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Feeling Nostalgic? The archives > Getting picked on/Picking on others/ the silent treatment/ caterpillar

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message 1: by RandomAnthony (last edited Dec 11, 2008 04:02AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments There's a story out this morning about a girl's family suing her school because she was bullied/harassed by other girls:


Now, I don't want to bring up any bad memories (Yes I do! Yes I do!) but...did you get picked on a lot in elementary/middle/high school? Why did you get picked on? How did you respond? Or were more the person who picked on others? Do girls pick on other girls more than guys pick on other guys? How would you advise kids to respond to getting picked on today? Should someone be able to sue a school for getting picked on? Under what circumstances? What should the school's role be in building community/keeping kids from getting picked on?

One guy used to pick on me on the way home from school when I was in fifth and sixth grade. He was a little fat kid named Joey. I may have said this before. I was terrified of walking past his alley. Later, he stayed short and fat and I was about a foot taller than him. He was much nicer to me then. I fantasized about kicking his ass, but knowing he was scared was enough for me.

Now, everything I know about conflict management aside, I must admit I've told my kids to stand up for themselves. If they get in a fight at school because some asshole is picking on them I sure as hell hope they win. In fact last year my two oldest teamed up on some asshole who was regularly picking on my middle son. One day the kid took my son's backpack and said it was "his" now. My sons apparently got the backpack back and beat his ass with said backpack until the little bitch was bawling on the playground. Both my sons got in trouble the next day at school. Rest assured they were not in trouble at home, although we talked about conflict management, etc. I know it's a last resort, but I want them to know they don't have to be bullied, and hopefully word will get around not to mess with them.


message 2: by Arminius (new)

Arminius | 1034 comments What I have learned about most bullies is that they have a way to test the water before they start. They will start with smart comments and wait for your reaction.

They watch your reaction. If they sense fear, they ramp it up.

I tell me kids if someone makes fun of you, make fun of them back. If they touch you or take something from you, chase them and pound them. Then you will be rewarded at home for it.

Nice job RA.

shellyindallas I think attitude is everything. Most bullies are just talk. Once in the 10th grade I bumped into this girl in the hallway and she freaked out and started yelling at me like I did it on purpose and calling me a bitch and telling me she was going to kick my ass. I put my books down and said “Alright. Let's go!” But inside I was shaking like a leaf and hoping to god that she wasn't gonna hit me. She told me that luckily for me she had to get to class and walked off. Then I knew you don't even have to back your shit up, you can just act tough and people will respond.

I think fighting is really pathetic, though. Even w/ kids. If I ever have kids I'll teach them to stand up for themselves as far as speaking up goes, but never to hit. I'd want them to be better than that, better than me. Not that I ever hit anybody (I'm sure even if I tried to hit someone it would hurt me more than them, I'm a total wuss.), but I'd want them to be able to rise above the feeling that they have to “get even,“ or ”send a message,” or some other bullshit.

message 4: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) What do you guys think about how "picking on" others manifests itself now that we're adults? Have you noticed that adults do it, too? I swear to god, nothing clears me from a room faster than a bunch of people who can't even have a conversation without making fun of other people. For example, I have this friend, Bonnie (her name has not been changed to protect the innocent) who I've known since college and every single time we get together, all she can talk about is reminiscing about college and making fun of the people we used to go to school with. I've gotten to the point where I won't call her anymore because I already know the layout of the conversation.

Makes me wonder if she was a bully in elementary school... Do people ever really change? She did tell me a story about hitting some kid in the head with a blowpop when they were in high school. You know that had to hurt.

Anyway, I've always rooted for the underdog, so I guess that's why it irks me to no end that adults would spend so much time talking shit about folks. I mean, a little ribbing here and there is ok, but enough is enough already.

message 5: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) I'm thinking about that 'eye for an eye' scenario Arminius mentioned. I don't know that that works. What do you guys think? I've always found it to be more effective to just not let it bother you. It's still shows that you have the power over the bully without having to stoop to their level. I dunno. I guess that sorta falls into line with what Shelly was saying about fighting being pathetic.

message 6: by Meen (last edited Dec 11, 2008 07:23AM) (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments That story is great, Shelly! I was so shy in high school that I really didn't talk to anybody except my best friend and maybe a couple of acquaintances here and there, and I really didn't think anyone even noticed me. I found out years later that everyone was scared of me. Somehow my shyness manifested as bad-ass-ness? I remember being terrified of the black girls in high school, or at least of the ones who aggressively postured in the halls between classes. The thought of confrontation scared me anyway, and then being inevitably racist made it worse.

I think there is a gender criticism to be made here as well as to different styles of conflict management. Not that girls don't bully, and they have become more physically violent over the past couple decades, but they traditionally bully symbolically--stigmatization, shunning, etc. There is an argument to be made that the male response of resorting to physical violence is biological, but damn, I wish we could evolve beyond that already. Part of the problem is how we frame "real" masculinity, that not responding with violence is considered to lessen one's maleness. Shit, allowing himself to be physically dominated means a boy may no longer be male (symbolically), may in fact be a female (which is a horrible insult), as RA's "little bitch" comment suggests.

(*As always with my sociological commentary, please know that I making structural observations, I know every single individual one of us and all of our individual friends and family manifest wildly diverse and fluid gender identities, so please don't call me out 'cause I'm making generalizations. I AM making generalizations. It's possible to do that with social phenomena.*)

message 7: by Arminius (new)

Arminius | 1034 comments I think "eye to eye" works with boys, at least from my experiences. "Not letting it bother you" is a good strategy if the person is someone only wanting to get the other's so-called goat.

Girls are much cleverer at bullying then boys.

Also how does a boy handle a girl who is bullying him and vice versa?

message 8: by RandomAnthony (last edited Dec 11, 2008 08:35AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Not that girls don't bully, and they have become more physically violent over the past couple decades, but they traditionally bully symbolically--stigmatization, shunning, etc.

And that's better? Jesus, man, when I taught middle school, the boys were more often likely to fight it out for a day and then get past it and become friends again. The girls...God, they would pick on girls for months. I don't know if I've ever seen a group of people more cruel than middle school girls. I wish we could evolve beyond that already.

message 9: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments I'm not saying that girls shouldn't bully in their devious way either. It would be wonderful if we evolved beyond the urge to create in and out groups at all (and just be one big loving in-group). I'm just saying the ultimate outcome of resorting to violence is actual death, so yeah, one might be better than the other.

message 10: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17338 comments Mod
I was no Montambo in junior high, but I neither was I the receiver of the bullying. I had my ever-changing friendships, happy one day, hating each other the next. There were the girls who established their coolness by whom they would selectively ignore, and by the time high school began I somehow became one of those but by that time I really didn't mind, I was out in the alley smoking cigarettes and talking about Kurt Cobain.

message 11: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments In my tenth-grade year, the new school I moved to had a smoking section!!! Unfortunately for me, I didn't start smoking until after I'd been sent away to live with my Daddy for all manner of teenage rebelliousness. By the time I got to come back to that high school in 11th grade, they had gotten rid of the smoking section. (So I got wrote up a lot for smoking in the bathroom and spent many lazy days in ISS.)

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I must admit that my Freshman year was horrible, and it had to do with girlfightdrama and I was threatened to be beat up 3 times! One girl cornered me in the bathroom, one girl told me to meet her on the football field after school (yeah, right) and one girl sharpened her fingernails into points with a knife and told everyone that she was going to "scratch Sarah Montambo's fucking eyes out."

Part of what made it so horrible was that I left middle school where I was well-loved and was thrust into anonymity and a pool of peers that were all trying to swim (rather than sink). Then I adjusted, discovered marijuana, made new friends and let the high school good times begin! That was fun.

message 13: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I got bullied all the time in Jr. High and a couple of times in high school. To this day I have no idea why. Always some nonsense about looking at her boyfriend (I wasn't) or talking crap (I didn't). Girls would threaten violence but like Shelly said, it never came to anything. I never got in an actual fight.

I'm going to choose to believe it's because they were all jealous of my intellect, wit, and beauty.

message 14: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I'm just saying the ultimate outcome of resorting to violence is actual death, so yeah, one might be better than the other.

Oh gosh, I totally disagree here. Very, very rarely have I seen physical fighting between guys have any long term physical damage. But the crap the girls seemed to do to each other seemed to really have a massive emotional impact that lasted much more long term.

For me, I'd rather have somebody punch me once than try to psychologically break me down over a school year. To each her own, I guess.

message 15: by Meen (last edited Dec 11, 2008 10:20AM) (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments No, when I said "ultimate outcome," RA, I meant societal, not in any individual physical fight.

message 16: by RandomAnthony (last edited Dec 11, 2008 10:20AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Whatever works for ya, Mindy.:)

message 17: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (randymandy) What? There are zillions of guys who have never gotten into a fistfight. I'd say most guys, actually.

message 18: by shellyindallas (last edited Dec 11, 2008 12:14PM) (new)

shellyindallas Very, very rarely have I seen physical fighting between guys have any long term physical damage. But the crap the girls seemed to do to each other seemed to really have a massive emotional impact that lasted much more long term.

I think it all depends on the person. I mean, first of all I'm skeptical to how much of this long-term emotional damage you've seen first-hand, but I'm not gonna argue your point b/c girls do tend to be more sensitive and may nurse their wounds a little bit longer than boys do. But I wouldn't say that across the board the type of verbal/emotional bullying girls do to each other is more damaging than the physical bullying carried out by boys.

message 19: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I can live with that. You can be skeptical. I'm basing that on looping with kids for four years, e.g. I was their teacher for four years...so I saw them grow. But I wasn't in their heads.

I don't mean to say that guys' bullying is any better...I just don't think women have some magical key to interaction and male violence is the cause for all the evil in the world. But you didn't say that, Shelly.

message 20: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments That's ok, Donald, I'm thinking of buying season one of "Gossip Girl."

shellyindallas I just don't think women have some magical key to interaction and male violence is the cause for all the evil in the world. But you didn't say that, Shelly.

No, but I should.

Just kidding. I would NEVER say that. I'm a girl, I know my own gender too well.

In college I took a Sociology class on violence and we learned about all the different forms of abuse (outside of but including physical violence). I remember the day I learned that the ”silent treatment“ is a form of abuse. It was so liberating. I knew my bf was abusing me, just didn't know how! ;)
Seriously, I fucking hate the silent treatment and it's one of my bf's favorite moves in his “what to do when pissed off” playbook. I'm a big wimp (like I said) so I definitely don't want to be hit, but I will admit that sometimes I've thought to myself “at least this torture would be over with!”

message 22: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I sometimes don't want to talk about things right away (usually because I'm worried I'll say things I regret) but I try to stay away from the silent treatment. Once my wife and I fought and I went to sleep...she said she was up all night worrying about it. So I try to stay away from the silent treatment.

message 23: by Julie (new)

Julie | 568 comments I agree with RA that sometimes it seems less horrible when you just fight one day, and it's forgotten a week later versus the sick way some young girls mentally abuse others.
However, when I was in highschool, there were girls who did both--'oh, lets talk shit about this girl for months and ostracize her, and then beat the shit out of her as well.'
God, those girls were white trash incarnate.

message 24: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Damn. Julie's right. Both combined are pretty bad.

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

I have made an art form of the Silent Treatment. Rather than working out my beefs and aggressions through dialogue, I prefer to simmer and silently rage about things. Then when someone asks me what's wrong, I'll inevitably say, "Nothing," but then say nothing else. It's the absolute finest in passive-aggressiveness, and I think it's one of my worst character traits -- and there are so many to choose from... I know it all stems from my childhood. That's the way my parents "fought."

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

shellyindallas What's wrong, Tambo?

message 28: by Sarah (last edited Dec 11, 2008 02:52PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) She can't answer. She's giving us the silent treatment.

message 29: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17338 comments Mod
There are people from the 90s I'm still punishing with the silent treatment.

Take THAT Lisa Schlelein!

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Just kidding. I like to talk without ceasing.

message 31: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Today at my son's Christmas program I waved at my fourth grader, and he was too cool to wave, so he sort of waved and brushed his hair at the same time.

Very smooth. Adolescence (as Donald has warned me) should be interesting.

message 32: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Not sure, sir. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

My wife also reported my five year old didn't want to eat his dinner because she walked it "through a dark place and spiders might be on it", e.g. she walked from the kitchen to the dining room without turning on the light.

message 33: by Sally, la reina (new)

Sally (mrsnolte) | 17338 comments Mod
Ew, spidery food does sound creepy.

message 34: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Here's some high quality conflict resolution for you! Fox pee!


message 35: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Spiders are fucking everywhere.

message 36: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments I hate spiders. One of the few creatures on the planet I have no compassion for.

message 37: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I knew you had a flaw somewhere.

message 38: by Gåry! (last edited Dec 12, 2008 02:26PM) (new)

Gåry! (garyneill) I'd rather automate the process with a couple motion detecting sprinklers.

message 39: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments Now, I would think that for the fox pee to really be effective, you would have to let the kids KNOW they were being sprayed with fox pee...

message 40: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments 'Cause otherwise they'd just be like, "Oooh, I'm all wet!" and throw some more toilet paper.

message 41: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments Looks right to me. I'm not saying I want to spend a lot of time with a centipede. I'd be OK with stepping on one if it were invading my space. But they just don't evoke the visceral loathing that spiders do.

message 42: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments Wait, hairy centipedes? Are you sure it wasn't caterpillars? (I LOVE caterpillars!)

message 43: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) But they're just more of God's ... oops, sorry about that. ;)

message 44: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments Bwahahahaha!!!!

message 45: by Pamela(AllHoney) (new)

Pamela(AllHoney) (pamelap) Around 4th grade there were some hateful classmates that called me names and teased me really bad. So much so that I developed really low self esteem and became painfully shy though the years. I moved away after 7th grade and managed to make a few good friends through the years but for the most part I became invisible. I just stayed out of ppl's way and kept to myself.

message 46: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) Oh man. Kids in school can be so hateful sometimes. While I only experienced a little bit of that (a little goes a long way!) I, to this day, regret not standing up for other kids who were abused this way by bullies.

message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

I LOVE caterpillars, too. My students love this book:

message 48: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) It looks like it's smiling.

message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

I know!

message 50: by Meen (new)

Meen (meendee) | 1733 comments It also looks like a turtle-head!

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