Was Bullying Prominent When I was in School?

A seven year-old boy in Detroit hanged himself with a belt from the top level of his bunk-bed on Wednesday.  The boy was found by his older sister who immediately went to get help as an adult tried to revive her brother. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The officers who investigated the scene stated that bullying was likely a factor in the boy’s suicide.

This seems unbelievable to me. Yet, stories about bullying seem to be popping up around every corner–bullying at school, bullying at home, bullying on the bus, bullying on the internet, bullying from my neighbor.  Bullying seems to be so prominent these days, but I still can’t remember ever being bullied as a kid, teenager, or young adult.

My wife seems to remember being the subject of bullies at school. And I can recall seeing a few of my friends being teased, but I don’t remember it ever being as prominent as it is today.

I got in my fair share of trouble when I was in elementary school. I was the second grader who pretended the school’s round drinking fountain was a steering wheel and then inadvertently twisted the thing off the wall. The drinking fountain fell to the ground and water started spraying everywhere. Outside that experience and the occasional thrown rock, the near monthly fight (They were more like wrestling matches, to be honest.), and a few tag games that got out of control, I didn’t get in any type of trouble that could be considered bullying.  Nor would I ever consider myself the subject of any bullying in elementary school.

The only experience which might have been considered bullying was our giant tag games. Kids in my age group would play during recess and the teams were divided based on physical ability. Even second graders are capable of pulling a Lebron James and picking the easy route by loading one team with all the talent. Our loaded team destroyed the weaker team day after day after day, year after year after year. All the while the weaker team begged to re-pick in a fair manner. No way! Wasn’t going to happen. Not while we were winning and you were losing. (Is pulling a Lebron James considered bullying anyway?)

In middle school, where playgrounds and recess were things of the past, kids walked up and down the hallways in groups before classes, practically challenging other groups to get in the way. The guy or gal at the end of the line had to be the biggest because that was where the strength of the group was challenged. As groups passed each other in the halls, the kids at the end of the line slammed shoulders together doing everything they could to knock the other kid out of the way. Were those acts of bullying? After all, the groups were willing participants.

In high school, kids became cemented in their various clicks and were rarely seen associating with kids from other clicks. Some would occasionally intermingle, but for the most part kids stuck with who and what they knew.  I saw a few instances where some of the kids in the “cool kids” club mocked other kids, but those instances seemed to be pretty rare.

My experience in school seems to fly in the face of how prominent bullying seems to be today.  Have kids become more aggressive than they were back when I was in school, or was I just impervious to such things?

Was bullying as prominent for you when you grew up as it seems to be today, or was your experience similar to mine and relatively bully free?

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