Bullying is different now and a lot crueler
Cyberbullying has increased the threat to students, but in many ways, bullying hasn’t changed that much since I was in high school in an area west of Los Angeles in the late 1980s. I was never the victim of bullying, but like 70 percent of youths in schools today, as stopbullying.gov reported, I did see others getting bullied during my school days.
One of my strongest recollections of school bullying was one day when I attempted to go back to my locker between classes and saw a multi-layered throng of my fellow high school classmates gathered in a U-shape around what I first thought was just a high school fight. I was among the last to get to the impromptu “event,” and was only there because my locker was tucked away inside the fighting area.
Now, I don’t remember ever seeing the bully’s face, but I do remember, through a wall of my classmates’ heads, seeing the target staggering against the lockers after having been thrown yet another punch by the bully. I remember seeing that he had no fighting skills, and would take several hits before the “fight” ended.
This was well before the PACER Center’s 2006 National Bullying Prevention Month campaign began, and well before there was any particular awareness of the practice of “bullying.” That word was around, but I never heard it used at school.
Everything back then was just called a “fight.” But this one was totally unfair.
This was one of two instances in which my classmates gathered like the ancient Romans at the Coliseum to see the defenseless boy pummeled. I remember asking someone in the crowd why he was being targeted. The answer: because he was gay. I thought at the time that was an odd reason to hit someone.