I learned something about myself at an early age. I cannot let a scream or cry for help go unanswered. And I cannot stand by while someone gets hurt. It comes as a shock that overpowers my reason to such an extent it propels me into action. And that’s not good when you’re a five foot two woman. Or, at the age of eleven, not even that.
I was visiting with cousins the summer I was eleven when I heard screams from the house next door and cries for help. Before I even knew what I was doing I had crossed the yard, taken in the fact that a grown man was beating a helpless woman, and I was on his back with my arm wrapped around his neck in a matter of seconds.
Using my arm as a fulcrum, I kept applying pressure, knowing if I let go something bad would happen. The bleeding woman had escaped and run screaming down the road. I kept squeezing tighter and tighter as the man did everything in his power to dislodge me from his back. He couldn’t breathe because my attack was so sudden and unexpected he had not been able to tighten his throat or get a breath.
I had no sense of time. I had a tiger by the tail and couldn’t let go until he was down. He had tried whirling and flinging, but I had attached myself like a leech and took advantage of every breath he tried to draw, ever tightening the fulcrum of my arm. But eventually, I found myself in the air, flying across the room, landing up against the far wall. I don’t remember much after that except watching the man collapse to his knees, face purple, rasping over and over, as if the very thought shocked him, “I could have killed you. I could have killed you.”
Years later, I saw the man’s grown children at his funeral. “Do you remember . . .?” they said. My memory of that day is focused so tightly that my mind has edited out everything else. I had not even remembered that the children were there, even though they were all younger than me. I never even remembered what happened afterward. It’s all a blank. And that’s probably a good thing.
I tell this to impress upon you that I cannot bear, cannot tolerate, bullying or cruelty in any form or fashion. It’s not something I just decided to do one day. It was born into me. I got a bigger than average dose of whatever this is that is ingrained into much of the human race in order to keep the human race alive.
People should stand against cruelty at any time. Maybe not to the point of putting yourself in danger, but at least calling for help, calling the police, or picking up a baseball bat, if need be, like an older man from my church once had to do against a mean young man in order to get him away from his adult granddaughter.
Those are extreme cases of bullying. But hurting others just because you can is getting so prevalent in today’s society that many of us are likely to witness such an incident in our lifetime. Bullying went on when I was in school, but it was usually one on one and I didn’t tolerate it, either for me or mine. I never encountered being ganged up on like kids are these days.
When my two were in school, I worked as a substitute teacher. There’s no way I could do that now. I would get arrested in a heartbeat. I once dragged two teenage louts out of a movie theater by the ears and hauled them before the manager. They yelled the whole time that I was crazy, but the manager kicked them out, anyway. I was a local newspaper reporter and had at least a smattering of respect in that town. It turned out that the whole populace was behind me on that one.
I recently read of a high school girl who privately reported cheating in her classroom to her teacher. Instead of taking care of the situation between members of the school administration, the teacher rolled over on the girl and “threw her to the wolves”. When the class cheaters found out, the girl didn’t last long at the school, even though her dad was a coach and her mother a music teacher. The family had to move to another school district and her dad had to change jobs. So I’m asking — how do bully kids get away with this kind of intimidation? (Bullying: Bully No More; by June Hunt).
I have always thought that if more people would stand up against bullying, there would be less of it. People can at least REPORT it. And if a school administration caves to cruelty in any form or fashion, the community itself should take a stand. In my day, much of the bullying (not all) was from those students with money, clout, pull, etc, because of being born to privilege. We’re seeing it now from sororities. It’s big news. But it’s always been there. It’s just that now we have the technology to catch it on film. Many of the brain-dead even film themselves and publish it. Not only is there no shame — they are proud of it.
Remember the bullied school bus monitor Karen Klein? The language and actions of these “children” made a great case for birth control.
I know that people are more aware of bullying now because it’s all over the myriad media every day. Thank God that schools ARE taking steps now. But bullying is still out there and always will be. It needs to be reported. It needs to be stopped.
My point is, whether it is a man beating a woman, an old person being abused, or kids ganging up on someone at school or on the bus, someone needs to stop it, whether personally, or calling in some help. The finger of shame should be on the bully. Or if that’s not enough to stop it, applying a literal or figurative baseball bat. Bullies grow up to be bullies. And society is paying the price.
A big thank you to Pastor and Alana Ching for sending me the book on bullying. Love you guys. We are a family in Christ.