We’ll just make this a rhetorical question; chances are that most of us wouldn’t. But for me, well, at one point in my life, and at one particular school, I might well have, if I had access to one.
I promise that this won’t turn into yet another of my screeds detailing the inner rage I still carry around inside me when I think about Missouri’s Knob Noster Junior High School, which serviced those of us whose parents were stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in the 1960s.
Oh, Knob Noster - where even former teachers would shake their heads in wonderment at the repressive nature of the school administration!
This is a little more personal, and has to do with a boy who was bullied and humiliated almost daily during the first year and a half he spent there. I won’t detail the nature of the bullying; some of us are natural victims to the ones who seek to make themselves look tough at the expense of others.
You can handle it. There is no need to tell your family, you figure. You try all of the stupid cliches that people throw out on TV to deal with bullies.
Bah, Humbug . . .
There came the day when I contemplated suicide, even half-heartedly writing my Last Will and Testament one morning in Study Hall. Not only did I not have a lot to leave anyone at that stage in my life, but honestly, who would I leave it to?
My classmates who didn’t bully me, but simply turned their heads when it happened? Because they were the closest I had to friends in that dark place.
My plan was to somehow climb to the top of the fire escape ladders and hurl myself to the ground, but if I could have taken any of tormentors with me, I would gladly have thrown my arms around them in an embrace of death and stepped off the ladder with them.
“Oh, the horror! Promising young athlete killed by disturbed classmate! And everybody thought they were such good friends!”
To put your minds at ease, though, I never went through with my suicidal thoughts.
I flunked eighth-grade, but after a little ribbing the next year, I actually made some real friends, and built up more confidence. I enjoyed High School - though I was still a geek, and had the occasional run-in with with bullies, they were far and few between.
And I had a good support system, between friends and teachers who understood and encouraged me. I never had any of those feeelings again, zand it is due in large measure to those who finally saw me as an individual. They saved me.
But during that dark year and a half, after transferring from our base in England, was like a year in a pit with mentally deranged hyenas. And if I had had access to a gun - any sort of gun . . .
Recently someone on Facebook posted something to the effect that if a young boy is bullied, all a teacher needs to do is loan the boy his (presumably) unloaded gun for a day, and all will be right with the world. By bullying them, he’ll be stronger, and wiser.
Also, probably, please don’t tell school authorities that the teacher let you borrow his gun, please.
I read that and thought, moron.
Posted by someone who was obviously never bullied himself, and can never know what goes on in the mind of someone who may be bullied - the fear, terror, humiliation, and yes, rage, anyone who suggests that all a victim needs to redress the wrongs is a weapon is foolish beyond words.
So screw you, Knob Noster Junior High School - a school which spent more time policing public displays of affection than it did bullying. I hope you may have evolved a little over the years.
I just bring this up because we made a big display of talking about bullying a few years ago, until the next bright, shiny object caught our attention. Now it is mental illness.
A year from now?
Bullying never went away. It doesn’t matter if you are gay, a geek, have an unsightly complexion or a weight problem. And it doesn’t just happen in school, either. How many work place shootings have occurred because of bullying, either on the part of supervisors or fellow employees?
More than we know.
While we are all running around with butterfly nets, seeking out the mentally ill among us - who are far more likely to be the victims of a crime than the perpetrators - maybe we could spare some time to notice bullying, and speak up forcefully when we encounter it.
Quote of the Day
People in distress will sometimes prefer a problem that is familiar to a solution that is not. - Neil Potman