“All right, class. I want everyone to raise their hand if they have never been bullied. What? No hands are raised? Okay, now I want everyone to raise their hand if they HAVE been bullied. Hmmm. Looking around I see everyone’s hand is raised, even yours, Robert. But Robert, you are the biggest, toughest person in this room. How can you be bullied?”
“Mrs. Teacher, there’s always someone bigger somewhere.”
“You know, Robert, you’re right.”
“Mrs. Teacher! Mrs. Teacher!”
“Yes, Betty. I see your hand wildly waving. What is it?”
“Your hand went up too. Why did you raise your hand? How can you be bullied? You’re a teacher.”
“Ah, but I wasn’t always a teacher. Once I was a student, like you.
So, class, today’s lesson is called: Don’t Let the Bullies Defeat You. We’ll talk about student bullies today. First, as you have noticed, there are two kinds of bullies: a. Physical and b. Verbal. Some bullies are both kinds.
A physical bully might drag you out of your school bus seat, bump against you in the hall, swing his backpack around and crash it into you, swing open a locker door into you, shove your head into the toilet, stab you with his pencil, grab your pencil and break it, stick out his foot to trip you as you walk past, threaten you with retaliation if you tell on him. The physical bully may fill you with fear.
A verbal bully may call you names. She may make derogatory remarks about your hair, your clothes, your body. She may put down your family or friends, or start rumors about you. She may keep you from getting on a team or committee with her influence. The verbal bully may fill you with embarrassment and despair.
So how can you cope with a bully? It doesn’t help much when parents and teachers tell you to: “Just ignore it.” Or say: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” What a crock. Of course words can hurt me and you and anyone. Words can hurt a long time.
What can you do? First, try to enlist an adult to defend you. Don’t be afraid to because you think that will make the bullying worse. A teacher or parent can go to the principal, again and again, if necessary. You have a right not to be made miserable at school. (Some students have found that a transfer to another school helps, but this is a last resort measure.)
Never, never, never believe what the bullies say about you. You are somebody. You rock. You are going to show them.
Never, never, never think that committing suicide is the way out. Then they win. You let the bullies defeat you. That is a very permanent solution to a temporary problem. Why do I say it’s temporary? Because most school bullies have no future. After high school, they’re gone.
Look around you at the bullies, be they girls or boys. Where do you think they are going to be, ten or fifteen years from now? If you are as smart as I think you are, you will be making a success of your life and they will be at the bottom of the heap.
I’ll tell you a true story about a student I had some years ago. She was a smart kid from a poor family. Her clothes were not fashionable and her hair cut was different. She was verbally bullied viciously. When she finally got up the courage to tell a teacher she trusted, he made it a point to be sure she was not bullied in his classroom.
That student put herself through college, with some scholarship assistance, and now has a good job with a solid company. Some of her worst bullies are now pumping gas.