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The Catt Box


'Who Are The Bullies?'

In my own life-time I'm seeing more and more talk and concern over school bullies. And what is most surprising to a lot of people is the discovery of just 'who' the real bullies are.

Of course, there are those of us who have known all along. We are the victims of bullies and it's never been a mystery or surprise to us as to who they are.

Did you ever think that the bullies in school were the underprivileged children?....the kids who didn't seem to have what the other kids had? Did you think that the bullies were always the 'ne're do wells'?

Well, I'm here to tell you that THEY are not the bullies. The kids that were the bullies were the ones who actually seemed to 'have it all'. 

They come from good, stable homes. They have parents that care about them and love them. They have the best clothes, the most popular hair-cuts, the most popular friends, and have some of the best grades. They join the Pep Club, might be Cheerleaders, and some of them even have parents who attend PTA meetings. 

To me, a 'privileged' child can be privileged in many different areas...in love, material possessions, good parents, etc.

If you have read my story called Reunited, then this is not a surprise to you as to how far some of these 'privileged' kids will go.

In schools today, violence towards bullies is getting really bad. I can tell you that even though I had a horrible time in school, I never entertained thoughts of coming to school and killing anyone, not ever. And even though I don't condone the killing of anyone, I can certainly understand where this 'anger' towards bullies is coming from. No one deserves what's going on with the violence, not the victims or the bullies. 

Kids have access to guns from nearly anywhere. When I was really young, at around 12 years of age, my cousin shot and killed his mother. He was angry with his mother, picked up a rifle, aimed, and shot her dead. He barely got a slap on the wrist for it. Back then it was practically unheard of that a child would murder someone. And now it's common-place. 

It's so much more worse today than it was when I was back in school. Pain is pain, but today, the kids have so much more pressure. More families have both parents having to work, if there is even both parents in the same home at all. Divorce rates are at an all time high. There is more pressure on parents today, which results in more pressure, and neglect, with kids.

And children of divorced parents have their own baggage, having to split their time up between their divorced parents. And many times, the parents are poisoning the child's mind with things they don't need to hear. They feel torn and in the middle, and eventually, they learn how to make that work in their favor. They pit one parent against the other. And several people will end up indulging the child with things because they're trying to 'make it up to them' that they are from a broken home.  Meanwhile, the child's feelings of being used or not wanted begin to show up in several areas of their life. They either draw more 'inward' or they take it out on others.

If a child is in an already unhappy home, possibly being neglected, or abused, as was my own situation, if they go to school and get picked on and made fun of by the 'privileged' kids, what does that do to a child? How much anger and self-loathing can a person take before they explode? Who do they turn to? The school children are merely picking up where the parents left off.

It's so easy to tell a child in that situation to 'not let it get to them', which leads me to my rant on Validation....and it's easier said than done. Where do they put the hurt and the pain? How good can they possibly feel about themselves? When you are getting it from all sides...when everyone in your life puts you down, abuses you, hurts you, and devalues you...where do you put your emotions and pain?

What we experience as children are the things we carry with us for the rest of our lives. We can't easily change our self-image when all of the negative is being reinforced, daily, both at home and at school. It affects how we think of ourselves, how we feel and fit into society, how far we can go in reaching our goals. It sets us up for the rest of our lives in how we view not only ourselves, but also the world. 

Many parents of these so-called 'privileged' children, probably think that because their children are privileged and come from good homes, that naturally, they're treating people well. 

They couldn't be further from the real truth. Those are the very children who make life a living hell for those of us who fall victim to their cruelty.

As if it isn't already bad enough, these 'privileged' children let their 'victims' know, each and every day, how much they 'don't fit in', how little they are valued as human beings, how unwanted they are. And if the child is already going through this at home, they have no choice but to believe these things about themselves. You can't help but to think that if this many people are saying the same things, and treating you the same way, that maybe they are all 'right' about you. 

I can think back and remember that the worst, for me, was the feelings of not belonging. It wasn't the name calling or the hitting or even reading things that were written on the desks about me.....it was the way the kids made me feel about 'myself'....leaving me out of everything and making me feel so unwanted and devalued. Not being accepted and approved of in any manner really hurt me. 

But that 'self-loathing' can turn into something much deeper and much darker, with some children. And you never know which child will be affected in the worst possible way, which could lead them into horrible acts of violence, either towards others, or themselves.

From my own experience, I believe that a lot of these parents of 'privileged' children neglect to teach them better. I believe they 'assume' that the children already know how to treat others. It's easy to 'reason' that children from good homes and loving parents are so well balanced and grateful for their lives that they don't need to be taught such things. But these people are wrong. 

Since my adult years, I learned how to look at the 'big picture'. However, that doesn't excuse or take away the pain I endured all those years in that one school. Nothing anyone can say, nor anything I can think, can erase the emotional scars.....the residual pain that is carried through a person's lifetime. 

I see now that those 'privileged' children apparently needed that 'group' or 'clique' in order to feel validated. If they were surrounded by peers who encouraged their behavior, they became worse.  

Perhaps some of the 'privileged' children who tormented me felt bad within themselves, and by tormenting me, they felt better about themselves. In some cases, I believe that some of those cruel children were merely entertaining their own friends. 

I don't know, perhaps some of these 'privileged' children are also under pressure at home. Their parents may be pressuring them about their grades or who they befriend, or about their goals, or inadvertently teaching them to be 'over-achievers'. They may feel so much tension and pressure to 'be the best' or to 'do their best' that they feel like failures in their parent's eyes. 

These children themselves may feel inadequate. In turn, they go to school and the hen-pecking order takes place. A good way to feel good about themselves is to pick on and torment an underprivileged child. And all the more better if it's done in front of their own peers, friends that they may feel inadequate around, and this, in their eyes, balances the scales. It separates the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

So, in affect, it's a vicious circle in our society. But the privileged children have leverage that the underprivileged children don't have. If you are of the 'privileged' class of children, then you have the other 'well to do' children behind you. You already have popularity and friends. 

When I lived in Perryville, Maryland for 9 years, it was a horrible 9 years. I hated living there. I had very few friends, and the rest were all tormenters and people who mocked me and made fun of me. I will never forget what those people did to me and how they made me feel about myself.

Then, at the end of the tenth grade, I moved to North East, Maryland, and I was treated totally different. I wasn't teased and tormented, at least never to my face or within ear shot. I ended up graduating at yet another high school in Rising Sun, Maryland. And those people were nice to me, too.

I was readily accepted and befriended by some of the nicest people I had ever met. I held my head up high and didn't have or feel the same anxieties that I felt in Perryville. It was a 'healing' to me. And though I did begin to feel somewhat better about myself, it never erased the damaged caused by those cruel kids in Perryville. That will never go away. 

And it's not that I choose to dwell on the pain. It's just that when you are older, you realize how different experiences have touched your life, and in how many different areas. You begin to make connections to your past and realize where some of your pain is coming from. You hear of other people being bullied and made fun of and you can sympathize, empathize, and you remember your own experiences. 

And it's the same story....the 'well to do' kids are the worst tormenters. They make an already bad situation worse. I also blame their parents, because they seem to think that their own children can do no wrong. They're too busy over-indulging them with their every whim and desire. Then, these same children go to school and make other kids feel so bad. 

It's also been my own observation and experience that these 'over-indulged' ones grow up to be 'over-indulged' adults. 

Parents do these kids no favors by indulging them so much. It makes them cruel. It made them think that they're  better than everyone else. It will ill-prepare them for real life and real disappointments. It will ill-prepare them of true empathy with others. And I've seen this in people I know who are just like this. But I'll stop there....I don't want to get on a rant on those types of people on this page. 

I've had friends through the years who seemed to have it all. And when others, or myself, seem to have something they are lacking, they pull out the old 'high school' mentality and 'put on airs'. They live out their lives reestablishing the 'hen pecking order'. They continue reassuring themselves that they are, indeed, superior than others.

But bullies and girls like the ones I spoke of feel the need to pick on other people. It's how they feel superior to others. I understand that they do this to compensate for their own inadequacies. But, I'm not here to defend them or their actions. I defend those who fall victim to those types. 

And you know what's really strange? Whenever I was one-on-one with anyone from that group that tormented me, they were very civil and sweet. They chatted, played records with me, smiled, and even laughed. Then when they were once again around their friends, they ignored me, or bullied me and made fun of me. 

I honestly felt more sorry for THEM than I did for myself. I didn't have to put someone else down in order to feel better about who I was. I didn't have a peer group to answer to. My world didn't revolve around what five other people thought of me.

I know that guys are just as guilty of bullying, but I'm just speaking of my own experience and how I can relate. I can't imagine what a young boy must go through if he's not a so-called 'jock' or athletically inclined. 

Yeah, I still have anger and disgust for people like that. It took a lot of years of their cruelty to make me feel as I do today. The way those people treated me affected my entire life. It does for everyone.

I know how these bullies are, and my heart goes out to people who have to endure them. 

I don't make it a habit to watch reality shows. But there's one I'm following called High School Reunion. It's on the TVLand channel on Wednesday nights at 10:00 pm. The show is about putting some high school classmates together in a house in Hawaii, 20 years after graduation. It's not about voting anyone off, etc. 

But you can really see where things that happened in these people's lives in high school affected them for years to come. They are still upset, still scarred, etc. 

Right now, March 2009, they have the classic snobby, A-Group Cheerleader. They also have one of the people this Cheerleader picked on and insulted.

Of course, the Cheerleader, when confronted by the girl she picked on, denied remembering any such thing. Bullshit. She remembers. What a lame cop-out, saying that she never remembered making fun of that girl.

My point is, even on this TV show, you can see where 20 years have gone by and the hurt of these 'bullies' still lingers on in the lives of their victims. It's not something you outgrow. Those bullies change lives. Then they go on without a thought in their heads about what they've done to someone, and pretend they are loved by all.

I don't wish anything bad on anyone. But I also have to admit that when word gets back to me of how things have turned out for the bullies who were so cruel to others, I don't lose any sleep over it. I smile.

We couldn't all have a privileged life. Not all of us had love and attention at home. Not all of us had 'good parents' or someone who made us feel loved and special. But I'd still rather be me, with all my baggage, than to be like the ones who made me feel this way. But they'll spend the rest of their lives constantly reestablishing their superiority. They'll spend the rest of their lives in a peer group who will feed them their opinions, feelings, and emotions. 

 

January 20 , 2002  Copyright  Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander