Bullying and the Wussification of Youth, Part I

I think a lot of people have this image of cops as bullies.  They were the arrogant jocks in high school that got off on beating up the Mortimers of the world.  (If your name is Mortimer, I apologize.  I meant Tyler.*)  Cops didn’t get enough of a power trip in high school, so they decided to enter the world of law enforcement in which they could bully more people on a greater level.

I’m about to destroy your misconceptions, folks.

My name is Motorcop and I was bullied.  Mercilessly.  At the age of 12, I was not the looming powerhouse of a man I am now.  (If you know me, feel free to shut up.)  I was skinny and I was not so much weak as I was meek.  What I did have, shockingly enough, was a decent sense of humor that I have since honed into a weapon in and of itself.  27 years ago, though, it wasn’t enough to stop the daily abuse I was getting.

My bully’s name was Jerry.  Jerry was like a freak of nature for a 12-year-old boy.  He was already damn near 6′ tall.  What felt like every day, Jerry would grab my arm and put me in a rear wrist lock.  Now, at the time, I didn’t know what the blue hell a rear wrist lock was.  That has since been rectified and I have applied it myself a time or two.  12-year-old MC didn’t know any of that and certainly didn’t know how to counter it.

My State wrestling champ Dad did though.  We spent many hours in the backyard training.  At one point, I had that stereotypical TV-esque experience where I stopped seeing my Dad and started seeing Jerry.  When Dad/Jerry grabbed my arm, I countered and followed up with a jab to his nose.

That’s about the time I started seeing Dad again.  Cue tears.

Dad, on the other hand, was ecstatic.  Not only did I counter the wrist lock, but I followed up with a punch.  Through cupped hands over his nose and in a nasally voice Dad said, “That’s it, kid!”

Courtesy of Cathy Wilcox

So, I was ready.  A few days later in the gym, Jerry grabbed my arm.  Remember all the hours spent on training?  Fell right out of my head.  Jerry twisted my arm behind my back and forced me to walk bent over.  The tears I had shed for months on end ceased.  Now I was just pissed.  As soon as he let me go, I turned around to his smug smiling face, cocked my right fist and straight cold-cocked him in the nose.

Jerry was surprised and had no idea what to do.  He blubbered out, “We’ll settle this after school.”  To which I replied (having never sworn a day in my life), “Bullshit.  We’ll settle this right now.”  Jerry shook his head disbelievingly and just walked away.

Jerry never bothered me again.

Three weeks later, I spent the night at his house and we spent the next two years of our burgeoning educational careers inseparable.  I don’t pretend to understand it, but that’s exactly what happened.

For the first few months of my junior high life at a new school, I was the target of physical abuse.  I didn’t plan the deaths of my teachers and classmates.  My parents didn’t call the police.  We didn’t go on Ellen.  For a brief period, Jerry, a 12-year-old boy, disrupted my entire family’s life.  My parents were in distress about the punishment I received.  I was afraid to go to school.  I know bullying.  I know from where I speak.

In my next post, I’ll give you my opinion about the current state of bullying in our culture.  Think you can guess what that opinion is?

*Tyler, we both know you’ve got a cool name.  Don’t sweat it, buddy

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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8 thoughts on “Bullying and the Wussification of Youth, Part I

  1. Good for you! I’m glad you were still young when you learned the truth about bullies. Most likely, Jerry became your friend because you were just about the only person he respected. Lance Criminal did essentially the same the same thing, at about the same age. He wasn’t desperate, but he was nervous; he knew he might be suspended (F* you, “Zero Tolerance”) and he did it anyway. It was one of my proudest moments as a mom!

  2. I did not have the fortune that you had at the same age. I was meek and mild in junior high school as well, and was late to develop which was noticed and ridiculed by the guys in the gym locker room. Unlike you, I had no sense of humor, and took everything personally which displayed on my face. Also unlike you, my father had passed away during my 12th year of life. I was klutzy, uncoordinated, and unable to throw anything — a ball or a punch. What made things worse is that I was one of the nerdy “smart kids” which made the bullies even more “out to get me.”

    I lived in fear for three years of junior high school. I didn’t have one “Jerry,” I had about 10 of them. Before school, during school, after school, on weekends … wherever I went, they were there to torment me. I endured some injuries, up to and including a broken arm. Yeah, it was that bad. And worse, the parents of these kids couldn’t give a shit. They would tell my Mom and the school Principal, “I’ll talk to my son,” but nothing… nothing… ever happened. Back in the 70s, the local constabulary didn’t get involved in anti-bullying efforts. The cops said that they could only respond if we filed an assault charge. The consequences of filing such a charge, and trying to remain in school, convinced my Mom not to do that.

    I consider it a good thing that the Internet wasn’t available when I was that age, or I know that cyber-bullying would have been part of the mix, as well. It was hard enough to avoid physical abuse. I do not know how I would have handled cyber-abuse.

    I managed to get through it by surrounding myself with the most popular classmates, befriending them by offering tutoring. I would volunteer hours and hours to help them improve their grades. When Mr. Big Jock showed that he liked me and would protect me, the bullies found someone else to pick on. Not because I struck out to defend myself, but I found and made friends of defenders.

    I learned to become more self-confident in high school, thanks to some teachers who listened and supported me. I soared both in my studies and in becoming elected to positions of Student Government President and Senior Class President. My “jock friends” taught me how to laugh at myself with my inabilities to play any sport, which helped me relax and realize that the world wouldn’t end if I could not throw or kick a ball and didn’t want to play.

    Funny, as I got more active on Facebook within the last few years, I have reconnected with those bullies of long ago. Each of them has matured and each one apologized for being such a jerk to me when we were kids. In fact, one of them asked me for some advice in how to help his 12-year-old son deal with bullies in his school. Odd how things turn around, isn’t it?

    Each of us has different methods of coping. Yours was to learn how to defend yourself physically. Mine was to find a way to “recruit defenders” because I couldn’t and wouldn’t fight. Thank you for being sensitive to this issue and bringing it to light for your legion of followers. It’s important — there are a lot of kids and parents out there who are trying to cope with physical and cyber-bullying, and not all of them succeed. But I’m here to say, it does get better. It really does.

  3. MC, you have absolutely no idea how lucky you got with respect to your parentage. I was in a similar situation as the 30-year Biker. Worse yet, my dad was thoroughly p****whipped by his own mom and ended up marrying an emotionally abusive chain-smoking alcoholic aka my mom (may she rest in peace). Suffice to say, not the most ideal environment to grow up to be a man.

    If you think about it, a typical school functions not unlike a typical prison. Just take a look at the “How to survive prison” cartoon a few posts back, replace “prison” with “middle school” or “high school” and see how much sense it still makes.

    Honestly, it’s not that bad if you have the heart and the balls to fuck someone’s shit up when the situation calls for it, but not if you were mistakenly raised to believe that you must be respectful, non-confrontational, obey all the rules, and avoid violence rather than accept it as part of life to be ready for. The worst of it was getting ZERO support from the adults in my life. One time, my mom did call the principal, and you can guess how that went.

    Thankfully, I was able to undo the better part of that psychological damage once I got a job and got enough independence to get away from that toxic environment. I finally got a decent job, started going to the gym (honestly, I didn’t even exercise before I was 20), did some kickboxing, racked up some speeding tickets, etc. I’m still dealing with a lot of crap from the past, but life is a lot better now than it used to be!

  4. In the second grade, I got into a fight with a classmate over something silly. I lost half of a front tooth and we both got suspended. My stepfather told me that if I ever got into a fight again, he’d take the fight out of my hide.

    Fast forward to high school, and I more or less manage to keep myself out of trouble as far as fighting goes. (the old man’s beatings were no joke). In any case, my good fortune wasn’t to last and got to dealing with a couple of creampuffs shoving me around. I dealt with it up until the point I came home marked up a bit and my stepdad asked what happened.

    So after telling him about it, he told me :

    “If they lay a hand on you again, you better hit back. If you don’t , then I’ll go to your school, beat their ass, find their fathers, beat THEIR ass, then I’ll come home and beat yours 10 times harder than what they got.”

    So the next day, it happens again and I do hit back. Considering all of the yard work and chores I’ve had to do at home growing up, I guess I hit a lot harder than I was expecting to, because they didn’t bother me again.

    So I reckon I learned standing up for yourself and fighting are two different things. Learned a lot more since then and I can’t even recall the last time I felt the need to hit someone since.

    Guess I was a pretty good student.

  5. When I was in fourth grade at a new school, twin sisters bullied me mercilessly. They were only around for a few more months and then moved away, to my relief. Middle of the next school year, imagine my dismay when they moved back and one was in my class. I was friends with another new girl, though she was in the process of moving on*, and I warned her this girl was a bitch. She told her new popular friend, who told the teacher, who called my dad, who punished me for bullying a poor new girl who didn’t have any friends there yet. No matter how many times I tried to explain the situation, no one listened. I was the bad guy for not making the “new girl” feel welcome. This is the problem with “Zero Tolerance.” Bullies aren’t stupid. They strike when the teacher’s not looking, and by the time the bullied fight back, that’s all the teacher sees.

    Happy ending, though: I moved away from that school to a new district. Two years later, guess who shows up at my junior high, mid year, not knowing anyone but me? To my credit, I made friends with the twins that year, welcomed them into my circle of friends and I never forgot the looks on their faces that first day they recognized the only person they knew at this new school.

    I can’t count the number of times my son has gotten in trouble for striking out, usually verbally, at another student. I always ask what events led up to my son lashing out, and no one can ever tell me. They wonder why I don’t react strongly. I’m sorry, Principal, but until you can tell me what actually happens in your school, about the most support you’ll get from me is I won’t argue with you. I will tell my son to follow your rules, but I’m not going to punish him again at home if he tells me that all he did was fight back. I know too well how your system “works.”

    *I was always the girl who made friends with the new kids, and then as soon as they got in with a cooler group, they left me in the dust. Probably why my dad’s accusation has stayed with me for sixteen years and still eats at me.

  6. Jerry was an oppressive jerk, period. He made life miserable for every kid that wasn’t part of his clique. Me and a guy that shall remain nameless (ahem, Bueller,) hunted him down and let the air out of the tires on his prized Mustang when he was a senior in high school. Moron drove it to the tire shop and damaged his rims. The idiot was angry that we didn’t pay for them. I hope he stopped being an obnoxious jerk, and has a happy, healthy family with his wife (who was smoking hot in high school- seriously, Kelly ROCKED it, and was actually pretty cool.) Good on ya, Jerry- hope you have found peace and prosperity in whatever you are doing. And say hello to my buddy Chris, if you see him in the capitol- he’s a fat guy, but he talks straight and means what he says.

  7. I am glad that the bullying you suffered lasted for a fairly short time, and that you were able to find a sucessful way to deal with it, and that you and Jerry were able to become friends.

    I spent 5 years of secondary (high school) being bullied (I was the academically able, non-spoty, glasses-wearing, shy girl) the school did nothing – after all, I wasn’t being physically injured. the scars would have been a lot less lasting it it had been only physical.

    I am so glad that they didn’t have the opportunity to make my life hell at home as well, through cyberspace.