It's the Only Way I Found to Stop Bullying

I was struck by this article about a kid who was bullied for years finally fighting back against his tormentors, and being suspended for his efforts.   I was physically bullied for years in elementary school and it was not until middle school I woke up one day and realized I was now a lot bigger than the perpetrators and I beat the sh*t out of one of them in a library study room.  Problem over.

I am probably the most passive, least violent person in the libertarian blogosphere (half the sites I really like sound like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance).  For God sakes, I am a libertarian that does not even own a freaking gun.  But at some point there are people who only understand violence.  I figure five years of failed attempted dialog on my part constituted sufficient due diligence before I activated the ground troups.  Afterwards, I was absolutely embarrassed that that the problem turned out so easy to end.

PS-  This is NOT a plea for some stupid government anti-bullying program.  It sucks to be bullied, but it would suck worse to have the government try to aggressively administer justice among 13 year olds.

  • a kid who was bullied for years finally fighting back against his tormentors, and being suspended for his efforts

    "Gee, we keep putting the harshest punishment on the victims, and the bullying problem is growing! How can this possibly be?!?!"

  • > I am a libertarian that does not even own a freaking gun.

    Brother!

    😉

  • > I beat the sh*t out of one of them in a library study room. Problem over.

    Same here. As I said over at Popehat, once you raise the cost of bullying over the benefit to the tormentor, the bullies end up consuming a lot less of that particular consumer good.

  • CTD

    Did the same thing. Yeah, I got punished for fighting, but it was entirely worth it. Also a good early lesson in the "being in the right doesn't mean things will work out perfectly for you, so suck it up and soldier on" vein. Most adults still need to learn that one.

  • Jack Fleming

    That bully is lucky he wasn't messing with Ender Wiggin. "Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too. So they'd leave me alone."

  • Jim Collins

    Had the same problem until I turned 15. Spent a summer working on a farm and gained 30 lbs., none of it fat. Next time it happened there were two hits. Me hitting the bully and him hitting the floor. It happened one more time after that. This time I took his punch, because it was right in front of the Principal. I hit back with the same result as the first time. The school rules at the time allowed me to defend myself and I didn't get into any trouble.

  • Husker

    When I was in 9th grade, another student tried to pick a fight with me. I was tall and skinny, and not a fighter. This other student was a junior Golden Glove winner of my city, and decided to pick on the nerd. I stood up to him, got a black eye for my troubles, but he ended up getting suspended for a week and transferred to a far worse school for his troubles. What was more interesting was his identical twin brother - the day after the punk got suspended for a week, he comes and says he's going to knock my block off after school. He ends up getting suspended and transferred as well, and their father is totally pissed with the two of them.

    Suddenly, no one in school ever picks on me again, and they show a lot more respect to me and my friends.

  • Bob Smith

    Standard zero-tolerance BS. Since no judgment can be used, lest charges of favoritism appear, violence in self-defense is deemed as bad as abusive violence.

  • CTD-
    I was in first or second grade when a Jr. High student physically hauled me off of the jungle gym and started beating me up. I kicked the SOB--I think in the knee, it hurt him enough that I wasn't seriously hurt by the time the teacher noticed what was going on. (No, the Jr. high didn't have recess at the same time. He and his flunkies were probably cutting class, as usual.)

    They wanted to expel me but he would get a pass because he had "emotional problems." (That is, he was a known, unrepentant bully whose guardian would claim he was being discriminated against for his issues.)

    That was nearly twenty-five years ago; things haven't gotten better, from the way a family friend's son was threatened with expulsion for having his head slammed in his own car door on school property by a known bully, and kicking his way free before injury was serious enough for hospitalization. (Almost two years ago; they're still going in circles with the school about it.)

    There is a WORLD of difference between getting punished even though you were attacked, and being punished because you don't generally attack.

  • Hasdrubal

    I heard a rumor that the bully got a 22 day suspension, and possible ACL/MCL damage while the bullied kid got a 4 day suspension.

    I second CDT: There isn't always a "good" solution. Life isn't fair and sometimes you just have to suck it up and hope for the least bad result.

  • Enroll your kids in martial arts.

    I took Aikido, which is mostly defensive.

  • Zach

    I wish I had had that common sense when I was that age. But I bought into all the hippie liberal "non violence is always the answer" crap. If I could, I'd go back in time and tell my younger self to break those motherfuckers' jaws.

  • Honestly, I've always had a hard time standing up for myself. It might have something to do with the fact that most everyone else is bigger and stronger than I am (I'm 105 pounds, 5 feet even). I tell you what though, when I was in fourth grade and a fifth grader started picking on my kindergarten sister, he got a bloody nose for his troubles. I got in trouble, of course.

    Another bullying incident I remember very clearly was when I was practicing in the band room, this jerk with anger issues walked up and smacked me in the arm with his trumpet. It really, really hurt, like to the point where I was afraid it might be broken (it wasn't, just a truly nasty bruise). I went to the director, and she called him into the office and fussed at him. She told him that the only reason he wasn't being arrested was because I was too nice to press charges... Um, no, I'm not. I'd have done it in a heartbeat, if only because this guy had a loooong history of doing stuff like this. Heck, I ended up being in band with him in high school too, and he got in many many fights before he was expelled (and moved to my little sister's high school... lovely).

    I love that I got in huge trouble for ONE incident where I bloodied the nose of a guy picking on a little girl, but this guy who did stuff like this over and over and over was given a pass because he has "emotional problems/anger/self-control issues".

    "That bully is lucky he wasn’t messing with Ender Wiggin. 'Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too. So they’d leave me alone.'"

    Truth!

  • Gil

    Depending on the jurisdiction and who saw what - an adult who acts in self-defence may be facing criminal charges. Hence the situation where the bullying victims who defend themselves get in trouble does flow over the outside world.

  • This comment from Scott Jacobs the other site is worth reposting, in case anyone missed it.

    "A friend of my mom’s had a kid get suspended for fighting in school. It was self defense, the SCHOOL said it was self defense, but the kid was still getting suspended.

    The father goes to talk to the principle who explains the rules about how everyone involved in the fight gets punished. The father, so I am told (and my mother had no reason to lie about this), shot forward, grabbed the principle by the tie, pulled him forward and said “So if I slammed my fist into you face right now, we’d both go to jail?”

    He lets go, and sits back down. “Fine. My kid will serve the suspension, and I will make sure that he understand that he is to never, ever defend himself on school property ever again. If he ever gets injured because of that, I will sue you, every teacher in the building at the time, and the district for every penny you could ever hope to earn in your life.”

    The father then stood up, and left the building.

    Later they got a call saying the son was not, in fact, suspended, and could return to school the next day. The dad called him in sick, and they went fishing."

  • Elliot-
    check your local laws; some places consider being trained in physical fighting to bump it up to deadly force, and they don't pay attention to different flavors of training.

    Gil-
    Charges aren't the same as being automatically found guilty and sentenced. (although I dearly love the high number of stories coming out lately that include lines like 'the burglar was shot by resident; resident is facing no charges as it is a clear home defense case')

  • Foxfier: "check your local laws; some places consider being trained in physical fighting to bump it up to deadly force, and they don’t pay attention to different flavors of training."

    If you've watched The Karate Kid or similar pop movies, you've heard the old cliché that one who properly trains in martial arts does so to avoid getting into a fight. Perhaps the tendency of bullies to smell fear or lack of confidence leads to the corollary that a person trained in martial arts gains confidence and is (hopefully) less likely to be a target.

    A decent parent and martial arts instructor will teach a kid to use enough force to stop an attack and get out of the situation, not to beat the bully to a pulp out of spite. Granted, there are all sorts of different situations and one must use one's judgment as to what is prudent. And, law enforcement and juries don't always get all the facts or see things the same way.

    Which leads to the next thing parents should teach their children: whenever there is any potential involvement of police, always always always ask to talk to one's parents (or lawyer, as the case may be) and say nothing to the police or to school administrators who (because of "zero tolerance" rules, are required to "just follow procedure" and report everything to the police). Don't offer any information about martial arts training or answer questions about it (don't lie, just remain silent).

  • Rebecca C., that story seems a bit unlikely, perhaps even apocryphal.

    I was punished once for being hit in the face. The teacher intervened before I had a chance to react, but because I was "involved in a fight", I got detention.

    In another case, a girl kept kicking me on the playground. Having been taught not to hit girls, I told a teacher about it, expecting her to be sent to the principal. Chickenshit that he was, he told me that if she got sent, that I'd get sent, and I wouldn't be allowed to go on an upcoming field trip.

    A friend who lived down the street was jumped by a fellow football player, from behind, and knocked out. (It was over a girl.) His father went to the principal, but was told that either both would be punished or neither. I think the fact that they didn't want to lose the kid in football games had something to do with it.

  • Elliot-
    I've had Marine friends face charges for non-excessive self defense, just because as Marines they'd gone through hand-to-hand combat.

    It doesn't matter what one actually does in some cases, it matters what the paperwork reflects, and it seems like a shocking number of bullies have lawyers either as parents or on call.

    I think "tell the police or teachers that you want your mom or dad there" is OUTSTANDING advice-- thank you, I am so stealing that!

  • The other coyote

    I can one-up the stupidity of schools. I am a 42 year old mom who stands 5"4 and a comfortably plump 140#. Last year, we took my 9 year old daughter to this stupid elementary school carnival / PTA fundraiser. The PTA was (obviously) understaffed and had jr. high kids watching/helping with the carnival games. A dad with two little kids was "hogging" the water bean bag slingshot toss game to the point that there were 11 kids standing in line on both ends waiting their turn to play. After 7 minutes (where, incidentally, his kids shot ALL of the bean bags through 4 cycles [they shot their 5, picked up the 5 shot at them, shot those 5 back for one cycle]), I realized this 6th grader left to mind the game wasn't going to tell the dad to move along, so I stepped up and very, very nicely asked him to give the other kids a turn because they had been waiting so long. He didn't look at me, speak to me, nothing but eventually left the game. Since it was obvious that nobody was going to monitor this game, I got the next kids set up, helped them retrieve mis-fired bean bags so that the game would move along, got the next kids lined up, cheered them on ... all of which, frankly, a PTA parent should have been doing.

    Five minutes later, out of the blue, I feel a WHACK and crushing pain in my right eye. This dad had thrown a bean bag as hard as he could at my head and hit me in the right eye. I was ready to take him down right there, but my husband jumped in the middle (needless to say, I didn't speak to him for a week for not dropping the guy stone cold). When I confronted him, this jerk's excuse? How DARE I tell him to stop hogging the game when one of his children has a BROKEN ARM. He's special because one of his kids is hurt. So like none of the other kids at the carnival matter.

    Making a short story long, I went to the school principal, told her what happened, and told her IMHO he should be kicked out of the carnival if he was going to physically assault other parents in front of the kids. Her response was to send the assistant principal over to talk to him. He apologized to the asst. principal - but not to me - and was allowed to stay. Note: There were COPS there. The principal told MY CHILD later how disappointed she was that her mommy made a scene.

    But believe it or not, the principal is being retired at the end of this year. Apparently I'm not the only person who has bitched, nonstop, to the school board about form over substance.

  • Anyone can relate to this because at one point in our lives,we had experienced being bullied. We should keep in mind that taking revenge on your perpetrators is very wrong.

  • The hell you say.

  • Dr. T

    I, too, am a non-gun owning, non-violent libertarian. I, too, was the target of bullies because I was the smallest kid in my grade until 8th grade, when I grew slightly taller than the shortest girl. However, I never had to beat the crap out of anyone to stop bullies. I learned early on that most kids don't know how to fight. Even though they were bigger and stronger, I could block their punches and avoid their attempts to grab and wrestle. After blocking one or two dozen punches, I would punch the bully in the face once, back away, and calmly ask, "Enough?" That ended the fight every time.

  • @"The other coyote": Your story about the man who hit you with a bean bag makes me mad. On the one hand, if your husband had knocked the guy on his ass, it would have been the best way to make the point to the man not to do such a thing. But, in today's atmosphere, I'd bet that your husband would end up being hauled off in the back of a police car while the bully father was made out to be the victim.

  • Matt

    So I checked out the video and agree that the bully deserved the slam he got.
    What I don't understand is that no one on this site or the one you linked to mentions the fact that millions of people saw the bully get beat up. He doesn't just have to live with the beat down, he has to live with millions of people declaring him a total jerk. That seems like some awfully harsh justice for a kid to live down.

  • perlhaqr

    What I don’t understand is that no one on this site or the one you linked to mentions the fact that millions of people saw the bully get beat up. He doesn’t just have to live with the beat down, he has to live with millions of people declaring him a total jerk. That seems like some awfully harsh justice for a kid to live down.

    Uh.

    He is a total jerk. So, what's your point? That he should be allowed to be a total stealth jerk?

    It was his friends filming things. He just thought he was going to have a video he'd enjoy more at the end of his little torture and abuse session. My sympathy for him is nil.

  • r. sylvester

    Rule of thumb on bullies: whack them right at the start and if the "authorities" get in the way, whack them too.

    Moral here: people don't screw with those who hold their ground, there are too many easier targets available.

  • I can't remember exactly how the quote goes, or who even said it, but it goes something like this:

    There are those who speak only the language of violence, and those who speak only the language of reason; know both languages, and always make yourself understood.

    Good on the big kid for what he did. I will never punish my children for standing up for themselves. Violence is rarely a good choice, should always be the last choice, but is sometimes the ONLY choice. Just make sure that when you get to that point, you are 100% in the right and then go like hell.

  • Rockstone

    I was a fighter in elementary/primary school and got into a lot of trouble - I wasn't a bully though, my fights were pretty evenly matched. When I went to high school (there is only elementary and high school here), I tried to mend my ways. I avoided fights or anything else that would result in getting into trouble. My mother would cry when they used to get home from visits to the school and that finally, after years, had an impact.

    Well suddenly because I was trying so hard to stay out of trouble I became the target of bullies - oh the irony. I remember one time, the last time really. A bully actually attacked me in class in front of a teacher. The teacher was a good guy and was trying to stop the whole thing but teachers weren't allowed to physically intervene.

    After taking quite a few hits and me not responding, I actually turned to the teacher and told him that if the attacker didn't stop, I was going to start fighting back. Of course, he didn't so I proceeded to kick the crap out of him (the attacker, not the teacher). It only took a minute or two before he was on the ground.

    When it was all over, the teacher sent the bully to the school nurse and that was it - no punishment or anything, it was dealt with. No one ever tried to pick a fight with me or bully me again after that LOL. In fact a lot of other bullying of my friends stopped at the same time and not just related to that one bully.

    That is what should have happened in this case. Sure there was no teacher was present but they had it recorded for God's sake. The victim was holding back and finally had enough.

    Of course, my situation may have ended differently with a different teacher - especially if it hadn't been a male teacher. Today, I'd probably have been expelled for defending myself.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    OK, I'd seen the video but without the background on it. Now I understand the issues/situation.

    >>>> It surprised them because seasoned experts in schoolyard violence lack common sense.

    ...Because they're all libtards?

    Look, I cite the following as, not guaranteed, but "very high probability" -- If there was a "Wisdom Quotient Test" to compare with the IQ test, then liberals would vary all over the place on the IQ test. If anything, they'd trend higher on it than the norm.

    On the WQ test, though, they'd consistently rank as sub-morons...

    Liberals are, almost uniformly, "widiots".

    If there is a singularly defining quality common to all liberals, it is an almost utter and complete lack of any sort of capacity to learn from experience -- and that is precisely what Wisdom is in the first place:

    The capacity to learn from experience. And the truly wise gain wisdom from the experience of others, not merely their own...

    "Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others' experience."
    - Bismarck -

    I got suspended each and every year for fighting at some point in the course of the year. In most cases, I didn't even want to fight, but "the other guy" wasn't having any of that. And, though in most cases, it was very clear to all Those In Charge that I didn't swing the first blow, that didn't matter. "Clearly, you were part of the reason there was a fight§." And the fact that being suspended caused me more concern than the d*** who started the fight also passed their deep and abiding genius by (*I* cared about my grades. They got a 3-day vacation from school).

    I can say this, though -- despite being a math whiz, a science geek, and so forth -- I've never gotten "pantsed" or had anyone give me a wedgie. The bullies knew I wasn't the easy mark they were looking for.

    § Even IF I grant you this, it's clear that the one who actually crossed the line -- took it to a physical level -- should get a greater punishment by far -- shouting things at someone is one thing. Physically striking them is another. Suspend him, give me detention.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    Moral here: people don’t screw with those who hold their ground, there are too many easier targets available.

    Indeed.

    Bullies don't start fights because you did something that ticked them off. They start fights because of their own insecurities.

    Stand up to them -- even once, usually -- and, even if you lose -- they'll STILL generally go pick on someone else. Because they aren't looking for a fight, they're looking for an easy mark. If you don't play your part and be, as you appeared to them, "easy", then they'll go find someone else who is easy.