Advice On Avoiding Bullies

David Trammel's picture

I was a bit of a skinny geek in high school but luckily avoided any overt bullying from my peers during that time. After that, a stint in the US Army gave me the skill set and the confidence that I'm rarely troubled by peers or co-workers who try that sort of thing. That doesn't mean I have any practical advice for parents of children on what to teach them in this situation.

The book mentioned in this article looks interesting:
"How to bully-proof your kids for life"

Parents, any lessons that you teach your children?

Ken's picture

In my experience, public school playgrounds in the '60's & 70's were no better than Lord of the Flies on a daily basis. I was younger than virtually all my classmates and small, so bullies sometimes thought I was an easy target. I learned early on that ANY tolerance of bullying simply led to more and more. So my go-to plan was to avoid what I could by 'reading' the situation and when cornered, to fight like a rabid badger.

You'd be surprised how fast a 3rd grade fight can be over when you simply attack with everything you've got. I also learned that the human nose is filled with nerves and a good punch to the nose will cause anybody to cry and while I made at least one life-long enemy by humiliating him with a punch to the nose, it actually turned out to be my top suggestion to deal with physical bullying for my children.

My father used to say, "It ain't the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Despite being a target because of my size because of my no-holds-barred aggression, I very quickly was identified as a "bad choice" by the bullies, who really just want to humiliate people, likely because they have been humiliated themselves and by taking on the role of aggressor, feel some relief from their fear. It's a sick cycle but it ain't my job to rehabilitate bullies.

It sounds trite, but a few boxing lessons (for boys OR girls) can be really helpful. Mostly because it teaches you that you can take a punch, and sure it hurts, but not nearly as much as you feared. Most bullying is the THREAT of violence, not the actual violence. The truly violent bully is a sociopath and has to be dealt with differently. If there are no effective adults for children to turn to, then they have to form alliances to deal with a truly violent offender.

My little brother came to me as a first grader because one of my classmates, who was a huge, but monumentally stupid boy, was shaking down little kids for their lunch money. This kid was way too big for me to tackle alone, so I got 3 of my friends to back me up and I confronted him on the playground. The bully was unrepentant and didn't even bother to deny his racket. Two of my friends grabbed him and I told him in no uncertain terms that he was not going to continue hassling little kids, ESPECIALLY my little brother, or there was going to be a genuine beating in it for him. Problem solved. TEAMWORK is a good response to bullying.

It's when you are outnumbered AND the target that it's a problem. There is also the aspect of those kids that are also occasional victims but lack the courage to intervene when someone else is being bullied; in fact I suspect that there is a sick sense of relief at not being the target yourself that might actually be more psychologically damaging than actually being the current target. This is simply my personal experience as a small boy.

The social bloodletting that my daughters experienced in middle school was WAY worse than what boys get up to in my opinion and to that I really didn't have any good response. Boys shove and punch but girls can be deliberately cruel and frankly, I'm out of my element there. But I am sure that that kind of complex social bullying is far more complicated and painful than boys pounding on one another with their fists. Perhaps some our feminine Green Wizards have suggestions?

I think it could be useful if girls are able to develop a relationship with a deity early in life and learn to use divination so they have a higher order power to guide and protect them in complex social conflicts.

Ken's picture

I did not provide a specific template for divination for my girls, although they are both quite attuned to the divine as adults nevertheless. Not coming from a strong template myself, I found that having to define and discover my own relationship to the divine was both a challenge and a gift. So I suppose I was hoping they would have a similar path. However, as you point out, it might have really helped them to have a connection point early on. Even if only to have something to push back against as teenagers!

Even if you only taught religion as a mythological concept instead of a living stream of spiritual support, it would give soft-hearted girls some standards inside themselves to use as a comparison or guide to behavior. If you perceive that this person is moved by Aphrodite and that one by Hera, this one by Athena and that one by oh, say, Loki, it would be like soul scaffolding or an artificial backbone enabling the one who wants to be part of the In-Crowd to develop critical judgment of the behavior of the group and to test its egregore.