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Bullying Or Just Plain Bull?

The columnist is baffled by the focus on bullying in our schools. What's so new about bullying? Is it different now than it was when you were a kid?

Georgie Porgie pudding and pie,       
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play,
Georgie Porgie ran away.

I graduated from in the mid-60s; 1966 to be precise. Those were good times – simpler times. There were no computers, so there were no social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the like. Email wasn’t even a word, never mind a reality. And the only thing resembling cell phones were the telephones at the police station so those arrested could make their ‘one phone call’ before being locked up in their cell – not that I would know anything about that.

A website was a place in the corner of the room where a Daddy Long Leg’s hung out, and blogs were, well, to be honest blogs were nothing. There was no such word as blog back then.

Things were different all around. I only knew one kid in my class who had his own car, a rusty old Studebaker with virtually no floor boards. The exhaust leaked up into the car through the holes where the floorboards used to be so all the passengers and the driver had to hang out the open windows – even in the dead of winter. The heater was on of course, but if I remember correctly, it leaked antifreeze all over the front floor; a somewhat florescent green slime.

It was quite a sight to see, this beast of a car rolling out of the school parking lot loaded with kids with their heads popping out the windows and the driver poking his head up over the side view mirror so he could see where he was going.

This jalopy burned so much oil that my classmate had to buy four quarts of oil a day just to keep the level somewhere near normal. And judging from the huge stains in the high school parking lot, I’d say it leaked about a quart or two just during school hours.

You’re probably wondering how this kid could afford to buy all that oil. I recall that gas was about 32-cents per gallon back then, so I’m sure oil was pretty cheap too, though I honestly don’t remember what it may have cost.

Anyone who wanted a ride in this death-trap had to pitch in for gas and oil; usually whatever pocket change they had on hand. Four or five guys pitching in 25 or 30 cents each could buy three gallons of gas and a quart of oil.

Yup! Things were a lot different back then – even . Bullying is nothing that’s even remotely new. It has existed since the dawn of time. But you know, I can’t help but thinking that this ancient ritual and the reaction to it have changed radically over the years.

This forum doesn’t allow the time or the space to delve too deeply into the complex sociopsychological aspects of bullying. I don’t really get it and I’ll have to admit I don’t care to devote all the time and resources necessary to research this topic. In other words – I’m lazy. Or maybe not as much lazy as not interested. That has a much better ring to it.

So, given my propensity for being repulsed by having to do research, I’ve come up with a capital idea. Yes, every once in a while I get an idea; sometimes not a particularly good one, but an idea nonetheless

So here’s the deal. I’d like to hear from you, the reader. I want to get your take on bullying – how you define it – how it has changed since you roamed the halls of the public schools in , , or wherever.

Most of us have been picked on or teased at one point or another during our lives. It was no big deal then. It was more or less a rite of passage. So what is it that makes it different now? Is the whole bullying thing just much ado about nothing or is it as serious a problem as it’s being portrayed?

I honestly don’t understand this; I truly don’t! I know how it was when I was in school. I recall the climate when my children went through the school system. What’s so different today? Fill me in, please! I want to get your take on this.

And let’s be civil about it. I’ve seen some comments on this site that were unbecoming of someone claiming to be Post-Cambrian.

Oh, and that whole, Georgie Porgie thing at the beginning of this piece! I’ll fill you in on what that's all about in my June 20th column when we continue this discussion.

So what's your view on the bullying issue? I'd love to hear from you. 

And be nice or I'll stuff you in your gym locker you little dweeb!

Make it a great week!

Bob Havey is a freelance writer and a consummate trouble-maker. His column, The Way I See It, runs every other Wednesday at Norton Patch. Check out his author’s page on Facebook.

Susan O'Briant June 06, 2012 at 10:45 PM
I was never bullied in Mansfield, but when my family had to move to Plainville, my life changed dramatically. Boys, who didn't know me or the circumstances by which I came to King Philip High School) made my life a HELL on earth! They constantly berated me on the school bus, in home room, in the halls & cafeteria. I couldn't get away from them and cried myself to sleep every night. The more I begged the boys to stop, the worse it got. I wanted to die. This went on for over a year. It wasn't until the middle of my Junior year when things began to change. A popular girl & cheerleader, who sat near me in one of my classes, recognized my nutty sense of humor and became my friend. She blasted one of the boys in the hall one day, after he bullied me, and told him to lay-off me. The boy, who was not in a popular crowd, acted like he was slapped in the face. Later, the other kids began to notice my art talent, as I was making pep rally posters for all the school teams. In my Senior year I was one of the most popular kids at school, but I will never forget that horrible year of my life. There's teasing and there's BULLYING...HUGE difference!!! If there had been computers when I was being bullied, I don't know if I'd be here today. I was so depressed. Cyber-bullying has made it so much worse for the kids today. My heart goes out to anyone who has to endure that torture.
Bob Havey June 07, 2012 at 12:02 AM
As painful and horrible as that experience must have been for you, it's part of what made you the woman you are today. Your experience isn't all that unusual. Kids can be cruel. I agree, there is a difference between bullying and teasing. Defining the line is the problem. Some kids can take a lot- others aren't as strong. I feel like some of the more tragic cases we've heard about were reactions by kids who, unfortunately, were already troubled and had issues. That's very sad. I truly don't know what the answer is. Thanks, for sharing, Sue.
Pamela jordan June 07, 2012 at 01:04 PM
No one comes through child hood unscathed. Myself and my children have been targets of bullying. Every single incident that we had with bullying involved an adult, no my parents did not teach me to bully and I never did bully anyone, neither did my children. The times I had to go to school over my children there was teacher involvement, either by teaching it to others, putting a target on my childs back with some remark, condoning it by looking away and not dealing with it when it was going on. Bullying, mocking, making fun of, embarrassing yeah these are things that are going to happen, it will not change until teachers/school personnel/parents and other Adults quit participating in the behaviour, quit laughing at the behaviour, or ignoring it. We are the ones to set the example, someone wrecking their bike, falling off the jungle gym, wearing hand me down clothes to school, failing a test, not making the best grade in the class, well those are things that are just not funny, adults should not be drawing attention to these situations, nor should they ignore them when they arise, they should set the example and redirect whomever is doing it. i have 18+yrs in working with children in trouble, 15 of those yrs working in a state juvenile corrections facility, I have seen entirely too much of this behaviour from so called adults. Its disgusting and very disturbing.

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