• Bullies are bred at home

    by Jesse Loren

    There’s bullying and then there’s bullying.

    Some say a little builds character. In the ’60s, it was a fat kid with glasses getting worked over for his lunch money. That doesn’t build character, it builds resentment, fear and insecurity. Today, it is social media driving kids to kill themselves. It’s 60-something bus monitors being sexually harassed by a flock of tweeners. The same behaviors exist in the dog park.

    The bully dog in the dog park runs around fighting and humping everything in sight. It’s as primitive as it is savage. Using the bully breeds as an example, bad owners create bad behavior. Neglected dogs become destructive dogs. Improper owner behavior is analogous to improper parenting. I’ve experienced this frequently as a high school teacher.

    Here’s one bully breed human story.

    One of my freshmen was rather large for his age. From his seat, he could see over the shoulder and on to the desk in front of him. He barely fit in the seat. He had good grades and usually pleaded for another chance if he forgot his homework. He could look pitiful in the wink of an eye.

    One day I caught him cheating. He turned completely around during a vocabulary test and demanded answers from the waif behind him. She refused. I took his test. He said he was merely asking for pencil lead. I gave him a zero and called his parents. No talking during tests or you lose your test.

    That was first period. By lunch, I was called into the office. Said bully breed’s dad, a man who resembled Earl Sinclair from the Dinosaurs T.V. show, had repeatedly called the school demanding to have a word with me. I returned the call after school from the Veep’s office. The dad threatened my reputation as a teacher, my job, my future in the district, and told me, “You did not see my son cheating. He was asking for lead. It’s his word against yours and I will be calling the school board. You had better not pursue this.”

    He was telling me what I saw, as if his authority would supersede my own reality. (…These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.) He yelled at me on the phone. He yelled at my administrators. He attacked me personally, blaming teachers like me for ruining the state of California. I stuck to my guns, and got off the phone.
    It felt like a steamroller had flattened me and assaulted my professional standards.

    Clearly the son cheated to please the father. Clearly the father treated his wife and family like he just treated me, a stranger. The father created that bully cheater. Parents like that make good teachers leave the profession.

    The next day the Veep called students in. The waif who he cheated from told administration that it wasn’t an isolated incident, that he did it all of the time. I moved the boy away from kids he could prey upon, and his grades began to reflect his effort instead of the students around him. His father, “Earl,” attended many of the same school functions that I attended. I never got an apology. Never. Not a word.

    I will stake 17 years of teaching experience on this opinion: Those kids that bullied the older lady on the bus — they learned it at home. The parents should march those kids over and make them mow her lawn, edge, vacuum, look at family photos, write her life story, serve other elders in the community, feed the poor, and get off their selfish little electronic devices. The bully breeds out there — they get it from their parents. Nasty little acorns from dirty, dirty trees.

    • I agree with you Jesse. Unfortunately, we are all preaching to the choir here. Those parents don’t read this column or any other regarding bullying. They are in their own world and refuse to see what should be their full time job-to raise empathetic children. Sad but until the mind set changes in our world the bullies will inherit it, sadly. I think that the future could be brighter if people were willing to work harder at raising children but it is a bandaid until world values change and parenting becomes a priority for everyone.

      • Linda

      • July 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm
      • Reply

      And their parents learned it from their parents. It is generational.

      • Judy N

      • July 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm
      • Reply

      Good ideas, Jessie. And I’d like to assign conservatives to the same empathy building chores. Hate speech daily about the president, hateful laws that deprive the poor,people of color, gays and women of their voting and economic and/or personal rights. Bullying tactics in the House of Representatives as a matter of course. There’s a political and cultural climate for bullying right at the top.

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