It’s no secret that school bullying often goes ignored! It seems that by default, school officials side with the bullies, refusing to hold them accountable and too often blaming the victim for the relentless and merciless attacks against them. Now we know why. When those in power, whom are supposed to be there to help these young victims are bullies themselves,these kids are powerless because they unknowingly go to “the enemy” for help. It certainly makes me wonder how many more school districts are harboring, white-washing and protecting these wolves in sheep’s clothing.
The man in the photo, a former middle-school classmate named Greg Barrett, confronts his former school bully, who happens to be Katy, Texas School Superintendent, Lance Hindt, calling him out in front of the entire board for shoving his head against a urinal, then getting his friends to join in kicking him while he was “in a fetal position” on the floor. Now, another past incident has surfaced with the exposure of “sealed” records which say that, when Lance Hindt, at the age of eighteen, brutally beat William Stein, now 80 years old, into a five-day coma! Not surprisingly, no criminal charges were ever filed?
In my opinion, This superintendent is a certified, bonafied, card-carrying psychopath! It’s all I can say after reading this. It’s scary that school districts hire people like him. It’s just another reason why bullying often goes ignored, unchecked and swept under the rug. Even after all this exposure, this school board continues to back Dr. Hindt. Sad, indeed!
Sadly, school shootings have skyrocketed in the last twenty years. But what if I told you that each incidence could have been prevented? What if I told you that we CAN prevent the next shooting…before it happens?
In part 1, I discussed the issue of mental health in school shootings, which is often ignored by the masses. Many want to preach about the importance of gun control or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, gun promotion. However, they fail to discuss the root problems which too often lead to these tragedies- bullying and mental health.
Preventing future shootings is easier than you think. All it takes is to seek out the kids in your school, whom are bullied, ignored, marginalized, sad and alone. You have to admit that these kids are the easiest to spot. I can guarantee that if everyone reached out to the kid who always sits alone in the lunchroom, the kid known for having his face slammed into the lockers or flushed down the toilet, the poor girl who is constantly slut/fat-shamed, or the pregnant girl or teen mother who’s relentlessly being called a whore and gave them a kind word…an encouraging message of love, letting them know that they still matter and have value, I’m positive that it would make a huge difference.
Kindness costs nothing. Just one kind word or gesture, just ONE… can be the difference between life or death…the difference between a senseless suicide or the will to live…the difference between the decision to go on a shooting spree at school or the decision to leave the gun at home and employ more constructive and productive means to handle being the object of bullying!
For months, I’ve wanted to speak out about people with autism and other neurological disorders and the extreme high rates of victimization and bullying they endure. It’s bad enough that they must go through life struggling with a disability that they neither asked for, nor have any control over. It’s even worse that they also struggle with constant cruelty from people in the general population because of that disability.
“A new study finds that children with autism spectrum disorders are bullied for more often than their typically developing peers.” (healthland.time.com)
According to Time Magazine (the above link), 46% of children on the spectrum reported being bullied compared to only 10% of neurotypical kids. And the statistics are estimated to be even higher due to either being nonverbal and/or the inability to read social cues and therefore, recognize the subtler forms of abuse. No one can report anything they do not know is occurring.
Because of their difficulty reading social cues, having repetitive behaviors, and being highly sensitive to external stimuli, bullies easily zero in on these perceived weaknesses and see them as easy prey who are ripe for harassment and degradation. Those with special needs are targeted simply because of their extreme vulnerability and inability to assert and defend themselves. In the minds of bullies, people with special needs are easy prey.
Bullies get a rush out of the power they wield over their special needs victims because they consciously know they can torment them endlessly and with impunity. They also know that chances are that no one will stop the abuse, nor speak out for the victim because the sad reality is that most others do not see those who have special needs as “human”. Therefore, bullies take full advantage.
Anyone who intentionally targets a person with special needs is, in my opinion, a coward of the lowest common denominator. Too afraid to go toe to toe with someone of their equal, they seek out victims, who are unable to speak for or defend themselves!
Every day, people who are mentally handicapped, have Autism/Asperger’s are accosted, taunted, physically attacked, or even murdered because they are considered easy targets and laws must be firmly put in place to protect these people, who are unable to protect themselves. Any crime against people in the above categories should be considered a hate crime because of the high vulnerability and severe disadvantage compared to neurotypical people.
It’s discrimination, any way you look at it and just as horrible as bullying someone due to age, sex, race, religion or orientation. In fact, it’s WORSE because most people in the other five groups at least have the facilities to speak for and defend themselves. People with special needs do not, which is why we MUST make those with special needs a protected group!
The neurologically challenged are already fighting a very tough and likely, lifelong battle. Why then do those who are more fortunate wish to make their lives much more difficult than they already are?
In the wake of the recent Parkland, Florida school massacre, it has been placed on my heart to write about something which needs to be discussed but sadly, isn’t by many. It should be no surprise that bullying is almost always a factor in the uptick of school shootings, which have plagued our country for the last twenty years. Before we go any further, let me remind you that being bullied, no matter how severe, is absolutely no excuse for taking human lives and I would never condone such an action!
However, many shooters have been victims of bullying, whom were pushed to the breaking point and finally snapped after many years of relentless and repetitive abuse by their peers and being rebuffed by school staff in their attempts to report bullying incidences and get help. Therefore, they resort to bringing a gun to school and leaving death and mayhem in their wake! Finally, the shooters turn the gun on themselves to avoid prison and the end result is that families and loved ones on both sides, as well as entire communities are left devastated!
One such example is the Columbine Shooting in April of 1999. I have read many articles about this particular case and it was stated by many experts that the perpetrators, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had for years been bullied outcasts, who’d only gotten fed up with the continuous negative treatment and finally went into a rage and lashed out, as have so many other victims since then. Again, I cannot stress enough, how wrong and counterproductive bringing a gun to school really is, much less using it to shoot people! However, I believe there is something we’re missing here- the issue of mental health and bullying which often leads to these tragedies.
Sadly, school shootings have become so common in today’s world that they’ve now become a political issue and fodder for the agendas of both the left and the right wings, with the left pushing for gun control and the right’s push to arm teachers and tighten school security. Although these certainly are legitimate issues which need to be addressed, it seems that almost no one is discussing the root cause of these shootings- bullying and/or mental health.
I believe that “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure”! Perhaps if we reach these bullied and at-risk youth and show them that they are not alone and that they matter just like everyone else, we will be able to save them from the possibility of becoming violent and ultimately, bring down these horribly high statistics! I will explain this in more detail in my next blog post.
Character is who you truly are. Reputation is who others think you are.
All too often, when a person is bullied, his/her reputation takes a big hit, due to the many ugly rumors and lies which are spread by their tormentors. Remember that bullying is a campaign.
Just as a politician would go from house to house and business to business, kissing babies and shaking hands with people on the street while giving a spiel of why they’re the best person for the office they’re running for, bullies basically do the same. They go from person to person spinning their yarn about why no one should associate with the target.
Bullies/Peer Abusers engage everyone, even friends and family of the victim, pulling false accusations out of thin air and making them sound so convincing that others find the lies difficult not to believe.
Tormentors may also use a “tiny grain of truth”, which may be a simple mistake the victim might have made in the past (possibly a mistake which anybody could have made at any time), then add their own spin on it, making it worse and bigger than what it is for the purpose of making the story even more believable.
Moreover, harassers may use subtle provocations, taunts and assaults to bait the victim into a reaction, then turn around and use his/her perfectly normal human response as further proof that he/she really is a less than desirable person (crazy, stupid, evil, etc.).
You must realize that bullies are sociopaths. They have a wealth of superficial charm at their disposal and are masters in the arts of persuasion and influence. People of this nature are very skilled wordsmiths, which is why they are seemingly able to pull a complete fabrication out of their own butts and make it smell sweet and sound plausible. Because of this oozing charm that most seasoned bullies possess, they are able to encourage bystanders and sometimes authority (teachers, principals, monitors, etc.) to join in the torment.
After being attacked for so long, it’s too easy for victims to become worn down and go the “eye for an eye” route and return the attacks (physically or verbally). Although defending oneself is a perfectly normal response to assaults, victims must be very careful in their counter-attacks and very carefully choose their battles because a well experienced bully can very easily use any reactions as validation of any rumors and lies which have been spread. Before long, even those who aren’t normally bullies will either shun or brutalize the selected victim. Thus, the reputation of the innocent victim is tarnished and will take years to repair.
With all the above combined, bullies can be a weapon of mass destruction to their victims, ripping them to shreds and destroying any credibility they once had. Right or wrong, once credibility is lost, victims are powerless and have almost zero chance of redeeming themselves and opportunities can be lost even before they present themselves.
If you are a target of bullying, I want to assure you that your reputation DOES NOT equal your character. You are an awesome, intelligent, goodhearted person and you are worthy of being loved regardless of how others may perceive you. As difficult as it may be to do so, you must never let your reputation define you. Never let bullies dim your shine! Hold on, with everything you have in you, to your awesome qualities even if you have to remind yourself every day that you are a great person! Hold on to your faith and your dignity! Hold on to TRUTH!
We may not realize it, but we sell ourselves to the public everyday. From making new friends to finding a date, we sell ourselves…putting our best foot forward to impress others and show them our best sides and we do this unconsciously, without even thinking about it. We give the illusion that we’re a hot item because we instinctively know that it’s what everyone loves and is attracted to and we’re afraid of not being accepted.
“Social proof (also known as informational social influence) is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior in a given situation.”
Put more plainly, we tend to do what we think everyone else is doing…to follow the pack…to join the bandwagon…to get in on the next big thing, whether it be the new, hot fashion trend, a breakout musical group, anything that’s extremely popular with others! For example, a few decades ago, Cabbage Patch Kids were a hot item! Everybody had a cabbage patch kid…I had one myself. And anytime there’s a hot item that’s “all the rage”, everyone clamors to have it!
And it’s the same in the social arena. Everyone wants to hang with the “cool” crowd. Although this crowd may or may not be what you’d consider cool and may actually be the opposite, others perceive them to be and want to hang with them, so you want to hang with them. Unfortunately, it’s also the same on the opposite end of the spectrum.
With bullying in school, if everyone else is bullying you, you can be sure that total strangers whom have never met you and even your friends will (if they haven’t already) also try to bully you. Why? Because “everyone else is doing it” and they want to join the in crowd! But know that when this happens, it has nothing to do with you and in no way means that you somehow deserve it or did anything wrong. What it means is that most people are followers…drones…sheep…slaves to the prospect of fitting in with the majority. And you, my friend are not a follower, but a leader! You just don’t know it yet!
So,keep pushing, smiling and holding your head high! Because of your refusal to follow the pack, you’re stronger that they will ever be! You’re outstanding! And it will pay off big one day!
It always amazes me when I hear of victims being told by others to “toughen up”. Because to endure long, miserable years of being bullied by everyone, for everything and make it to graduation? You have to be tough!
For me, it took so much courage to step unto that school bus everyday, knowing all too well what was in store for me as soon as I got on and even worse once I graced the entrance to the school. It was like walking the Green Mile!
The daily ritual of being name-called, slut-shamed, tripped in the hallways, having my books knocked out of my hands, my long hair pulled, my head slammed into lockers, slapped, punched, kicked, shoved to the floor and a barrage of death threats…it was never-ending! Through all of it, I never gave up!
I’ll say again, victims of bullying are tough! They have to be!
The finding a reason to get up and go to school everyday!
The holding on to your dignity with everything you have in you!
The daily facing of your worst fear!
The enduring countless insults and beatings!
The choking back of a river of tears which begs to pour forth!
The constant thievery of your pride and personhood!
The never-ending violations of your right to safety and to learn in peace!
To face all this on a daily basis and STILL find a reason to keep going??? That takes grit! It takes guts! Moreover, it takes balls of steel!
So, before you tell some poor, bullied soul to “toughen up”, ask yourself this question. Would you have the fortitude to hold up under that kind of pressure?
Too many survivors are ashamed of having been bullied during school. But Why? Before we go any further, know that I completely understand your shame because I’ve been there and and shame is a normal emotion when one is or has been marginalized.
No one likes to admit they’ve ever been rendered powerless.
No one likes to admit vulnerability, past or present.
No one likes to admit being duped or taken advantage of.
And no one likes to admit having ever been beaten or knocked around.
Why? Because to admit these things would be to admit past or current weakness, naivety or defeat and requires one to put ego aside and swallow pride.
However, think about this, you SURVIVED! You persevered under circumstances which would have prompted most people to give up! You MADE IT! You clawed your way through it and in the end, came out of it stronger…wiser…BETTER!
I look at the positive side! Being a victim of bullying ended up making me an excellent judge of character…enabling me to read others like a book! It also gave me a since of compassion and empathy for others and the courage to assert my right to be treated with respect! As a former victim, I now have a worthy cause to fight for. And lastly, it gave me success! Therefore, I consider being bullied in the past a badge of honor…a medal…a TROPHY! Because I didn’t just survive! I WON!
If you have ever been a victim of bullying, never look at it as a sign that you are somehow defective or a failure. Instead, look at it as a testimony to how far you’ve come!