'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. WisePK

    All bullied people need to do what Ralphie did in the "Christmas Story" movie and the bullying will stop; but it takes a concerted effort. People will ALWAYS be picked on it's part of life learn how to fight. We can't solve every child's issue if we do that they will look for another crutch or solution when all they have to do is stand up for themselves.

    October 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  2. Teacher Teacher

    I was bullied and was a bully (most of us are a bit of both) More importantly, I've been a teacher and I received training on how to address it.
    Kill them with Kindness? Perhaps as a start, but it won't work often.
    Ignore it? Depends. Sometimes it won't, many bullies perceive it as weakness and it get worse.
    Fight back? Often works. problem is how? One of the best ways is to simply call it out, "Hey leave me alone, what's your problem. In the presence of others who are not bullying, this usually opens the door to have them tell the bully to shove off."
    If its physical bullying? Very little works other than violence back. If you know about it as a teacher or parent taking it up with the bully's parents CAN work. If the administration is willing to back the expulsion threat and the victims parents are willing to ligitate.
    My own daughter took on a bully that went after a boy she is friends with (in Kindergarten lots of girls are as tough as any boy) She grabbed him and told him to leave her pal alone. Bully took off and wasn't a problem again. Doesn't hurt that at 5 my daughter had be taught by me how to throw a punch and drag people down or push them away.

    One of the biggest things that can be done is to let the teachers know and have the teacher catch them. Few children, even High School students are willing take on a teacher, not physically, but a good teacher can make it clear that the bully has to try and take on somebody they CANNOT bully and that you as the teacher like and will defend the victim.

    I never had a bully try to call my bluff. Then again, it wasn't a bluff.

    The bullying that girls do on each other? The sniping, backstabbing stuff. VERY hard to influence. The little I saw as a teacher I dealt with by making it clear it wasn't ok. I addressed it right then and there and loudly. Girls are even more image conscious than boys. The humiliation of the bawling out usually worked. Persistent harrasment and cyber bullying? Very hard to monitor or interfere with. I guess if I knew about it, I'd get the evidence and address it, publicly, humiliate the bully. Not nice, and I'm sure school administrators and parents would have a stroke, but what can you do? You'd only do that if the bully's parents woudln't stop their little monster.

    October 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Larry Class

      Teacher Teacher – So you claim to be a teacher that trained your Kindergarten aged daughter to "punch and drag people down" – Wow! I'll bet YOUR daughter is the bully. Please tell us where a low class dope like yourself was hired to teach children.

      October 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • TheCruxDefender

      Don't listen to Class. Teaching your children to defend themselves is a basic parenting function.

      October 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  3. Larry Class

    I love all of these people crawling out of the wood work claiming they destroyed their bullies with violence. Once says he stabbed his bully, another says he broke the bullies arm wth a "tree" and was cheered for it, etc...

    Do you losers think anyone is buying your nonsense? I agree that in most cases fighting back is needed but some of these stories are just way over the top and clearly BS!

    October 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  4. NeedSun

    If 'bullying' is not tolerated in the workplace and is a crime to 'bully' someone at home, WHY is it tolerated in our schools?? It is NOT a right of passage, it is NOT your lot in life, etc. In some cities, even teachers are being attacked by students and there's little they can do about it. It's abuse & harassment and it should be a criminal offense IMO.

    October 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Larry Class

      Actually bullying is accepted in many work places. Instead of the threat of physical violence, bullies often comein the form of managers who abuse their staff who are stuck in their jobs due to the poor economy. It's way easier to deal with a school yard bully then a bad boss.

      October 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Crossbow

      I have to agree with user Larry Class. Bullies /are/ in the workplace, and often are promoted to management positions. Suggested reading: http://books.google.com/books/about/Snakes_in_suits.html

      October 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  5. Brian

    My family moved when I was in sixth grade; I transferred away from the kids I'd grown up with into a school where everyone was beginning to hit puberty and fight for pecking order. As the outsider, I was picked on relentlessly. My parents transferred me to a private boys-only Catholic school in 7th grade, but there I got picked on far worse.

    There were two results of this. One is that I buried myself in my schoolwork and pushed myself hard, graduated as the valedictorian of my high school, graduated from Princeton (a few years before Adam), and went on to have a storied and well-paying career. But the other is that my high school experience utterly destroyed my self-confidence; I am plagued by self-doubt and continually second-guess my social interactions because I believe people will laugh at me. I am in my forties now; high school was more than half a lifetime ago, but I would gladly give up everything I have now if I could just go back to fifth grade and keep my parents from moving so I could grow up with my friends.

    October 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Bill

      Brian, if you haven't already gone back for a high school reunion, I urge you to, especially now that you're in your 40's. Believe me, 20, 25 or 30 years (or more) is the great equalizer! Remember the jock with the perfect hair, clothes, car, etc? Chances are, he's fat & balding now! That pretty girl you couldn't really talk to? She's had 3 kids, and now her best friend is Jenny Craig!! Believe me, I went back for my 25th (6 years ago), and was not only able to talk to everyone I'd known, but a lot of the unapproachable kids too. You'll have a lot more in common these days, too!

      So far as social interactions, my best advice is to simply say, "I don't give a **** what people think of me", and mean it. Seriously, at this point in your life, you're not likely to change, so accept what and who you are, and others will too. You might even find out that the person you are inside is exactly what that pretty gal you've been too afraid to talk to has been looking for all along. Can't hurt to try, right?

      October 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • A

      Basically the same thing happened to me. Moving at the beginning of puberty is TERRIBLE. I'm starting to get better about the self-doubt thing, but I feel like it will always be nagging me. College helped a lot and I loved it there, and I love my new job and friends and am half a country away from where I grew up, but you couldn't pay me enough to relive high school.

      October 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  6. Randybugger

    I had a boss that must have been a former bully. Reading some great revenge tricks from writer Edward Abbey, when he went on vacation, he came back and found that vegetation killer had been spread all around his yard (showed up in a rented van with yard crew logos made for it and looked just like I was supposed to be spreading fertilizer). He never figured out who did it. The next year, the same thing, except his house was left painted half-as$ed in a putrid color. He eventually moved away figuring someone was out to get him back for all the crap he'd done to people.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  7. Beth

    I was bullied mercilessly by other girls in junior high. I tried to get school staff to help me, but they did nothing. My mom even tried sitting down and speaking with the other parents. It continued. So, I took matters into my own hands and made friends with some of the tough girls in my class. The next time the cool girls came after me, my new friends beat the crap out of them. Problem solved.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  8. The_Mick

    While I don't condone counter-violence, sometimes it's the only way out. Most bullies tend to pick on guys who won't defend themselves because it's easy pickings. I was a nerdy 12 year old kid living in a tough area who came home crying to my dad that a bully had beaten me up. He asked if I had struck back at the bully. I said, "No." My dad said that if it happened again and I didn't strike back, he would add to my pain. The next time, I got worked-over again but the bully got a black eye for his trouble. But I was never bullied again because I was no longer worth it and actually got along well with that bully through the rest of my school years. You also have to do what you can to fit in. As I went on to high school, I played sports as well as belonging to the chess and science clubs. Having a varsity letter sweater was sort of a cloak of protection that spared me from the torment and humiliation that at times I interceded on behalf of others to try to prevent.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Foxxy

      That's all well and good Mick but something tells me when you were a kid it was a lot less likely to find bullies packing a gun. That's what a lot of folks posting here fail to realize – it was different when we were kids.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  9. Alan

    Sorry to buck the "consensus" here, but have we become THAT thin-skinned and politically correct that virtually EVERYTHING negative aspect of a child's school life can be linked to "bullying". The behavior certainly should never be condoned, but at what point do we teach our kids that not EVERYTHING in life goes our way, and that there WILL be instances when you ARE going to be treated poorly (rightly or wrongly). I know this will not be popularly received, but at what point do we wring our hands so much that we miss the larger issue of growing up?

    Unfortuantely, we've swung the pendulum so far in one direction that we must make sure all kids are raised in protective bubbles, where nothing can penetrate their defenses. As much as bullying sucks, and as much ast he adolescent years are inherently challenging, let's be honest about the fact that the number of kids who take their own lives as a result of this particular issue is miniscule (no, I don't have empirical numbers, but I can make an educated guess). Teach them to either stand up for themselves or learn to deal with it, those are the two fundamental choices. Life is inherently hierarchical, and not everyone is going to be the "top dog" all the time.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Maybe what you say has a grain of truth, but you've obviously never been the subject of something that can wreck your grades and self esteem. I ended up beating the crap out of my bully, but many kids never know that's an option...or if it is, that these days it'll get you kicked out of school or worse. Just crawl back into your ivory tower there, type A dude.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
      • Alan

        Grumpster – not all of us who live in the real world, and have experienced problems, live in an ivory tower. Some of us just choose to grow up and stop trying to pawn it off on scapegoats. I was on the receiving end of tormenting when I was a kid and, you know what, I surivived (and some would say thrived as a result). Adversity doesn't have to be a horribly traumatic experience, it just needs to leave you focused enough to adapt and overcome. If you want to coddle your kids, sitting around singing kumbaya, that's fine. It's also not consistent with reality, or the real world. But whatever works for you....

        Oh, and my wife got a HUGE laugh out of your "insulting" me as a TYPE-A person.....couldn't be FURTHER from the truth. Again, pre-conceived notions and clouded analysis really aren't very becoming.....

        October 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • DeperLee

      I was pretty unpopular in school and I have to agree with you! Being bullied was awful for me but it also taught me to find outlets- I focused on music and my studies. Now adays I'm a successful engineer and my bullies are losers still stuck in small town, MI. I've got thick skin and really don't care that I'm a bit of an oddball.

      The kid in the article has it right- 'it gets better'. Its not the best solution but its worth repeating so kids out there know to hold on.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
      • Alan

        Deper – Glad to hear someone else learned a lesson, and chooses NOT to live in self pity and denial. Amazing what people can do when they aren't sequestered from the world, and actually DO find outlets (sports, clubs, academics..whatever). Good for you....

        October 13, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • SophieCat

      Yes, and mental illness is "something" that people should just "snap out of it." You're clueless. Clueless and stupid. Go back to your perfect world, "Alan".

      October 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
      • Alan

        Not precisely sure what "mental illness" has to do with this at all, but I'm sure sorry we can't all be as profound as you, Sophie. I guess I should throw tantrums and hurl insults when others don't agree with me as well. Rather than dignifying your comments with anything resembling an imbecilic response (which would, however, be more understandable to you), I suffice it to say that not everyone who goes through adolescent agnst is on the receiving end of "bullying". If you have self-esteem issues (which apparently you do), I'd honestly try looking on the inside as well.....you might find most of YOUR problems lie there....

        October 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  10. Paul

    I think we need a new federal government agency to deal with this bullying problem.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Grumpster

      No, we need parents that do what they are supposed to instead of watching TV or hitting the buffet lines. Parents can teach there kids what to do about bullies, and can also teach kids that being a bully will likely end you up in a trailer park or jail down the road.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  11. Grumpster

    I was the nerdy kid who got picked on until one day I just had enough, turned and picked up the bully and slammed him repeatedly into a locker, sending him to the hospital. Adrenaline can do funny things. Keeping a roll of quarters or pennies (for smaller fists) to put into a fist is also helpful, and totally something the bully will not expect. Never did I act on the offensive...the locker slam was a response to the bully following me down the hall and whacking at the back of my head. He never bothered me again, and his friends left me alone knowing now I had the ability to do some damage. Aside from that, once you're out of the public school system, keep in mind that those bullies are the ones who will end up on welfare and in the trailer parks. That is the sweetest revenge anyone can have.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  12. boogietime

    Let the kids sort it out. There wasn't all this anti-bullying rubbish 100 years ago and people turned out fine.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Yeah...Capone was such a great kid, wasn't he? He got sorted out alright, I guess.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Colleen

      This is the best advice you can give? That is what sends the ones being bullied to contemplate suicide. The fact that no one gives a crap about you. Teachers, parents, administrators, etc. It's okay for others to call you names, hit you, and simply torment you until your self esteem is so low you have no idea why you are alive and just want the pain to end. I was one that was bullied and it still hurts when I think about the teachers who just sat there and watched it happen and gave no assistance. Being the victim of a bully is a lonely and horrible feeling. I hope you never have to feel it.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • bullied

      I was bullied in the 70's in junior high. It didn't turn out fine. It was a life altering horrible experience. I have spent the rest of my life rebuilding my self esteem. And anytime something happens now, my first reaction is that I deserved it because inside I am still that bullied child. I am sure the bullies don't remember me, but I will never forget them. Or what they did. I am sucessful and married but deep down, the self esteem issues are still there. I fight them every day.

      October 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • SophieCat

      No they did NOT "turn out just fine". They turned out to be the PSYCHOs who produced physically-abusive parents, who produced the bullies of TODAY.

      Just because no one talked about it "100 years ago" didn't mean "it turned out just fine". It was just as horrendous and cruel and unnecessary and STUPID as it is TODAY.

      You should try shutting up once in awhile and maybe you'd learn something about how the world REALLY works.

      October 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  13. Maida

    I was picked on in grade school, and for the most part I ignored it, my mom was more than willing to take on the school whenever it got out of line...which it only did 2x, both in 7th grade, when it got physical. I don't lose my temper often but when I do, watch out. Never touched the bully but to this day, 35 years later, she's still alittle leery of me. What helped me was I was the tallest kid in my class, and most of the school, and when High School came around, my grade school went to 2 different schools. I always tried to protect the smaller kids who were bullied, or the different ones. My biggest problem in High School was a teacher, but ya know what? I just ignored her....she was an idiot anyway. I

    October 13, 2011 at 11:41 am |
  14. The Glow

    Was never really picked on in school, mainly because I was always the one who you'd have pegged as the "ultimate" bully, simply because I towered over everyone in my youth, and, in 2nd grade, was as tall as some, if not all of the 5th and 6th graders in my school. Because of my size, not only I was I not picked on, but neither were people who were friends with me. While I was seen as the perfect bully, I was just a big teddy bear.

    It took a turn for hilarious in High School when you have all sorts of boys trying to assert their dominance, and a simple accidental bump in the hallway would turn into a fight. Every single person who bumped into me was quick to offer their apologies, and I'd see these same folks bump into others and watch it spiral into the whole "You got a problem?!"

    Showed me then and there that bullies/d-bags were nothing more than cowards and really can't be reasoned with on any level due to a variety of reasons. The only thing that they'll understand is a couple of knocks to the head, not because it'll teach them to respect others, but because they don't want to be embarassed again after getting their rear soundly handed to them by "that one kid".

    In the off chance I get over being a big kid and manage to procreate, I have my doubts if my children will ever experience bullying if they recieve the same mutant genes that made me freakishly tall (at the time).

    October 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  15. Hemlock3630

    The comments are interesting to read. Esepcially the comments about being made fun of for being smart. In my school system, all the popular kids were the ones who were at or near the top of the class academically, but also in sports. So there was no real bullying for being smart...bullying came more from being 'different' from the 'ruling class'. That meant you got picked on for being something like poor, having allergies, not being into or good at sports (any sport), or liking weird things (like let's say being an over the top Star Wars fan)....

    I wasn't really bullied to the extent others are talking about, there were incidents, but after letting a few go buy I always fought back. I was the quiet watch in the back type, with my head always in some sort of fanatsy/sci fi book. Good in school. Played sports, but wasn't particularily great at them. One of those social floaters....

    But I guess by the time i was in 6th to 8th grades, I was the bullies-bully. If you were a bully and picking on someone weaker/smaller than you....oh yeah I'd jump right on in and get some good wollops on the bullies. Took a tree (yes literally a small tree) in swinging into a group of bullies beating up a younger/smaller kid....broke one bullies arm. Another time I recall a bully was beating on a sort of friend of mine durring recess, and I jumped on him and got some good punches in....I was sent to the Pricipals office to explain....when I got back to my class room the rest of the class cheered, it was the bully who got expelled for the rest of the week.

    Bullies only understand being stood up to....and usually only being stood up to violently.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Not a nerd now

      I think some of that has to do with demographics. When I lived in Michigan, we wre in a upper middle class neighborhood and school. I was very good in academics as well as the sports that I played. As I said in my earlier comment, I was one of the popular kids. It was when moving to a small town in the south where my short stint of being bullied happened. I was a Yankee and in classes with much older kids. I guess this is "being different" as you mention. In my case though, part of being different was being very far out in front of the other students academically. Not because I was smarter than them, but because my schooling was better. Kids will pick on kids that are different in ANY way.

      October 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
      • Hemlock3630

        Hmm...I'd agree, we were in an upper middle class area in Minnesota, in one of the better schools in a better school system. Academic achievements were highly sought after. I recall the angst that went into getting tested and accepted for the SAGE classes. I was one of the poor kids.....didn't quite fit in with the popular kids since my family wasn't rich, but I wasn't a pariah since I was good in school and was in sports. But I was a loner...just never gave much care (and still don't) to all the social posturing...especially between girls.

        I haven't had the 'joy' of being somewhere where there was systemic bullying for being smart.

        In my junior high (a private school I was forced to go to that I didnt want to attend) there were a couple of 'low brow' types that were in the school due to status and $$ and not academics....(again, I was a poor kid in a rich man's school....there on scholarship) and they tried to pick on me. Once it was throwing a wrench at me in gym class, I jumped and it missed. The second time that I recall is when it stopped. I was in the cafeteria (the school was small enough from 7 to 12 grades that we all had the same lunch hour) and they were sitting at the table behind me. I could hear their loud comments about me and ignored them. Then one of them decided to throw an apple at me. He missed. I picked up the apple and threw it back at him (I was an outfielder on the softball team) and it hit the table right in front of him and exloded all over him. Man that was great hearing the whole cafeteria laugh at him. Never had a problem with those two after that incident.

        Those two were actually my last incident of getting bullied that I can recall. Only ever had problems getting bullied by guys. Never had to deal with mean-girl episodes.

        October 13, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  16. Programmr

    I was bullied a lot in 3rd grade, where I was the shortest boy in the class. One day I had enough and I punched one of my tormenters below the belt. The bullying stopped right then and there.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  17. jsb

    I was bullied in first grade. Briefly. Until I stabbed the bully in the back with a yellow HB #2 pencil. Yes, I got in trouble (plenty of it, and rightly so), but I was never bullied again, despite being a nerd. Sadly, when the bully's mother was contacted, she was not upset, figuring that her son probably deserved it. Maybe that was so (violence was certainly a language he was fluent in), but only because of her lovely job "raising" him.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  18. Crossbow

    Speaking as a nerd with similar stories, I want everyone to understand that THERE ARE NO BULLIES. "Bullying", is usually simply Pecking Order. It happens among all animals (certainly all mammals). Rarely are bullies actually bad kids. They often become our leaders, law enforcement, entrepreneurs, etc. As youths, they are subject to instinctive behavior just like every other mammal. It's 100% natural. It's part of what we all are. Parents and teachers need to approach and explain it this way. Show films of animals engaging in pecking order establishment, and then discuss it with bullies and nerds alike. When the "jocks" see a chicken behaving the same way they do, it can often get through to them, Teachers must explain this to ALL parents. EVERY PARENT must discuss it with your children whether or not there is a bullying issue. Teachers and school personnel need to monitor all behavior - both violence and intimidation, and also lack of self-awareness or social skills. Enforce school rules and provide counseling as needed - but always recognize what it is and that it is part of human (animal) nature. Sorry if this may offend a religious minority that believe we are not animals, but if you have a question as to whether or not you are a mammal, go in the bathroom, find a mirror and look. Religion is fine, but it should not cause you to deny what is quite literally right in front of you.

    October 13, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Crossbow Broken Arrow

      Glad you feel this way, how about I come over and establish my dominace over you. First I take your money then kick you out of your house and steal you mate. After all we are all just animals, right?

      October 13, 2011 at 11:09 am |
      • Crossbow

        Thank you for proving my point. Oh, and your grammar sucks too.

        October 13, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Jeff

      In my experience, all those who bullied me and others in high school are either in prison or dead. The only entrepreneurs those bullies became were drug dealers, and that got them free room and board or a pine box.

      October 13, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Grumpster

      Obvious you took the short bus to school. I hope you've been properly sterilized and can't pass on those defective genes.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  19. Mark

    I was bullied from 6th grade to 9th. I was 5'5", 90lbs with huge glassess. I was hog tied, hit, pushed, knocked down, humiliated...the whole gambit. One day in gym class, I was getting teased on my size. I turned around and punched the boy in the chest than in his privates. The other bullies watched as i got 2 hits in and proceeded to get hit. THe coach broke us up. Later that day, my father tells me he recieved a call about the fight and that he wasn't punishing me for defending myself, even though I started it. NObody messed me with after that until college. My freshman year, this guy hated me for some reason. After 4 weeks of abuse and criminal mischief, on Halloween 2001, I fought back. His freinds broke it up and he that was that.

    Violence is a necessary evil. THe "kill himwith kindness" is bogus. Bullies only understand violence. It's necessary. You may lose, but they'll remember that you will fight back.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  20. Merc

    I was bullied off and on as a child. I remember a day when I had to wait in the cafeteria until school officially opened for the day.

    There was a group of kids at one table and one lone gentleman with a metal neck brace on sitting at an adjacent table (Note: I'm not afraid to use the word "adjacent" because I'm not afraid of bullies anymore).

    The other kids actually told me as I walked in, "Hey, kid! It's cool to make fun of him!" (pointing to the guy in the neck brace....I'll never forget their words as long as I live). I looked them over. They were older than I was and if I befriended them, I'd be significantly more popular; and I wasn't popular.

    Then I stopped myself, realized what I was thinking...and went over and sat next to the kid with the neck brace and started a conversation. I'll never remember his name, but he was friendly and a seemed like a good human being. I didn't see him around often, but when I did, I'd smile and say, "Hi," and he'd respond.

    Good people need to realize that there are other good people out there who'll look out for them. If you're not the immediate target of bullying, try to befriend someone who is. The more people who confront it, they more afraid the problem will be (anthropomorphizing) and eventually it'll run crying home to mommy...in a perfect world....

    October 13, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Roger Allen

      Sincere thanks for this nice story.

      October 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  21. Mike

    You know you've got it made as a nerd when the same people who bullied you as a kid are now suddenly talking to you and asking you for career advice.

    I was bullied as a kid too. I am not the most physically intimidating person out there, but I am in shape. I am 5'6" and 130 lbs (I am out of shape, I am usually 140 lbs). But we still give in to our caveman instincts and judge people by looks first instead of intelligence. I too got into a fight with a bully at my school and got suspended, but no one messed with me in that school after that. Same thing happened again in college with my roommate. It gets annoying at times to hear all these things about "normal" people getting married and settling down...and then I realize, that while I may not have the best abilities socially, I do have the best situation financially; I am the envy of all my friends with the amount of money I make...I am humble about it but they do know how much I make. I have a job thats highly in demand and I will never have to worry about finding employment. I currently make $75000 at the age of 26. It's true that us nerds will get our revenge!!! If you are reading this and are in high school...stick to your guns and do some research on your career! You will outsmart everyone! Don't ever give up!

    October 13, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Mark

      The two guys that bullied me came tome for a job. I told them that I hated them for so long and would love nothing more than to watch them slip into a desperate cycle and become homeless. However, everyone deserves a second chance. I got them jobs and sent one to Afghanistan. These guys were my freinds for the longest and one day turned on me. Now, we have an amicable relationship.

      October 13, 2011 at 10:51 am |
      • Grumpster

        One of them turned on you AFTER getting them a job? Let him rot.

        October 13, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  22. Henry Miller

    I was a nerd in high school–a nerd with a black belt in karate. And my karate instructor's day job was teaching unarmed combat to Green Berets–Viet Nam was the war-du-jour at the time–and he differentiated not at all between what he taught soldiers and what he taught civilians.

    To all the picked-on nerds of the world, learn to fight. Seriously taking out one would-be bully generally sends the right message to the rest of them. Just try not to get his blood on your clothes–it'll probably annoy your mom. It did mine...

    October 13, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  23. Luis

    It is true that the only thing that will stop a bully is to stand up to them. Not just with words, you must give them back what they have given you. Trust me, I know all too well.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  24. Shawn

    I was bullied in elementary school by one of the football stars because I was so small. He could do anything to me, and wouldn't get into trouble because he was the star running back. He was beating me up in the gym one day, and I put my hand up to block a punch. I accidentally got my finger caught in his necklace, and it broke. He got so mad that he picked me up, and body slammed me several times on the wooden floor. I had bruises, and I reported it to the coach, and to the principal. My mom got very mad, but nothing was done to the bully. The only good thing about it was that he thought just because he could beat me up that he could do the same to my older brother. He found out the hard way that that was a bad idea.

    Later in high school I was being beaten up by the teacher's son in the wood shop class. The teacher looked through his window to see me with my hands up trying to block one of the blows, and he blamed me for the whole thing. I got a paddling, and nothing was done to his son of course. Incidents like those are why I am a loner in my mid 40's. I never developed the social skills necessary to find and keep friends because I thought I would just get beaten up eventually, which often I did.

    Bullying is not cool, and I would defend any child I knew from it if I could.

    October 13, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  25. PanyVino

    How about this, Any bullies or even suspected bullies should go to SPECIAL ED for Anti Social/Aggressive Behavior, Classes designed to make them learn socially acceptable behavior, working in groups together, perhaps acting out scenes of a bully situation, each one has the chance to be the victim. Yay!

    October 13, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Foxxy

      You are an idiot. Do you have any idea what special education is for? It's not for children who bully but for children who have needs other than the neuro-typical population.

      October 13, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  26. C Jones

    No. It does not get better nor does it go away. The partisan politically charged climate of the past few years provides ample evidence that age (supposedly maturity), accomplishment, wealth, influence, status, etc. does not prevent bullies from remaining bullies. I'm sure everyone reading this can point out bullies in their workplace, whether it's retail, fast food, or a corporate headquarters. What might change is that adults have more confidence and more options for dealing with bullies, but it is clear to me at least that bullying is part of our wider culture and not just a schoolyard phenomena.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  27. BigMike

    What none of the "advice" out there deals with is that bullies are inherently aware of the system in a way nerds are not. In their niche, they aren't just "mean" but they are also smart. Change the rules, they learn the new rules and exploit the new loopholes. My advice as a former (who am I kidding, current) nerd is to man up to your parents. Tell them you're tired of being a target and want them to take measures to fix it. Work out a strategy that builds your confidence and masters your environment. When you have a purpose and no need to prove yourself to everyone who comes along, you won't be such a target.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  28. Potion4

    I was bullied in elementary school, the bullies made be bring money to school so I would steal from my dad and give it to them. When I did this they would leave me alone (for that day) and this went on for a while until one day my dad caught me taking money (a quarter) and ask me what did you take? I told him I didn’t take anything; he knew I did and asks me what was going on. I told him and he told me that if anybody bigger than you ever threaten you again to pick up the biggest stick and hit them. It’s really interesting because the next day the bully ask me where his money was and there happened to be the biggest stick right beside the school fence (wow). I picked it up and told him I wasn’t going to give him any more money, and the bully was now terrified and ran away. While I’m not saying every situation requires violence, I do think that the kids will have to stand up for themselves. You can pass all the laws in the world and it may help but bulling won’t stop. I’m 48 now and I despise bulling if I see a kid getting taken advantaged of I burn inside. I remember seeing the story on YouTube of the kid that finally had enough and he picked the kid up and slammed him down. I saw myself in that kid and actually I applauded yes I did and I don’t feel ashamed about it! Funny that they pulled it, maybe if they left it, it may have encouraged others to stand up for themselves maybe not with violence but stand up for themselves.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Gary

      Agree 100%. I was bullied from 1st grade until about 8 grade. I just never let it bother me really. Never had the money thing, just the usual teasing, or being pushed around. Then in the 8th grade a got sick of it and a kid during lunch said something to me. I stood up, pushed him, he through a punch and I punched him back. No real winner, but that was the end of being bullied.

      October 13, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Ed

      I tried that after that they would never bully me one to one only in numbers it did get better when I knock one over a desk in class. But I have aswalys felt violence is only appropriate to defend against violence when its words its harder to deal with at that still continued well into high school and even some in college

      October 13, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  29. David Murray

    wow.. A lot of comments on here. But this hits home for me. I was a computer-nerd back in the 1980's and I was bullied horribly. I'd come home from school with bruises and cuts every day. My parents called the school and gave me the same lame advice on how to deal with the bullies. If anything those tactics ended up making it worse for me. The bullies LOVED to pick on me because I was short and they knew that I wouldn't fight back because I was afraid I'd make things worse for myself. However, one day in the 8th grade I gave the ring-leader a black eye and got suspended from school. When I returned, I was never bullied again by anyone. This is my advice to anyone being bullied – break their nose. Yes , there will be some consequences to it. You may get suspended and might even get arrested. But better to deal with that than a lifetime of being bullied. Another important thing to consider about fighting your bully. Even if you don't win the fight, if the bully knows you will fight back he'll probably still have less desire to bully you. He will find a weaker target that is less trouble for him.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • whatguy

      Exactly, the advice, no matter how well intended is dead wrong. We as adults need to stop looking at this from a rational, logical point of view, in which case being nice would work, and remember children are more emotional/instinct driven. We always site studies on how upper level reasoning/logic doesn't fully manifest until late teens early twenties as why 21 is the legal drinking age, then turn around and tell a 12yr old to use logic to solve this problem. Doesn't work. When you are nice to the bully, and the bully is young and emotion/instinct driven to their behavior, you appear weak, and his behavior is preying on the weak. You have to stand up for yourself, verbally or physically, yes it may mean beatdown, but it will usually also mean you are no longer the weakest target and won't be the one the bully goes after.

      October 13, 2011 at 9:48 am |
      • Potion4

        I agree you may get the beat-down but responding is the best you could ever do.

        October 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Gary

      LOL, almost the same thing in the 8th grade...

      October 13, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  30. Sandy

    I think we all in some sense have been there before. I've always been a "tomboy" but extremely shy & quiet (tho my friends now just stare & say "huh") and when in grade school a boy that I grew up with would jump on me & punch me. I'd come home for lunch crying – then one day my Mom just said – the next time he does that – turn around and beat the s*** out of him. I took her advice and he never did that again. I can honestly remember that day and it's more than 50-some years later. A parent that says "oh, my child would never do that" is in total denial. You honestly don't know what your kids will do when not around.

    October 13, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  31. stormy123

    Sad but true but the smart kids are the ones destined to make the money now in this new information age. Sure alot of nullies become rich businessmen and slick salesmen, but the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Apple are being built on the backs of a lot of smart nerdy scientists and engineers these days......FACT!
    This is a two fold problem then....one the one hand America doesnt have enough smart scientists and math people. Its why Washington and schools are advertising constantly about having parents get their kids into math and science. China and India combined graduate 300,000 engineers a year! America is DOOMED if we dont do the same.....but at scool its NOT cool to be a nerd. And its not cool to be a nerd as an adult either.....thats proven by all the movies and media that make fun of smart people. We worship womanizing dumb athletes and drug addicted entertainers but when it comes to scientists.....not a single one of our kids or adults can name one other than einstein! SCARy!!!!!! If we want to change this, our culture needs to place teachers, scientists and smart people above preachers, polticians, CEO's salesmen and sports heros......we are all hypocrites.......every last one of us! So how can we expect our kids to stop bullying when we teach them to hate smart people?????????

    October 13, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • BigMike

      It is not 'sad but true' that smart kids will make the big bucks. It is entirely appropriate.

      October 13, 2011 at 9:42 am |
      • Marika

        Great point Mike!

        October 13, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  32. bud

    I was bullied so much in high school that I got numb to all the abuse then one morning I thought to myself if I was going to fit in then I had to do something about it so on that day as soon as I went to my locker here they come my tormenters I was pushed off my locker I sucked in some air turned around and punched as hard as I could right into the nose of the biggest of the bulliess well come to find out I broke his nose and got expelled from school for three days man it was the great feeling that when I got back to school and nobody bugged me again...so if your bullied take a shot and maybe it will relieve you of all the BS they shove at you

    October 13, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • Anshul

      This guy is precisely correct. If you are being bullied, the only way to respond is to FIGHT BACK EVERY TIME. No matter what.

      Every time.

      October 13, 2011 at 8:57 am |
      • Wayne

        Ditto. Nip this stuff in the bud. Don't get tormented for years keep it all in and then wind up pulling a columbine. You can't fight everyone and you don't have to fight everytime. Sometimes you have to take some bullying (like when you're outnumbered), unless you don't mind getting pounced. But, the problem is some kids are simply afraid to fight back. You have to stand up for yourself. The law recognizes that people at times will have to be violent in self-defense. I remember a kid in one of classes constantly harassing me. I took for a while. But, as soon as I stood up to him, he backed down. It was fun for him to torment me, but it wasn't fun when I got in his face. I think the author's approach to the problem was lame. He wanted to find a kid lamer than himself, to make him look better. I think that type of thinking explains why he was getting picked on. Better, off getting all your nerd friends together and defend each other . . .

        October 13, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  33. Cait

    Its sad when you're in school and kids turn to you and say "stop talking so smart", I just laugh at them. I mean, really?..should I dumb myself down to be more widely embraced by the popular idiots? I'm grown now, and having an extended vocabulary and being successful in math and science is lauded, not condemned. So yes, children, it does get better. I think without bullying,though, I don't think I would be as emotionally equipped to deal as well with rejection and criticism as an adult. If its gratuitous bullying that someone has to deal with, though, it can be extremely detrimental and should be stymied. Everyone is human and shouldn't have to go throught excessive degradation.

    October 13, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Merc

      My thoughts exactly.

      October 13, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  34. Pam

    I think it is time that people make the link between High School Bullies and Workplace Harassment. When a person is a bully in the work place – they don't slam people into lockers, they deploy verbal abuse. They become the person who is "just hard to get along with". If you have a forward thinking manager – you end up in classes about how to get along as a team. Is the bully ever fired – no – they just get sneaker.

    October 13, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  35. Ed

    1. There are 2 types of people who say "ignore the bully and they will go away" – idiots and liars.
    2. There isn't an adult on the planet who would adopt the strategies to cope with bullying that they tell kids to adopt. Not a single adult would ignore, make friends with, laugh about, etc... the bully and the bullying. that is why we have police, lawsuits and jails. If it isn't good enough for adults, why should it be good enough for kids?
    3. The solution begins with holding the people who have the power to make the change responsible for making the change. When I was in school, there were very few teachers who gave a damn about bullying. I can probably count on one hand the number of times bullying was taken seriously and the bully was 'truly' punished. It is time to make teachers and school administrators legally liable for failing to take action if an incident is reported. Also, if an incident is reported, social services and the police should be involved. Pulling the bully's parents into mandatory counseling sessions with their child and affecting there work life might just make them a little more attentive to the problem.
    Finally, if the bully persists in being a bully, they should be progressively punished in school – yes punished – take the jock who bully's and suspend him from all school sports teams – you get the idea. I realize that these strategies are not in vogue, however, what is currently in vogue isn't working.
    4. We cannot wait any longer for a solution. While the experts talk about it and wonder about it, tens of thousands of kids are getting bullied. I think it is time to go nuclear and figure out the perfect solution later. Time to protect the victims first.

    October 13, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Marie

      Ed – you hit the nail on the head. Policy at schools needs to be updated to include a Bullying policy. Just as there is a Dress Code – where certain style of clothes is not accepted and you will be sent home to change – If a child is found bullying – they should get detention – and after so many Detentions they should be suspended. Bullys have parents that also bully them. The parents need to be pulled in by School Principals – and told that if it continues they will be required to attend a counseling session with their children on how Bullying is NOT acceptable.

      October 13, 2011 at 8:28 am |
  36. Brian

    Just want to say thanks to CNN for your recent coverage of the subject matter. Bullying is a huge problem that rarely gets talked about.

    October 13, 2011 at 7:05 am |
  37. fightBack

    I was bullied as a child. The only thing that stopped it for me was to fight back. Think about the youTube video from several months ago with the chubby kid being harassed by that little punk. When he took matters into his own hands and body slammed that kid, he was no longer viewed as a weak target. People forget that sometimes, violence is justified. The truth is not good for psychologist or reporters though. They need victims to stay in business.

    October 13, 2011 at 6:57 am |
    • Bill

      Yep, worked for me too. My parents had given me all the (lame) advice, and I really did try to be the better person. But I had 3 older boys in my neighborhood, who were all small for their age (and I was big for mine), and they felt it was their duty to pick on me, whenever possible, to make themselves feel better.
      Luckily, the day of reckoning for me was playing a game of "touch" football in my parent's back yard, where these 3 boys thought they'd mop the floor (so to speak) with us younger kids. I'd finally had enough, and waited for the main instigator to make a successful touchdown catch......right after which, I flattened him with a flying tackle. He whined about how it was supposed to be a touch game (after he and his cronies had gotten away with many tackles themselves), and his parting words were, "You didn't have to hit me so hard!!"
      I never had another problem with those boys after that, since they then knew that I was more than their match in size, and was determined to no longer be the victim.

      October 13, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Ducky

      Unfortunately, it usually isn't that easy. For one thing, bullies almost always carry an audience with them. If you fight a bully you also have to fight his pals, toadies and assorted hangers on as well. Couple that with the fact that bullies tend to chose socially isolated people as targets and you've got one person fighting against a small crowd of oppressors.

      Second, most bullies are experts in manipulating the school authorities. If you fight them you can be sure he will let the school officials know about your "unprovoked" assault on him (and the aforementioned hangers-on will certainly back-up the bully's story). Thus, it will be the target who gets in trouble, and the bully walks away emboldened by the fact that he is untouchable.

      I speak form experience here. Fighting bullies is not the magical solution that would-be heroes like to think it is.

      October 13, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  38. Beth

    Comments like "I don't believe kids kill themselves because of bullying, because bullying is a rite of passage and forces you to learn how to adapt to your environment" are the heart of the problem. There remains a sad percentage of the population that thinks that bullying is either normal or even needed.

    It is NOT ok to physically and verbally abuse someone because they are different. And guess what, it does lead to suicide. Behavior is a learned and group-driven thing, and parents and school administration set the tone. When parents say "suck it up" or "its ok to pick on George, he's weird", they perpetuate the problem.

    October 13, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  39. Ophu

    At Jhaas: As someone for whon being gay wasn't just a phase and wasn't pushed into it and made every effort to fight his own nature for ten years, your ignorance, assuming it isn't willful ignorance or downright deception, is very type of thing pushing gay teens to suicide, and I hope someday you realize the damage it causes, though I certainly wouldn't want you to witness it firsthand.

    October 13, 2011 at 5:44 am |
  40. Mac

    It's middle school where the worse bullying exists – not high school.... 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.

    October 13, 2011 at 5:21 am |
    • Ledge

      BS it's only in middle school. It starts before you even make it to school on the playground.

      October 13, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Ed

      as some who was bullied in elemntary and high scholl I assure you it doesn't get better until college. Then only because you segregate and stay with people that have already accepted you. It only really gets better after college when people finally grow up and stop doing it. By then your become at least a little antisocial and a fair bit jaded.

      October 13, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  41. JHaas

    As someone who was a bully until high school – the roles were reversed after a school change – I can say that nerds were bullied because of their behavior. Because of their grotesque sense of superiority, and condescension toward the 'normal' kids. At the time kids weren't pushed into the gay lifestyle when they were just going through a phase, so there wasn't any openly gay kid. But I suspect that gay kids are bullied not for being gay, but for provocatively acting different, like nerds do.

    At any rate, I don't believe kids kill themselves because of bullying, because bullying is a rite of passage and forces you to learn how to adapt to your environment rather than believe that you're so special and unique and wonderful that the rest of the world should bow to your precious little sensitivity.

    Being a bully made me a lazy meathead, but being bullied taught me I couldn't just beat up someone or threaten to beat up someone to always get my way. It forced me to learn a new way of dealing with people. It got me to be resourceful and rely on my intellect rather than my fists. Long before orientation tests it got me to realize I had strong negotiating skills and got me to becompe strongly become oriented, to the point where I was running my own business long before being old enough to get out of school.

    Bullying forges character, cuddling and brainwashing make kids too weak and unrealistic to cope with the real world.

    October 13, 2011 at 4:04 am |
    • JMM585

      Spoken like a true bully.

      October 13, 2011 at 5:45 am |
      • Marika

        My sentiments exactly!

        October 13, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Anne

      Nobody is "bullied" into acting a certain way.Gay, or "different" for some other one disabled student, one Mormon, etc.. Theses students could each speak in turn about their situation. True, there would be some naysayers. But it might help people to better understand these differences and improve the situation.

      October 13, 2011 at 5:45 am |
    • ryan

      I definitely knew I was gay by the 8th grade and it is true that anyone who was perceived as being different was bullied. Luckily for me the Junior High School was right next to the High School so I made friends with some of the guys on the football team in High School and would occasionally sneak them some of my parents alcohol for them and they would then look out for me and anyone who tried bullying me would have a unpleasant experience when school got out because the guys from the football team would be waiting for them. It was paying for protection but was well worth it in the long run.

      October 13, 2011 at 6:31 am |
    • Brian

      I suspect you've never been bullied in a meaningful sense of the word.

      I'm sure you had some problems with other kids before, but the article isn't about that. It's about the kids who are tormented; whose every day in school is a living hell with no way out. No one deserves the treatment some of these kids get no matter how different they are.

      October 13, 2011 at 6:52 am |
    • Becky

      Bullying does NOT forge character. It destroys self esteem. No one is saying to use "cuddling and brainwashing" on kids but if an adult acted like these bullies, they'd be in jail at the very least. We have kids killing kids, kids killing them selves, and adults like you saying it's okay. When is it not okay?! When so we tell kids to stop being monsters to each other and start being human beings? And as far as the idea that the nerds deserved it, that is ludicrous. With that way of thinking all the jocks deserve to be bullied every day as well. In your school it would be "Lord of the Flies" everyday!

      October 13, 2011 at 8:35 am |
      • J

        "Bullying does NOT forge character. It destroys self esteem" > 100% correct This sums it up clearly and absolutely.

        As a victim of years of physical and verbal torment, I can testify that it changed my life forever. If I could go back 4 decades and re-live it, I'd take the advice to try to fight back, damn the consequences.

        October 13, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Flynn

      JHaas you have it so wrong; dealing with difficult people is one thing but to say Bullying is a rite of passage is another. I can tell that by your comments, that nerds were bullied because of behavior and grotesque sense of superiority and condescension toward the normal kids I assume you’re talking about yourself. I don’t believe bullying is the sole reason for these kids suicide either but it would be nice to show a kid in this situation some kindness instead of showing your fists. You will always have to learn to adapt to your environment as you had to but to say “Bullying forges character, cuddling and brainwashing make kids too weak and unrealistic to cope with the real world. Sounds like the insanity of an insecure person.

      October 13, 2011 at 8:41 am |
    • Merc

      Jhaas: Bullying USED to be a right of passage...the rest of us have evolved, why haven't you?

      October 13, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  42. ConanX

    This is why I taught my son to hit first with the "throat punch". Takes you down no matter how big you are.

    October 13, 2011 at 3:45 am |
    • gatling216

      Aye, the throat punch worked well for me. Once high school came around and I went from tall skinny kid to tall bulky guy, I realized that pinning someone to their locker with your boot in their chest is an excellent way of keeping safe.

      Bullies like a weak target. Once they realize that the nerd they've been picking on is about three seconds away from going Jedi on them at any given moment, they tend to move on to less volatile prey. You can be my kids will be taking some form of martial arts when they get a bit older.

      October 13, 2011 at 5:38 am |
  43. Jean

    6) More money for child welfare agencies and drug prevention. Like I said, so much of it comes back to bad parenting.

    October 13, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Jean

      7) Ensure the school principal has no conflicts of interests. Especially true in a small country town where the principal could be a friend of the parents of the bully.

      8) Improving ADHD treatment standards. I would suggest allergy testing and elimination diets should be a standard part of the assessment for ADHD. Has the child ever been fed an entirely real-food diet? Rather than just reaching for a prescription pad, doctors need to do more to assess the child's eating habits and also to provide parenting advice where needed.

      October 13, 2011 at 2:31 am |
      • Jean

        Sorry, I was having a bit of trouble posting. Point 2 was about providing consequences and expelling them in the worst cases, and point 5 was about teaching students about the different types of respect.

        October 13, 2011 at 2:34 am |
      • whatguy

        the big thing on that is to stop prescribing meds because a child has a personality or actually acts like a child. I have a friend who's ex had custody of the kids. Both girls were on so many drugs for ADHD, Depression, etc that they were zombies. Everytime they showed any sign of a personality they were packed up and taken to the shrink for "acting out" and had their meds up. Now my friend has custody, new shrink, kids off ALL meds, doing fine. In fact better than fine, both have lost weight, are more social, interacting with other kids, grades went up, etc.

        October 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  44. Jean

    4) Parenting issues. I think a lot of the problem comes down to a lack of parental discipline. For that one, I would suggest mandatory parenting courses in school so that the next generation of parents are better equipped to raise children. And I would start it early, from first grade, so children know what discipline they should be getting at home and will be more aware of it if they aren't. Parents need to push the "be a nice person" message from an early age and discipline their children whenever they show someone a lack of respect.


    October 13, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • Amelia

      Hi Jean, Parenting is an issue I agree. But the thing is, if the parents themselves are not doing this in the first place how are they going to pass this to their children? I have been a primary teacher for over 20 years in International schools and I have seen "bully parents" doing horrible things to teachers and administrators. Sometimes they are the problem that got passed to their children.
      Bullying is a worldwide problem I believe. In my opinion we need a combination of things: parent education (like you said), better supervision (recess duty is 'WORK time' not 'chatting with a colleague time'), counselors seriously working on the issue, student education, better school policies about bullying, and teachers being held accountable by not acting when they see bullying happening.

      October 13, 2011 at 3:53 am |
  45. Jean

    3) Be careful with mediation that you're not sending a message of blaming the victim. By sending both students to a mediation session, that tells the victim that there's something wrong with them, rather than rightly putting the blame on the child doing the bullying and their parents for not bringing them up better.


    October 13, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  46. Jean

    A few suggestions:

    1) More supervision. Children need guidance as they're learning their social skills and that requires constant monitoring and pulling them into line. When you were at home interacting with your siblings, your parents were probably watching and listening to you and pulling you into line a lot more than your school teachers did. The problem is that the adult to child ratio in a school playground isn't as good as it is at home so it doesn't allow for as much adult eavesdropping. As to how to address that, I would suggest more teachers out in the playground, maybe keeping children in a smaller area and smaller sized schools.


    October 13, 2011 at 2:26 am |
  47. Ed

    The problem of bullying in our schools is created by an outdated scholastic system that needs to evolve to prevent such issues and focus on better educating our youth. In discussing bullying, we can see best practices against bullying in schools where they have been able to create equatable distribution and praise for all the students. For example, uniform clothing and a dress code for students can prevent kids from looking different can can prevent kids from being teased on what they wear. Also, an environment where teachers and classmates praising both scholastically outstanding and challenged students as well as doing the same for athletically outstanding and challenged students can prevent resentment where kids feel superior or inferior. The entire notion of having a Prom King or Queen is great fun in making an eventful party, but it is really outdated. We're not living in the times of a monarchy and we need to evolve how we teach our future generations.

    October 13, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • Jeremy

      You don't sound all that aware of modern schools. First off school uniforms have never EVER been shown to help anything, and in fact often create a greater level of student problems (mostly against authority) as a form of rebellion. Secondly, most high schools I've heard of don't have a prom king or queen, that's a very 1950s-80s concept.

      October 13, 2011 at 2:56 am |
  48. Natasha

    I am and always was a nerdy girl who liked videogames and boy things! I think I mostly got picked on because my mom bought me awful clothes and I wore glasses and had acne horribly from 4th grade up. Almost every time I was bullied I would retort and verbally or sometimes physically fight back, but I was never clever with comebacks. The few times I did get into fights, I was the one who ended up being suspended! Twice because my tormentors were black and told the principle I had used racial slurs! This of course made my parents even more upset that I'm bullied and the bullies get away with it... I remember another time where this kid was pushing his desk chair into my desk slowly but surely squashing me against it, and I pushed back in a silent war whilst the teacher was talking, and finally my desk tipped over and the little ass made it sound like it was all me and I got in trouble yet again... *sigh* I really don't deal with this anymore since I got treatment for acne and have money to dress much nicer 🙂 I feel pretty good about myself and now feel pretty extroverted compared to how I used to be. I think growing up is really the only bright side to bullying.

    October 13, 2011 at 1:18 am |
    • Laureth

      That happened with my daughter too. Any time she defended herself SHE was the one who got in trouble. That irked me to no end. Now she's in a private school and doing way better.

      October 13, 2011 at 7:10 am |
  49. Ed

    The best solution to bullies: Chainsaw

    October 13, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • Rick

      Nope. It is a baseball bat. Preferably an aluminum one as it makes a nice "ping" sound when it hits a bone

      October 13, 2011 at 3:39 am |
  50. Kevin

    Well I doubt my first post made it through the CNN filter. 8) But at any rate here is the one that really got me. Fast forward to 2010. My best friend after like 4 tours in Iraq and 12 years in the Army active duty joins to reserves and enjoys the civilian life mostly.

    Even then as adults in ther mid 30's they see him the one time he is near our old school and try taunting him........ Hello IDIOTS! This man has killed people, been blown up, and had to deal with all the mental baggage of war, and you still want a piece of a person that could likely kill you with his bare hands.

    I don;t get it, do they ever change or are we always targets to them regardless?

    October 13, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Dave

      Sorry to hear about your friend. Unfortunately I've witnessed some of the childhood bullies as adult bullies and all of the pshchobabble by psychologists as to why they do this doesn't help the situation. These types of individual's seem to only respond to fear....fear of prosecution or fear of force e.g. someone bigger than them. If the harassment continues, gather the witnesses and the evidence and file charges. Give the bully a criminal record that will haunt him the rest of his life, maybe cause him to lose his job. You'll have the last laugh.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Natasha

      I was in the Army as well and let me tell you; the Army is just like being back in high school with all the bullying and gossip! It's even worse when your bullies outrank you -.- some people never grow up!

      October 13, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • JJ

      As a minority in a small midwestern town, I was bullied almost from day one in school. One of the best decisions I made in life was to join the Army as soon as I was old enough. I will admit that this decision is not the right one for everyone being bullied, but it was for me. I learned respect and confidence in myself. I was bullied so hard, the first day of basic training I remember thinking there was no way I'd make it and I was going to fail just like I always had because I was a loser. But I made it through and graduated basic, which surprised the heck out of me. My time in the military gave me the courage to go to college. I always thought I was too dumb to make it. I'm now middle aged, have a degree and a good job. But I still remember what a low opinion I had of myself because of all of that bullying. The military isn't for everyone, and I'll be the first to admit that what worked for me will not work for others. But there are plenty of other things to do in life that will restore your confidence in yourself and your self esteem. If I could say one thing to kids being bullied today it would be to say that things really can get better.

      October 13, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  51. Dave

    I probably bullied some kids when I was in grade school. I was wrong and I learned this when others bullied me. I then came to the aid of those being bullied after an 8th grade student committed suicide because he was bullied. It created a lifelong lasting memory for me; that this young man's life was so tragically lost. I didn't even know him, he was a year ahead of me; but I still remember his name and face 40 years later. At that time School administration seemed to look the other way when I beat someone for bullying another who was unable to defend themselves. This was many years ago. Today this isn't the answer; it's assault; as much as you'd like to get revenge on the bully. The answer lies in school administration and in teachers confronting the bullies, filing charges with the police and doing whatever is necessary to have the bullies removed from the school. They know who the bullies are. School is no place to have a bully; so let's get them out. Talk is cheap and all of the "feel good" advice that counselors give to students is worthless. These kids need our help to make the bullying stop. Our intervention is long over due.

    One other Anecdote: My son was being bullied by another boy 3 years older. I allowed this to go on for 3-4 days and then walked up the street to the boys home and knocked on the door. The boys father answered...I explained the situation to him and told him that every time his son hit my son I would come to his home and hit him. The bullying stopped immediately! (Do not try this....I'm 6'5" and 225lbs) Use the legal system, that's what it's there for. Don't allow your child to be bullied; it's harassment, assault or worse and it must be stopped by you because your child is not able to make it stop.

    October 13, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • John

      Your totally right Dave. I was bullied nearly all of my school life, and even after I graduated and the bullies were no longer really around me the pain never left. I used to be a cutter, now I'm on anti depressants and seeing a shrink, but I still have issues with what happened to me and even thou it was years ago it effects my everyday life considerably.

      A big problem is not standing up for yourself. Through out all of my schooling I never really fought back, I more or less ran and hid and now I regret that every single day of my life. I would give anything to go back and stand up to those who bullied me, I know my life would be completely different.

      October 13, 2011 at 4:53 am |
  52. Susan

    It's totally on the school to prevent and confront bullying. My kids are in a great public school system, at least one of my kids is an absolute prime candidate for bullying (stereotypical nerd, aspergers even) – and the school system has intervened in many ways, sometimes directly, sometimes just in the general culture. She was coached, bullies were confronted and talked to, the general environment was conducive to reporting and not tolerating, etc., etc. – and this is a big school system. I went to the same one when this kind of thing was not in place and I was a victim – my kid though, is thriving, joining all sorts of clubs and activities, and has built a great circle of friends. Schools and teachers have the power if they get a solid program in place and everyone values and enforces it.

    October 12, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Beth

      Agreed! Parents play a huge role, but the reality is the bullying happens at schools, and if school administration and teachers aren't helping, bullying will run rampant. I have two teens in different schools due to programs they are in, and the difference between the administration is night and day. At one school teachers and staff participate in spirit days, talk to kids, eat lunch with them, etc. and there is nearly no bullying. At the other school, they do the bare minimum required, and every few years another student kills themselves due to the rampant bullying. So tragic.

      October 13, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  53. tdixon

    When are folks going to clue in that it's the parents?The parents of bullies need to teach their little punks that picking on other kids in wrong and will result in real consequences,parents need to teach there kids to help their class mates when they can and the parents of bullied kids need to let their kids know they will support their kids in doing whatever they need to do to stand up for themselves. my parents encouraged us to step in and support kids getting bullied because it's the right thing to do... a good samaritan type thing-as kids we also knew that being a bully was weak and if we did something that wrong we'd be vigorously punished at home

    October 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm |

    h t t p : / / w w w . ws az . co m / ne ws / head lines / 1316 29363 here is a story of a boy being bullied and beaten on a school bus and the school board will not help maybe YOU CAN HELP BY E-MAILING THE SCHOOL BOARD

    October 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  55. Hello123

    What about home schooling? We have to start accepting that society is evolving. The school system and even universities as they exist today are going to be losing their relevance very soon.
    You can learn anything on your own, and you can also teach your kids.

    Everyone in my family has been bullied in school, including myself. All of it seemed so senseless. It takes a life long journey to understand why we experience bullying.

    Victory requires preparation, and it also requires humility. Don't try to force your entry and establish yourself in an environment that is not nurturing and safe for yourself nor for your children.
    Plant yourself in a safe place, and bloom where you are planted.

    Pansies are hardy!

    October 12, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • zeke

      Since when is bullying part of the evolution of education?? Twisted comment....

      October 12, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Home-schooling is probably the worst thing. Talk about lacking in social skills. I have yet to meet someone my age who was home-schooled and has accomplished anything more than shift leader at McDonald's or pregnant at age 20.

      October 13, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • Maida

      Actually the biggest bully I have ever met was home schooled. He never learned how to interact with other children, and we fully expect to see him on America's Most Wanted someday.

      October 13, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  56. Roger

    Bullies were never friends of mine and I had so many friends because I would not stand for any of my peers to either be bullied or be a Bully (they either stopped or found themselves alone). Where are the people among you with the moral character to make such actions unacceptable? I was never large enough to beat up the bullies I encountered in my life and I have some battle scars to prove it. But if you as a collective see this problem as wrong, unacceptable and immoral ALL of you good people can stop it. Speak out when you see it happen, make such a fuss and draw attention to the Bully. If you have any ideals at all YOU (and I mean YOU as a collective) can make this world a better place even if you collect a few battle scars along the way. The 1st time I ended up with a bloody nose and I cried as I walked home. But Morgan stopped his actions and became a better person and my friend. All of you are the future so let your actions show the futures path. Oh, I was a nerd if you define a mathematics/physics major as one. But I was athletic too with a BIG temper when invoked. I can't say this enough, all of you as members of our society have the right and duty to stop this silly activity.

    October 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  57. Fabster

    The bullied should turn to the dark side of the Force and then they can use that powah to destroy the bullies.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  58. Miriam

    I was bullied. 6-8 grades the bullying was very bad. Two things helped me break the cycle of bullying. One was to befriend as many people as possible, especially other unique individuals at risk of being bullied. Then travel in large groups of these unique individuals from class to class. The second was in the 10th grade I learned to laugh at myself before the bully could. Somehow it hurt less if I was the one making fun of something I just did, than if any other person ever did it.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  59. TG

    I tell my kids the same thing Mom told me; be respectful always. She also told me, "don't you dare start a fight with someone, but if someone starts with you, finish it–whatever it takes." I was a quiet, poor kid–the advice served me well; it serves my children well. Kids are mean, my kids, your kids, all kids. Not all the time, not even most of the time, but all of them are some of the time. We try to teach our kids to be kind, thoughtful, patient, etc, but you can bet your a$$ we prepare them for a world where life is contact sport, to the victor goes the spoils, and people don't say sorry.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Jef

      Well said!

      October 12, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  60. L

    They wouldn't. Humans tend to be cautious when something unusual happens.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  61. Elliot Ness

    We should allow high school kids to carry guns. Then there won't be any bullying.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Miriam

      Then you just get dead kids. The bullying would still happen. Additionally, not all families can afford guns, so those whose family's can afford and will provide a gun will bully those who can't afford one.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • hmmm...

      Yes, I agree. It would be fun to see which kid draws faster- the bully or the bullied.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • The pope

      Instead of guns how 'bout electric cattle prods. Less cleanup that way. And for those that can't afford one we could start a Zap Your Neighbor foundation.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
    • Jennifer


      "We should allow high school kids to carry guns. Then there won't be any bullying."

      Why do people like you always think the answer is a gun? once you bring a gun into the equation everything changes one mistake and a kid is dead or a whole lot of people end up dead or wounded.

      October 12, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
      • PM

        Sarcasm is difficult to convey on the internet apparently.

        October 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  62. Eileen

    So called 'Zero Tolerance" is BS. Stop double victimizing the victim. They should be punished because they were bullied? How ridiculous. That makes them feel even worse, like they have no choice but to take bullying and they are virtually abandoned by anyone who could offer meaningful solutions. My daughter was bullied at the tender age of 5, in Kindergarten, on the bus by 2 girls. My little one told me about it and I talked to the bus driver about it. He said he had witnessed it and had told their Day Care teachers about it – actually expecting them to do something about it. (I think he meant well though). I went through all the channels – I talked to her teacher who said that no one could do anything about it because it wasn't physical and couldn't be proved. (what about the witnesses?) Then I talked to the principal who basically just advised me not to call the parents of these kids. THEN my little daughter decided, all by herself, to go to the other girls' teacher and tell her that these girls were being mean to her. I was so proud of her. But once again the teacher did absolutely nothing. Can you imagine the message my daughter got from that? I was livid by this time. I called the principal again and told him that if this wasn't handled properly immediately, I was going to get on the bus and talk to these girls myself and it wasn't going to be pretty! Then I called the girls' mothers and they were both unaware of their kids' behaviour and were appreciative that I let them know and they would take care of it. And they did. My girl never had a problem again (at least that year until Middle School). What I took from this? You only get results with situations like these when you get ANGRY. You have to get aggressive with people that don't care and aren't doing their jobs (after giving them a chance), and have to stay on top of it. As it turned out, one girl always had emotional problems and couldn't get along with anyone, and the other was disliked for various reasons – not that that made me feel any better. But my daughter is now 19, in college for pre-Veterinary with a $60,000 scholarship and a bright future. She is very compassionate. She raised almost $9,000 for Darfur relief as a freshman in High School. This message is for others who are bullied – you will hopefully get past it eventually, if you are validated and the proper steps are taken by those in charge to reinforce that they do not deserve bullying, they are worthwhile, and the bullies are the bad people (put in more diplomatic terms). Adults – don't just look away and let them suffer. Oh, and I forgot another step in this process – bringing my daughter and the two little bullies together in a room with the school counselor and make them 'work it out'. What a crock of crap that was. It gives bullies too much credit and further seems like punishing the bullied child, in a way. Plus the counselor puts them on an equal level, which is unfair. My heart goes out for those being abused & bullied – I've been there myself, am 54 years old, and I still feel very hurt and angry about the things that happened – just as much as if it happened yesterday.

    October 12, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Chuck

      Once again it's the legal system and whose rights are more important. People hide behind human rights all the time. Someone bullies someone the person being bullied has the right to face their accuser, but the bully has rights to protect them from being accused....with the adult that reports it being libel....crazy. I agree with the whole school parading the banner of standing up to bullies, but their hands are tied, but lets look further...why are their hands tied? Because the bully kids have bully parents. Those wonderful rich folk (not all but most) made much of their money by bullying people to the top or being loud and thinking they are better and can do no wrong, when in reality they have those jobs and positions because they intimidated the ones that actually have brains and compassion. Will it or can it change....no, because the adults need to change first not the kids and the biggest bullies are the lawyers, politicians and those types that are supposed to care about all people....not just those that can pad their bank accounts or help bank roll elections....glad to see your daughter did well and is positive....hate to say it though....the Darfur thing was actually helping bullies around the world....money raised and sent actually does nothing but provide more stuff for the bad guys...they steel most of the aid and extort the rest.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • kirstyloo

      I'm very glad that the other girls' moms listened to you and did something about it.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  63. Jay

    As someone who conisders himself a nerd/geek, I am actually proud of who I am. So how about this society: instead of trying marginalize those you consider to be "nerds", how about you just accept them as who they are? I mean, we are the ones who invented your Iphones and have given you plasma tvs, etc. So, instead of thinking your ultrasocial worldview is right 100% and that we are a minority who needs to be integrated, why don't just accept us for who we are? In addition, let's think about this logically here: the so called "normal" kids worry about socializing and how they appear in that "food chain", if you will, and often get into drugs, crime, and other crap, and then grow up, b/c that's "normal" behavior. Now let's think of the "nerds": we keep to ourselves and are more interested actually doing well at school and achieving things because we realize what we are capable of, and then we often become people like Bill Gates in the end. However, the former frequently (BUT NOT ALWAYS) just lives an "average" lifestyle or is flipping burgers. PEOPLE WAKE UP! IF THIS IS WHAT SOCIETY SUPPORTS AND EXPECTS OF IT'S YOUTH TO THE POINT WHERE SOMEBODY WHO DOESN'T FIT INTO CATEGORY IS CONSIDERED "WEIRD" OR HAS DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER LEAVES ADULTS PERPLEXED FOR ACTUALLY DOING THE RIGHT THING, THEN THIS IS WHY WE ARE IN THIS SITUATION TODAY. AND LET ME ALSO TO THAT REGARD: IT'S NOT JUST THE BULLIES, ITS SOCIETY AND IT'S ILLOGICAL EXPECTATIONS THAT KEEP REINFORNCING THIS CRAP. A lot of us felt this way for so long, so it is nothing new, but it's 2011: let's actually try and use our heads for once so their actually CAN be a future!!! This is what the negative aspects of our social culture led too, and they just keep reinforcing them...maybe "normal" isn't written in stone and we can actually realize reality is way more complicated than that...?

    October 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Jay

      Oh, and one other thing; how about you "normal" people and "hipsters" try adapting to our way of life and thinking for once, rather than us trying to adapt to your idiocy? If you watch an episode of Stargate, you may actually like it more and find interesting rather than worrying someone catching a ball or letting your romantic feelings overtake your ability to reason! Maybe the world wouldn't be such a messed up place? (oh, and i hope the american psychological association is reading this and maybe learning something about categorizing young people into one frame of thinking)

      October 12, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
      • Jay

        Sorry, typing quickly, ignore the grammar. Just focus on what I am trying to say...

        October 12, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  64. John Thomas

    Special Education is the watchword for any parent or teacher of a student ( child ) who admits to being unable to concentrate on the subject, instruction, class participation, study groups, etc. ... it isn't deep space rocket science.

    Children who cannot keep their hands/body off other students and / or can't stop mouthing off to other students and teachers become qualified for special education too. This includes bullies too. Bullies have not learned that just because they don't think like other students, because of physical weaknesses, unable or unwilling to defend themselves, unable to control their thoughts to stay on the given subject. Each of these and more qualify for special education.

    SE has routinely been used for retarded kids when it should have always included students with underdeveloped personal defense mechanisms that, by and large, begins in their home environment. Too many students are bullied in school because bullies see that their target students have learned to not defend themselves. The bullies don't really care how the target(s) came to not defend them selves, they just want to act out their will to bully others.

    The parents/family may not know that they have doomed a child to be bullied in or around school. They may only know that they can bully the child with little or no personal repurcussion. Once this becomes known by student counsellor a deeper analysis and contact with the student parents/family to determine cause and course.

    The education of abusing and target students must be accomplished before a child becomes an adult ot else ...!

    John Thomas

    October 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Older Sista

      That all sounds very logical and doable...I like it. When I was going into the 7'th grade, my family moved from the country and small schools to a small town and a centralized school, grades kindergarten to 12'th. I was so miserable. I wasn't verbally bullied, I was totally ignored. In my freshman year I became best friends with a girl one year older, then we added one other girl and life was o.k. I never did hook up with any of my classmates, never went to a reunion....today I have more friends than I have time to keep up with. There was one other girl who was further down on the food chain than I was; I never befriended her. Sooo wish I had.

      October 12, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Merc

      I like it, HOWEVER:
      My only concern is that, by your definition, this could (by a bureaucratic school system) easily be turned around to make the victims sound like the ones who should be in special ed....as they're likely the ones who are socially awkward and not trying to fit in.

      October 13, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  65. gotacomment

    I agree, if you can get the drop on a bully, especially if it's the head of the herd, you stand a good chance of being left alone. It worked for me (though I shook in my shoes wondering when I'd be the one blamed) and it helped even more that my mother had some clout with the PTA and had no hesitation in telling off the teachers who deliberately turned a blind eye to what was going on. Today, however, with Facebook and other Internet sites, it's easier for the bullying to be anonymous and more vicious. There literally is no escape, unless you have the sense and the strength to get off the site and it's very hard not to keep reopening the wound by going back there..

    October 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  66. R

    I feel sick of these bully victims. Get a job and move on a$$h0|e$.

    October 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Sari in Vegas

      Yeah, because it's SO easy and legal to get employed at 11. STFU

      October 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  67. Lindy

    Why does nationalism have to come into everything? Bullying is not about "growing up in America" - it is a form of sadism, joy in inducing suffering in others, and choosing the weak as targets, that sadly is embedded in human nature. Societies can explore different ways to combat bullying, but as long as we think of hte phenomenon as culturally contingent, we will never understand and address the issue.

    October 12, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Chuck

      Like I said As long as we have parents that keep it going and political leaders not practicing what they preach it will continue.....kids will continue to learn from those they are told are role models.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  68. Chuck

    I laugh when I see the White House standing behind the rally cry against bullying....talk about hypocrites. I mean really....election campaigns = bullying, Wars = bullying, lobbyists = bullying, helping the rich get richer and poor get poorer = bullying....come on people. The elitist folks will always bully and it trickles down. We focus on the kids as the bullies, but really they learn it from their parents, and those that say they get it from TV and so on get worse cuz parents do nothing about it and when it gets out of hand and someone is seriously hurt we have to make new laws to protect people, because laws do not exist to do that already....make some laws for protection of victims and not aggressors and the world could start to get better, but as long as the White House is allowed to bully......not much "HOPE" is there for "CHANGE".....can ya hear me Obama?

    October 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • RachelM

      Why are you accusing President Obama for not being able to do his job when his every move to make changes in this country is blocked by Congressional GOPers?
      Now THERE is a good example of bullies at work as adults– the Republican party.

      October 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  69. C.W.

    As one who was bullied, I feel sorry for the kids that feel that suicide is the only way out. I choose to fight, my mom was not even upset when I fought back she was upset that I got suspended from school. Kids have to stand up from themselves, I understand that some kids have bad homes but others should not be punished for it. Teach them to have a healthier outlet by punching them in the face.

    October 12, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Miriam

      Sometimes the suspension is worth the increase in self pride in sticking up for yourself.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  70. Juanita Beasley

    My long post disappeared. Sheesh. Anyway standing up to a bully works...if only one person is bullying you.

    I guess I won't write my story again, since I'm too emotionally drained. My heart goes out to all the kids out there suffering. I guess it gets better, but the pain is still there.

    October 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • gotacomment

      Juanita, my long post, a reply to Stefan, disappeared, too. My point was, now that bullying has gone digital, it's impossible to punch out the one(s) bullying you because the Internet is more insidious and pervasive. Inescapable cyberbullying is what is driving victims to suicide. There literally is no escape.

      I am sorry your long post disappeared; I'm sure you have so much to say that could help the rest of us. Some day when you feel up to it I hope you'll post again.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  71. BobZemko

    I got the ultimate revenge: I grew up to be 6'-4" and weigh 230 pounds. I have organized my three high school reunions and all the people who bullied me were there. I towered over them and was just as nice as anything to them. You could see the fear and shame in their faces.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Gumby

      You lucky bastage! lol. I've gained 45 pounds since high school and I only weigh 160! And yeppers was I ever bullied. Eh, I got over it.

      October 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Eileen

      That is the best revenge! Now who are the pathetic losers? (not that you ever were)

      October 12, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  72. ex-teacher

    As father to a son that was bullied, as well as an ex-bullying victim and an ex-teacher, I had the opportunity to examine the bullying phonomena from various perspectives.
    I was really small in HS- 4'10"& 80lbs my freshman year. I had to outsmart my tormentors because there was no way I could compete physically. One of my favorite tactics was to taunt the bully, asking th bully how many people were going to think he was cool for messing with someone so much smaller than himself. Call the bully a 'loser.' Whatever tactic I used, I stared (up at) my tormentors straight in the eye, showing them my own anger. Was I scared? Oh hell, yes. Did it work? I'd say, 80%-90% of the time.
    As a teacher, it didn't take me very long to figure out who the bullies were. I would wait and catch them in the act- then, publically, verbally, giving them a dressing down that would give them a small taste of their own medicine. Afterwards, I would talk to the bully, kindly, re-establishing proper standards of conduct, but also, offering them oppurtunities to talk about their own struggles. Not excusing the bullying behavior, but you'd be surprised how often the bullies would come to me to talk about their own issues. The principal was surprised how quickly the classsroom was turned around. The trick was to shower all the kids with tons of (appropriate)affection and praise, but to have VERY firm boundaries of what was/wasn't tolerable behavior.
    Behind my back, I overheard my students tell others: "Mr. M____ is really nice, but you DO NOT want to make him mad."
    To the teachers who told me, when my son was being bullied, they didn't know who the bullies were, or couldn't control their classes (I was actually heard both of these statements used to justify my child not having a safe/sane environment for him to learn in.), my response to the teachers was to encourage them to find others lines of work. To the principal of the school, I threatened a law suit. Not enough to make money off the school, just enough to pay for private tutoring/homeschooling. The incidents of bullying decreased precipiteously after that.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • ieat

      best response ever.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  73. al peuster

    I have a question? Is not one of the problems in America is that not only in school but every day on Fox news and Msnbc bullying goes on continually? Put down after put down, degrade the other side, lie about others. What ever happened to the idea of talking issues without having ad hominem arguements in which one tries to win by making the other look foolish. Our nation has gone crazy!

    October 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Elly

      I think that mostly insecure and immature people do that, but I know what you are saying that it comes from other inappropriate avenues too.

      October 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  74. woohoo

    I found a way in 7th grade to keep some bullies at bay. Find their weakness, and in most cases that means peer approval.
    I would tell them kids were talking behind their backs and that their friends didn't really like them. Makes 'em wonder. Makes 'em mad with worry.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Matt

      As I said, cut their ego! You got it man! They lose power when they lose attention!

      October 12, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  75. Kevin

    We just got beat by a bunch of nerds. NERDS!

    October 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  76. Matt

    What baffles me is the fact that so much money and hours are spent studying this. It's like adults have never been a kid or completely had their brains wiped after they turned 20 or so. Its no mystry. Or at leas ti recall my childhood. Bullies do what they do becuase its like crack for their ego, and they love the attenion. They get entertainment and power from it and have a hard time with empathy. Whether thats becuase they enjoy it so much, or compensating for home life issue, etc. it doesnt matter. In the end they feed their ego. The ego and attention boost is FAR more powerfull than the slap on the wrist they get when they have to go to the office, get suspension for a couple days or have to write a ridiculous "think sheet". Think about it from an adult side, if you complete a project that was successful at work and they made good coin on it, and then a short time later boss calls you in and yet get scolded for the way you did something, which feeds your ego more? Would you do it again if you got recognized for your work?

    If a kid gets beat up in school by a bully (at least around here) both kids get suspended for fighting, whether or not the victim fought back. This needs to stop, if a victim stands up to this and drops the bully, dont condoen fighting but certainly dont suspend them. the bully wins in this situation.

    Another problem that kinds know now (that we didnt when we were that age) that us adults are responsible for them. We are legally bound to take care of them no matter what your morals are. No matter what they do they have someone to fall back on.

    My opinion without much thought, stand up to the bullies, have to have some self respect. Schools these days do not teach kids hoew to deal with disappointment. Bullying will get better eventually, but we need to stop enabeling these kids with success (false sense) around every corner. Teach self respect, key to bullies is the ego tree buffet, remove the ego food and remove the bully. You have to cut the ego down.

    Lastly, BE A PARENT, dont leave raising your kids to the school. When teh school calls you about your kid, dont make everything thei rproblem. Parents to do not take an acive part in responsible school related parenting should have legal remmifications!

    "If you dont want a weed to grow, don't feed it!" – Me

    We are not doing these kids a favor with the current system. STOP overthinking the situation! sorry, rant off.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  77. DRKS

    "based off of"? Really?? Please edit your articles more carefully, okay?

    October 12, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  78. Stefan

    I was bullied a lot all the way up from kindergarten to high school. Sophmore year in high school this kid grabbed the baseball cap off of my head, I flipped out, got him in a headlock and proceeded to pummel his face. The next day he came to school wearing sunglasses and I suddenly had the respect of my classmates. I still kind of feel bad for the kid. Yes he was a d1ck, but his father used to beat the ever living poo out of him @ home, so he rebelled at school. Most bullies are that way because their parents suck. Whatever punishment the bully gets at school usually pales in comparison to what he/she gets from their parents when they get home.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Elaine

      That really is sad. There probably is a lot of bullies out there that are abused by their parents – and then take out their hostility on other kids who can't protect themselves – vicious circle. Break the chain. Don't pick on people who have nothing to do with your own problems.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  79. Kevin

    Here's a thought:

    Stop treating criminal behavior like it's cute or normal when kids do it. If you shake down somebody for money as an adult, you go to prison. If you hit somebody, you get charged with assault. If you harass them, there are legal ramifications.

    I'm glad to see "bullying" finally called out as criminal behavior jusitified by adolescence alone.

    October 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • justin

      Yeah, let's go after this 'criminals'! we need a million 13 year olds in jail so they know it's NOT OK to be a kid and learn to socialize as you age! I was bullied for being a nerd, and while i do not condone the action, it's not the worst thing in the world...its not. if you dont believe me, try being a kid in Iraq!

      October 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Why don't we take responsibility as adults and do our best to provide a safe place for our children and quit pasing laws that don't work.

      All this stuff about Bullying has been overblown over the last few years.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  80. Former Kid

    You don't have to be a nerd to be bullied. I was relatively popular. I ran track, was a cheerleader, and had good friends. I can specifically remember finding alternative routes to my destination whenever I saw Diana Yee. She would go out of her way to be mean and awful. Just had our 20th class reunion, I didn't go because I just plain didn't care to see Diana Yee again. I'd bet money she's still a horrible person.

    October 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • i2h

      i like how you explicitly called them out by name (no sarcasm...just found it amusing. off to facebook!).

      i was mildly geekish, but was only mildly bullied, and only up til middle school. and even when i was bullied, my best friend at the time had a habit of kicking the crap out of them for me. good times...

      October 12, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      When you skip life over other people you are the only one that suffers. Quit being afraid, seek life and make your own life safe.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  81. Lydia Mae

    People -no matter their age- put you down to make themselves feel better. That will never change. I got bullied relentlessly by one kid in high school about my big nose (it IS big but works with my face – I was voted to homecoming court). It took me years to realize he was getting in the first jab. His nose was huge!
    Fast-forward to adulthood. I spent time on a youth outing with my church and the teens started to pick on me for my “advanced age” (40’s) like starving vultures. I thought I was beyond the pains of bullying. But no – it still hurt!

    October 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  82. Cassie

    I'm always amazed at how many of us who had been bullied in school post comments to articles such as this one. Never ever do I see a note from a 'former' bully. Now why do you suppose that is?

    October 12, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Lydia Mae

      So true!

      October 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • RedinAustin

      I think very few people want to admit they were a bully. No one wants to think of themselves torturing a fellow human being.

      October 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Bullies never learn to read...

      October 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
      • highnoon

        Or write...

        October 12, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Professor P

      Most former and current bullies are in denial about the fact that they were bullies. I believe that they do not even recognize themselves when their actions are described. Unfortunatelhy, most teachers and school principals are also in denial. This was true even at the private Christian school I sent my daughter where the principal loudly proclaimed that he stopped all bullying.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • f

      They don't have access to the internet in prison.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  83. Justin

    I was a nerd in high school, but no one really considered me to be that way because I was a great athlete. I was valedictorian, first on the internet, tech savvy, wore slacks and a tie to school. Nobody cared because I was Varsity QB, Varsity baseball. And now I am a nerdy engineer making money hands over fists for coming up with brilliant ideas that change the world for the better. I cry to hear stories like this because we cannot dish out the advice these kids need and remain politically correct. CNN would be sued for publishing a story that armed children with advice to defend themselves. I have taught my daughter exactly what to do at 4 years old: Pick an effective weapon that will render the bully harmless with one blow. Choose a moment the bully leasts expects and launch your ambush. If this bully has more than one victim, organize a coup. Lastly, and most importantly, do not relent until you are subdued by an authority figure. Send the message. The other side of this is that I am not afraid to confront, be it the child, the parent, the teacher looking the other way, to protect my child. I will be damned before I regret my child committing suicide because I was afraid to get in someone's face and stir a little controversy. Most parents have no clue their child is a bully. It's time for them to know an for the child to know that there are dire consequences for messing with your loved ones. You cannot sit back and allow the authorities to address this. Their purpose is to write the report in the aftermath. And write speeding tickets. So a child is bullying your kid at McDonald's payground. What do you do? I confront the child, tell that child to leave my daughter alone or the consequences will be dire, might even throw in some F-bombs. Child goes crying to mom or dad. Mom or dad comes in to confront me. I tell mom or dad the exact same thing, might even drop a couple of F-bombs. You don't like it, do something about it. Raise your kid to be polite and you won't have to put up with people like me getting in your face and your kid's face. If it happens when I am not there, expect your kid to get clocked with the largest piece of mass my daughter can find to knock your child out. A trip to PrimaCare may be involved. Sounds barbaric and old school, but everyone is also asking the question, why is their an increase of bullying issues? Maybe it's because we stopped handling these situations like this. Political Correctness might not be correct.

    October 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Turbokat

      I agree! The language that most bullies understand is their own FEAR and EMBARRASSMENT....Especially if it happens before an audience!

      October 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • steve

      Hope you enjoy visiting your kid in jail, and oh wait you can not because you will be in jail too.. god, you are an idiot.

      October 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
      • RuhrohRaggy

        Steve, the advice above is spot on & the best post yet. You, obviously, are an ephing dumbazz. STFU & go away.

        October 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
      • KeithTexas

        Steve, at one time I was a teacher and knew that I couldn't observe everything that goes on. Although a little less violent I gave the same basic advice to the kids in the class that were subjected to bad treatment from others.

        Bullying is a condition of humanness not something we can change or legislate, teaching the victims how to protect themselves is the best way to help them grow up without fear.

        October 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • MMc

      Superbly written! This is the only course of action that will work with bullies. Know your legal recourses before getting the ball rolling. My grandfather taught me to swing for the nose first and get it bleeding. Bullies don't like the sight of their own blood and this worked 100% of the time I was protecting friends in grade school and high school. This is what I taught my daughter for Middle School.

      October 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
      • steve

        there is no legal stance that would allow you to punch someone before they ever touched you in an assaulting manner.

        October 12, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  84. Ute Man 2010

    Good Lord Kid you dress like that and I would have taken your lunch money too. People bullied when I was young to and once we had enough to wracked them.. we might not have won but we made them think that their just might be a chance they would get a black eye and have to tell their friends who gave it to them.

    October 12, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  85. r

    It really just gets different when you become an adult so don't go thinking life will be getting so much better all the time. Adults can be worse and more subtle bullies. Just think about the many ways a lot of young people and companies deal with people over the age of 50.

    October 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Ute Man 2010

      You got that right, the youth of today don't treat older folks well at all and its sad.

      October 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
      • lastmanstanding

        That's because people over 50 generally think people under 50 owe them something. I'm 30 and I've been dumping my social security deduction on them since I was 16. Glad they've made such good use of it. We don't owe people over 50 anything. Infact they owe US an apology for what we've inherited from them. Go ahead and tell me about all wars they fought and freedoms they earned..... then look to your right and left at the wounded vertans in their 20s who the VA ignores and you get irritated by. I used to believe in a "greatest generation".... just curious where it went.

        October 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  86. appcomplain

    Those who commit suicide from bullying are weak. Plain and Simple. One must understand that it is a dog eat dog world. One must stand up for themselves. Verbal bullying ignore it. Physical bullying: retaliate. Doesnt matter if you take some hits in the process. But nevertheless stand up for yourself.

    October 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jakey


      October 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
      • Elaine Connelly

        No you are wrong. You must stand up for yourself. No one is going to do that part for you. You'd be surprised what happens when a little bit of a thing (68 yrs old, 120lb) can do when their dander is up. I have faced down the worst of the worst, a drunk with a gun, and he backed off when I threatened him with a broken beer bottle. You'd be surprised what you can do. Of course you may not be able to stand up to anything.

        October 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
      • Kait

        If you think a "drunk with a gun" is the worst of the worst, then I envy you.

        October 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Cassie

      So very, VERY wrong!

      October 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Kait

      Deep-fried extra-crispy wrong.

      October 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Barnum

      If you're physically weak and are being bullied, there is nothing you can do about it if you decide you have had enough. Oh wait, I forgot about Columbine.

      October 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • tnunnster

      Maybe we should issue hand guns to all school kids, with permission to shoot bullies. (This would also help reduce classroom size.)

      October 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
      • nursemom


        October 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • ned

      HAHAHA. That's the weakest thing I've ever heard. Suicide is not weak nor cowardly. It's the hardest way out you can imagine partner. What's weak is that you see the world as dog eat dog. The dog is a pack animal, the strong protect the weak. Anyone who fights for a living knows that you win some, you lose some. There's always someone out there who can whip you. A real man applies himself to standing up for others first. See: US Military. That dog eat dog stuff is the copout of a coward.

      October 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Eleanor

      Nice tough macho talk. Walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you judge.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
      • Eleanor

        Oops this was meant for accomplain

        October 12, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Franklin

      Jerk. Could you be any colder?

      October 13, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Merc

      Spoken like someone who has never lost a child or friend to suicide because of bullying. Crawl back in your hole....

      October 13, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  87. Voltairine

    Very generally, meaning to excuse those that really do care and are actually trying, adults just don't want to be bothered with the time, trouble, effort, energy, costs, etc. of actually protecting children from bullies. That is the real reason why this hasn't already been solved. In order to defend themselves from the fact that adults refuse to take responsibility for not protecting children, advocate everything that puts it all on the victims to resolve. Furthermore, there are a lot of people out there that have explicitly stated that bullies should abuse other children so that they learn about life; that is simply diseased. The point of view of a victim of a bully is that this child views adults as incompetent and uncaring and that there is NO EXCUSE to not do a LOT more to protect children from bullies; you just don't care.

    October 12, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Mike

      I don't think that's it at all. I was bullied all of my school life. I was always one of the smart kids, and even as a fully grown adult, I'm only 5'3", so I had to endure a large number of short jokes growing up. But in the end, that experience, while tough to deal with at the time, strengthened me and taught me how to be introspective. It taught me tact and empathy, and gave me the willpower to stand up even when I know I'm about to get knocked down again. I never got to be the "bully vanquisher" who knocked a bully out, but I never had to either... I suffered through my share of bruises, but I was never really broken, in spirit or in body.

      October 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Zeb

      In 6th grade, a kid punched me in the mouth. I wiped the blood with the back of my hand, and just smiled at him, told him I would catch him later, winked, then walked off. He never bothered me again. Still recall the look on his face. Mental intimidation works. But you have to have the guts to be willing to go through with the implied threat.

      October 13, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  88. J

    Nerds make more money.


    If it was a nerdy thing, I probably like it. I was online before anyone else even knew what it was. Marching band? Check. Good grades? Check. Star Trek? Check.

    Of course, it all paid off in the end...I make way more money (and am now way more attractive) than any of the people I knew back then.

    October 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Grandma

      Get out of the basement and get some sunshine sweetie! I can't clean up your dungeon when you are down there playing WoW and eating Cheetos all day.

      October 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
      • glen


        October 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  89. Tea Party Express

    I was bullied for years in school, and I tried everything they told you back in the day: ignore it, walk away, tell a teacher.

    Jack squat changed.

    Then one day at gym I had enough and broke the bullies eye socket VIA cheapshot with a roller skate. The bullying stopped, forever.

    October 12, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • appcomplain


      October 12, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Cassie

      You are a god. 🙂

      October 12, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • morph147

      see i would have done that but then the other 95% of the school that was in on the bullying would have joined in and all.

      October 12, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  90. Christian

    I have been bullied as well. I remember a group of kids ganging up on me in the cafeteria and then going back and forth dissecting my (mismatched) middle school wardrobe and basically telling me they thought I was ugly. One of them started to call my house. Pretty arrogant, huh?
    The older you are, the easier it is to distance yourself from their venom. My heart goes out to the elementary and middle school kids. They are young. They need to know "this too shall pass"

    October 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Cassie

      Very well put. It's not easy living through that sort of hell growing up, but I admit that adulthood has been so much better.

      October 12, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  91. Don

    Last school year my son had a 6th grade classmate that was incessantly teased and bullied by a small group of boys about being gay. This boy was small for his age, quite shy and easily intimidated which just feed the group of bullies. He was also impeccably groomed which feed the perception that he must be gay. My son did not know this boy until the day he came upon 3 of the bullies taunting him during lunch. My son is the opposite of this boy. He is tall, outgoing and does not back down when confronted by bullies. He also despise bullies.

    My son saw what was happening and asked one of the bullies to stop and leave the other boy alone. The lead bully got up into my son's face and told him to walk away before things got bad for him. My son replied, "you better drop me with the first punch otherwise this situation will not end well for you". The boy's response? "I don't have time for this". He and the other bullies walked away. Since that day the taunting and bullying of the smaller boy decreased significantly. He was not gay and being impeccably groomed paid off as apparently 7th grade girls care about how a boy dresses and grooms himself. He is one of the few boys that has a girlfriend.

    My point? Bullies feed off the power they get but when confronted are very often as scared as the people they bully. There is a bit of irony in this story. The lead bully was constantly telling classmates behind my son's back how tough he was and how he could take my son down whenever he wanted. About a month ago he finally had an opportunity. This bully and my son are on the same youth football team. At the first practice in full pads the coaches ran an Oklahoma drill. The bully now has his opportunity to back up his words. Long story short, he ended up on his back 3 times in a row. He stopped talking behind my son's back.

    October 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • 1CalNative

      Don, good for your son. As soon as others step in and stop the bullying, the bullies will stop. As you said, bullies thrive on the power of being on top, and knocking them of that pedestal will stop the bullying.

      As one that was bullied as a kid, the only other way for a bullied kid to beat a bully is, not to hit back, but to stand up and say, i don't care what you say. It may be the hardest thing for the kid to do, but from my own experience,as the smallest kid in school, you have to not care what they say. That takes inner strength, which is as hard to learn as it is to teach. In my case it was Ju-Jitsu/Martial Arts. That taught me confidence in myself and that helped me in more ways than I can count.

      October 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • saradode

      Your son is awesome, and you must be awesome to raise a child like that. I wish there were more out there like both of you. 🙂

      October 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Cassie

      Don, you should be very proud of your son. You've done a magnificent job of raising him!

      October 12, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • kirstyloo

      I think that is one of the points of the anti-bulling movement...to help educate and encourage other people to prevent bullying. Bullies stop if they don't feel support from the group. It is lucky that he has the stature to do this...and you must have taught him well at home.

      October 12, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  92. Mer

    It's true that ignoring the bullies, being nice to them, all that standard advice, doesn't work. The only thing that does work is to figure out what about you is making them target you, and change it. Your clothes are mismatched? Your laugh is too loud? You speak up when no one wants your opinion? Change those things, blend in, learn to be self-aware, and you'll stop attracting that negative attention.

    ...But then you have those kids who are overweight, or who are small in size, or who are gay, or who simply don't have the ability to learn to modify their behavior to be more "normal." What can they do? Nothing. In the end, kids pick on those who are "different," because it's a human impulse. The only consolation you can have is that it's wrong, it really is, because it's not a bad thing to be just the way you are. Even if you wear mismatched clothes, you shouldn't have to change to be more "normal," even if you can.

    You have to tell yourself, if other people don't like the way you are, screw them. There are people out there who will love you just the way you are. No matter how you are. You might wonder, "Where are they?" But it's harder to see the love and acceptance people have for you when you don't love and accept yourself, which is something the bullies may have sabotaged for you. They are out there. You may just have to really internalize the belief that you're fine just the way you are before you can see the truth of it.

    There's my two cents on the topic. I'm a 27 year old female nerd who's been struggling her whole life to be more self-aware and understanding of other people's expectations of me. I still wish I were more socially adept but I have friends who acceot me the way I am, and I them just the way they are, and that makes me more than happy enough.

    October 12, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Kris

      Yes, if personal safety is at stake, it makes sense for the victim to change their behavior. But on the flip side (and perhaps longer term), let's change the behavior of the bully. The do the things they do for a reason and there are ways to counteract the negative behaviors. It won't be easy because there is a fine line between acceptable and unacceptable social behavior.

      October 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Cassie

      Sorry, but that doesn't work. Sure, you can change your laugh, but then the bullies will target something else about you. Clothes don't match? Change your style and become Miss Popularity. Right? Wrong! You don't change who and what you are to please these guys.

      October 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
      • Mer

        You didn't read the rest of my post, did you?

        October 14, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • KeithTexas

      Giving up yourself to fit in is no life. If fitting in is your goal then good for you but if you have to deny yourself to fit in that is a shame.

      October 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
      • Mer

        I don't think you read the rest of my post either. I said that in the end, the only real solution is to find people who accept you the way you are, because although it's a human instinct to give negative attention to those who are different, it's wrong.

        October 14, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  93. Turbokat

    I was bullied in grade school....because I was a good girl and a good student. I was also chubby, AND I was ethnic (Greek). One boy in particular made my walk to and from school sheer misery, taunting me about being one of the above....or simply skipping past me delivering a fist to my upper arm.
    One day, I finally had it. After asking a friend to hold my books, I took off after him, my anger making me run faster than I had ever run. When I caught up to him, I grabbed the back of his shirt and proceeded to shake him like a ragdoll. The shirt tore off of him, and I saw a look of distress on his face. Other kids, along with his siblings, saw the spectacle and began to tease HIM! He had to go home and explain to his mother how a girl got the better of him. After that, he pretty much left me alone.
    I realized a few things that day. Bullies also don't see things as others do. For the most part, they're dumber than we are and it doesn't take much to figure out how to turn the tables on them.
    Incidentally: Ten years later, I ran into the same boy in a restaurant. He was in full ARMY uniform, and very handsome.
    I couldn't believe his politeness and obvious delight at seeing me! We chatted for awhile, and shook hands as we parted. I try hard to remember him as I saw him that last time.

    October 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  94. Jay

    I was the nerd in HS too – but in a lot of ways I self-imposed that on myself because I didn't put myself out there. I didn't try and get to know people because I assumed that they wouldn't like me and I assumed that they were making fun of me. 30 years later and guess what – I am successful, I had a great career in the military, and now my best friends in life are the Class President/Football Quarterback, the Head Cheerleader, the Girl Most Likely to succeed and all the kids that I thought would never like me. I wish I would have stepped out on that limb back in HS. There were a couple of times when I was bullied but guess what I stood up for myself and didn't back down and the bully went away – turning the other cheek never worked but my fists sure the hell did! But today that wouldn't be PC to stand up for one's own self so now bullying is a National Crisis – to the kids out there that feel bullied – start a Bully Club at your school – learn how to kick A$$ and have each other's back!

    October 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  95. Bill

    I find it interesting that modern society now accepts what was previosly thought of as neerdy. I'm talking of people now walking around with a cell phone on their belt. In the 80's, if you had that kind of utility belt and a fascination with technology, you were automatically called a nerd and shunned. Maybe they were simply ahead of their time.

    October 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  96. Uglymontreal

    Be yourself!! Because of graffitti bullies, gangs of teenagers are defacing buildings in Monreal that are older than their great-grandfathers. Bullies know no limits, until they become adults. So hold onto your freinds and family, they count the most–NOT the bullies who in essence are GANG MEMBERS. That's where the term "ganging up" comes from, because in order to be a bully, you have to follow the dictates of others. BE YOUR OWN PERSON!!

    October 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  97. Gene

    Whatever pays off the mortgage.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  98. Kat

    I was bullied way more than I liked in school. 7th grade was pure hell, but my family and my friends were always there for me, by high school it all stopped. My husband was bullied due to being a total nerd, but now he has a great job. I know it's bad, but I do enjoy facebook friending old school mates and seeing how the popular jock has now turned into the beer gutted ball guy living in his parents basement, the prom queen has been through 3 nasty divorces and lives lives in an apartment. And we have just been out of school 12 years. One of the people who use to bully me has actually told me since then that I am the lucky one- I have true friends, a great husband, a nice house and a wonderful family and that she would trade places with me in a heart beat. So now years later I am glad I was a nerd who was picked on because I wouldn't be who I am now without it. I know that doesn't help many kids out there and all I know is that when it is going on it's hell, but it does get better- you just have to find ways to cope until you get to the other side. It's kinda like trying to cross a raging river and you aren't a strong swimmer – you can get across it, but it takes time, help from friends, and a lot of prayers.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • f

      KAT – I could have written your post (except I'm a guy!). I am right there with you. My 30th reunion last year was a trip. I looked younger than everybody, and better than most. Especially better than the bald, beer-bellied football jocks who busted my rump in HS. Outlasting your enemies is the BEST REVENGE !!!

      October 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • denim

      I went to an informal 20th reunion 9 years ago. It was fun, but I only remembered one of the people there. They all remembered me for some reason. I won't be going to the thirtieth next year, assuming they do one. My high school days, and the people who shared them with me, are so far in my past that there's no point. What went on, I don't remember. All I remember is that I didn't date, I didn't go to any dances, I didn't go to a prom. I went to football games and cheered on our team, which was fun, but nothing social at all. So why bother?

      October 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  99. Paul

    "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."

    Damn straight that stuff doesn't work. All it does it make the bully realize he can do whatever he wants without fear of retaliation. The cold, hard truth is that a bully only understands one thing: The taste of his own blood. If he realizes he's going to get hurt himself, then he'll lose interest in that particular target.

    Harsh? You bet. But it's the truth. And, unfortunately, it only works if you're more or less the same size as the bully.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • UNDEAD

      Good comment! I was always the new kid in a new school due to my father's big oil sales job. Oh and let's add that i'm black also. I dealt with more bully/racial issues than you could imagine. The key to ending it was always a well placed throat punch or uppercut. Funny how the teachers always turned a blind eye to my being called the "N" word and kids spitting on my lunch ect. but as soon as i defended myself get who would get sent to the front office? Me! You often need look no further than the parents of the bullies to see where it all comes from.

      October 13, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  100. Matthew

    It took me awhile to become proud of my nerdom, and even start to build a career out of it. I was a similar kid to Adam ... even though I didn't wear suspenders or anything like that, I didn't see things the same way my peers did. I still don't, to be honest, but as I've gotten older I've cared less and less about the thinking of the former bullies.

    It does get better, and I share Adam's consternation at what he could possibly say to an 8th grader experiencing this firsthand. Saying "things improve" does not help in the slightest, and the only thing I can think which would possibly help is a Zero Tolerance policy toward bullying in the schools. However, it has to be one that's thoughtfully applied and not just in a ham-handed blanket fashion. I don't have any easy solutions though, and I feel like if we did then bullying might not be as prevalent a problem in our nation's schools as it is.

    October 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
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