The Ten O’Clock News: ‘The Cruelty of Children’, and Teens, and Adults

I have no idea what the age range of readership for Indifferent Ignorance is (and I’m not looking to find out because that would be creepy) but this Rookie article caught my attention just now.

It got me thinking about school, children/teenagers and the whole ‘social aspect’ of western education. As in, for ten per cent of people it’s great and for the other ninety, at some point or another, it’s shit. It’s also hard to write about a topic like bullying in a general sense because one person’s being teased is another person’s friendly joke, etc. – so I’m wondering: what was your social-school experience like? Was there a particular age that was hard for everyone? Do you reach a point when exams matter more than who’s bitching about whom?

(Yes.)

Seriously though, I’m interested. Has anyone ever run into a school bully in the high street? Were you infinitely more successful than them or were they no longer the fire-breathing tosser of your childhood? Did anyone ever get their own back on someone who was nasty to them? Does anyone have any tips about how to cope with nasty people in the classroom? Do bullies at school grow up to be bullies in the work place? If they’re a shitty adult, is it their parents’ fault for moulding them into a shitty child and letting the shitiness blossom like swine flu in a petri dish?

I’ll start: a few years ago a couple of girls threw paper in my hair over the course of a few lessons. Eventually they got bored. I sometimes wonder if I would ever have retaliated had they not stopped. They did not get back into my sixth form and I doubt anyone misses them particularly.

Now it’s your turn!

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2 thoughts on “The Ten O’Clock News: ‘The Cruelty of Children’, and Teens, and Adults

  1. Well I’m a bit late to the party on this … but hey, it doesn’t look like there’s many of us here anyway.
    Why is this? no one been bullied? or too traumatised to say anything about it?
    I will take up the mantle of confession ….. even though it’s an age and a day since I was at school 🙂
    I wasn’t ‘in’ with the ‘in crowd’, I was studious, probably what might now be termed geeky. I was reasonably smart and did okay/pretty good in lessons (except French parce que je detest Monsieur Newell hahahaha) Didn’t get physically bullied, usually it was name calling and general pushing around, but there was one girl in particular (whose name I still remember but won’t reveal, just in case!) who constantly did minor little things to irritate me & wind me up. The final straw was one day in PE, team games, all of us supposed to be up on benches. she kept coming up behind me and poking her fingers into the back of my knees. I’d had enough and turned round to warn her that if she didn’t stop I would retaliate. she didn’t believe me, did it again ….. I chased her the entire length of the sports hall, grab her in a headlock and repeatedly thumped her face with my fist. The teachers separated us, gave us both a ticking off … and I spent the rest of the day worried that the rest of her gang would beat me up after school. End of the day as I approached the gates, all her cronies were there and I fully expected to become their punchbag. Instead, as I walked towards them, they moved out of the way and just told me she deserved it!
    So, sometimes, done thoroughly, retaliation works, though maybe times have changed.
    My son has been bullied, and even though he’s almost a black belt in karate and could do them some serious damage, it’s not in his nature to give them the satisfaction of knowing they’ve got to him. Despite it being a hard thing to deal with, he’s got through it cos they got bored. Plus the fact that when it got the stage where he didn’t want to go back to school after half term, we stepped in and made the school deal with. Nothing major, no one big event, just insidious minor daily events, that in isolation aren’t difficult to handle, but as an ongoing thing, 4 or 5 times a day, it gets too much to bear. And yes, their excuse was they were just “havin’ a larf”
    We’ve always told him that bullies usually bully because they have sad lives and nothing to be happy about – they get satisfaction by stopping others from being happy, They’re usually powerless in many aspects of their own lives and having power to affect other people’s behaviour makes them feel better about their life. They’re often jealous – of who you are, what you have, what you do … quite often they’d really like to be more like you but they’re angry because they can’t do it.
    Yes, young bullies often grow up into adult bullies because they’ve never seen the error of their ways. Or their behaviour is so ingrained that even if they realised, it’s to much of an effort to change. But deal with all bullies the same way – basically, don’t give anyone that power over you. If it becomes so bad that it affects your health & wellbeing, then get someone else to help, whether it’s a friend/colleague, someone in authority. and go armed with facts and examples, not just general ‘feelings’. It’s never easy – sometimes the fear that if you say something it gets worse makes it difficult to speak up. But definitely SPEAK UP or REACT in some way. Bullies thrive on fear.
    As for responsibility – yes, it is the parent’s fault if they don’t take steps to keep their child in order but most kids have a reasonable idea of right and wrong. Making other people cry, or hurting them isn’t right – but then again, if that’s the environment a child grows up in, it’s harder for them to understand that it’s not good behaviour. At some point, kids, as they grow up, have to take responsibility for their own actions – they make a choice. Most likely outcome is shitty parents = shitty kids, but not always. Nice parents sometimes have crap offspring and shitty parents sometimes have great kids!
    Well this has been an evening of extended blog commenting – and I thank you for the opportunity 🙂

    Like

    1. Aha I know I shouldn’t condone violence but sometimes bullies just have to know that they won’t win. Like, if push came to shove (pardon the pun), if I had my back against a wall and the only way out was to physically fight, then I would.

      But when it’s little, verbal things that build up, it’s much harder to deal with. I think that the best thing schools can do is have a zero-tolerance policy, and do their best to make sure that goes for the parents as well, in terms of “your kid is beating up another kid. Quit being a shit parent and letting them get away with it”, etc.

      Congrats on going up to the school, anyway – and congrats to your son for being a black belt!

      (Never used ‘congrats’ before. May never again.)

      Like

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