Lots of folks are writing about bullies lately, but as far as I can tell (I won’t try to claim I’ve read every article/blog post on the subject) they’re not saying what I want them to, so I’ll have to say it myself.
I’m not one to be particularly worked up over what happened to me in school. My school sucked, but it wasn’t until I grew up and ventured out into the world that I realized it was not the normal thing. As it turns out, most schools don’t have kids who attack other kids with claw hammers in the hall. Most schools don’t have kids who carry huge serrated bread knives in paper towel and scotch tape sheaths. Most high schools don’t have kids doing bong hits in class while the teacher is lecturing.
And so on. I probably would have been better off if I’d dropped out but whatever. Let’s just say that there was a lot of bullying in my schools.
And I perpetrated some of it. Not a lot, because I was pretty freaking low on the social totem pole, but some, because no matter how low I was, it was just unacceptable for me to be lower that that guy.
There was a bit of churn at the bottom of the social ladder, actually. Victims of one kind or another were always searching for someone to be superior to, for someone they could treat with contempt. For someone to be bullied. And while it was one thing to be pushed around or punched by a HS kid who was on the football team and looked like he was twenty-five years old, it was unacceptable to take a punch from another victim, unacceptable to have someone so low on the social ladder get his foot on your neck.
But whatever. Everything back then was bellum omnium contra omnes. My school. My home life (especially). Even my friends–who I loved and will continue to love, who are fantastic people–was a constant sting of insults and put downs. That’s pretty much all we ever said to each other.
I’m going to skip the story about my son in kindergarten because this is getting long. I will say this: Victims of bullying need help. There’s no doubt about that. But the bullies need help, too.
I’m not just taking about assholes like me, who made sure three out of every four words I said were some kind of supposedly-funny insult, or the kids who were bullies just so they wouldn’t be at the absolute bottom. I’m also not just talking about kids with problems that would make good afternoon specials: kids from broken families, or who have abuse or addiction problems at home.
I’m talking about every bully, even the ones who are athletic, good-looking, and smart, the kids from good families with nice clothes. All of them. Because if a kid, any kid, bullies someone, that kid has a problem. The best way to deal with bullying is to protect the victims and care for the bullies. You have to help them get over their shit so they can live like decent human beings.
Because they’re just kids.