by Dick Mac
Junior high was the place I cut my teeth in the art of bullying and the survival techniques of being bullied. For me, it was just one more rite of passage.
It seemed to be a phase for the bullies, in general; and I am certain I saw more boys apologize for their bullying than bragging about it. Not that there weren't some guys who were growing-up to be bullies and would remain bullies throughout their lives. Some guys were friggin' psycho. Most of them died young or went to prison (where some of them died young).
The bully-tactic that I remember most was to stick your foot in front of another, shout "don't trip," and make it look like you were trying to hold him up him when you pushed him over your foot. The victim falls to the ground, and everyone laughs. It was so common in my schoolyard that we all knew it would happen to us eventually, and even the big bullies would fall victim and then laugh about it. That we all did this with regularity does not discount the fact that there were bullies and there were those who they bullied.
The bullied grew-up to be lawyers and teachers and engineers, and they are often people who bully their subordinates. You can always tell when an adult was the victim of bullying: it's the person in the company's power structure who is mean to subordinates, and bullies people. She or he has transformed years of being bullied into being a top-notch bully. It's almost an art-form when done by an adult.
Initially, I was not tuned-in to the anti-bullying movement. I thought it was just another in the long string of ways we ensure our children's feelings aren't hurt. We give them all a trophy at the end of the season so nobody feels bad, even if they totally sucked at the sport. We promote games that have no winner or loser, and we denigrate those who celebrate their victories enthusiastically (because we don't want to hurt the other kids' feelings). I have not been a fan of this. You win some, you lose some. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again (as the song goes).
As the media continued to highlight bullying, and the number of teen suicides became public in this process, I became sensitized and open-minded about the anti-bullying movement. I knew that kids attempted suicide, but I didn't know that bullied kids committed suicide at such an alarming rate. Of course, ONE is too many.
I now believe that it is possible to eradicate bullying without eliminating childhood experiences that include adversity and failure. Adversity and failure are reality and it's silly to shield our children from those experiences. My challenge as a parent is not to eliminate adversity and failure from my daughter's experience, but to teach her how to handle it effectively and gracefully, in a dignified manner. I think I do a pretty good job, but I am just a parent, I haven't a clue what the results will be and I make a lot of mistakes.
Back to the bullies.
Yes, some bullies grow-up to be bullies and perhaps the anti-bullying movement will allow some youthful bullies to become adults who are not bullies, and perhaps some of the kids tormented by bullies will grow-up to eschew bullying themselves. It's possible. It's certainly worth the effort we make as a society.
Recently, a Canadian youth hockey coach watched his team lose. I hate watching my team lose. I hate watching my daughter lose. It happens. We buck-up and become the losers' supporters, so they do not feel too alone in that sadness. It's called "comforting" someone and has no relation to bullying or pandering.
There is this great thing in hockey where the teams line-up at the end of the game and shake hands. It's so friggin' civilized! In soccer, it happens at the beginning of the game, and the end of the game is reserved for swapping jerseys. It is true sportsmanship. But, I digress.
Martin Tremblay, the 40-year-old coach of a youth hockey team, lined-up with the kids to shake hands and . . . well . . . you watch what happens:
He clearly trips the kid intentionally.
It's a kid - somebody's child.
If that were my child, Mr. Tremblay would be answering to more than the police who arrested him. And I would any means necessary to beat the ever-loving crap out of him. What the fuck does this guy think?
He's white, so he probably won't be convicted of anything; but I hope he is kicked-out of organized sports and required to stay away from children.
This man is a bully and a menace.
Don't be a bully!
Hockey coach investigated over accusations he tripped teenage player
Youth hockey coach investigated for tripping player in handshake line
Very cool anti-bullying t-shirts from Kaci Taylor Inspirational Shirts