What doesn't kill you makes you stronger...

Phoenix Coverley

Can retribution stop a bully?

My first incident of bullying happened on the bus. A kid named Andy would taunt me EVERY day. For some reason- because the bus lady didn’t say anything? Because I thought if I ignored him or acted like I didn’t care he would stop? Because my parents were pacifists? -I didn’t do anything about it. Although small for his age, and maybe one of the smallest kids on the bus, he was on his way to being a child star, so he was definitely one of the cool kids. But I guess even when you have booked a commercial and starred in an after school special, at age 11, when you’re smaller than everybody, it’s still a priority to pick on someone else, to make them feel small so that you can LOOK big. Because to me, at age 12 and probably a head taller, being the recipient of his taunts made me blind to his physical size. I was afraid of him and felt belittled and angry. Over a period of two years he teased me every day on that bus, all the way to school and back.

I guess the anger built up. One day at lunch I saw him on the quad and he must have said something to me because I just starting kicking the shit out of him- literally. My face turned red and I was crying and kicking at the same time. I couldn’t stop. I kicked at his legs and then got him on the ground and just kept kicking. This went on for 4-5 minutes before the yard duty broke it up. The next thing I knew I was in the principal’s office and he was asking me, “Why did you do that? You are such a good student?” I was. I was a teacher’s pet, I did well in school and when I saw kids cutting class I was appalled. When I told the principal about the teasing on the bus, he said he was surprised I hadn’t done anything about it sooner. Then he called my mom. Of course, I hadn’t told her anything about it because I was embarrassed, I wanted to be a cool kid and in so yearning, had protected Andy, by not saying anything. But at that moment, this reasoning was really working against me. Luckily, my mom believed me and so did the principal apparently since no consequences happened to either of us. And you know what? He never teased me on the bus again.

Recently a lot of videos have been released that illustrate similar situations in which a taunted child gets physical retribution against the perpetrator. The clear response to these viral videos is applause for justice done.

Although retribution can be effective, I have definite reservations about teaching this as a means to an end. I definitely think children should feel confident to stand up for themselves, but I stop short of thinking that physical violence is an effective solution to a social problem that is in and of itself comprised of physical and emotional violence.

And some part of me wonders if this may not be the link that makes the victim into the perpetrator.

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