I’ve heard from a handful of readers who have really responded to the issue of bullying as portrayed in Don’t You Forget About Me. It seems the scars never really do go away. As for myself, I don’t think I could’ve written the book myself if I hadn’t long since put my experiences as a victim of bullying into perspective, thereby forgiving those who’d hurt me. A vengeance novel is far less satisfying to the reader, because it’s frankly about the writer and not about the shared human experience. Anyway, I didn’t think I had any more work to do regarding that area of my past. I got healing, ultimate joy, compassion and a book out of it. What more did I need?
Apparently, as a mom, I needed this article, which I stumbled across in the feed of a Facebook friend. In all our efforts to curb childhood bullying, how did we never notice that kids who aren’t bored don’t bully?
The playground at my grade school was an empty parking lot. There wasn’t even any play material or play structure of any kind on it. We were allowed to bring jump ropes and footballs, which is great if you can jump rope or play football. If you can’t do either of those well, then, you are, forgive the phrase SOL. There was a green area with trees on the property, but we would’ve had to walk through a graveyard to get there, and that was certainly off limits. In other words, that place was a petri dish for the culturing of bullies. It’s not even like it was the other kids’ fault.
So. What was your experience with childhood bullying? I’m especially interested in hearing from you if you think you were the bully (though, statistically speaking, bullies don’t usually know they’re bullying–after reading that article, I imagine they probably just remember it as playing). Do you think boredom on the part of the bully had anything to do with it? Would an environment like the one described in the article have helped or hurt?
It wasn’t a problem for me in grade school…high school is where it all hit the fan. I think the boredom issue generally fits at a younger age. Maybe by high school, the pattern is already in place? Interesting topic.
I’ve been reflecting on this all day. I wonder, if kids aren’t given the chance to learn how to pull positivity out of boredom from an early age, does that set them up to be stimulation-seeking in later years? In grade school, bullying the easy target for the adulation/fearful admiration of peers? In high school, bullying and alcohol/substance abuse? In the workforce, continued substance abuse and bullying of coworkers? Perpetrators of domestic abuse? I have more thoughts than answers, surely. I do think it’s a topic worth further study, though.
Oh, what an awkward question.
I was bullied. Not ton, but it definitely left scars that are still there today. Mostly I was ignored, which was both painful and a blessing compared to active bullying.
There were times when I was the bully. Not many. I tried on the role a few times, but it definitely wasn’t something I enjoyed. I doubt anyone really remembers me as a bully. But it did happen.
On one occasion (and who knows how many others that I remain unaware of!) I was pushing someone’s buttons unintentionally, which isn’t really bullying, but I know it feels that way when you’re on the receiving end, because that happened to me as well (with someone who ended up becoming a close friend lasting into adulthood once I let it be known that the subject she kept asking about incessantly was a sensitive one).
The other occasions, which were more deliberate… with one person it was mostly going along with the crowd on the rare occasions when I was a part of it. Another time it was wanting to get back at someone for something, though I’m pretty sure the “something” (which I can’t remember) was relatively minor and less deliberate than my response – it may well have been another case of unintentional button pushing. The third was flat-out rejection of part of myself that I saw reflected in someone else… and I can see that being a factor with the other two, as well.
So, I suppose I’m on board with the bullying as an indication of low self-esteem theory. I don’t see boredom being a huge factor for me. But I wasn’t really an everyday bully, either.
I am so sorry it took me so long to reply. I’m really not capable of describing the kind of week I’ve had. Anyway, belated THANK YOU for your courage in sharing your experience. Frankly, I think it takes more courage to admit to having done wrong than to having been the victim. Your response made me examine my own life for instances where I may have been the bully as well, and I can think of two specific times in high school when I was outright nasty to others: one a rival, one a friend. I too am sure there were MANY times I pushed buttons as a matter of habit, not with malicious intent. All of those times, however, I was in some way searching for gratification of some sort, which is, to me, a type of boredom. I too used to think bullying just stemmed from a lack of self-esteem, but the more I reflect on habitual bullies I’ve known in life, not to mention my own bullying behaviors, the more that behavior looks like a grab for instant gratification (needing to feel good or good about oneself). Do kids and adults who learn to delay gratification bully? I don’t think so, but I don’t know. Anyway, as I said to the other commenter, it’s definitely a subject worthy of further study. To say that behaviorists have already cracked the code on bullying and we don’t need further study would be delusional, I think.
Reblogged this on Erin McCole Cupp and commented:
Finally jumping on the #WorthRevisit ing Wednesday bandwagon with this post about bullying: causes, effects, prevention. Go visit Allison’s Reconciled to You for more good stuff.