When I was at my late twenties, I had a student for private English lessons. I was teaching him at our home which I lived with my parents. He was a teenager, and was attending to a school nearby.
Someday he was really late for the session, and because then we didn’t have cell phones so common as today, I had no means to call him and ask where he was.
He was one hour late already, so I decided leave home. But as soon as I stepped through the door, he was there with a black eye, and with his uniform everywhere.
I was shocked to see him like that, and also worried about what might have happened. When I asked him, you can easily guess his answer, especially due to our topic here. However, the situation was serious, almost like a real crime.
A few boys from the neighborhood, where my student’s school was, had beaten him to get his money. Boys were around 17 years old, and my student was 13. He wasn’t of a wealthy family, and his mother had come to me to ask for help for his English class, because if he failed once again, he would be kicked out of the school where English was one of the essential among the curriculum.
His mother had found me herself, and the idea of private lessons was hers, without the knowledge of her husband, who was the real father of the boy by the way. (Now, take notice for this detail because it’s important, and you’ll understand if you keep reading.)
When he told me about this, he didn’t ask me for help against the boys to take his money back or something, but he just told me that he wouldn’t be able to pay me for the session, and asked me to explain the situation to his mother, whom he thought would be very angry most probably.
Now, I might have thought he was after something else more “sinister,” like keeping session money he got from his mother to himself or anything. But he wasn’t such a boy, and the black eye was a proof strong enough. So I chose to make him show me those elder boys, which he did.
From this point, I will tell all what happened in full details, because actually these are all important when it comes to the manners and psychology of bullying guys.
We went to the same alley he was attacked, and sure enough, the boys were still there. Three of them, still in their school uniforms, and their bags with them. It was a tragicomic scene actually. Three school boys trying to play street games. I watched them from afar to see who the leader was, and when I picked him, I told my student to wait there and walked directly to them.
Now, there’s something that should be understand. Before I leave home with my student, I changed my clothes, and wore leathers and jeans. If I went them with jacket and tie manner, they would simply laugh at me, try to get rid of me somehow; but with my appearance and manners, it was completely another story. They were trying to act like a street gang, and I was there as someone who looked like a real gangster.
And the first thing about streetwise boys – especially whom think themselves as streetwise – is to treat them respecting the code, which means strength and sway; you know what I mean, right? I would make them taste their own potion.
He was really around 17 or 18 years old, and he was the king of the world in his own mind. (No, of course it was just a show, because mostly – almost without exception – with such boys comes a very low self-esteem in fact.)
I approached to him, and with a theatrical manner, I turned back to nod my student who was waiting far back at the entrance of the alley. Then I extended my open arm, and I gestured him to give the money back with a quick motion.
“Who the f..k are you, his brother?” he asked aggressively, but I noticed he was paled quite visibly. But in front of others, he chose to stand his ground.
“No,” I said. “But I wonder why you took his money.”
“It’s none of your business, go away,” he responded.
I kept looking at his eyes directly in a cold manner, and perfectly silent. I made him understand I wouldn’t leave without taking the money back.
At that point, spite of my elder age, he noticed – the first time I guess – that I was actually very shorter than him, so he looked down upon me. “I took his money, because I could,” he said. “What are you gonna do about it?”
It was funny actually, because while he said all these words, he was swallowing hard, and looking at his friends as if he wanted to be sure they were still with him. He was about to piss himself, and I was giving him a good lesson while I was having fun.
“Then you will give me the money, because I can kick your ass,” I said, having a look at the others as well. “All the three of you.”
Well, no need to tell the rest I think, because you can easily guess what happened afterwards, give or take. I took all the money they have, called my student to get closer, asked him how much he gave them, took it, and threw the rest of the money to be collected by the so-called “gang.”
On the other hand, how did I know so well about the bullying boys? Well, I did, because I was one of them once. Because when you fell as a victim of bullying boys, especially as a boy who is a bully magnet like me, you have two options: either you become victimized and get scarred for the rest of your life, or you become one of them to be able to survive, and get scarred for the rest of your life.
However, I was one of those luckiest ones who can find the third option to heal back with help and share the experience to… well, show the light?
Why Do We Become A Target for Bullies?
Simply… because we attract them… because actually we are one of them.
You should understand this principle first: hatred is hatred.
What differs is how you channelize it.
Either you push it out and become an aggressive person, or you swallow your hatred, and become a weak and squashed one.
But there is hatred in both versions, that’s for sure.
Remember the father of my student whom I mentioned about in my article titled “Are You A Target for Bullies? Then You Are Probably One of Them?”
His source of “being bully” was his father, because he was a monster figure in my student’s life. In what way was my student a bully? Well, in emotional way. He was provoking others – especially aggressive ones – to react through his weak manners. Because, trust me, with the slightest reaction or resistance, you can push the aggressive bullies away easily most of the time.
The common points among all these boys are actually their emotional scars. They all are overly emotional kids, but they have simply different ways to manifest it. Either they become the bullies, or the victims.
I don’t know about the “gang” members I mentioned in my first article, but probably they had fathers who forced them to be “tough guys” to protect themselves in life. And trust me, if they act that way, probably they – the fathers – have their own issues, too.
At the other hand, my student’s father taught him to be weak, silent, and to obey in the face of violence or physical threat. I know it, because I met the guy. From the very first moment, it was obvious what kind of a person he was. Probably he would yell at his son all the time, beat him quite often, and despised him openly.
What should be understood about such fathers is that they live in their own past, and subconsciously, they try to take their revenge through their sons, either forcing them to be aggressive, or turning them into silent lambs.
Well, don’t think girls don’t do the same. They are not like boys, of course, and they don’t physical or violent ways, but they are sometimes even more merciless emotionally.
There may be lots of details, and variations when it comes to actions of such bullies, but what is certain is that they all are children who are in need of understanding, compassion, encouragement, and guidance. Trust me, other than some exceptions, they are not bad at all; they are just… ignorant about life, and emotions of others.
As a bullying victim, and a bully boy afterwards, I’m very sensitive about this topic, and I’m taking very good care of my own son’s emotional quotient, and emphatic abilities. We are their guide, we should be good role models for them, and we should always show them the ways.
8 Measures You Can Take Against Bullies
Did you know the biggest scar in the process of bullying is for the bullies’ themselves, and for the rest of their lives?
When they grow up enough to understand the notion of empathy, they feel ashamed for what they did to others in their past.
This harms their self-esteem, and mostly – due to the fact they don’t know any other way around, and because they are left alone due to their manners, so they feel angrier than ever – they continue to their lives as aggressive people who are actually fearful within themselves.
The most powerful cure to this problem during school years is education: both for the bullies and the victims.
And here are the 8 measures you can take to prevent “bullyism,” from most common applications combined with my own experience, and knowledge as a personal development expert:
- Create a peer environment that sanctions against, rather than ignores or condones, the kinds of continuing hurtful actions that occur in bully/victim relationships.
- Take into account the fact that many factors help to maintain the bully/victim relationship, therefore the most successful interventions take place simultaneously at the individual, dual, peer, classroom, school and family levels.
- Schedule a full staff meeting to raise awareness and knowledge. Find out what other schools have done. Find out existing programs or initiatives in your school.
- Develop an anti-bullying school policy.Consultation between teachers, students, parents and other school personnel are important. Back your plans with curriculum work and existing policies. Improve playground conditions. You can plan peer supporting programs. And increase adult supervision at key times, such as lunch, recess, etc. However, as much as possible, leave the kids to discover their own and others’ limits among themselves.
- Create a short questionnaire or survey given to students and adults. Ascertain the level and nature of bully/victim problems in school. Create awareness of extent of problem. Discuss at staff meetings and with children and parents.
- Raise parental awareness about the behaviors of their children. Parent-teacher conferences, parent newsletters and meetings might be the best and most powerful tools for this.
- Explore possible social skills training programs, such as development of empathy among all children, development of anger management skills for bullies, development of effective conflict-resolution skills for bullies, and assertiveness training for victims.
Tough Guys Are Not Bullies All The Time
I was known as a tough guy, who walks around with a sullen face all the time, and would talk to nobody but a few well chosen friends.
Some of my peers would even exaggerate my situation to the point they would see me as a hoodlum.
Perhaps they weren’t so wrong after all, because if, in the cafeteria, I’d like to sit somewhere already taken, I would walk directly to the guy sitting there and say, “Hey, get up, the place is mine!”
And he would leave the place, because of the scary aura I created knowingly.
My reason was simple actually: I was bullied around, beaten and mocked for years that bully boys had showed me I had two options; either I would stay as the bullied one, or I would smash their faces, so they would know they should leave me alone. And I had chosen the second one.
I was a modern age Conan now. Well, ½ Conan they would call me, or Miniature Hercules!
Behind our academy building it was seaside, and people often would fish there.
However, they would leave their broken fishing hooks around, and sometimes cats or kittens would get hurt.
Once I found a little kitten that was hurt by such a hook. It had stuck to the little lady’s cheek, and it required a small operation to take it out. So I took the kitten with me to take her to the academy’s infirmary.
While I was passing through the cafeteria, a girl screamed loudly and walked towards me with a challenging manner. I never hit a female in my life, and it’s a matter of honor for me. So I wouldn’t hit her, either. But of course, due to her own prejudice, she didn’t know it.
She called me “monster” and asked me what I would do with the kitten. I was offended, and refused to tell her that I was taking the kitten to the infirmary. Instead, I told her that I would fry and eat the little baby.
I did that, because I wanted to keep my “monster” aura since it was my protection against bullies. I preferred to stay away from my peers, and most people around.
I didn’t care if she believed or not. I walked past by her, and took the kitten to the infirmary. It was easy to save her with the help of school’s doctor.
Just before leaving his office, doctor told me that there was still hope for the kitten… and me.
He was right, because I wasn’t a bully one. I was a tough guy. There’s a difference between these two.
You often hear that violent movies affect kids negatively. Well, from the experience, I know that’s NOT the case at all.
First of all, I believe all the kids should read comics especially during their adolescence. Don’t worry, it won’t change them, it will just help them to be themselves more.
I have to remind you who showed me the way out were two comic heroes: Spiderman and Conan.
Spiderman or Peter Parker taught me that being a hero is not about powers, but about qualities like generosity, bravery, tolerance, etc.
Conan taught me about the importance of not giving up anyhow, developing your strength, and – yeah – being a dreamer, and visionary.
No, adventure movies, or violent stories won’t affect your children negatively, as long as you are careful about their message. Most of you can’t deny the fact that comic heroes emphasize the best humanist qualities, even the “barbarian” ones like Conan.
The greatest threat is not violence, but the prejudice and images based on it.
During my years at academy of fine arts, I was known as a bullying guy. Actually I was a bullying guy for a very short while, but later on, I was actually a tough guy.
First of all, I wasn’t bullying anyone around, because there wasn’t anything I wanted from them. But I wanted them to leave me alone, and I was practicing body building, martial arts, reading personal development materials and classical literature, because I wanted to be strong both mentally and physically to ensure I wouldn’t be victimized by the bullies again. (Well, I had other reasons, too, and you will read it all in my coming book Dream Tiger.)
My behavior had created an image of me as a modern age barbarian, which was I wanted exactly. Why? Because people are afraid of what they don’t know, and they mostly leave it alone.
Years later, when I was back into normal and civilized world once again, I was teaching English at a private course for a while, just before I began to my career as a book translator. I had a teen student who reminded me my past. In the eyes of his classmates, he was a bully, or problem guy. But actually he was overly sensitive, and he was hiding it behind a tough mask.
I could have written him off as a problem kid easily, too. But I understood him, because I was at the same place myself once.
For both the bullies, and their victims… the key is a little understanding, compassion, encouragement, and guidance.
As I said before, other than some exceptions, they are not bad at all; they are just… ignorant about life, and emotions of others.
We should guide them to good, and if we don’t do that effectively, we can’t blame them for being bullies.