveal a gang or clique mentality in which true friendship is absent. Some children side with the bully because they gain sufficient bravado to act like bullies themselves - which they are too weak and inadequate to do without the bully - but most children side with the bully for fear of otherwise becoming a target - a fear that is nearly always justified. Those children who do not join the gang or clique are then targeted by the bullies who gain power from numbers

This is absolutely the problem that we have here. My daughter K sees these kids who always have big gangs and loads of 'friends' and sees them as being popular whilst she in contrast is alone and therefore unpopular; this reinforces the impression she gets from the BS they tell her, that she's worthless and nobody likes her, and that she should aspire to being worthy of their friendship - which of course is never gained because the harder she tries the harder they laugh.

However even if she were to understand this, it'd be small comfort for her when she's all alone. From her POV, it doesn't make much difference whether the other kids dont' sit with her because they're scared of the bullies or because they don't like her. :(

I have always thought she values others' opinions of her too highly, since she was very small I've noticed that she's too easily wounded by a nasty word from a total stranger whereas even when I was a kid I had SOME ability to say 'this person doesn't even KNOW me, they're just talking shit'. It wasn't so much being unpopular that got to me, it was just the isolation (as a strong natural extravert). I never cared to be popular, I just wanted to have friends to sit with and talk to and be left alone.
 

kyuuei

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kyuuei - yes it does seem a vital thing for someone to have friends to lean on. At my daughter's previous school she was coping with it until her best friend moved away, then it became so bad that I took her out and homeschooled her for a while. The trouble is that what often happens, especially with girl bullies, is that they isolate you from those friends, they seem very adept at stirring trouble between friends and turning them against you so that you remain isolated.

What my daughter has at the moment is that at her new school there are two kids (in a year of over 250) who went to her old school, and one of these is - for reasons unknown - apparently spreading rumours about her being 'messed up'. My daughter's very sensitive and seems to really put a high premium on what 'others' think of her, so just one kid saying she was messed up at a bus stop was enough to have her in self-loathing tears all night. You know how they say it takes a hundred compliments to undo the psychological damage of every insult? they were talking about her!!

Well, my problems were a bit different, but I never seemed to care too much what others thought of me. I often dressed in very unfashionable clothing, to the extent that people would try to rip it up right as I was wearing it sometimes. ( I still don't dress fashionably lol) My problem also centered around girls, since they do have an acute way of being physical bullies and have more of a way with words. They are the worst in my opinion, and the hardest to deal with. I stuck to males for a long time, and even now I find talking to men is easier than women because of the way I grew up constantly thinking women were trying to be nice to me just to do something dirty and mean later on. Your daughter is much different from I though, I never had intentions of being friends with any females I just cut them out of my life. (NOT to say this was right, but it was my way of surviving.)

My youngest sister who I raise, is having a lot of trouble with girls as well. HER problem is that she was bullied during elementary and junior high, but now that she's in high school she's found she can "get in" and be friends with people if she flirts with boys, becomes materialistic and shallow, and runs with the wrong crowd. She's so scared of saying NO to the peer pressure and being an outsider that she gets into trouble with the law and at home a lot now. Currently, she's grounded to the house for the rest of the SEMESTER for her actions so far in the year. It's been very difficult for us all, because my brother and older(but still younger than I) sister were very popular and I had a very different way of dealing with things than her.

It's one of the worst problems because even though we're adults, we can't really step into her life and stop it so much as we want to do all we can to protect her. She's got to figure it out on her own.

In the end though, mayhap your daughter will become stronger and get some intestinal fortitude from all of this, which might build her confidence since she would stop relying on others to get her confidence from, and in turn confidence will make friends which will keep bullies away? .... It sounded good in my head.
 

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Hmm... I don't see much evidence of people gaining strength from the experience of being bullied. In fact I feel like I've had to painfully build and claw some strength for myself, fighting hard all the time against the psychological scars the bullying left on me. And even to this day I find myseld trying to be useful to people because it just doesn't compute for me that anyone could genuinely just like my company, so I have to somehow 'earn' people's time. I've known this guy for over 10 years, he's seen my kids born and grow up and yet I still hesitate to call him my friend in front of him in case he disagrees and feels embarrassed to be associated with me. Rationally I know this is all BS and I'm sorta over it now, but the ghosts from the past still haunt me and I have to fight against them every time I approach someone to say hello or try to make friends.
 

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Hmm, yeah YLJ I can see how that approach might work for a reasonably strong boy, but for a shy and sensitive little girl I really can't see telling her to beat the crap out of them as being a viable solution ;) Even if I told her I've no doubt that she'd never be able to do it and besides, I've also no doubt that if she did do it, they'd come back on her next time with twice the numbers and she'd pay tenfold.

I said fighting dirty, that means that broken bones are allowed, blood to some degree, knocking them senseless with objects etc. ;) I used a chair, but for a weaker person i'd recommend a baseball bat or something that's easier to wield. Darkness and sneaking up on them is a good thing, too. The goal is to knock them out or scare them shitless. One of the guys I beat up bled from the nose, experienced dizziness and probably had a couple of cracked ribs. He was crying like a baby. A guy who plays ice hockey and usually walked around being a bloody menace. I did this when I was about 13. He was about six feet tall and I more than a head shorter, and a lot weaker.
Whoever the little girl is, I bet she can beat them. But these are things that shouldn't be done without planning. Shit, if they have some sort of proof all hell would break loose. To my defense I just want to say that the guy really deserved it.
 

heart

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Hmm... I don't see much evidence of people gaining strength from the experience of being bullied.



Yes, this is another myth put out there to minimize bullying:

Myths about child bullying, school bullying, school phobia, no blame etc

Children who are bullied grow up to be tougher people
Bullying is a form of violence which is designed to cause the maximum physical, psychological and emotional injury. If a leg or arm is shattered it does not become "tougher" but is likely to be damaged throughout life. It's the same with a psychiatric injury. "I feel the people I bullied grew up tougher" is a specious rationalisation by which bullies justify and excuse their actions and convince themselves of the acceptability of their thuggery by abdicating personal responsibility for their violent behaviour and the consequences of their actions on others.
 

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seriously YLJ, the aim isn't for her to wind up in a young offenders' prison ;)

she is simply not capable of any of those things and I'm damn pleased she isn't.

I can completely understand that you might have felt justified in what you did but that really is not a viable solution in this case.

However, fighting dirty in the sense of politically dirty, yes I can see that this might be a survival option... it's something I've used since leaving school to fend off the same thing from happening again. but really K isn't capable of that kind of guile, and I don't think that corrupting the sweet personality she has by teaching her violence and manipulation could be considered a successful outcome.
 
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