Standing up to bullies
My friends and family will tell you that I enjoy standing up to, and exposing, or helping to expose bullies. It is a firm belief of mine that those of us capable of doing so, have a moral obligation to not only defend people being subjected to bullying, but to also push back against the person who dares to mistreat their fellow human beings. This was a lesson my parents taught me fairly early in life.
Not many people know I was the target of many characters deciding, for one reason or another, to antagonize and harass me. In fourth grade, a couple of my friends one day decided to gang up on me, and physically assaulted me. Now “friend” is a loose term here, since we all know when you’re a kid friendship is based more on geographical convenience than any real commonality between you, but still. At that point in life, my parents had taught me to defend myself when attacked. So I did. The end result is that in a two versus one surprise attack, I came out unscathed. The unfortunate result is that the two kids involved realized they were outmatched, and brought in a bigger kid. The three of them would continue to pester and assault me over the course of the next few years, continuing into high school.
My parents made sure I also knew to never start a fight, just finish them. And bullying people who can’t defend themselves counts as starting a fight.
Junior high introduced another regular perpetrator of threats and assault. So basically, junior high was less than fun, for a number of reasons.
As an adult, I have come to find that people like those I encountered in school continue their behavior. Their schoolyard tactics of intimidation, physical violence, and name calling are enhanced with legal threats, and attacks on their targets livelihood. Some people never leave the playground, it seems. What disturbs me is the rate at which these folks get away with things, and so seldom do they suffer penalties for their actions. Even fewer of them face legal consequences such as lawsuits, arrests, or similar.
Typically, all it takes to shut these people down is for enough of us to stand up, and question the bully. Occasionally, some of them will feel “ganged up on” and continue their attacks, even doubling down on them. They simply do not see their actions as inherently wrong, or in need of correction. They push back, threaten more people, and make things worse for themselves.
It is my opinion that these edge cases should be dragged into the light, and exposed for the petulant, thin-skinned, immature people they are. They clearly do not learn from mistakes of their past, and nudging them to improve their actions towards others has no effect. They continue their abhorrent behavior, and suffer little to no consequence. These worst offenders continue to seal their fate with every ill-advised attack against those who try to hold them accountable.
So if you see a bully, do the right thing and confront them. Not for yourself, or someone you care about; but for those that cannot stand up for themselves.