I’ve never liked bullies and I can’t imagine who does.
My dislike for bullies started in childhood and continues to this day. My brother was
eight years older than me and he clearly didn’t like bullies. You could tell because he took delight in bullying a bully. Watching that happen is truly delightful. I’ll give you an example.
When I was about 30 years old, I was the City Attorney for Lebanon. The City’s welfare
director asked me to get an arrest warrant for a person named John. I did what I was asked. A few weeks later, I was driving home. A pickup truck was driving behind me down a steep hill. There were four men in the pickup truck. The pickup truck nudged the rear of my car. Before I could react, the truck hit the rear of my car a second time. That’s when I noticed there were four men in the car. That’s when I knew I was about to encounter a bully.
I drove into my driveway, followed by the pickup truck. The driver got out of the pickup so fast that he actually opened the door of my car before I could shut the engine off. He started screaming at me – complete with the “f” bomb. I got out of my car just as the other three men got out of the pickup truck.
My wife heard the commotion and called the police. As the bully was in my face, you
could hear the siren in the background. The bully and his crew got back into the pickup truck and left. The next day, I ran into my brother and told him what had happened. By this time, we knew the name of the bully. His name was “John.” John then happened to move into an apartment behind the garage where my brother worked. “Johnnie’s” apartment was on the second floor. The apartment had a porch. One day my brother saw Johnnie out on the porch.
My brother said: “Hey Johnnie! Wanna come down and play with Dickie? C’mon, Johnnie. Come play with Dickie.” Johnnie didn’t come down to play with my brother. He was gutless without his three wing men. He was a typical bully.
Not everyone has a brother like I had. Many are all alone facing a challenge like I faced
in my driveway. This is especially true at school where last year it was estimated that 160,000 students missed at least one day from school because of bullying. Bullying that occurs in an educational setting can be physical, sexual, verbal or emotional in nature.
Bullying causes the victim to suffer mild to severe psychological, social or physical trauma. Bullying is often
persistent. Most often, there is power inequity- like the day in my driveway.
A definition of bullying might help – bullying includes a real or perceived imbalance of
power between the bully and the victim. This characteristic is disputed, as both bullies and victims have reported that the conflict and/or behaviors most commonly occur between two equals.
Nevertheless, perception is often reality. It’s a mismatch for whatever reason. There can be long-term effects of school bullying. These effects can include sensitivity,
anxiety, and depression. Recent statistics suggest that the majority of students will experience bullying at some point in their academic careers.
We all need to pay attention to bullying. This includes teachers and parents. We need to understand and recognize the signs of bullying – among both bullies and victims. We need to deal with bullying. We can’t ignore it.
I don’t know what the right strategy is in a given situation. I know what my brother’s
strategy was – he bullied the bully. I doubt that always works. But this much I know – a bullyneeds to be confronted eyeball to eyeball. This takes courage to do but there are more protectors on this planet than there are aggressors. Every now and then, the protectors – like my brother -need to rise up and take a stand.
Doing what’s right often involves courage.