Posted by: johnhourihan | February 28, 2012

There is a way to stop bullying

I thought it might be a good time , with what just went on in Chardon, Ohio, to reprint this blog first posted in early January.

Think about this.

“Quit bullying or I’ll kick your ass.”

What’s wrong with that?

I’ve seen a lot of bullying in my life, but, in schools, it didn’t end up the way it does now, with kids killing the bullies or killing themselves.

I think part of the problem now is that this new crop are not actually bullies. That is like calling murderers “a bit anti-social.”

Persecution is the new bullying. Kids are better at it and have more weapons.

But I think the biggest problem is kids are no longer taught that there are ways to handle a bully short of mass murder or suicide.

When I was a kid, my father taught me there were four ways to handle a bully.

1. Ignore him, he may go away.

2. If that doesn’t work, avoid him. He may find someone else to bother.

3. If that doesn’t work, go to the authorities.

4. If that doesn’t work, punch him in the mouth. He may beat you up, but then he’ll go find someone else to bully, someone who won’t hit back.

Now, start with the fact that with the divorce rate over 50 percent, and with one out of three babies being born out of wedlock we have around 50 percent of the kids in the country plowing through life without the benefit of a father’s advice.

Let me tell you a story about Kate. She was being bullied at school. Not just verbal intimidation either. I took her aside and told her what Scrapper Jack had told me. Then I taught her how to throw a punch.

She was a little girl and I didn’t want her hurt, so I felt a little self defense couldn’t be a bad thing.

A week later she was suspended from school  for breaking a girl’s nose.

It didn’t seem to matter that she had been intimidated for months by this group of girls, or that at this particular time she was cornered in the school bathroom and the only way to the door was through the girl blocking it.

I was happy I taught her how to get out. And the bullying stopped.

Then there was Ben, a minister’s son, Ben was a polite and intelligent kid who was also the toughest tackler on my soccer team.

He was bullied in school by an older group of boys and on one day he was followed down the hall and slapped from behind. He was hit in the head several times and then punched. He finally turned and physically made his tormenter sorry he had started the fight. Ben was suspended from school because of some zero tolerance nonsense.

I say nonsense because, as any thinking adult knows, zero tolerance policies for fighting are only so teachers and administrators won’t have to try to figure out who was right or wrong, punish everyone and be done with it. And if someone steps in to help  the persecuted, punish them too.

In Ben’s case, I was told by the principal that “There is never a good reason for violence.”

I said “How about WWII?”

He didn’t understand.

So why is bullying coming to such horrible ends now: Kids killing themselves or assaulting entire schools with automatic weapons?

I have a theory.

First, there are far fewer fathers at home teaching kids how to handle a bully.

And even if kids now had the same advice I got, it wouldn’t work.

You can’t ignore bullies any more, and you can’t avoid them.

They are there in school, but when you go home now you are no longer safe. Social interaction for the most part in today’s kid society takes place on the Internet, or on the cell phone, or the some other high-tech device, so kids are always vulnerable to bullies.

And in most current cases when the persecuted kid goes to the authorities of the school, they do nothing.

They tell themselves bullying has always gone on in schools and kids have to learn to deal with it. Well, the way we dealt with it is no longer an option because authorities will pay no attention to you when you ask for help, and they’ll punish you for defending yourself.

So the persecution gets worse and worse and continues and builds until the kid being bullied can no longer take it and kills himself or herself or kills whoever was doing the bullying.

Our academics — those who believe there is never a reason for violence — pride themselves in their zero tolerance policies and have given kids no recourse other than ignore it and hope it will go a away, which never really worked well even when we were kids.

You want the bullying to stop?

Teach kids there is a way to handle it short of automatic weapons or a noose, and then back them up when they do.

This is not a kid problem. It is an adult problem.



  1. I agree 100%. We need to stop putting the problem back on the shoulders of the victim who would have stopped it if it could have been stopped, and back on the shoulders of the bully who thinks no adult can stop the bullying. This is not impossible to solve.

  2. There are so many so called authority figures that try very hard not to see bullying or any other socially destuctive behavior, it’s amassing there are comunities left in this country. Soon we will be back to tribes.

  3. I was a bullys victim as a freshman in high-school. The fact of the matter was that I was more terrifeied of my pint-sized Irish mother than the bully. My mother would kill me if I got suspended for fighting, especially after she poured thousands of her hard earned dollars into martial arts classes for me. So I asked the teachers for help they wanted nothing to do with it, even after the other girl had been repramanded many times for obseenly taunting me at school. After one of many verbal altercations in the hallway we were both suspeneded, to my suprise!!
    So before going home to really get it, I told my bully to meet me after school and I broke her nose and fractured her jaw and cheek bone. She never bothered me again. The problem was noone backed me up, and I suffered tremendously for two years. After going through it I can understand why these children kill themselves or go postal. The anxiety cause me ulcers at the ripe old age of fifteen. I feel the no-tolerance policy is a way for all faculty to keep their hands clean. It is very sad that millions of bullied children suffer in scilence.
    I think their should be a real NO TOLERANCE policy for bullys. Perhaps a real trial should be held at the school with faculty and students as the jury, to see how to punish a bully. I feel that would be the only way to really make it fair.
    Your sisters favorite student

    P.S. My mom gave me a high-five when she found out I beat up my bully

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