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> After all, middle schoolers are “kind of the best people on Earth,” says Mayra Cruz, the principal of Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, a public middle school in Washington, D.C.

She appears to be at a very different middle school than I went to. Or is painfully oblivious as to how cruel children of that age can be to each other.






3 children had to leave our grade because they got mercilessly bullied. One of them once attacked one of his bullies with scissors. There was the, at least, bi-weekly garbage king crowning where a kid would be put in the garbage bin.

As the part time class clown I could survive mostly unscathed, but children from other grades were bullying me. I came to school 90 minutes early, so I could get in as one of the first children so I would not have to walk past them.


Referencing the person I was responding to, the point I wanted to make is: Cruelty and sadism is inherently human. Sometimes, even elementary school children show it. Once the hormones of puberty rush in, the issue gets worse. Young age does not protect one from being a monster.

The little bullying I have seen among adults is laughable compared to school.


I wouldn't call them cruel, but they're certainly not the best people on Earth…

I hear this on the Internet all the time but in middle school everyone was nice to me and I was nice to everyone. There was some banter and we sometimes accidentally injured each other because we're clumsy and sometimes we fought, but 'cruel'? I don't recall anyone being cruel.

In fact, I remember seeing this right after I finished high school too. The Internet was always "Kids are so cruel to each other" and now I wonder to myself if this isn't just the culture you guys have built where you live.

Of course we had uniforms and nearly everyone came in on public buses unless they were rich or lived close to the rich kids.


Start with crowding and go from there. If your school was small and everyone knew everyone, that's a vast difference.

It takes just a few bullies (or worse, criminals), who get a bunch of sycophants, to ruin the atmosphere. If you cannot remove them, nobody knows how to control it.

Middle schoolers are as cruel as any people, just less sophisticated, so it's much more obvious.

They form tribal social groups which fight, cut out people they dislike or judge, explicitly. Trying to remove that bit is nearly impossible. They do respect teacher authority, so an oblivious enough teacher can think everything is fine - or they normalized deviance.


I went to an integrated primary to higher secondary school with a nearby kindergarten. 50 kids a class.

It depends a lot on luck, school teachers and parents in local area.

The level of bullying other describe here is not possible without enabling from adults. Likewise, seeing how it plays with my kid, teachers who cares and know what to do can really make difference in how kids treat each other.


Not cruel, but self-centered. Infancy seems to me like a progression from complete self-centerness (if I'm not pleased, I'll cry until I turn blue) to become functional, socially. Adolescence is part of that process of gauging how much to conform to society vs stand up for yourself, until (ideally) you reach a mature state in which the interaction with other human beings is healthy.

I'm no psychologist so please take my input with a grain of salt.

My point is, kids aren't cruel in the sense that we use to refer to adults. They, instead, are socially inept, and can't fully grasp the consequence of their actions.

It's always helpful to keep Hanlon's razor in mind: assume stupidity before malice.


If you spend time with babies you will find they are actually very sociable and giving. Indeed when they are worms they can only scream. But once they can interact they often love sharing and contributing.

They don't develop a theory of self until they are 3 or 4 so they can't anticipate what your needs are and that they are different than their needs, but they will try to share what they like with you.


They also go out of way to help when you do house work. They are not really useful, but really wants to be. They will "clean", "wash" and what not and are super happy when you thank them.

> My point is, kids aren't cruel in the sense that we use to refer to adults. They, instead, are socially inept, and can't fully grasp the consequence of their actions.

They can be cruel very intentionally fully knowing what is going on well before adolescence. You teach them not to.


> I wonder to myself if this isn't just the culture you guys have built where you live.

A lot of this is simply a culture of poverty and CERTAINLY not developed by the kids suffering in it


I’m glad you had a good experience. I and many others did not. There are several bullies that I really wish I’d had the courage to send home with a bloody nose.

I understand and sympathize. I'm saying it isn't naturally this way. Your administrators were not capable of doing their jobs. Which is what I suspect of most of American schools: teachers and administrators have poor competency. I'm not sure what this stems from but it seems fairly true.

My teachers weren't great. But for most kids you don't need teachers explicitly. You just need a safe classroom environment that values learning.




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