Tyler was in the fifth grade. He was a good natured kid; He was polite; He was kind; He never did anyone any harm; Tyler had one problem though – He was shy. That made him an easy target. One day, in the dead of winter, he was riding the school bus home when he started to be picked on by the kid sitting behind him. He was being teased. He didn’t respond to the teasing. Instead he shrunk down in his seat and tried to ignore what was said. Not getting a reaction out of him, the bully pulled the stocking cap off Tyler’s head and tossed it forward in the bus. Another kid, who immediately morphed into a bully, grabbed the cap and tossed it to someone else. Tyler was moving around the bus trying to get his cap, which was being volleyed back and forth over his head. Tyler was back in his seat when the cap was tossed back to the bully behind him who started it all. The stocking cap was ripped apart and pulled down on Tyler’s head. Tyler’s face turned beet red and when the bus reached his stop he jumped out and ran home.
Joseph was in the 10th grade. That year he had to do something that’s difficult for any high school kid. In the middle of the school year he moved to a new community and a new school where he had no friends. He complained a lot and most of what he complained about were all the things that were wrong with his new community. He raved a lot about how much better it was where he used to live. One day a bully had enough. He didn’t care about how difficult of a time Joseph was going through. He didn’t like Joseph and that’s all that mattered. The bully was in Joseph’s gym class. While on the basketball court the bully started teasing him and making fun of him. Soon, other kids joined the bully in the “fun.”
Having grown tired of just calling Joseph names, the bully decided it was time to humiliate him. As they ran back and forth across the floor, the bully would stick his ass in Joseph’s direction and make diarrhea sounds while telling Joseph he was a pile of shit. Poor Joseph, who was making the best out of a bad situation became even more withdrawn.
Tyler’s bully and Joseph’s bully was the same person. That bully was me.
My days of bullying Tyler ended when his father pulled up to me as I was walking along the side of the road. He told me that destroying personal property was going too far. He threatened me to never have Tyler come home again crying because of my actions. I was ashamed. Humiliated actually. I never bothered Tyler again.
I received harsher treatment for making Joseph’s life hell. I had to deal with Coach Dale. He was an outstanding coach and all round good guy, but when he got wind of what I’d been to Joseph his demeanor changed. He called me back to his office and when I turned the corner into the locker room I felt his hands thrust against my chest causing my back and head to slam against the tile wall. I was disoriented and terrified as he continued to push me, tease me and call me names. The last thing he said to me as he was pushing me around was, “How’s it feel to be bullied? I used to like you, Bradley.” That cut like a knife. All the teachers loved me and now our highly respected coach was saying he didn’t? I was mortified. I was humiliated. I was ashamed.
Nowadays Coach Dale’s actions would probably land him in jail, but it was exactly what I needed at the time. After that, Joseph and I weren’t friends, but we traveled in the same social circles and never spoke about my bullying. Despite my shame, I never had the balls to tell him I was sorry.
What About the Bully?
I have no excuse for my behavior. I’ve carried that shame for over thirty years. I would love to go to Tyler and tell him I’m sorry. I wish I could go to Joseph and make amends. I no longer remember what their real names are. I wouldn’t know where to begin. While I’m certain their memories of those days are engraved on their brain, would they really want it brought up after all this time?
Why did I act so dreadfully? Maybe it was from growing up in a volatile household that was verbally and emotionally abusive. Maybe it was from feeling less than from having spent so many recesses with no one to play with. Maybe it was my fear of being around other boys because they might hurt me. I’d guess it’s all the above and more.
I make no excuses. There are none. While I will always feel shame and humiliation for my actions, I know that Tyler’s and Joseph’s are likely far worse. I do think it’s important, however, that we look into the reasons why I, and other bullies, act the way they do. Other than those two instances, I’ve been considered an all-round good guy. So what happened and why?
I found lots of information on bullying as I Googled across the web, but found very little specifically about the bullies and what makes them bullies. I found some, but not much. Maybe there’s more out there, but I gave up searching. Maybe some of you teachers can shed some light.
I believe all the bullying campaigns do make a difference, but I don’t think we’ll make a dent in the problem until we start looking deeper into the reasons one becomes a bully. What kind of anger and self loathing occurs to make someone act that way? I wonder if other bullies experience the same remorse that I do, and if not, then why?
To find out more about bullying, the government website, stopbullying.gov is a good place to start.
What was your experience growing up? Were you bullied? Were you a bully?