Anti-Bullying or Anti-Self-Confidence?

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    Apr 05, 2012 3:46 AM GMT
    Anti-bullying campaigns are the new fade right now. And while their goals are admirable, do you think anti-bullying advocates are possibly causing more harm than good?

    I’m very sensitive—very sensitive. I had low self-esteem and confidence in high school. I was bullied and ostracized and abandoned by many friends. I often cut myself and was suicidal for many years ; I still battle depression as an “aftershock.” But I now realize that I was the only one who had control of my life—I was the one who would have sliced my jugular with a razor… not the bullies.

    I wonder: should we be trying to silence the never-ending horde of bullies? Should we instead nurture the self-esteems of young teens (and encourage all teens to defend victims)? Both?

    Thinking back on my life I do not wish my bullies would have left me alone, rather I wish that I had found a way to feel okay with myself and fight back. (By the way: I don’t want this to devolve into a conversation attacking sensitive people and those who are affected by the words of others.)
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    Apr 05, 2012 3:55 AM GMT
    It's not so much about silencing the bullies as it is about creating a more accepting environment for closeted gays to come out and be themselves. You couldn't fight back then, but you can fight back now (by helping progress the anti-bullying environment).
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    Apr 05, 2012 4:46 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk saidBullying has always been around. I can remember back when I was in high school and all can say is that kids suck. I blame the teachers and the school system for not doing a better job. They sit in their classrooms while classes change a completely ignore what goes one in the halls. All they need to do is show their faces in the halls and kids would not think that the change of class is a time for a free for all. I remember there were a few teachers though that would stand in the hall and maintain the peace. The others don't have any right to be teachers, when they are not teaching the most important lesson of all and that is how to be civilized.
    It's really not so much about the classrooms as the homes. As long as the parents teach the kids to bully others (for whatever reasons), the kids will just find a more bully-friendly place to bully the kids they're wanting to bully.
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    Apr 05, 2012 4:58 AM GMT
    AMoonHawk saidBullying has always been around. I can remember back when I was in high school and all can say is that kids suck. I blame the teachers and the school system for not doing a better job. They sit in their classrooms while classes change a completely ignore what goes one in the halls. All they need to do is show their faces in the halls and kids would not think that the change of class is a time for a free for all. I remember there were a few teachers though that would stand in the hall and maintain the peace. The others don't have any right to be teachers, when they are not teaching the most important lesson of all and that is how to be civilized.


    I don't know you or what you do for a living, but my mom is an educator and I think you'd be happy to know that in her school and in many others it is now required for teachers to stand in the halls during the change of periods and dismissal time, and they can get disciplined if they don't.


    To the OP, I kind of agree with you. Bullying is a part of life in one way or another. There will always be someone physically bigger, stronger or faster, or smarter and more cunning. Long past the schoolyard I know everyone has seen this in the workplace. I think the message needs to go to those kids that feel different or left out or that they are victims. They need to know that life is all about being comfortable in your skin and getting to that place where you are happy with yourself and what you can do. It doesn't happen overnight and we all have bad days, but with love and support (and all you need to do is look and you'll find it) you'll feel better.

    Buddha did say that 'life is suffering'...
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    Apr 05, 2012 5:02 AM GMT
    conscienti1984 said

    I wonder: should we be trying to silence the never-ending horde of bullies? Should we instead nurture the self-esteems of young teens (and encourage all teens to defend victims)? Both?



    In many ways, there is a cause-and-effect at play here. Many young teens have low self esteem because of the influence/bullying of others.

    I think it would be very difficult to raise self-esteem when that external influence is perceived as omnipresent. I say "perceived as" because acceptance is such an important part of a young person's life. When they feel they are not accepted, it is something that tends to completely overwhelm them, and they focus on it constantly.

    Really, the only way to improve the situation is to focus on both the bullying and individuals' self esteem, concurrently.
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    Apr 05, 2012 5:09 AM GMT
    First - I'm glad you're here - and did not harm yourself. You have good thoughts and contribute a great deal to Forums, so I'm sure you're a good friend to all those who know you.

    In answer to your question - my view would be to empower and nurture little kids and teens and teach them to defend themselves. Bullies usually don't pick on anyone who might defend himself. Bullies are cowards and they look for an easy mark.

    At age 9 I was put through Hell for about 3 weeks on my way to and from school. I was relieved of my lunch money - under the threat of being beat up if I didn't give up all the $ in my pockets. I was threatened about what would happen to me if I dared tell an adult or teacher. I kept quiet - too afraid to share my horror with anyone. I paid up - every day. I tried to avoid the bully but he and his side kicks waited for me - knocking me down into puddles of water or mud - and throwing my books all over - messing up my papers - stealing my pencils & pens, etc. They laughed at me. I was too afraid to fight back. I didn't know how. I was weak, pale, skinny, and effeminate.

    One day I ran out of money - and refused to pay. I got my little but kicked. I was bloodied and beat up. I could barely walk home. My grandparents found me and cleaned up my sores. My grandfather got a punching bag, and hired a trainer to teach me to box. Everyday of Easter vacation we worked on my confidence and I was taught to defend myself. By the time school started back up, I was ready (although I remember being afraid I couldn't pull it off). I walked up to the bully - and hit him as hard as I possibly could - right between the eyes. He fell to the ground - - - shocked and bloody. Did I feel empowered?!! No More Trouble from the Bully! Word got around and no other bullies bothered me. Suddenly I was admired and respected all over my elementary school.

    I wish I had a way to help any little kid like I was. I'd teach him to fight, defend himself - - and to not be afraid to report bullying.
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    Apr 05, 2012 5:12 AM GMT
    Great story, Jockbod and good for you. Sorry to hear what you went through to get to that point, but I'm glad you pulled through.

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    Apr 05, 2012 5:41 AM GMT
    Jockbod48 saidFirst - I'm glad you're here - and did not harm yourself. You have good thoughts and contribute a great deal to Forums, so I'm sure you're a good friend to all those who know you.

    In answer to your question - my view would be to empower and nurture little kids and teens and teach them to defend themselves. Bullies usually don't pick on anyone who might defend himself. Bullies are cowards and they look for an easy mark.

    At age 9 I was put through Hell for about 3 weeks on my way to and from school. I was relieved of my lunch money - under the threat of being beat up if I didn't give up all the $ in my pockets. I was threatened about what would happen to me if I dared tell an adult or teacher. I kept quiet - too afraid to share my horror with anyone. I paid up - every day. I tried to avoid the bully but he and his side kicks waited for me - knocking me down into puddles of water or mud - and throwing my books all over - messing up my papers - stealing my pencils & pens, etc. They laughed at me. I was too afraid to fight back. I didn't know how. I was weak, pale, skinny, and effeminate.

    One day I ran out of money - and refused to pay. I got my little but kicked. I was bloodied and beat up. I could barely walk home. My grandparents found me and cleaned up my sores. My grandfather got a punching bag, and hired a trainer to teach me to box. Everyday of Easter vacation we worked on my confidence and I was taught to defend myself. By the time school started back up, I was ready (although I remember being afraid I couldn't pull it off). I walked up to the bully - and hit him as hard as I possibly could - right between the eyes. He fell to the ground - - - shocked and bloody. Did I feel empowered?!! No More Trouble from the Bully! Word got around and no other bullies bothered me. Suddenly I was admired and respected all over my elementary school.

    I wish I had a way to help any little kid like I was. I'd teach him to fight, defend himself - - and to not be afraid to report bullying.
    I, too, was bullied - not for being gay, but for being a band geek (and really really geeky at that). A couple years of Taekwondo took care of that little problem. icon_wink.gif
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    Apr 05, 2012 6:48 AM GMT
    "You is kind, you is smart, you is important"--The Help
    Words to tell your child everyday.
  • JP85257

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    Apr 05, 2012 6:49 AM GMT
    "Dont you start the shit, but you better finish it." --- My Mother

    Its why my bullies stopped in the 10th grade and became my allies.
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    Apr 05, 2012 1:48 PM GMT
    Ideally it would be awesome to be able to fully focus on both aspects but the one a person may have the most power over is their own self esteem.

    My experiences with bullying was being made fun of, getting picked on, black eyes etc. I felt really low about myself but surprisingly I didn't do anything about it. However when an outside situation happened in my 11th year (homeless) my life definitely took a huge turn.

    I turned to my love of investigations and martial arts as a distraction. The funny thing is when I returned to school and this guy tried to give me a problem, I pulled out his transcript and told him that he can try to kick my ass if he want but I know where he lives and if he's not careful other people he's running from will know where he lives too

    Now granted I was very intense. Still a bit intense today but the point is I had to empower myself because I didn't have a support system.

    Just my two cents. On the bright side, I realized what my career field is =D
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    Apr 05, 2012 2:13 PM GMT
    I have a discussion with my classes about cyberbullying. One of the things we have to consider is that bullying today is much more psychological than it was 25 years ago. Once upon a time disputes could be settled by standing up to the bully or fighting back. Today, that could just as easily get you killed.

    I think it has to come from both sides. We have to build self-esteem and try to protect from physical harm.
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    Apr 05, 2012 5:05 PM GMT
    onaquest saidI have a discussion with my classes about cyberbullying. One of the things we have to consider is that bullying today is much more psychological than it was 25 years ago. Once upon a time disputes could be settled by standing up to the bully or fighting back. Today, that could just as easily get you killed.

    I think it has to come from both sides. We have to build self-esteem and try to protect from physical harm.


    This. In fact, most bullies don't care if you are going to report it to the parents, teachers, your friends and in many cases even police.

    Bullying doesn't happen because they are so shit scared of a person that they have to resort to such offensive measures to restore their ego. Most of the times, it is because the balance of power is by and large in their favour and frankly speaking, saying to stand up for yourself is doing more harm than good and in my opinion it is an extremely lame advice. It can actually put the safety of a child at a far greater risk .
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    Apr 05, 2012 5:13 PM GMT
    Great post OP, but I don't think there needs to be a choice between the options you propose. Both make great sense. Stop the bullying, and stand up for yourself. What's really strange about some of the bullying I read about is its like 10 bullies ganging up on one victim.
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    Apr 05, 2012 5:30 PM GMT
    ricky1987 said
    onaquest saidI have a discussion with my classes about cyberbullying. One of the things we have to consider is that bullying today is much more psychological than it was 25 years ago. Once upon a time disputes could be settled by standing up to the bully or fighting back. Today, that could just as easily get you killed.

    I think it has to come from both sides. We have to build self-esteem and try to protect from physical harm.


    This. In fact, most bullies don't care if you are going to report it to the parents, teachers, your friends and in many cases even police.

    Bullying doesn't happen because they are so shit scared of a person that they have to resort to such offensive measures to restore their ego. Most of the times, it is because the balance of power is by and large in their favour and frankly speaking, saying to stand up for yourself is doing more harm than good and in my opinion it is an extremely lame advice. It can actually put the safety of a child at a far greater risk .


    Yes and no. Yes to the fact that bullies don't care about who you report it to and the thing about their ego that they keep saying is also bullshit so I agree there. Really, people who get bullied are just scared to retaliate because of the perceived balance of power as you claim. For example, a bully might not care if he gets suspended so he might be willing to push you around, but you might so you might not do anything back. Or a bully might be stronger, have more friends, etc. So it exactly is a balance of power issue.

    However, I disagree with saying that standing up for yourself doesn't work. In fact the only thing that works is to make it costly for a bully to bully you. For example, in elementary school a really big kid tried to bully me by trying to insult me, so I insulted him right back. He got mad and beat me up. The next day I snuck up on him with a stick and beat him up back even though he was literally twice my size. (Neither of the beatings were bad btw) He didn't report it, and he didn't bother me ever again. Now, I'm not saying you should get a stick and beat up your bullies. But what I'm saying is that you NEED to be able to one-up them as to make yourself an unappealing target. Get the idea in their head so the bully thinks "If I do X to this guy, he might do Y, and Y is worse." There are a variety of things you can use. If you're strong you can fight, if you're smaller you can grab a blunt object, if you're fast you can fuck with them from a distance, use whatever skills you have to one-up them. Don't be afraid to get a little bit beat up, it's not that bad, you'll generally recover in a day. Yes, maybe it will be less safe to do that, but the vast majority of bullies will leave you alone rather than kill you, and the rewards include a life of not being pushed around and enjoying your youth.

    There are some schools were kids are outright dangerous, where I basically would not recommend doing this, but if that's the case I would recommend just finding another school. But most bullies are largely harmless and won't do more than maybe give you a bloody nose, so if you're willing to give them one back they'll leave you be.
  • rf_dal

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    Apr 05, 2012 5:53 PM GMT
    Letting people treat people like crap when it can be prevented isn't the answer to anything. Non-action is just tacit approval.
  • FRE0

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    Apr 05, 2012 6:07 PM GMT
    I was bullied all through high school. The negative effects lasted for many years after I was graduated from high school, the main effect being an inability to trust other people.

    For my junior and senior years of high school, I was a preppy in a boarding school. My roommate was a horrible bully. Because he had been put into a position of authority by the dean of boys, it was obvious that if I complained, it would be his word against mine and I would lose. He even attempted to get me to give him a "blow bob", but did not succeed. Eventually, I was able to change rooms.

    Once I punched a tormenter. In doing so, I cut my knuckles on his teeth and, because I didn't have a first aid kit, I had to see the school nurse; she blamed me! There have been many cases in which a kid who fights back is blamed and even suspended from school; those of us who have read extensively about bullying are well aware of that.

    The fact that other kids simply observe bullying and do nothing is especially damaging to the kid who is bullied. That quickly teaches him never to trust other people or to depend on them for anything.

    A large part of the solution is to create a social climate at schools that does not permit bullying. If even a couple kids spoke up when they observe bullying, it would be stopped.
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    Apr 05, 2012 6:15 PM GMT
    The bigger problem is bullying never ever goes away and those in positions of power will bully those who are sbordinate to them (coporate history is filled with sch instances). As Downey's Sherlock Holmes put it "bad people do bad things because they can." I think thewhole bulying thing has to be looked at in the larger picture. One of the best examples of how to and not deal with such problems is the movie "pump up the volume." It is christian slater's finest performance as a high school pirate radio DJ who exposes that bigger picture.
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    Apr 05, 2012 6:20 PM GMT
    onaquest saidI have a discussion with my classes about cyberbullying. One of the things we have to consider is that bullying today is much more psychological than it was 25 years ago. Once upon a time disputes could be settled by standing up to the bully or fighting back. Today, that could just as easily get you killed.

    I think it has to come from both sides. We have to build self-esteem and try to protect from physical harm.



    A big BINGO to this, especially, "I think it has to come from both sides. We have to build self-esteem and try to protect from physical harm."


    warmly,

    -Doug
  • Latenight30

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    Apr 05, 2012 6:22 PM GMT
    I empathize with the original poster. School sucks, and kids can suck to. I don't think advocating defense is right. Bullies are harmful, point blank. I do agree that finding an out let where you can be accepted is the right approach. Some guys go into sports, I got in to wrestling, and totally by chance. I was "discovered" for my strength vs size and Wrestled. I was a part of something I was on a team. I was never not a confident person, but it did improve my outlook of myself.
    It's sad that so much funding is being pulled away from schools. Kids need a chance to develop their mind in the classroom, skills and social skills outside the classroom.
    I'll GLEEK out for a min. Glee is a group ostracized by other groups, but they are confident as a core so each of the member has more confidence.
    Either teacher or dare I say "counselors" should look out for in trouble youth and help guide them to something where they can find acceptance.
    We are pack animals and we live better and work better in groups.
    If my career had taken me into teaching, I would be a protector and alliance with those who get picked on.
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    Apr 05, 2012 6:27 PM GMT
    "Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one."
    -Bruce Lee

    I, by no means, encourage people to bully others. I've been bullied physically and psychologically by everyone from my peers to even my parents. It sucked, and I still carry emotional scars from my childhood. But there is a fine line between empowering and coddling.
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    Apr 05, 2012 7:06 PM GMT
    I have thought about this a bit lately.

    I would love to see a sort of gay group or club (YMCgay, YMCHAAAAY) where gay kids and teens are taught the basics of self defense. I would love to see other gay men mentor these vulnerable queerlings. It helps build the community. There are so many important principles the martial arts can teach: self-confidence, self-esteem, self-control. Defense, not attack...unless to diffuse a potential danger, respect, determination, concentration, physical fitness.

    I think younger queerlings might be absorbing the victim mentality harped on by the media (Some news outlets are so hyper reactionary). The bullying needs to be exposed, shown for what it is and dealt with. I am tired of reading and hearing the word "victim." Impressionable gay kids may learn that is how to react to their difficult situations.

    If there was some sort of psychological/emotional/self-esteem training component to the group...??? Something which helps them prepare, defend and repel bullying. I'm sure supportive parents of gay kids would be on board. There should be counselors for suicidal kids. I'm sure the uptighty-righties would say this group is brainwashing children...but they have their sunday schools...I digress.

    My parents told me they worried about my safety as a gay man. I never received any kind of self-defense training, but would have appreciated it so much. I feel like this should be the next phase of building our community. Nobody knows what aspects of our gay identity need building like other gay men. Straights sure as hell won't know except through books, and that's not the same thing.

    My two cents...
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    Apr 05, 2012 7:14 PM GMT
    In other words...



    Or a guy doing a roundhouse kick with a dancers flourish, dressed like the girl from flashdance, leg warmers and all. But would his MA belt clash with the leg warmers????
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    Apr 05, 2012 7:30 PM GMT
    I think we do our children a disservice by focusing on the bully instead of focusing on building up the child. Teach that child confidence. Teach that child determination and strength of will. Teach that child courage. Teach him to stand up for himself and master his own destiny.

    Because bullies don't go away. You don't graduate high school and suddenly bullies are gone. You need to know how to handle bullies at 8, 18, 28 and 68. When you're 68 years old you won't have your homeroom teacher being paid to watch the hallway.
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    Apr 05, 2012 7:38 PM GMT
    Larkin saidI think we do our children a disservice by focusing on the bully instead of focusing on building up the child. Teach that child confidence. Teach that child determination and strength of will. Teach that child courage. Teach him to stand up for himself and master his own destiny.

    Because bullies don't go away. You don't graduate high school and suddenly bullies are gone. You need to know how to handle bullies at 8, 18, 28 and 68. When you're 68 years old you won't have your homeroom teacher being paid to watch the hallway.


    Yeah. If those bullies get important positions of power...yipes.