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Do you think children who are bullied should seek outside intervention or stand up for themselves?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 23, 2008

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Photo of Zhon Michael Burns

“Stand up for themselves within reason. Otherwise they won’t learn how to live in this world. It’s too tough a place for them to always go cry on someone else’s shoulder.”

Photo of Jennifer Brussow

“I think it depends on their height and weight ratio compared to the kid who is bullying them.”

Photo of Dave Ziegler

“I think they should make someone else aware of the problem first. But if it keeps going on, they should deal with it themselves.”

Photo of Rachel Debes

“I would say stand up for themselves, because, in general, bullies will usually back down if you confront them directly.”

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Yodaspeak 9 years, 7 months ago

Get mad but get even the kid being bullied should not. They should frame the bully so that person gets into even more trouble than, worth, is it. Put something smelly in their locker like a dead fish, could they, start a vicious rumor, or look foolish, a simple note on their back so the bully will.Herh herh herh.

mom_of_three 9 years, 7 months ago

It all depends on what the school's policy is. I am all for kids standing up to bullies, but kids that follow the rules may not do so. I told my daughter to stand up to her bully, but she was afraid of getting into trouble. Schools in town tell the kids not to fight back. I encouraged her to tell her teacher, and when she did, he just blew it off. Tell a trusting adult at school, and then stand up for yourself if needed. (but be prepared to suffer the consequences at school, if the rules are followed)

jonas_opines 9 years, 7 months ago

I was lucky. My and my friend were bullied some through elementary school by the "cool kids," but those kids only weighed 95 pounds or so soaking wet, whereas after my growth-spurt in 6th grade I was 5'6 and about 135, and my buddy, who ended up playing varsity football was much bigger, so when push came to shove and shove came to throw a punch, we wiped the floor with them and sent one home weeping in a backyard fight away from school. Of course, they came back to school on Monday (with their marks healed) and claimed that we ran away when they brought a baseball bat, but all of us knew the truth, and I never had a problem with those three again.

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years, 7 months ago

I say try to standup for themselves and if that does not work then get help from an adult.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 months ago

Policy at my kiddo's school was to tell a teacher. After yeeeeaars of trying this, my daughter was only told (repeatedly) to grow thicker skin. Finally, last year, my daughter "used her words" and stuck up for herself. (She actually told 2 teachers that day exactly what she was planning on saying to the bully the next time she was picked on.) Well, she used those words and was decked by the bully (who outweighs her by a good 40 lbs) and BOTH got OSS for 3 days. We now have a new policy in our house courtesy of TMS. If someone hits you, hit them back harder. It will make the OSS worth it, and it might actually put an end to the bullying. The powers of the school make a nice front that they really care, when in fact, they just really care not to deal with it. A "No tolerance policy" is a "we don't have to deal with it" policy.

I_AM_THE_REAL_BOB 9 years, 7 months ago

smash them right in the face and they wont do it again.

sunflower_sue 9 years, 7 months ago

Just thought I'd mention that my kid is a good student (4.0 last year) but missed out on the acedemic reward trip and all of the school pics (she was in tons of clubs) because of the school's wimpy "we just can't deal with situations individually" policy.rant, mutter, fume!

OnlyTheOne 9 years, 7 months ago

There was a time when "stand up" would have been the only reasonable response but the times in which we live now seem to say to me discretion is the better part of valor and to wait 'til you can blow the bully away some night.

canyon_wren 9 years, 7 months ago

Sue--how irritating that must have been for your daughter to have the teacher(s) "blow off" her complaints--and have to miss out on the reward trip and all the pictures. That is totally unfair.Too many of today's teachers seem to have no backbone, though I'm sure that their hands are tied by policies determined at a higher level.I agree that "standing up for oneself" depends a lot on the size and weight of the bully--and whether he has allies to help him. It doesn't seem like there is a one-size-fits-all solution to this--and though I am sure SOME schools are honestly trying to deal with the problem, we apparently can't count on their intervention. I do think a victim should make other adults--parents, good friends, etc.--aware of the situation he/she is facing so that any reaction on his/her part is recognized as justified.

BrianR 9 years, 7 months ago

I didn't have time to bother with bullies because there was a monster under my bed and another in the closet.

FMT6488 9 years, 7 months ago

Schools will talk a good game about controlling bullies, but when it comes down to actually doing it - they tend to fail(usually badly). I was very careful in school and was actually caught doing anything much; but I developed my own policy for bullies - when ever possible hit them back as hard and as viciously as possible.I didn't just go for hitting them in the face - I when for a groin, solar plexus, etc. I always tried to hit them back(after being hit) in such a manner to make it very painful. I even learned a few joint locks(types of holds that lock a joint and cause pain) from a friend who was taking a martial arts class. After a while, the bullies started leaving me alone(and anyone with me). I even managed to avoid getting caught in all but one instance. For that one, there happened to be a teacher that witnessed the event from start to finish - and I got off with a warning letter to my parents. You can wish all you want for violence to stop - but if you are not willing to return the violence in kind, NOTHING will stop it.

coolmom 9 years, 7 months ago

my now 5th grade son was /is bullied from 1st grade. he has a slight stutter and early on when they would laugh and call him names he would cry (it took some time before they realized he was crying in anger) they tripped him and kicked him in groups for quite some time and as per school policy he would tell and i would email etc. finally when they did nothing and we had made 3 trips to the doc for injuries on the playground i told my son to defend himself. last year he was suspended 4 times for fighting back and at least one of those times the bullies just missed a recess when there were witnesses and everything. this year so far 5 weeks or so into school not one kid has dared to lay a hand on him and the 1 that has verbally assulted him was shoved onto his rear not hurt but scared. my son did outgrow the whole group this summer as well, while he would prefer not to fight and is a generally easy going kid he no longer allows the bull and seems much more happy and confident.

ms_canada 9 years, 7 months ago

It seems to me that kids who are bullied are bullied because they can't stand up for themselves. so what is the solution for that kid? Tell someone. Teacher. If that doesn't work tell the parents. There is no excuse for bullying to go on in schools or out of school grounds. There is too cruddy much violence in this world. It should be nipped in the bud for kids who resort to bullying. It just leads to more violence in their older years. Or could. IMHO

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 7 months ago

When I was in school, if you were being bullied and you tried to fight back, you would get in just as much trouble as the person bullying you, which I thought was just a little backwards. There was a point in 7th grade where a kid was habitually picking on me. I told myself that if he did it one more time, I was going to show him how much my clenched fist thought of his behavior. Maybe he sensed this, as he didn't bother me anymore. I didn't really care at that point if I was going to get in trouble for fighting.Sometimes, I think there are certain students who aren't necessarily the class favorite, and maybe not even the teacher's favorite. It seemed to me that these kids sometimes received less regard when it came to bullying than kids who were better liked, for whatever reason.

gccs14r 9 years, 7 months ago

I was on the receiving end. I was always the new kid and always a lot smaller than everyone else. The teachers and administrators didn't care how many times I got pounded, but if I did anything in return, I got the paddle. Some system. I'm one who considered using a gun to solve the problem permanently, but knew it wasn't worth a prison term. Bullying creates time bombs. If you're the parent of a bully, shame on you for perpetuating a culture of violence.

alm77 9 years, 7 months ago

I tell my kids to tell the teacher. If it were to persist, I say "Double up your fist and you better land that punch right on their nose. It may be the only one you get in." I got my ass kicked in a fight my freshman year of high school, but I did fight back. But after the 3 day suspension, she was over it. We actually talk to each other when we see each other if I'm back home. I didn't get it then, and I don't get it now, but something about standing up for myself made her at least "respect" me. Whatever.

mom_of_three 9 years, 7 months ago

Sue,My daughter was in grade school when it happened, and she told her teacher, who blew it off. And I spoke to the teacher who told us that they have to learn to get along, and she has to just deal. My kid finally got fed up, used her words, and got into trouble by the teacher, and was very upset. And then I got mad. I called the principal, and he got the kids together with a counselor, and they worked it out, sort of. No one was held to the punishment, and the teacher wasn't invited back because of complaints. I should have stepped in to the principal sooner, and I should have stepped in for my kid sooner, but luckily no one was hurt. I told my kid for weeks to step up for herself, but she was so afraid of getting into trouble. The junior high kids are told not to fight back if hit or pushed, which I feel is backwards. My youngest was pushed by someone who verbally abused her for a month, and she couldn't take it and pushed back. ONly she got into trouble because she pushed back. She was punished more than the other kid and wasn't allowed to tell her side, because there were 'witnesses." I did call the vice principal and principal, showed them the scratches and bruises inflicted by the other person, but was blown off by the school. My kid was very upset, but one day, she got the courage to speak to the principal, not the vice, told her side, and the majority of her punishment was cancelled. I can't wait till all of my kids are out of that school. My view is to stand up for yourself, but be prepared to suffer the consequences, even if they are not fair. And mom and dad will be there to back you up in the principal's office.

mistygreen 9 years, 7 months ago

My son was bullied on the bus. The two boys took a sewing machine needle and was poking him. I was furious when I found out. I usually ask my kids to resolve their conflicts, but I figured since they were causing him physical harm he needed some help. I immediately called the principle who told me she would discuss this with the boys. I never heard back from her, so I called to follow up. She told me she talked to them and they of course denied the whole story, and since it was my son's word against theirs she took their side. So I asked her, "Did you tell the other boys parents"? To which she replied, "No". I demanded that she call those boys parents and let them know what happened. I told her if my son was doing something like that I would want to know. So low and behold that evening, the first boy and his mother came over to our house and personally apologized. The second boy apologized and his mother made him write an essay and gave it to my son saying why it was wrong to behave in that manner. Needless to say I was quite surprised at the outcome and my son was never bothered again. So my advice to parents of kids that are being bullied:1). Nip it in the bud. 2). Tell the principle and demand action. 3). Follow up. 4). Talk to the bully's parents as they may not know their child is behaving badly.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 7 months ago

"What about the teachers and principals who bully parents? Shouldn't we address that issue?"...Or the parents who bully the teachers and principals. Let's not forget about that.

Bossa_Nova 9 years, 7 months ago

for someone who has a child who is about to start going to preschool, i'm bothered to see so many parents with stories of their children being bullied and the school administrators taking such a "not our problem until you try to defend yourself" attitude. i dont want to be one of those parents who runs to the school to go beat up on the administration each time my kid gets his feelings hurt or if he gets punished for misbehaving or for some trivial matters, but if my kid is being physically threatened and is in danger at school then there's definitely a problem. in that case, you betcha i'd be up there face to face with the administration.

mmmskyscraper 9 years, 7 months ago

"It seems to me that kids who are bullied are bullied because they can't stand up for what is the solution for that kid? Tell someone. Teacher. If that doesn't work tell the parents."That's not always true. I was bullied until my junior year of high school, and nine times out of ten, if I stood up for myself, I got in trouble. Maybe I just wasn't sneaky enough about it, but it sent a clear message to me: don't fight back. There were awesome teachers who were exceptions to this rule, and I am grateful to them to this day, but they were few and far between. Some teachers, some parents, and most kids will look the other way and let it go on and on. It's a difficult place to be, and in my experience, it's hard to know how to deal with it because there doesn't seem to be a right way.

acoupstick 9 years, 7 months ago

"Bullying creates time bombs. If you're the parent of a bully, shame on you for perpetuating a culture of violence"Oftentimes, bullying is a behavior learned from parents and/or older siblings. Bullying should be taken very seriously by all involved. Every school shooting incident has involved kids who were bullied. Habitual bullies are more likely to end up in prison. The earlier cycles are broken, the better. I don't put up with it in my school or in the schools my own children attend. We have the right to expect better.

merrywidow033 9 years, 7 months ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says:I was on the receiving end. I was always the new kid and always a lot smaller than everyone else. The teachers and administrators didn't care how many times I got pounded, but if I did anything in return, I got the paddle. Some system. I'm one who considered using a gun to solve the problem permanently, but knew it wasn't worth a prison term.Bullying creates time bombs. If you're the parent of a bully, shame on you for perpetuating a culture of violence.thank you very much for posting this. while reading these responses, i just kept thinking "those kids at columbine were 'standing up for themselves' too." i'm sorry, but that's crappy advice to give to your kid. aren't you, as the parent, supposed to help protect your kid? violence begets violence.

jonas_opines 9 years, 7 months ago

Well, Con1, it's at least less dumb than the ideas expressed in your first two posts.

StirrrThePot 9 years, 7 months ago

  1. Tell someone first, so you can say later that you told someone. Parents should teach their kids how to "CYA" (cover your @ss) early. If it doesn't stop after you've told someone (which it probably won't), be prepared to utilize what you learn in step two.2. Next, learn how to stand up for yourself if you do not know how already. Use words first, and fists only in defense if struck first. Get ready to rumble. Parents need to teach their kids how to fight back, and more importantly, when to fight back. Taking it one step further, there are self defense classes designed for kids. Parents should check these out, LPRD offers a few for starters.Now, a couple of examples of how I fought back against bullies on a few occassions in middle school. Back in the 80s, telling someone did no good and they pretty much said "take care of it yourself". All told, unless there was blood they didn't care. So it was time to take matters into my own hands.1. I made one guy wear his lunch and thus started a food fight, which led to my eating lunch in the principal's office the remainder of the week (2 days total). He got detention, but that was all since he didn't start it. This did not hinder or stop the bullying. It did however, alert people in the office to the problem and as a result, they watched this kid a little more closely (turns out I wasn't his only target).2. I told another kid that he had no business picking on me when he was a) no taller than 4'11" b) was 14 years old and still had a voice that sounded like a little girl and c) had a last name that was synonymous with a woman's reproductive area (his name rhymed with "cleavers"). As a side note, on the last one I did not use kind language.Situation #2 occurred after #1, and it was obviously the smarter way to go. It was also more effective as the little punk never bothered me again. This was partly due to the fact that there were several other witnesses who heard me say this to him, thus resulting in public humiliation. So the lesson learned in using your words first is, find out all you can about the bully. Know thy enemy. Pick apart his/her shortcomings, because he/she has them, that is why they are a no-good bully. Throw it back in their faces. They will either stop, or a fight will ensue. Be prepared for the latter. Remember when you are smaller than the enemy, you can still kick 'em in the crotch. This does not have to be a fair fight. At this point you're going to be reprimanded for it anyway, so go all out. Hopefully this helps people.

richard_gere_and_the_gerbil 9 years, 7 months ago

I think that when kids find themselves becoming consumed with violent thoughts they should go sit under a shady tree and strive to find that inner peace they have within themselves.

canyon_wren 9 years, 7 months ago

What interesting posts! My "kid" has been grown for quite a while now, but the issue of bullying still concerns me. Too bad the schools as a rule don't take it seriously--I know there are a few that do, but most don't, it sounds like. Thanks for all the good examples!

FMT6488 9 years, 7 months ago

When I was in grade school, the "Stand in the corner and think about your actions" policy was just starting to get popular( about 4th grade for me). My parents still spanked my butt for the really bad things I did, but by that time I had (mostly) learned the basic rules to living in society. The schools' "stand in the corner" policy just gave me more time to think about what I did to get caught and how to do it the next time without getting caught. The entire time I was in the public school system(17 yrs), I was only aware of ONE time a bully was actually punished for his actions. >> He was caught keying his teacher's car! Every other suspension, detention, etc. was a word of mouth thing heard as gossip from other students. If actions against students' wrong-doings were made known to other students, possibly a "every action has a reaction" mentality could be engendered into ALL students. Unfortunately, our current PC government and state of mind will never support this because "It could harm the students' personal or mental development". While I agree that criminal acts as a minor should not be considered when facing crimes committed as an adult, I believe that inappropriate or criminal acts committed as a minor(while in school) should be used as an example for other students in the school. This would help in teaching kids that their acts can have consequences they may not like. It could also teach a little responsibility. as well.

shutnmdown 9 years, 6 months ago

Good comments, but you know what, my boy will give a bully or anyone who wants to throw hands 2 chances and he will walk away, but on the third time. He says it's time to dance. So that is what I teach him. Stand up for yourself, their is nothing wrong wit it.....

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