What I learnt about bullying as a child

It is probably true that parents teach their children how to deal with normal social situations but not not-normal ones. So the easy situations you are told how to deal with, but the difficult ones you are left to work out for yourself.

When you are first presented with a situation of bullying or harassment the natural socialised response is to complain to whoever is supposed to be the authority responsible for the situation. Not to retaliate – not to take the law into your own hands. But instead of that authority doing what you would expect them to do – looking into the situation and warning the perpetrator that their behaviour is unacceptable and to expect detrimental consequences if they continue you are more likely to get one or more of the following responses.

1.      A fob off. Example, “I am busy, I cannot deal with this now”. The implication being your complaint is trivial and YOU are wasting their time.

2.      The listened to in stony silence response, combined with (1).

3.       The implication YOU are the liar/troublemaker, as in “Well, there are two sides to every story. What did you do to provoke him?”

4.      The – I am not responsible for dealing with this problem, as in, “Do you expect me to supervise every disagreement between children?” And “This is not my responsibility”; and “Can’t you work it out yourself?”

5.       The destructive intervention tactic. In this case the complained-to authority DOES act but they do it in such a way as to make the situation worse, for you, the victim. This might be making you stand in front of the class. Telling everyone that you have complained of bullying and bullying is not acceptable, thereby drawing the attention of every bully who hadn’t noticed you before; making you a laughing stock and effectively publicly labelling you as a “snitch” and making everyone feel sympathy for the bullies. Your problem has just got bigger and you have been made a fool of.

6.     Then there is the “putting you in your place” response.  Such as “I can’t believe John ( a headmasters son) would do that to you (an electricians daughter)”. Through which you learn that the bad actions of people of a higher social class are ignored when they target people of a lower social class – and you had better not complain about it.

I learnt the hard way that if I had a problem, generally always manufactured by someone else, I was on my own. Authority would neither protect me in the first place nor help me in the second.

But I did not have a problem with bullying at school because I quickly learnt how to deal with them.  I also seemed to have an in-built sense of what to do.

I started school aged 4. I could read but I virtually didn’t speak. A pair of girls several years older started following me around in the playground. This made me very nervous. One day I spotted them balanced on the small kerb which separated the playground from a grassy ditch which dropped about 2-3 feet. I torpedoed them pitching them backwards off the kerb into the ditch. I remember the conversation with the teacher afterwards, that is her side of the conversation, as I was my usual inarticulate self.  She was trying to find out why I did it. Even if I had had the words to explain, I couldn’t have done it. As this was the only occasion my behaviour varied from the norm I expect the teachers wrote it off as children’s inexplicable, impulsive behaviour. So I got off to a good start. After that no girl nor group of girls of any age, ever tried to bully me again.

Later older boys tried to bully me. As I loved fighting  I was not bothered by the invitation, but when I retaliated a teacher would instantly appear and the bullies would claim I started it and I would get the blame. Next time it happened I figured I would have to give the teacher time to arrive. And you know what? They didn’t. I waited. The bully waited. I waited for the bully to do something that crossed the line, something he couldn’t pretend he wasn’t responsible for. As we waited the bully became increasingly nervous. He couldn’t figure out my game. Eventually he walked away and after that no male bullies ever tried it on. Now I realise the bully’s game was to attack someone so that they would retaliate and then get in trouble with the teachers.

But that was in the fifties. It was possible then for children to protect themselves from bullies, but in modern schools what chance have children got? A child who reacted as I did and successfully deterred other children from bullying them, using the methods which I used, which worked, would likely find themselves facing a school psychiatrist, while the bully walks free. Laying the foundation for a lifetime of bureaucratic harassment. People who can defend themselves are now being classed as mentally ill.

Children are now facing problems which it is not reasonable to expect them to solve alone.

Why is this happening? For some children schools are like prisons, where they are locked in with psychos and nutters who can attack, persecute and humiliate with impunity, while the teachers and school administration turns a blind eye, or blames the victim.

I do not believe this is happening by accident. I believe the bullying others attempted to subject me to at school occurred with the tacit consent of the teachers. But in the circumstances that pertained then I had room for manoeuvre to deal with the problem myself, without suffering damage from the bullies or the school authorities. Over the years the situation has been manipulated so that no child targeted by bullies can escape. They must either suffer the damage that the bullies do to them or suffer the often worse consequences of the school authorities stigmatising them on any number of spurious grounds.

Modern schools more than ever resemble training grounds for breaking the minds of normal children so that they will passively accept slavery. To control a slave you have to break their mind first.

And the children targeted for bullying? The intelligent, creative or talented ones (such as sports), who are not higher social class origin, often female, often ethnic groups.

Bullying used as a means to retain social class dominance?

Modern schools in many cases are institutional child abuse.