The stereotypical bully is a kid at school – usually bigger, meaner, sneaky, dangerous. And often that’s what they actually look like. Last night I ran across a blog post titled Bullies Suck on My Only Son- it’s a quick read, and well worth the time – that made me think about bullies I’ve known. They haven’t all been of the “bigger, meaner kid” variety.
The bullies that burned me the most were the adults. No joke.
There was the elementary P.E. teacher who loudly and sarcastically berated all three of our kids if they came into the gym late due to their special ed class schedules.
There was the science teacher in middle school who made Sister #2 cry regularly – he didn’t bully her but he relentlessly belittled any kid in the class who was off-beat or unpopular for any reason. Her deeply empathetic soul was shaken.
And there was the the middle school administrator who joined up with an enormous kid to target The Boy. One day the enormous kid crossed the lunchroom, smacked our underweight son upside the head, and knocked him off his bench. The school security officer phoned to stress that our son was innocent AND that it was the bully’s third offense; he was arrested and charged with assault for this unprovoked attack. Yet the administrator inexplicably defended the bully and insisted the scene was The Boy’s fault, interrogating him for two full hours and giving him detention. It took every atom of self-control I possessed to maintain a mature, level-headed demeanor througout the aftermath.
All these things happened in one of the top-rated school districts in the nation, a district that I deeply appreciate for the stellar education it provides and for its extremely high standards. So it’s terribly disturbing to think what adult bullies must get away with in struggling districts.
Perhaps adult bullies are so distressing because these people are supposed to be just that – adults. They’re meant to protect and guide, to be mentors and role models. Instead, they behave like cruel, sneaky children. My guess is that they got away with it when they were young, and bullying became their default mode because it served them well.
All the more reason to reform those big, mean kid bullies when they’re young.