'Please Don't Beat Me Up' nerd rails against bullying advice
Adam J. Ruben strikes a wacky pose atop a fiberglass lion at a mini golf course in 1990.
October 12th, 2011
01:28 PM ET

'Please Don't Beat Me Up' nerd rails against bullying advice

Adam J. Ruben, a comedian, writer and scientist, has been called a nerd for most of his life. Does he fit the bill? Probably.

He was in the Princeton marching band. He clearly had no qualms about wearing suspenders in 1990. He kept an audio diary in seventh grade. And today he's taking his one-man show, "Don't Beat Me Up: Stories and Artifacts from Adolescence" to his high school alma mater, performing for the freshmen class while the sophomores and juniors take the PSAT.

It's a spoken word performance based off of diaries, poems and other documentation of his grade school life as the object of so many bullies' attention.

The show started out as an act of commiseration with peers, fashioned primarily as a comedy. "Most of it is joking about how lame we all were and how nerdy we were and looking at it now from this side," Ruben said. But it does expose the pain of growing up in America as a nerd.

"I don't think any of the nerds at my school had that one day where they stood up to the bully and the bully backed down, like that scene in 'The Christmas Story' where Ralphie Parker stands up to Scut Farkus and starts wailing on him," Ruben said.

For Ruben, bullying was something that happened so often he couldn't go to school without being bullied.

All the advice about dealing with bullying that he was given as a child - Kill the bully with kindness because nobody's been nice to them before; If you're nice to a bully then suddenly they'll be a gentle giant on your side; Make the bully laugh; Ignore the bully, walk away; Just be yourself - was never anything that worked, he said.

"It just isn't true, and kids realize it isn't true," Ruben said. "It's good advice for adults, but for kids 'be yourself' doesn't really work."

"I end (my show) with sort of a non-conclusion. That it does get better when you become an adult. People sort of stop being petty and selfish about it, and the bullying really changes character and goes away often. But what would I tell an eighth-grader today who's being bullied other than it gets better eventually? I don't have a good answer."

But an interesting meeting at the Wilmington Fringe Festival caught Ruben's attention. A high school student came up to him after the show and said, "Yeah, all the advice that you said doesn't work about bullying, they just had an assembly with us and told us all the same advice," Ruben said. "Which is interesting and sad."

With so much media attention on America's culture of bullying and tragic tributes to victims of bullying who took their own lives rather than continue to be abused by their peers, Ruben sees the ongoing acceptance of bullying to be infuriating. Especially so, he said, because no good solution to the problem has been found.

"Society has this expectation that nerds are people to be bullied and made fun of," Ruben said. "I would get mad every time there was a TV show that had nerd characters on it and they always had thick glasses with tape in the middle and they were in the chess club, and it became perfectly OK to make fun of them.

"It made me very angry because being a nerd was not something that I chose, and it was not something that I was proud of, and it was not something I could change," he said.

The social pressures of being bullied makes nerds turn on one another, he said.

"It's that need to feel like no matter what, you're not the very, very bottom person. There is someone that you can still be more popular than. One kid who is weirder than you, and you make sure that kid is your friend because then you don't look so bad in comparison," he said.

"I knew, in high school, I could identify the few kids that I thought were less popular than I was. And it sounds horrible. I think that it made me feel a little good that no matter what, I was third to last and not last."

"Don't Beat Me Up" showcases some of those painful moments in Ruben's life. Like the note he typed on homecoming night in 10th grade.

"I promised myself that I would master this social thing, I will have friends, and I will know that I've succeeded if I have a date for homecoming," Ruben said. "I'll ask somebody, anybody, and I'll go there. I'll have a date, I'll be like a normal person."

But it didn't happen. "Homecoming night I went out to dinner with my parents, and then came home and was so depressed about it, I went right to the basement and I started typing. And I had that document, so I was able to read some parts of that," Ruben said.

Ruben said he thinks the acceptance of bullying in America comes down to the fact that it is still OK, even expected, to make fun of people who are not self-aware.

"In the same way on a TV show that the stupid character is not self-aware, and you laugh when the stupid character says something stupid, you laugh at the nerd not being self-aware, and saying things that may be inappropriately intelligent for the situation or inappropriately detailed," he said.

It's a bit of a romantic notion for nerds to believe they are bullied because others are jealous of their potential, Ruben said. "I don't think that anyone who picked on me would have traded places with me," he said.

And now he's performing his one-hour show in front of a room full of high school freshmen whose reaction to his nerdy confessions is unpredictable.

"I'm not even sure they can sit still and watch an entire play for that long."

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  1. stampe di arte

    Grazie, davvero un bel commento

    May 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  2. Ellena

    We all know that bullying is a serious problem, and it's hard to deal with that situation, especially when it's your children because we want to protect them, and you don't want to see them hurt. We do the best we can as parents but aren't responsible for other's actions. Your doing everything you can for your kids, and that's all we can do. I would like to share this link, about a service on how to protect your children: Check it out it's interesting: https://safekidzone.com/

    April 11, 2012 at 7:24 am |
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    January 26, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  5. justincascio

    It's so obvious that the answer to bullying is DON'T BULLY. It's not for victims to stop doing whatever it is that is supposedly attracting abuse, but for those who harass and abuse others to stop doing those things. Let's keep the blame where it belongs. One-man shows like this will hopefully raise compassion in those who bully, and those who stand by and let bullying happen unchallenged. That includes adults as well as kids.

    November 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  6. natattack

    "I knew, in high school, I could identify the few kids that I thought were less popular than I was. And it sounds horrible. I think that it made me feel a little good that no matter what, I was third to last and not last."

    That was how I survived high school.

    October 25, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  7. Jay

    Ahhh i feel so bad for you guys i myself never really fit in a certain group but was not afraid of anyone i promise you that! On the other hand i did stand up to bullies and made them feel small, i had to because they were picking on people who were defenseless and were minding their own business. I read things like this all the time and it makes me sad to hear about people who were bullied if i could i would have been there for you! I hope one day this will stop it's a tragedy when someone hurts themselves due to an obnoxious fool who doesn't think about anyone else's feeling but their own. There is hope for everyone!

    October 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  8. Razorback

    Wow-did this article dredge up some unpleasant memories! As one whose junior high school experience was three years of hell, I totally agree that all the anti-bullying advice offered is crap. I could actually rate the punch I received from a bully and tell who was really good at it and who was an amateur. I will say that it taught me to be able to read a situation and get out of it, usually before anything bad happened. This served me well in high school where I was almost never bullied as well as later in life. (Of course, I usually didn't use the bathroom, either!).
    That said, I will add my voice to the chorus: It gets better. But you have to outlast it for it to get better. If they cause you to kill yourself, that means they win. I thought about that years ago and I decided I'll be damned before I let them win.
    There are a number of anecdotes here about fighting back. This is basically the only thing a bully understands. He is counting on you not to defend yourself. If you do, he will leave and find another victim. My brother got beat up by a group of older guys just before his 11th birthday. He asked for, and received, a weight set for his birthday. And then he started pumping iron and stuck with it. A couple of years later, a young gentleman requested that he redistribute his lunch money. This gentleman was part of a group that, if you took one of them on, you took on the whole group. My brother informed him that he would NOT be giving him any money and that it would be best if he never asked for money again (I doubt that it was that polite, but you get the idea). The situation deteriorated from there and ended when my brother threw the guy through a plate glass window. Both of them were suspended but my brother was back the next day when my parents met with the school. They expected us to defend ourselves and would back us up when we did. I wish I had taken better advantage of that privilege. Nobody from that group ever messed with him again. Call it Peace Through Strength.
    For those of us who didn't pump iron, it's a different situation. I fought back once and got beat black and blue. But thinking about it now, that guy didn't bother me again. Even so, I decided that wasn't a solution. So I basically took the beatings. That is not a solution either. After carefully thinking about it, I came up with this: Don't suffer in silence. Tell somebody-a teacher, principal, your parents. The bully is also counting on you not to and many victims don't because they don't want to be a rat. Would you rather be a rat or a victim? Given the choice again, I would NOT be the victim! Many teachers also went through this and will not tolerate it-but they have to know about it. If they do blow you off, keep trying until you find somebody who won't. With all this attention on bullying lately, it won't be hard.
    If you're in a situation, call attention to yourself. Yell. Disrupt the damn class if you have to. Even in a hallway, if you yell, it will cause enough disrpution to get attention. I know, if you get higher-ups involved, you're gonna have to watch benind you because you got the bully in trouble. Guess what-if you acquiesce to the bully, you're gonna have to watch behind you because he knows you're a willing victim. Bullying is a crime of opportunity. Take away the opportunity and in most cases you take away the bullying.

    October 23, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  9. ironbreath

    I was also bullied in school. I dealt with it in similar ways described in the stories I have read here with one exception. I would go and stand up for the ones being bullied as well. There needs to be a stronger sense of community, on all levels. At home especially, but unfortunately this is not happening because too many people/families are always working or too busy. It's a socioeconmic problem through and through. I do have to say though, that I have read stories about these kids committing suicide for being bullied and the bullies don't care or laugh about it. They are truelly evil beings. Anyone out there being bullied shouldn't kill themselves, they should pull another Columbine. I know this wont be a popular solution, but I think it's necessary. By committing suicide all the kids do is make people go, "Oh, that's too bad." When they take those bullies out with them I see it as a more natural end . . . Call me effed up. I don't care.

    October 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  10. lt_murgen

    I was bullied in school for being the fat kid. My wife was bullied for being poor and developing early. Neither of us have any tolerance for bullying.

    My son is rapid cycling bi-polar, so he quickly became a target at his school. We tackled it head on.

    We talked to him.
    We made certain we understood the schools no-bullying policy.
    We made certain he understood the policy.
    We talked to the teachers and made certain they were aware of his concerns and the school policy.

    Then we told him that the next time he is bullied, he tells the teacher. If it doesn't stop, tell the principle. If it still doesn't stop, tell us to tell the principle. If still nothing happens, then he has every right to defend himself. Harshly. And we'd go to bat to make certain he had no negative consequences for handling a situation the school FAILED TO ADDRESS.

    October 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Jay

      I'm so happy you're there for your kid most parents don't care. Props to you GOOD PARENTS😀

      October 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  11. Toya

    Throughout my childhood, I was bullied. From 1st grade to my senior year of high school. I would cry myself to sleep most nights in elementary school. I remember having food thrown at me in middle school. I was on anxiety meds in high school. I was so happy to go to college and leave the small town I had endured from kindergarten to senior year. You couldn't have enough money to entice me into reliving the time I spent in school there. And high school reunions? Absolutely not.

    But lucky for me I had somewhat of a backbone. All my bullying was pretty much verbal. I had a couple bullies lose their mind and try to hit me. They learned qucikly what a mistake that was. One I remember in middle school being in shock that I would actually hit her back. She then ran to the teacher and told that I hit her. The teacher put HER in detention because she knew that the only reason I would have hit her is if she were messing with me first.

    I also had an outlet. A break from school. I can't imagine having to deal with 7 hours of bullying at school only to go home and reading horrible stuff about myself online. (I can't imgaine doing that now.) The internet bubble was just about over when I finished high school so I lucked out in that regard. I closest I had to that was being voted one of the top 5 ugliest girls in my class in middle school. via a circulating slam book.

    I will admit that it did make me feel good that there were other kids getting tormented for a lot worse. But that's life. No one wants to be the last one picked for dodgeball. But I did feel an eminence amount of power when the people bullying me all of a sudden needed my help in math, history, English, Spanish, or science. I guess it never occurred to them that they might actaully need someone outside of their group for help.

    Like a lot of things, a nerd can't help who they are. Everyone is wired differently and will have an attaction/affinity to different things. I'm starting to realize as an adult that there was nothing wrong with me; the kids I went to school with just suck. They were so desperate to be "normal" that they had no tolerance for people that were comfortable with their own originality.

    I also think that adults indiretly encourage bullying in school. It's common sense that a teacher will call on the students they know really care about school. That kid becomes "the teacher's pet" but that's really only due to no one else being as studious.

    October 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  12. Raf

    I was bullied from 3rd grade to high school. It was so bad I used to make myself sick in the morning sometimes just do I didn't have to go to school. For all those people saying you just need to stand up for yourself and fight back, I put that in the "Good advice from adults" category. When it's just one bully, ok, but that's rarely the case. As in my case it's usually the cool kids, all of them. So every time I stood up for myself, even fought, I could never win because even if I was winning the fight I'd get a punch to the back, or a kick to the head for another "cool" kid. It was terrible! And it seems like there is really nothing to tell a kid to help. The teachers need to get involved, kids who are being bullied need a place to go to and the punishment needs to be so harsh that the bullies will think twice about acting out. That being said, I think my experience shaped who I am now, and has made me a much stronger, and ironically, happier person. Nothing in my adult life was that bad, so it kinda makes you able to let the small stuff slide. You may hate your job, but as long as nobody there is kicking your butt on a daily basis, well, it's just not so bad! The only negative effect it's had on me as an adult is maybe I'm a little more confrontational than I have to be when I believe someone is being disrespectful to me. I had to take it as a kid, I'll be d@mned if I have to take it as an adult!

    October 19, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Brandi

      Your answer lifts the intelielngce of the debate.

      December 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  13. James

    I blamed the teachers a lot when I was in school, and still do. I was not Bullied by I saw a lot of it and to this day it bothers me. The teachers were aware of it and ignored it, always–Without exception–When my son was in grade school a Bully took my sons lunch away from him every day until I found out about it. When I confronted the teacher about it as well as the boy I was astounded that it was not a problem to him until I told him "no more or you would be answerable to me –Still can't believe he let it go on with his full knowledge and right in front of him in his classroom and reached a point where I had to threaten the teacher.-Then it stopped.–That was 45 years ago during the Viet Nam war and I was in no mood to put up with anything from anybody. It still goes on from what I read here–

    October 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • HH

      to the writer of the article above: victims get WHALED on, not wailed on. Moving right along...yeah, bullying is NOT a rite of passage, and something that everyone goes through. The media is NOT raising awareness today, either....they continue to perpetuate the myth by referring to bullying as "namecalling and teasing." I never met a victim who only experienced namecalling, nor was my own bullying limited to verbal....VIOLENCE WAS *ALWAYS* INVOLVED. You can ignore people hollering at you. You can't ignore a fist in your face. To those of you who say fight back – I assure you that the victim, not the instigator, will be punished – and I didn't want to engage in violence myself when I already knew it was wrong.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  14. Mike Weakley

    Bullying is a serious problem affecting millions of children every year. Kids who are bullied experience real pain and suffering. 19,000 children attempt to commit suicide every year as a direct result of being bullied. To help combat this, I have put together a bully prevention show for schools & libraries called "The STOP Bullying Show". Highlights can be seen here...

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qAvD01RD9E&w=640&h=390]
    http://www.StopBullyingShow.com

    October 15, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  15. SmartyPants

    I was bullied as well when I was young: for being very small, for being from a divorced family whose father walked out, for being poor, for being italian, for being smart, for being.

    My mother gave me tools, none of which were the ones this writer described. It can be summed up in these words: You have a mouth, now use it.

    She told me stand up for yourself. Mouth off. If it is the truth, shrug it off. Have good comebacks "Good things come in small packages". Being teased for being italian: "Careful what you say unless you want cement shoes."

    My cousins taught me to take a punch, while they also taught me how to throw one.

    Most of all stand up for yourself. I was bullied on and off – usually when I first started a new school, because I was so little. It never lasted long, because I stood my ground.

    I don't think being nice to a bully is successful. I think you have to give your kids the tools – starting with self esteem, backed up with a mouth. Samll kid? Get him into Karate. Fat kid? Teach him to eat healthier. Smart? Surround him with other people just as smart and put him in prgrams in which there are lots of smart kids.

    I never felt badly for being one of the smartest. I recently ran into someone I went to high school with – one of the cool kids. She said "OH yeah, you were the smarty pants." 20 plus years later... I just said "thank you, yes I was"

    October 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  16. Ishmoo

    What's really scary is that bullying has gotten so much more pervasive in the technological age. When we were kids we got bullied in school or in public places. Now, with Facebook and other media, it follows the kids home and even from school to school if you try to move them into another district. We really need to update our laws to reflect this abuse so that bullies and their parents suffer some real life consequences for their actions. And I do think that the parents should shoulder some of the punishment. If my kid vandalizes someone's property and gets arrested for it, I have to pay the fines. Same should be true if he vandalizes someone else's child.

    October 14, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  17. jnpa

    I don't understand why the bullying child or his/her parents can't be charge with a crime. It is harrassment with sometimes deadly results, which I think is actually criminal. I never hear of the anyone being charged when a child is bullied or even worse, when a child commits suicide because of bullying. That child is someone responsible for the death of the other child, and so is his/her parents if they knew their child was bullying another and did nothing about it. Why are we protecting the bullies?

    October 14, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Ishmoo

      That's a really good question. I think it's partly because we have a double standard relating to what we put up with as adults and what we expect our kids to endure as children. Bullying needs to be treated as criminal assault, the same way it would be if the abusers were over 18.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  18. GC1CEO

    The biggest outcast in my whole school district, they came from districts away to pound me to the point where teachers and even a principal or two told me I deserved it for essentially being weird/strange/whatever. Anybody who thinks bullying is just a childhood phase of some emotional torment hasn't come home in bruises, had their glasses smashed, etc. The only thing that stops that is some kind of unity between those who are bullied, and I always quote Revenge of the Nerds "I have news for all of the beautiful people out there, there are a lot more of us then there are you.". Once I hit college I found bunch of people who got the same treatment or worse, once you got a group going if they mess with one of you then they mess with all of us.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • HH

      Yeah, the media calls bullying "namecalling." BULL! It ALWAYS involved violence. Behavior that would be criminal if done by adults shouldn't be tolerated by kids.

      October 17, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  19. Dixie

    Bullying starts at home, not in the schools. Most bullys receive that kind of treatment at home. It just gets passed down from one generation to the next. Hold parents responsible for their childrens behavior. Teachers are not the police. The police are the police. Bullying is harassment. A crime.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:44 am |
  20. JenLyn

    I was bullied in school, but never let my parents know what was going on. They were going through hell with my older brother and I didn't want them burdened with my problems. So I dug in, studied hard, did my best to ignore the jerks, got a full scholarship to college and left the fools behind. The pain and damage they inflicted, however, has never completely healed. However, now that I am a single mother of three boys I have tried to stay very aware of what is happening in their lives. Recently I suspected my middle son was dealing a bulling problem. I sat him down and told him what I had been through and how I had not told my parents and had carried the pain alone, but that I had made the wrong choice back then. But as his mother I was there to help and do all I could to support him and stop the bulling, however, I needed to know – from him – what was going on. He finally started talking.... and to my surprise, so did my youngest son. Both were being bullied by the same group of boys. The next morning I marched into the principles office, explained what was going on, gave him the names of the guilty, then took my middle son – the one who been the most heavily impacted by the bulling – with me to work while the principle addressed the issues at school. The principle hit the issue head-on and the teachers followed up and the problem was slapped to a dead stop. My boys watch out for each other, which is vital since my middle son has special needs. I have no patience for bulling. I was a victim, I will not stand by and watch it happen to my sons.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Ishmoo

      Good for you! My parents ignored me when I tried to tell them too and I've sworn that it will NEVER happen to my kids. I will raze the place to the ground if I ever hear of this happening at my kids school.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Dan

      Consider this a virtual standing ovation. Well done.

      October 18, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  21. Truth

    I can relate to many of these posts but cannot help but wonder if some people just cannot handle criticism. I was picked on in junior high and still get picked on in college. I guess it's different now because on test day some have this look of fear and I can be all happy due to the fact I know I will do better.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  22. Patiat

    He's right. Most of the advice parents and teachers give is hogwash. Kindness more likely than not isn't going to do it. Trying to face them and fight probably won't either- they're way more experienced tough guys than the bullied kids are. They pick on kids they KNOW they can hold at bay and keep in fear. You tell a grownup and it just gets worse. And often, the bullies are some of the most popular kids in school, and are angels in the eyes of the faculty!!!

    October 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Ishmoo

      That's absolutely true. I tried to tell the teachers that one popular kid was making my life miserable and they I still remember them saying, "Oh no, not HIM. He's the nicest boy." Thanks for nothing.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Deandre

      At last some ratoianilty in our little debate.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • zxjync

      lpt9lc cywdeauzmwjk

      December 28, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  23. Ben

    *whaling

    October 13, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  24. Matilda the Hun

    Like a lot of people here, I was bullied at a couple of points while I was a kid–first in the third/fourth grade (both verbal and physical) and then again in the seventh/eighth grade. But interestingly enough, I mostly escaped it in high school, even though I was definitely a geek and not at all "popular" in the traditional sense. Why? One word: friends–and the right kind of friends, the kind that weren't concerned with social climbing, but more with academics, art, music, drama, etc. . It's really the bystanders who are most important in stopping bullying, because bullies rely on social isolation to be successful. If your friends have your back and you have theirs, the bullies find other, easier targets. It's a tough sell initially (because the bullies will try to keep friends away from their victims by intimating that they will become targets, too) but it does work. And once you've erected that defensive wall of solid friendships, it does get a LOT better.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
    • Monica

      I had the same situation. I was bullied in elementary school, from third to sixth grade. I finally started making friends in middle school and high school was great. Why? Because I finally found my people – the intellectuals, nonconformists, artists, tech geeks, rebels, drama nerds, LGBT kids, and future scientists. In other words – the people who are really worth knowing because they are INTERESTING people.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  25. Ronnie Harper

    I was bullied in school, but only a few times because I kicked their asses. After a solid ass-kicking, people stopped bullying me, and eventually became friends with me. So, if I had kids I would tell them exactly what my mother and father told me – the next time someone tries to bully you, turn around and kick their ass – even in the middle of school. I never have and never will put up with someone pushing me around in any way.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
    • Spike5

      And is that the same advice you'd give to a child who happened to be much smaller for his age or maybe had physical issues or was harassed by a group who would all back each other up?

      Isn't the obvious answer for a kid in that situation to bring a gun to school to equalize the fight?

      October 14, 2011 at 7:33 am |
      • HH

        I knew beating on people was wrong and didn't care to turn around and do the same.

        October 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Tim

      You are someone who gets it....the only way to deal with a bully is to stand up for yourself and give them back some of their own medicine. My Dad always gave me the same advice your parents gave you. Didn't take me long...my Mom was called to come get me in the first grade because I busted another kids lip. My Mom was livid with me until I explained what happened...a bigger kid at recess was hitting a smaller friend of mine and when I stood up for him he pushed me down. I got up and popped him in the mouth....end of problem. My mom wanted to punish me but my Dad said no way...he did exactly what he should have and also what he was told to do by me!
      I handled bullies that way my entire life and my troubles were always short-lived.
      I don't understand why this isn't easier for most people to understand. It is no different than Hitler all those years ago, Basically a bully and if the US and others hadn't stood up to him where would we all be today?

      October 14, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • Ishmoo

      So, if an adult is approached by a group of 5 large muggers on the street your advice is to "kick their asses?" Right... Good luck with that. No, when this happens to a grown up we call the police and have the criminals arrested. I was a small girl in junior high getting pushed around by much larger boys. Any attempt I made to physically injure them would have been disastrous. Let's stop with the unrealistic advice to beat them up. It puts the pressure to end bullying on the victim and only makes them feel weaker and more afraid, as if it's somehow their fault this is happening to them.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:03 am |
      • Spike5

        Exactly. The people who tell how they ended bullying by fighting back are rarely the ones who are smaller or weaker or just less naturally aggressive.

        In real life, most people who get into fights where they are outmatched physically don't win; they just get hurt.

        October 14, 2011 at 9:58 am |
      • Christophe

        I couldn't help but leave a cmonemt here. The girl I was engaged to be married to (also named Jamie) killed herself this past January. She had to put up with lots of emotional abuse growing up which led to a complicated condition called Borderline Personality Disorder. She was also constantly fighting with medications that put a lot of weight on. In the end, it doesn't matter what you look like, but how you feel. If one medication is not working, then it is your right to try something else. Trust me when I say: Killing yourself will really hurt people. I know my life has been completely turned upside down by my girl Jamie's suicide. To anyone putting you down: To Hell With What They Say. There is always something to live for even if its the hope that things will get better.*** By the way, just saw your photo on another post. Screw what any jerks say you look perfectly cute, and you don't look fat at all.

        September 14, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
  26. Satirev

    Probably the best article on the subject. Tells it like it is. No optimistic BS that only sugar coats the truth and often comes off as patronizing to those that have to live this way.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  27. David

    This is what is wrong with America. We are raising a nation of kids that are what is the word? I can't type what is going on but here is what I think. Bullies exist, nothing will ever stop it, they will always be here. The best thing to do is to raise a child that is emotionally tough, mental toughness. They have to realize that it is all temporary and it will stop. Bullies have to be faced, the only way to get them to leave you alone is to beat them at thier own game. use your intelligence and outwit thier braun. It happens everyday, but it starts at home with good parents. Arm them with mental toughness, wits and a good right hook. Thats all they really need. Your advice on kill them with kindness, be yourself, that is all bull. I was bullied everyday, I went to a terrible school where kids literally had criminal records I won the prize because a new line was drawn on a map. I got by by outsmarting them. Your kids can to. Teach them not to run form their problems but to face them.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  28. Operaman

    Hey, I was a nerd too, but I'm sorry – that picture just screams atomic wedgie.

    October 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  29. Ishmoo

    We need to treat bullying as a criminal offense, the same way it would be if committed by adults. I get so sick of people telling kids to just "stick up for yourself." In many cases that's the worst thing you can do. These are usually groups of larger, tougher individuals. When an adult is harassed or attacked by several larger men we don't tell them to "stick up for themselves and the muggers will just back down." No. We prosecute the criminals who commit these kinds of offenses against adults, but children are told it's their responsibility to find some way to "cure" the bully, as if that were possible. These people respond to punishment. That punishment needs to be meted out by those in authority to do so. Anytime bullying is discovered in a school the administration needs to be fired or severely fined. If the pain hits their pocketbooks they WILL find a way to correct the issue in our schools. Right now they obviously aren't motivated enough. Let's motivate them! Hard.

    October 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  30. Smbitterman

    I was pretty much a book-worm geek/nerd in school (and even probably to a certain degree now, although it is considered chic in today's pop-culture thanks to shows like Big Bang Theory and Chuck. But in school, I remember being constantly taunted, harassed, and even physically assaulted by two individuals named Kevin Sanborn and Brian Zeigler. If I could only confront these two bullies now and show them that their actions only served to make me the person that I am now and that they could not break me, I would love and relish the moment. No violence, because that would only sink me down to their level. If they happen to read this (unlikely – I know), then hopefully they remember their actions and who the victim was and scramble up some remorse or at least some sense of "what kind of person was I to do that?"

    October 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • LOL

      Only rich geeks are charming – the rest are just feeble dorks.

      October 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  31. Tom

    The solution to bullying is charging the bullies with harrasment. Real world solutions for real world problems. If you show the bully that what they do has consequences then they are likely to stop, because if the bully does the same thing while he/she is an adult then they face real world consequences lacking in the school atmosphere.

    October 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  32. Easy E

    Bullying only happens because adults foster the environment. The minute there are real repurcussions for a habitual bully, the bullying either stops or is kept at a low simmer. It is no accident that societies where children are truly valued are societies where bullies are treated with the stigma reserved for "nerds" here. Nerds are the kids who will actually go out and make money one day; most bullies end up dead, in prison, or on welfare. Why we favor the losers over the economic winners is beyond me.

    October 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Spike5

      Same reason we hero-worship athletes who may be barely literate while those intellectuals like the future Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are scorned. The only way nerds get respect is if they turn into billionaires.

      October 14, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  33. Uncle Dutch

    There was a jock-type who rather enjoyed torturing me every chance he got, especially in the hallway if there was an audience. He broke two fingers of mine one day by slamming the locker door on my hand, so I finally realized that this wasn't going to end well for me if I didn't do something about it and plotted my revenge. I waited patiently for over a month until my cast came off and I had the use of my right hand again. While the teacher was taking attendance in the one class he and I had together, I picked up a geography book walked up and hit him so hard it knocked him out. I then calmly inquired if there was anyone else who wanted some of me, then gathered my things, told the dumbfounded teacher that I was going to the principal's office, and once there, rather proudly confessed to him what I had done, and why. As the vice principal was not pleased as I'd just taken his best player out of their game that night, the concensus was I desperately needed a two-week vacation. My tormentor never messed with me again, nor did any of the other jocks. The lesson that incident taught me is that the only thing a bully respects is the fear you put in him.

    October 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Easy E

      Kudos on that. Your story demonstrates exactly why bullying occurs in the first place: the teachers, ocaches, and administrators favor the athletic over all else. Of course, almost all jocks have a very short lived career – only a tiny percentage make it to professional sports, let alone even college sports. Said jocks rarely contrinute much to society other than the violent crime stats and the deadbeat paternity rolls, but you wouldn't know it from the way our idiot society worships the ground they walk on. It is absolutely amazing to see how skewed our values have become...and it's no wonder China is kicking our economic butt, since they value the 'nerds' over the jocks.

      October 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • George, yes really!

      Oh yes, I too remember the moment I put fear into my bullies. Mine, like yours, were the varsity football jocks. My plotting however took far longer in the end. The torment and hell those guys put me through will never be forgotten, however the smile on my face for what I did to them makes up for every moment! I was called the "Walking Encyclopedia" constantly receiving taunts because of my curiosity, they also tortured me because I'm female and my name is George (after my mother's favorite character in the Nancy Drew books). However, because of my curiosity I always passed classes with flying colors. In middle school the jocks decided that verbal abuse wasn't the end, and that physical threats against me would be a great idea. They also made sure they sat close enough to me so they could copy answers off my tests. I decided in 8th grade I would destroy their opportunities for continuing to college. The first grading period of every year I aced my tests. Then I would purposely fail every one for the second grading period. Because my teachers all knew I could do better they offered me tutoring and the option to retake the tests. So I passed every grading period, but the jocks didn't. They didn't understand how I was passing and they were failing. Midway through 12th grade, after failing just about everything, they brought this up with the new principle. After grilling the morons for hours, he discovered the threats (actually they told him proudly what they had done) and how they were cheating off my test. The principle was so livid he returned every award the football program received, and stripped the players of their varsity status. He also placed a warning letter in their file. When it came time to apply for Universities, the jocks wanted to go to football schools, but no one would take them because of their record. None got into college. They're now working dead end jobs, while I have a rather wonderful job that allows me to travel all over the world.

      It's unfortunate that jocks are worshipped at schools while the continuing abuse and harassment of "nerds" is acceptable. It's nerds like Steve Jobs that change the world.

      October 13, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
      • Spike5

        Nice story and I wish it were true. But I rather doubt that a strategy like that worked from 8th grade through 12th. Good fantasy though.

        October 14, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • Kauane

      please don't. i beg you. many people care about you. just put your past bihend. you're probably beautiful. and if people tell you that, you are. the ones who call you ugly and fat are losers and are jealous. love life. you only get one. life it and enjoy it.i don't know what else i can say to convince you not to.<3 i'm going to pray for you tonight. <3xoxo

      September 15, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  34. SophieCat

    John Wallace, wherever you are: You made my life in Junior High and High School in Cookeville Tennessee a living HELL. You made me want to kill myself. I cried myself to sleep at night. I had nightmares about YOU. Why did you do it? Why did you make fun of me and turn people against me? Why did you hate me so?

    I've always wanted to know why. Perhaps I'll never know.

    October 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Easy E

      There is no point in asking. Sociopaths are trash, no reason to wonder about their idiot motives. if it makes you feel any better, most bullies die young, because they just can't turn off the jerk personality -eventually they mess with the wrong dude, cuss out their boss and become an alcoholic, etc.

      October 13, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
      • Josh

        "There is no point in asking. Sociopaths are trash, no reason to wonder about their idiot motives" I think that line sums it up well. I was bullied almost once or twice a week at the end of 6th grade through 7th grade. Did I fit the "nerd" stereotype or quota to be bullied? Hardly. For some reason this jerk-off that also rode my buss needed an outlet for whatever troubles he had in his home life. And that is also the root of some bullying: socioeconomic, class, and home life. If we can not tackle those issues and kids grow up in broken homes, in broken neighborhoods, they will go to school with broken minds.

        October 14, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Merc

      I wonder what would happen if you Googled "John Wallace" and "Prison Term"?

      October 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  35. mc8

    I think the first step to stopping bullying is education. Kids will treat other kids the way they have learned to treat them. If a child comes from a home that places emphasis in treating others with respect, despite their differences, then the kid is less likely to bully someone at school for being different. Parents have no one else but themselves to blame for their child's behavior at school. Even if the best of parents have a not so well behaved child, it is still the parent's responsibility to address the child's disruptive or destructive behavior. Seek help if you notice that your child fails to adhere to your advice, rules and consequences. Too many times parents fail to adequately address a problem and continue to implement punishment for negative behavior that simply does not work. It's time for parents to accept that there's no standard guideline in education, but that it is ok, and sometimes the needs of their child is too particular for that, so the best way to address the needs of the child is to seek the help of others. Schools can't teach children how to behave when at home their parents' behavior is not reflective of the principles being taught at school. Education starts at home, school supplements that education.

    October 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • mc8

      I'd also like to add the need for parents to be more involved in their children's lives. Sometimes parent's are oblivious to negative behavior because of their little involvement in their kids' lives. Even working on communication between parent and child can help prevent disruptive behavior.

      October 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  36. TheCruxDefender

    There is only one way to stop a bully and that is to confront them. You may lose the fight, you may have to do it a few times, but if you stand up for yourself, you won't be bullied. Period.

    So nerds, stick fast with thy courage, take some time to learn to fight by watching some educational U-Tube videos (little tips like how to stand and where to keep your hands make a big difference.

    Remember, fear comes and goes but the shame of being bullied will last a lifetime. If you find your courage and stand up to the bullies, you will always be able to hold your head up high.

    October 13, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • GC1CEO

      I did, they just beat me up more so each time. In some cases they may simply kill you, this does happen.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:27 am |
  37. ME!

    I just dread the day when all forms of social pressure are considered bullying. I speak from experience; while the physical abuse I received as a child was unacceptable, I was sorely lacking in social skills and definitely deserved some of the negative attention I received. I'd be a different, worse, person today if I suffered no negative social consequences for some of my actions as a child.

    October 13, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  38. jake

    The only thing that gets better is that you can leave. I was stuck in hickville usa. A small town filled with small minded people who didn't think beyond getting a blue collar job at the local plant. From kindergarten on I was bullied. Then I went to college. I got the h- out there and never looked back. The bullies are still stuck in hicksville, bemoaning the factory closings. I've got a college degree and live very, very far away. I look at their facebook profiles and wonder why the opinions of such losers ever mattered to me.

    October 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Steve

      Jake: it gives you the opportunity to see just who the REAL losers are back in that hicksville (sounds a lot like Columbus, GA)...

      October 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Britney

      DO NOT DO IT. Life is something that you only do once so do NOT end it. Tell your dotcer about your thoughts and they can help you. Those people who say your ugly are WRONG. you have a beautiful sensitive soul. Please do not kill yourself. Life is too beautiful, and those jerks who say bad things about you are ugly for saying to you and are lowlife losers who have nothing better to fo. You are beautiful. Dont do it. PleaseHave a beautiful long life and a fantastic summer.<3❤❤

      September 14, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  39. Linda

    Bullying has been going on for generations now and its not going to stop. As much as i hate to say it, really the only way to stop a bully is to confront them, which with cyber-bulling and kids bringing weapons to school make it all the harder to tell your child to stand up to them.Im not sure getting the goverment involved is the solution either, that would make every school yard fight a crime. My son was the bully in jr high school, and after serveral talks and punishments thru 8th grade, he stopped, so i do believe it always comes back to the parents, teach your child to "Do as you would have done to you"....

    October 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • SophieCat

      Thank God for parents like you, Linda! These kids, if left to their own devices, will destroy themselves and each other. Remember Lord of the Flies? They don't know any better. They aren't aware of how their actions affect others. It's up to US, the PARENTS, to be AWARE of what they're going through, and guide them through it. Maybe they're beginning to recognize their own power, their physical strength, in different ways. Maybe they're beginning to recognize that they are influential in different ways. We've got to be involved in what's going on with them, so that we can guide them!

      Thank GOD for parents like you!

      October 13, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
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