Spotlight on My Past: School Bullying

I am subscribed to the Focus on the Family podcast. Each day the latest episode of the Focus radio program is downloaded to my iPod. I do not listen to every episode because sometimes it just is not relevant to me. What would I have to gain from a show about overcoming excessive dieting? However some episodes are very pertinent. Today’s episode was about bullying, specifically school bullying.

The guest was Paul Coughlin and he has a book out called No More Jellyfish, Chickens, or Wimps: Raising Secure, Assertive Kids in a Tough World. Coughlin talks about how he was not bullied at school per se, but he grew up in an abusive home where his mother and his brother would beat up on him. He had a father who was a work-a-holic and was rarely home, even on the weekends. In the book and on Focus on the Family he goes into detail about how bullying is not “just a part of growing up” and it’s not “simply a fact of life”, it is a damaging act that inflicts low self-esteem (even worthlessness) and breeds contempt. Coughlin gave a statistic indicating the number of youths who have been caught taking a weapon to school and how those youths did so because they were being bullied.

Around middle school I was bullied somewhat. Perhaps it wouldn’t even pass for “bullying” but extreme teasing where physical contact was involved. Most of this took place on the school bus. Ah yes, public education transportation. The good ol’ cheese wagon. I want mince words. The school bus is lile a mobile cesspool of vile behavior, speech, and actions in which there is practically no discipline since the driver can not police his passengers and watch the road. It is a place where rules are not heeded and anything goes. If you are a parent and you put your child on a school bus, do yourself and your child a favor and STOP IT. Rearrange your schedule and drive your kids to school. Hire a trusted teenager with a driver’s license and pay him or her to do it for you.

I rode the school bus from the time I was in kindergarten until I obtained a driver’s license in high school. During my tenure on the cheese wagon I can remember being punched in the face, nearly ran over, cussed out, taught to cuss, taught various vulgar colloquialisms for parts of the human anatomy, and banged ruthlessly on my head by a high schooler’s large ring (which caused me to have a seizure later that day). So needless to say that if the federal government ever forced me to send my kids to public school, they most certainly will not be riding the bus.

So anyway, by the time I reached high school I was never really picked on or bullied. This was mostly because by this time I had developed three character qualities that warded off potential bullies: a sense of humor, a smart mouth, and a quick temper. Another point Coughlin mentioned is that most bullies are insecure. That is why they will only pick on those they know they can beat/intimidate. My wit coupled with my ability to mouth off aided me in talking the talk so that I could pretty much out-talk, out-cuss, and out-insult just about anyone and my quick temper caused me to overcome any fear that I might otherwise would have had and allowed me to not mind getting in someone’s face. But as I mentioned I usually did not have to do this. Apparently the times that I did not back down are what allowed me to not have to later. However, as you can imagine, I was not friends with the coolest guys around. I had friends (well one in particular) who got teased. I can remember one occasion when a person a really disliked named Michael R. was giving my friend Lee (not his real name) a hard time when the teacher was out of the room. Lee was minding his own business reading a Star Wars novel (see what I mean?). Michael started his crap. He poked Lee, hit his book. hit his head and all the other stupid things that numb-skulled malcontents do all the while verbally insulting my friend. I already couldn’t stand Michael so I spoke up saying something like “why don’t sit down and shut the *beep* up, michael!” There was some back and forth about how I need to mind my business and it ended when I stood up in his face and told him to back off because Lee had done nothing to deserve that kind of treatment. Well I didn’t say it exactly like that but you get the point. Michael walked away fuming, as did I. The teacher returned and was none the wiser. That was the only such run-in I ever had with Michael though I would have welcomed a few more because I desperately wanted a chance to hit him.

Anyway, back to the Focus interview with Coughlin. He spoke of how what our kids need in these kinds of situations is a strong advocate. They need someone who will go to bat for them, take up for them. I think too many parents think that bullying is just a part of life, a part of school, a part of childhood. That is absolute bunk. Our nation’s second-rate public educational institutions are full of these pathetic societal germs known as bullies and we should be teaching our kids how to deal with them.

Listening to this episode of Focus on the Family about bullying just really brought back some memories and I actually got angry thinking about bullies because it is something I hate so badly and find so revolting. I plan on creating an environment where my child can talk to me about such things and we can come up with the right solution for such a problem. If it means my talking to the proper authorities then I will do it. If means my teaching my child to throw a punch then I will do it. However, perhaps I will not have to deal with it since I do not plan on subjecting my child to public education…or the school bus.

Josh H.



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