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How Bullies Are Made

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My son is being menaced by an encephalitic, dimwitted, maladjusted bully. Bear in mind, my son is only 14 months old and the bully is 19 months old. While the entire concept seems absurd, rest assured this is a real problem.

For the past couple months, it seems like every other day we pick up Alex from the nursery school, there is an incident report to sign. These are state-mandated forms that any accredited child care facility is responsible for administering when an “incident” has occurred in their care. An incident might be defined as any injury or accident where first aid steps were necessary. In Alex’s case, the incidents have been bites, bumps, scratches to the eye and the latest, a laceration of the face. Bleeding!! My baby boy came home with a scratch that was bleeding.

While I want so much to blame the child responsible for this behavior, I have to keep reminding myself that he is only 19 months old. He can’t talk, he just recently learned to walk, he shows no signs of being superior in any way other than the fact that he towers over the other children in this group. Basically he looks like a three year old and acts like a troglodyte. His outward behavior is EXTREMELY aggressive. From the moment he was mobile, he became a toy-hoarding, toy-stealing, pushing, grabbing, scratching, hitting, WWF wrestling maniac.

BUT, the real problem in this case is the parents. The Bully Dad is an arrogant man, the kind who brags about how much money he makes, how big their house is, and how his child is perfect. The Bully Mom is a bossy, snobbish, selfish person who spends more time attending to her clothes and makeup than her own child.

They drop Bully off the moment the center opens and rarely ever pick him up prior to the center closing – they essentially leave their son there for twelve hours a day. In fact, over the holidays the mom was off on vacation for two weeks and didn’t spend one of those days with her son. She was busy shopping, having manicures, working out or pursuing whatever selfish desire that struck her fancy. To make matters worse, when Frankenbully became sick and had explosive diarrhea during this vacation, she about blew a gasket that she had to come in and pick her little caveman up.

These people suck. They are the worst kind of muggles.

But what really sticks in my craw is that this is just the beginning of what we have all at some point witnessed in our lives: a blind eye turned toward bullies. The director of the center is trying her best to deal with the situation, a very delicate one no doubt, but ultimately she is trying to protect the bully AND Alex. Why? Why do we as a society feel the need to show any mercy for bullies? I ask the same question about our legal system. Why do we bother to rehabilitate when the rate of recidivism is proof positive that most violent criminals can’t be retrained to not act like murdering savages.

Everyone wants to protect the criminal at the sacrifice of the victim, when in reality, the only person who counts is the victim. My son didn’t ask to have his eyes scratched out or to be bitten. And rest assured, whenever he repeats this behavior at home — and he has from time to time — it is taken very seriously.

These parents (and there are many like them, in fact behind every bully is a parent who believes their child can do no wrong) feel that it’s the victims fault for their child acting in an aggressive way. Just today when the Bully Dad was called about his son attacking another child, his response was “Well, did such and so take a toy from Frankenstein? What did the other child do to my Perfect Monster? You know, he needs naps don’t you?”

What horseshit! Honestly, what I would really like to see is for Alex, who is also a big kid, to knock this little doofus on his ass and then I would like to see Eric pound Frankendad’s face into the dirt and kick his fatass down the street for being so unable to be a decent dad or human being..

Alas, that would be lowering ourselves to the level of the Bully Family.

Shouldn’t I at least have another seven or eight years to worry about this kind of crap? If this isn’t the sign of Armageddon then what is?

About Dawn Olsen

  • Aaman

    Dawn, I didn’t mean that literally – I do agree this is an important issue.

    I, for one, value brains over brawn any day – mainly for personal reasons. Historically, brains have had more value in getting a person ahead than just being a brute anyway.

  • swingingpuss

    Parents with Neanderthal mentality do great disservice to their kids. No one likes to hang around a bully; be it a 19 months old cherub or an testosterone driven 19 years old teenager.

  • Sydney

    Nalle: “So, teachers who don’t think overseeing socialization is their job don’t seem like a whole lot of use to me, and my unfortunate observation is that this attitude becomes more and more common in the higher grades.”

    The problem is not that teachers don’t think school should be a socializing process. In fact most recognize this is of key importance, but the contradiction is that the curriculum mentions nothing about social aspects of development. Students are, practically speaking, not given the opportunity to really work on this. They have too much academic stuff to get thru in a very short time. The government doesn’t care about the social experiences for kids, rather they just look to ensure a lot of high performing academic students. It’s a backwards system and as such it fails our society on many levels.

    There are programs within the school that are designed to help with this; clubs, sports, etc. These activities allow kids to interact with their peers. Teachers observe how kids perform in this respect, and encourage co-operation, patience, and respect amongst the students. It goes along way too.. without this, students would be FAR worse off.

    However, there is such an enormous push to be academically competitive with other schools. In my opinion (and most teachers opinions), standardized testing do more harm then good because all they do is rate schools academically and the government rewards those schools that produce high scores. No mention of social aspects. Meanwhile, the schools that do well on these scores are simply doing well because they are drawing students from High socio-economic neighborhoods where parents have already given their children “cultural capital“. For these students school is a natural thing, since their parents speak to them in the “language of school and high culture”. These kids are already socialized for school, for success and for good behavior.

    Anyway… I’m digressing, but I just like to say that there is no curriculum for socializing kids and teachers are pressured to get good academic results out of their students. For many schools obtaining good academic scores means “exporting” (means: expelling) untalented students out to a school which has no choice but to take the bad students.

    This is encouraged by the Private/public system as well. Private schools take all the students who come form wealthy homes and good situations, thus draining the public schools of these students and so you end up with poor ratio of good students to bad students in the public system. As such public schools have classes with all sorts of problems and teachers are spending their whole day just trying to maintain order. It is a system that privileges the rich.

    This is way too long. sorry.

  • Eric Olsen

    don’t ALL systems privilege the rich?

  • HW Saxton

    This is a really interesting post. I’ve
    got no children of my own but have spent
    a lot of time helping to raise one of my
    nephews and have had to deal with quite
    similar situations.

    Unfortunately,I think that R.J* is right
    that maybe the bully just needs his ass
    handed back to him by your son. I know
    that violence is never an intelligent or
    end all solution but if the kid thinks
    he can get away with it he’ll probably
    keep it up until his little ass does get
    “whupped” for doing it.There is nothing
    wrong with standing up for yourself when
    you are right.I don’t care what ANYONE
    says to the opposite.

    But isn’t the real issue here with the
    kids parents for not teaching the little
    mongoloid better in the first place?

    *Comment #30

  • DrPat

    Giant unexamined (and unsupported) premise, Sydney: rich students are mostly good students; poor students are mostly bad students. I know from my own life this is not invariably (or even mostly) true.

    If socialization can/should be “taught” in schools (as opposed to “learned”), why is the lack of socialization training one of the first charges leveled against home schooling? In other words, if this is just another lesson, it can also be taught at home. Or, as home-schoolers learn, it can be acquired in many other venues, outside the classroom.

    Eric, while money helps you take advantage of opportunities in many systems, I do not agree that ALL systems privilege the rich. People make decisions about where to spend their money. Dawn and her husband did, remember, then they fought to bring that choice into line with their expectations.

  • Eric Olsen

    good points DrP; and HW, I am in no way opposed to people standing up for themselves and in fact encourage it. I am told not infrequently that I am too damn old to get myself into the kinds of confrontations in which I occasionally find myself. I’m not sure how to tell a little guy, who turns 14 months in three days and who just mastered “uh-oh” and “baby,” exactly how to defend himself under the circumstances, however.

  • HW Saxton

    14 months? LOL. I guess that is a bit
    young for to teach ‘em the art of school
    yard scufflin’. I was kinda thinking of
    down the road a bit though,4 or 5 years,
    somewhere around there.I guess the young
    one should probably master the likes of
    “I’m hungry” and “I gotta go” before he
    he learns “You want piece of ME,MF?”

  • Dawn

    I tend to agree with the implied philosophy that higher income families tend to “breed” children who exhibit the right values – but that is not a given. There are plenty of low-income families that have exceptional values, but little money.

    This center is in the middle of the road as far as “tuition” goes. It’s not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive available.

    This particular family is very well off (as they are more than happy to share with virtually anyone unfortunate enough to listen) but they possess a very pathetic set of values and beliefs thus far.

    This is not just in reference to parenting, as it is truly difficult to judge something as abstract as “parenting” from the outside.

    I have had the misfortune of interacting with them on a variety of levels and it bears repeating: they are the worst kind of muggles.

  • Sydney

    DrPat says, “Giant unexamined (and unsupported) premise, Sydney: rich students are mostly good students; poor students are mostly bad students. I know from my own life this is not invariably (or even mostly) true.”

    Sorry, but this is not what I said. I did say that children of High socio-economic status tend to have “cultural capital” which lends itself to an easy transition into school life. These students are referred too amongst academics as “talented students”. Schools aim to fill themselves with these ‘talented’ students. These students are NOT more intelligent then untalented students, they merely come from families who occupy the top social rungs of society, and as such have been socialized from the get go in the conditions of this ‘society’. This prepares them, in more cases than not, for the social climate within schools. This however, does not mean that a rich kid won’t bully — that’s a separate issue.

    This is why, when you walk into a private school you witness less bad behavior (I‘ve been both a student and a teacher in both the private and public system). The kids may be total jackasses, but they often know what’s appropriate behavior within the school setting.

    I’m not making a negative class judgment, and in fact my heart and my passion lies with those students who are lacking the cultural capital to fit in. But these observations on the effect of socio-economic status and schooling are accepted by researchers in the education field. I spent two years reading journals that corroborated this.

    Also, I just like to add to things:

    1) I believe that teaching your child to fight back has its merits in some instances. Finding your child other means to develop self confidence is another remedy (I.e. acting, singing lessons, sports).

    2) I don’t believe all systems privilege the rich. I’m a capitalist, socialist in the Canadian sense. High Corporate taxes, free health care, free and equal education for all (or as close is humanly possible).

    3) I do believe that public school is a better social experience for children then either home-schooling or private schooling. It’s important that we all have experience with people of all different corners of society, that we don’t develop misconceptions about the nature of these different people, that we form friendships and acquaintances with these people. What does a rich kid know about the immigrants, or the problems of the poor. He reads about them in a text book and sees them mis-represented on the news. ….then he graduates to exercise his inherited authority over the poor with out the knowledge of how to better the situation. Its perpetual.

  • DrPat

    I just keep seeing the same premise, stated in defferent words here: “children of High socio-economic status tend to have “cultural capital” which lends itself to an easy transition into school life. These students are referred too [sic] amongst academics as “talented students”.

    Sounds like “rich kids are good students” to me, even if written in poly-syllabic phrases.

  • Duane

    “Sounds like ‘rich kids are good students’ to me….”

    Is that not true?

  • Aaman

    That’s a load of crock – brains and inner drive make a shit load more difference than a bucket of silver spoons.

  • RJ

    I know of relatively poor kids who did damn well for themselves.

    And I know of relatively well-off kids who are drop-outs and druggies and dead.

    Teachers are there to…TEACH!

    If you can’t manage that, then you shouldn’t be a teacher.

    Socialization can take place both in a school setting, and outside of it.

    Those teachers who whine about test scores and the inability to have their supposedly superior “socializing” skills also reviewed…well, sounds like a cross between incompetence and sour grapes to me.

    If you teach English…then, TEACH ENGLISH! And if you can’t…GET ANOTHER JOB! (Particularly if you can barely spell yourself…)

  • Duane

    True enough, Aaman, but what do you make of this?

    “In nearly all the studies that correctly measured families’ socioeconomic status, children from families with lower socioeconomic status had lower academic achievement, even from the earliest years of school.”

    Source: Armor, David J., Maximizing Intelligence, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers 2003), pp. 135-180.

  • RJ

    Because, maybe, economically poor parents tend to be the types of individuals who are also irresponsible in other areas, like basic parenting?

    I mean, a large chunk of “poor” people are “poor” because of self-inflicted wounds. Dropping out of high school and having a boat-load of bastard kids isn’t exactly responsible behavior. And those people tend to be poor.

    Therefore, they tend to be in single-parent homes, without a decent “father-figure” around. And mom ain’t exactly the type of person who will encourage diligent school work and obeying the rules of the larger society…

    In other words, while “poverty” plays a role, so do VALUES. And a poor person with positive values is much more likely to have offspring who are decent citizens. And, likewise, a “rich” person who is otherwise a scumbag is likely to have kids who are delinquents.

    So. Income plays a role, but hardly a definitivee role…

  • Aaman

    a) Academic achievement is not the same as brains, necessarily – just because a child does not perform well academically does not mean he/she is not smart – EQ, not IQ

    b) Einstein

    c) I accept that changing environmental factors for these families can change their children’s ability to learn. but not that rich kids are smarter than poor ones

    d)”Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence.” (Wiggam)

  • Duane

    Socioeconomic status is just an indicator of academic performance. It’s a statistical argument, based on the collection of hordes of data. It’s probably better to say that a correlation exists, rather than to say a cause and effect relationship exists, just as RJ points out.

    Of course there are exceptions. That’s what you get with a statistical sample. It’s an averaging process that allows sociologists to make generalizations about large populations.

  • Duane

    a) Academic achievement is not the same as brains….


    b) Einstein

    Always a bad example. There is(was) only one Einstein, and he was so far off the scale that comparisons are meaningless.

    c) … but not that rich kids are smarter than poor ones

    They might be, on average. “Smarts” is part nature, part nurture.

    d)”Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence.” (Wiggam)

    Two extreme ends of the spectrum. Even Einstein went to school — and he learned stuff.

  • Dave Nalle

    >>If you teach English…then, TEACH ENGLISH! And if you can’t…GET ANOTHER JOB! (Particularly if you can barely spell yourself…)<<

    But don’t forget, the NEA has made sure that the person teaching English has never really studied English and just teaches from a lesson plan.



    As usual, so many opinions and talking past each other, the old “blind man and the elephant” problem. What the hell, I will throw in my 2 cents as well. I feel very strongly about parenting and education, primarily because I am a parent, and I am looking toward making my second career as a teacher. ( After 20 years in the military, I will need to maintain a string of low-paying, demanding, often thankless but ultimately rewarding jobs so my transition to civilian life won’t be so abrupt and shocking, ;) )

    First, an 18 month old kid who acts out and bites is not the same as a 3 year old who does the same, or an 8 year old who takes a kids lunch money. At 18 months, a child can, and must be taught what is and is not acceptable behavior, separating that child from the others, removal of toys he won’t share, explining to that child that the behavior is inappropriate, and a good swat on the bottom from the parents on rare occasions are all tools to encourage appropriate social behavior. To fail to consistently use them will most likely result in problems down the road.

    Daycare can be a great thing for both the parents and the child, if the facility is a good one, and the parents spend a lot of time with the kids whenevr possible outside of daycare. Due to circumstances in our area, most of the jobs that were available would have my wife to work and earn just enough to pay for the daycare my kids would use while my wife was working, a zero sum in my book. My wife left work after our children were born and we made the hard choice to be a one income family. I think it was very beneficial for my kids to have consistent parental attention, but we still put the kids in a part-time daycare center to help in the socialization process, and to give my wife the chance to get time without the kids when necessary. Overall, it was a very good arrangement.

    “Teachers are there to…TEACH!

    If you can’t manage that, then you shouldn’t be a teacher.”

    Great idea,but if the teacher has to focus more on managing the disruptive students in class than actually teaching, it can be very frustrating for both the teacher and the students. Teachers need to be held accountable for their students, but they also need to be backed up by the principal and the school board when enforcing the standards in the classroom. Schools should not be expelling kids they don’t want to deal with, but they must also be able to use expulsion to remove the troublesome student from disrupting the process of teaching the rest of the students.

    A good school needs the active participation of the parents, at least open and exercised means of communicating with the parents.

    “But don’t forget, the NEA has made sure that the person teaching English has never really studied English and just teaches from a lesson plan.” Well, I think that is an overexaggeration based in truth, more the exception than the rule. Moreso, why is it that schools have to hire such people, why is it that some school districts have a high teacher turnover rate? To be sure, some find out that teaching is not what they want to do, this happens in any profession in the first few years out of college. I feel that, like in many jobs, the most dedicated people are often burned out the most quickly if forced to be put in the role of disciplinarian and babysitter on one hand, while not being backed up by their school administrators.

    I’d have to agree that there is a correlation rather than a cause and effect regarding income and intelligence. Children, especially in the elementary and middle school years, need the balance of learning as fun, so they want to learn ,and learn it because they need to know it, they also need to be challenged to learn, and a supportive hand while meeting those challenges. Give a kid a good foundation in learning, and the opportunites to do so, and a challenge and discipline to meet a goal, many of them will continue through the rest of their academic career. The minute we write off young children, or the school they attend, we as a society suffer. Unless you are willing to subsidize them in their ignorance, or just herd them upo and kill them off, it is society’s best interest to educate them.

    Last, a kid does need to know how to defend himself, both mentally and physically, and be instructed in deciding when and how to do so. You don’t want to teach a kid to be a doormat for bullies, nor do you want a kid whose first instinct in any confrontation is to start swinging.


    Stanley Kurtz has a review of MAry Eberstadt’s book “Home Alone America” which addresses daycare and parenting. It looks like a book that is worth reading.

  • Eric Olsen

    I basically see the Powell Doctrine as appropriate for interpersonal relationships: be slow to anger, overlook what you reasonably can, but when you retaliate do so with overwhelming force. I am not large and never have been, but I have found “crazy” often prevails over “large,” and if it doesn’t, it certainly gives “large” pause.

  • RJ

    “I am not large and never have been, but I have found “crazy” often prevails over “large,” and if it doesn’t, it certainly gives “large” pause.”


    Lots of people have a short fuse. Mine, however, is quite long. But when it’s burnt completely, I become a friggin’ Berzerker. Minus the blue body-paint, of course… ;-)

  • Victor Plenty

    Blue body-paint lets your opponent know you’re crazy.

    on the woad again,