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The Bully
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There was an article in yesterday's Daily News entitled, "Officials give bullies upper hand recently." The column was written by Ralph E. Shaffer, Professor Emeritus of History at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (affectionately and lazily known as Cal Poly).

In this article Professor Shaffer points out that the crusade for an end to hazing, intimidation and violence against the meek, weak and oddly different has begun to experience a 180-degree turnaround.

Recently in the news, are the cases of youngsters who have taken matters into their own hands when goaded beyond endurance and, turning on their bullying tormentors, have unleashed real violence--with a baseball bat in one case and with a rock in another. The officials in the two cases responded with the strongest possible sanctions.

As Professor Shaffer says, "The message to victims of playground bullies is pretty clear: Don't take matters into your own hands....So until the pendulum swings back to a kinder, gentler society, my advice to kids who are bullied is: Swallow your pride [and your pain] and ignore it." That's what we had to do 60 years ago and things haven't really changed for the better.

1. Have you ever noticed how many people who write these columns say they themselves were victims of bullying in their youth? That got me thinking...and my conclusion is that bullies are threatened by intelligent, creative, different people and that’s why they pick on them. But the intelligent, creative, different people are the ones who make a positive difference in our lives, as opposed to the bullies, who go on to become sports players or lawyers or some other profession where bullying and control are positive virtues.

2. I have often thought that officials—school principals, among others—secretly admire and protect bullies. Sure, they scold them, but underneath it all there is tacit approval and even encouragement. Which is why bullies feel free to continue to bully, sometimes right under the noses of those who are supposed to protect the victim. As a teacher, I found that protecting the victim and punishing the bully often meant that the bully in secret made life even more miserable for the victim; thus the situation was worse than if I had done nothing at all.

Sometimes the approval is not all that under covert, as when the bully is given the job of hall monitor or some such thing—the extra dollop of power is supposed to help him understand and control the need to abuse the small and weak and quiet, because the bully (poor thing) suffers from a lack of self-respect.

F___ improving his self image; just tell him to keep his hands off the small and weak and bookish and speak gently to them or not at all.

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