When I was in 5th or 6th grade, in the early 70’s there was a class at the other end of the school we called the MR class. There was no such thing as sensitivity or political correctness back then. Today it would be some sort of special education class. The kids seemed weird and out of control. They didn’t socialize with us, even if they had siblings in the school. They were outcasts. The boys in my class would yell at them “MR”. Mentally retarded. I don’t know why the kids were in the class, but they were fair game to anyone who wanted to yell at them and pick on them. It was like a personal freak show for the bullies in the school.
Bullying was a way at life at the school. They ruled without any adult intervention. The small, the shy, the different were all targets. The bullies ruled by force and fear.
Nobody ever talked about anything. Kids who were bullied either sucked it up and ignored it or they became weirder and gave into what the bullies wanted. They always wanted more bait and for the bait to do their bidding.
When we all left for Middle School the bullies and mean kids continued to bully but it was easier for their targets to get away in a larger school. But kids grew up. They started to talk and form stronger social bonds. They grew up.
Kids who were bullied reinvented themselves into confident kids with friends. Some of them became popular with wide circles of friends.
When we got into high school the bullies had all but vanished. While all of the other kids grew up the bullies remained what they were – immature school yard bullies. Their behavior made them the social outcasts in our large high school. And while they might have been at school, they vanished.
Sure there were spats and kids who didn’t like each other at our high school but I don’t remember the kind of bullying I hear about today.
Then again we didn’t talk about a lot of things like depression and suicide. Sometimes kids would just go away and we wouldn’t see them anymore and nobody would know what happened to them. Maybe their close friends, but nobody talked about it.
But I wonder about those kids who were bullies. Sometimes there were entire families of them. They seemed to get joy in their actions. It was strange and uncomfortable. It was sad and pathetic.
It also makes me sad that kids who are bullied now don’t feel like it will ever get better. It will. And I want to say to the kids who get picked on “It isn’t you. It is them. They are the weird ones. They are the ones with the problem. They are the ones who will fail in life. They are the ones who everyone will forget. You’ll show them. You’ll thrive. You’ll be fine. They are just a joke and a waste of human flesh. That is what I want to tell them.”
We sat on Kelly’s deck while our kids walked the dogs by the lake. It is sad that we even have these sort of stories.
I always wonder…people think Vampires and Werewolves and Ghosts are scary. Humans are scary. But fortunately not all of them.