I’d like to begin this post by stating that this will not be a political post. I’m writing about this subject not because it’s in the news (although it should be), but because school is about to start, and I was myself bullied when I went to school.
Back in the days, I received dozens of bad advices. I heard all of those politically correct feel-good statements about how bullies are just misunderstood and if you just hug them enough, they’ll be nice to you.
To counter all that PC propaganda there is out there, I have set together my own list: The politically incorrect guide to bullying.
This is mostly directed towards students in school, so if you’re a parent and you like the list, let your kids read it. Now, keep in mind these methods are not meant as a first step; they are meant to be applied only if you’ve tried to talk to the teachers and they refuse to do something.
1) Do fight back. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard things like “bullies just like to get attention, if you just ignore them they go away”. That’s not true. Well, maybe at kindergarten when kids may be mean without knowing it themselves, but by the time they reach middle school or junior high, they do have a basic understanding of right and wrong. Sadly, some of them still choose to do wrong. Bullying can never be allowed to be free, and unless you fight back against the bully (physically if necessary), it will be. It’s basic economics: If the cost is 0, demand will be as high as it can be. Now I know a lot of you are going to think “but what about turning the other cheek?” – well, let me ask you a question: If a burglar broke into your home, would you then turn the other cheek or would you get your gun and stop him? Of course you’d stop him. So why do you expect your child not to fight back, when you would? Do you know what Jesus thinks of hypocrisy?
2) Terrorise your school’s administration. Walk into the principal’s office every day and inform him of the unsolved bullying issues. That way, he can’t really claim he didn’t know about it (that’s otherwise what all teachers love to claim when asked about bullying). You may also, if he is not in his office or if he refuses to talk to you, put up post-it notes on his door detailing the abuse you’ve been victim of (or witnessed). Remember the story in Luke 18 about the widow and the unjust judge? The widow was granted justice because all her nagging was driving the judge insane. Keep that story in mind when you fight the school bureaucracy.
3) Invade the teacher’s lounge. Just walk into the lounge and refuse to leave. Tell the teachers that it’s their responsibility to provide you with a safe school environment, and that unfortunately the only safe place right now is the teacher’s lounge, since that’s the only place bullies won’t go near. And so, you’re going to spend every single break there as long as there is bullying going on in the school. If they manage to push you out, just stand outside next to the door. Turn yourself into a monument of shame for the school. Remember, ultimately the teachers are responsible for the school environment.
4) Stay home from school. No explanation required – just stay home, refuse to go to school. Alternatively, go to school, but as soon as someone picks on you, go home. Before you leave, make sure to tell a teacher about what happened and that you unfortunately cannot study in an unsafe environment. If you don’t tell them, they’ll think you’re just skipping class and so they won’t get the message.
5) Refuse to accept shared responsibility and never answer loaded questions. Teachers, I know from my own experience, love to blame the victim. They’ll ask tricky loaded questions to try and snare you and blame whatever has happened on you. They’ll claim the bullying is not an abuse, but a conflict between equal parts where both part is doing something wrong – it’s not abuse, it’s just a fight in other words. Typically, when you report that you’ve been bullied, the teacher(s) will ask you questions like
“What did you do?” (I was sitting down, reading a book)
“Do you think you may have provoked him?” (do you consider reading a book silently to be a provocation?)
“Is there something you could have done differently?” (yes, I should have hit him with that book)
My answers within the pareentheses are hypothetical answers, but in reality, don’t answer at all. Understand that they are asking these questions so they can find something you did wrong, and after they’ve done that, they’ll say “Well, you both did something wrong, and so you both need to apologise to each other and move on”. Instead, when faced with any of the above questions (or any variation), simply ask them what that has to do with the case, or tell them that whatever you were doing, you certainly didn’t do anything that could justify what the bully did to you.
6) Use social media. Go on blogs and forums and tell people about your experiences. Be sure to include the name of your school to warn others about it. And if you want to go one step further, include the school’s/principal’s email adress (not his personal one of course) and ask people to send emails asking why they’re not doing anything about the bullying. The key here is to make it uncomfortable for them to ignore bullying. While there are some great teachers out there, many of them view teaching as a simple 9-5 job. They don’t want to spend the evening calling parents while they could be watching American Idol. From a teacher’s perspective, bullying means you have to work overtime for free, and so they’d rather ignore it if they can. Make sure the cost of ignoring bullying is higher than the cost of fighting bullying.
Of course, if you can, you should also use traditional media and get attention to your case.
7) Demand unconditional surrender. Teachers, and unfortunately a lot of parents as well, love compromise. Compromise, like bipartisanship, sounds great on paper. In practice though, it rarely turns out well and in this case, it’s morally wrong. You see, bullies don’t bully because they don’t like whoever they are bullying. That’s not the reason. They bully because they want power. If you show up in a green jacket one day, and they bully you for it, and this makes you show up in a black jacket the next day, then they win – you have then given them power over your life, which is exactly what they want. And they’ll demand more and more power, until you are merely a slave under their totalitarian rule. Bullies are nothing but fascists who believe that might makes right, they’re classroom imperialists who “conquer” the other students and enslave them.
Appeasement won’t work. You can never satisfy evil. Every time you give in, they’ll ask for more. If you give them Austria, they ask for the Czech Republic. You give them the Czech Republic, they ask for Poland. If you are a victim of bullying, you need to demand unconditional surrender from the bullies. No concessions, no shared responsibility. The bullying should end, and you should get to be who you are. If you’re really brave, you may consider doing even more of whatever they don’t want you to do. They don’t like your green jacket? Wear it every day, every season. They don’t like your interest in politics? Join a political youth group and become a real activist. They don’t like you because you’re a christian? Bring your bible to school and read it during every break.
8) Sue the school and/or the bullies. It’s really simple; the school isn’t keeping you safe as it is supposed to do, and the bullies are… well, bullying. A lawsuit may well be in order if nothing else works.
You may think I’m being too hard on teachers, and maybe I am. I know there are lots of great teachers out there who do care, and I don’t want them to feel like I’m attacking them. Some will say that I am unfair because there’s allegedly nothing teachers can do about bullying, the resources just aren’t there. I don’t think that’s true. Remember these people have tenure, which means they can easily punch a bully in the face without losing their jobs. Not saying that’s what they should do, but they could.
For all the railing against unqualified teachers, I think they may actually be the best when it comes to fighting bullying. Why? Because they’re not poisoned by the theoretical academic thinking of “real” teachers. You see, when you graduate from high school, you most likely know right from wrong. You know that doing what is right should be rewarded, while doing what is wrong should be punished.
After four years at teacher’s college, you will have long forgotten that. My best teachers, who taught me during high school, were all (to my knowledge) unqualified; they hadn’t been taught that you are supposed to cuddle with bullies, so they dealt with them the same way any decent boss deals with bullies in the workplace: They yelled at them, punished them and threatened to expel them if they ever bullied again (they didn’t). They used common sense instead of sociological poision.
The first thing to do in order to solve a problem is to expose it. By using these radical ways listed above to call attention to the situation, you as a victim can make sure the teachers know that bullying occurs. They won’t be able to deny knowing about it if the case ends up in court, and that will make your case against them a lot much stronger.
Finally, by standing up for yourself, you can preserve your self-esteem and also become more respected by others.
I personally used four of the methods listed above when I was in primary school, and I will award an A+ to the first person who can figure out which ones.
Thanks for reading.