Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Rant About Bullies And Standing Up To Them

When I was in 4th grade, there was kid who tried to bully several of the other kids.  I never put up with his attempts to bully me or anyone around me.  One day, while we were all going back inside from recess, he ran up from behind me, and sucker punched me in the mouth hard enough to draw blood.  Naturally, we were in the principal's office moments later.

The bully attempted to justify his behavior by accusing me of bullying him.  I hadn't laid a finger on him, and I was the one with a bloody mouth.  So I did what I would have done anyway.  I told the truth.  I didn't get in trouble.  He did.  This was largely because my school's principal knew what qualifies as bullying.
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
That kid never bothered me again.  Nor did any other bullies at that school.  We weren't friends after that.  He definitely never liked me after that.  But he sure as fuck stopped his bullshit with me, and he didn't get away with it to any other kids while I was around.

That's the thing about standing up to bullies.  It's not always easy, at first.  You shouldn't expect it to be easy.  The bully is sure to lash out at you.  You might even end up with a bloody lip.  Often, the bully will claim you're the one who is a bully, taking your challenge to their behavior as an opportunity to paint themselves as the victim.

Some bystanders may even believe the bully's rhetoric that you are the bad guy in the situation.  From their perspective, they may even have a rational reason to, if you're the only one standing up to someone who is making a show of crying foul.  All some bystanders will see is you being called a bully.

But most rational people will know the truth.  Honorable people will stick by you for doing the right thing.  The people who turn on you are probably people you're better off knowing that about.

You're quite unlikely to survive the experience entirely unharmed, especially with adult bullies who are typically more subtle and passive aggressive than a sucker punch to the mouth, but you'll survive the experience.  And more importantly, you'll send a message to that bully, and any other bullies around, that you will not tolerate that shit.

As far as the good people who, despite what seems obvious, still get hoodwinked by the bully and their lies, sometimes the most you can do is give them time to figure it out on their own and hope the worst they get from it is a bloody lip.

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