Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Saturday, May 19 Show: Bullying as a societal problem.

   In 7th grade I weighed 68 pounds. I credit that, in part, to my mother’s cooking. When I reached DePauw, and everyone else complained about the food in the dorm (Freshman year I was in the dorm), I was happy. For the first time I was not plagued by stomach cramps.

   Of slight stature, on occasion I confronted a bully. The situation in our school maybe was different from what I read about bullying in school’s today. Usually the bullies in our high school dropped out, got sent to the Department of Correction’s Boys School after violation of probation too many times, or received tenure. I was punched once when I expressed opposition to the Vietnam War. Another time, on Moratorium Day in October, 1969, I was slammed against lockers by four guys who tried to rip the black arm-band I wore in protest of the wore. The arm-band was not an "official" arm-band of easily-torn cotton. I did not have access to any of those. Instead, I grabbed one of my mother’s black, stretch-nylon hair bands. Those four guys could have attached the arm-band to the trailer hitch of a four-wheel drive truck and not gotten the band off my arm. (btw, I was told by the principal that I should not cause trouble by wearing arm-bands to school; so much for free speech.)

   Those incidents were not "bullying" in the sense the term is used today. To torment another student because that student is perceived as "different" is both cruel and ignorant. Everyone is different, in one way or another. Also, I was well enough liked by classmates that I did not confront that many bullies—especially after sophomore year or so, when most of them had left school for jobs or the DOC.

   Suicides amongst teens are a significant problem. In 2007, suicide was third leading cause of death amongst Americans age 15 to 24. (National Institute of Mental Health.) Teenage years are difficult enough, without having a bullies in one’s face every day. (Oh, and I was president of the Latin Club, so that did n’t help matters.)

   Saturday’s Show will be about bullying. Is there anyone out there who will either (a) defend the concept of bullying or (b) argue the problem is overblown? If so, please contact either Paul Ogden or me. This is an important issue that we want to discuss as fully and fairly as possible.

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