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The worst year of my life (maban.co.uk)
239 points by Fletch137 on April 25, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 257 comments

No one should have to endure this sort of thing, which is somewhat worse than what I experienced myself (pervasive internet use is a significant amplifier).

Kids are a lot stronger than we give them credit for -- much stronger than adults, I think. Primary and secondary schools are an extremely harsh environment, because they have many of the same problems as prisons to a lesser degree. We forcibly put large groups of socially underdeveloped people together, and barely monitor the situation. Kids can't even really escape the systemic problems at home anymore, due to the internet.

Somehow, the vast majority of our children manage to come out of them more or less intact. This is nothing less than miraculous, one of the great unsung triumphs of human spirit.

I keep coming back to how nobody should have to endure this. This triumph is over an adversity of our own making. We can and should take this more seriously than any other threat to children, even though they somehow endure it, because it is more pervasive.

Somehow, the vast majority of our children manage to come out of them more or less intact.

Except the ones who kill themsleves. Or the ones who are fundamentally changed for the rest of their lives. Or the ones who grow a hatred and distrust for the people in charge who did nothing to protect them. Or...

Sure, I don't mean to imply that bullying does no damage. Quite the opposite, in fact. The fact that anyone can experience bullying, survive, and go on to be a productive adult is impressive. The fact that most do is downright incredible, and were there not so much evidence I would not have believed it possible.

This does nothing to lessen the tragedy of those who are not so lucky.

The fact that anyone can experience bullying, survive, and go on to be a productive adult is impressive. The fact that most do is downright incredible

It is not. I know lots of people who were hampered for life because of bullying. I had two factors in my favor:

1. I was already in mid teens when bullying started, and knew that I could endure it.

2. Being a smart kid, I had support of teachers. So, I ended up focusing more on studies rather than interacting with classmates.

I know quite a few people who were bullied and basically wrapped themselves in a cocoon and missed learning important skills (communication, social)

The fact that anyone can experience bullying, survive, and go on to be a productive adult is impressive.

My point is that many don't. Perhaps most. Your comment serves as "comfort food" for those who would like to ignore the problem: "It's good that most children are strong! And it's a pity that some aren't." But most aren't. People who can be changed so fundamentally for the rest of their lives aren't strong people.

If people take from my comment that we should ignore the problem, they have no ability to consider the basic morality.

We are psychologically torturing a large number of children. That burden is on us. We create the situation where bullying is possible, and refuse to address that consequence in an effective manner. We refuse to even give children or their parents an effective tool to address it on an individual level. This makes me sick, and it should make you sick, too.

Anyone would be fundamentally changed for life by the level of psychological torture we inflict on our children. It requires significant strength just to not develop a serious addiction, run away, or commit suicide -- strength I don't see in most adults I know.

Or the ones who grow a hatred and distrust for the people in charge who did nothing to protect them.

Sounds like that one is inevitable, no matter where you are.

Your "except" doesn't actually contradict what you're responding to.

May be that wasn't his intention.

> Somehow, the vast majority of our children manage to come out of them more or less intact.

I tend to agree. In retrospection, adolescent social environments rank among the most unpleasant experiences I've had in my life.

Not only unpleasant, but IMHO unproductively so. While I acknowledge it's difficult to objectively assess oneself, I genuinely can't help but view the worst adolescent trauma I experienced as anything more than a waste of time.

We often forgive a lot of abuse effected by children and towards children as a "natural" part of development. I don't hold that view. If I can spare my kids similar experiences, I certainly will. Life is preciously short, and we owe it to ourselves not to waste energy on the absolute wheel-spinning nonsense that kids all too often inflict on each other.

If you're lucky, bullying can teach you how to deal with completely unreasonable people and how to play social and legal games to retaliate when someone fucks things up for you. This has been my experience for bullying that happened early in my adult life. You need to be in the right place to get anything good out of it, though.

This is very terrible. From reading the article, was it a private boarding school? I'm curious if the pressures in those environments are worse, because the parental support system is weaker.

Although I don't have experience of boarding schools, I suspect private schools may be better as parents tend to be very sensitive to whether they are getting value for money - so if you're child is unhappy and/or under-performing parents want to ask why. Also private schools can be very quick to get rid of kids who cause trouble.

Our son goes to a boys only private school and I have to say its been a great success - but we did select the school by doing a review of all the people we knew who went to private school (not difficult in Edinburgh) and picking the one that seemed to produce the "nicest" most well-rounded people.

Speaking as a fellow Brit I think not - it sounds like a standard comprehensive school.

As a former bully, my advice to anyone being bullied is to fight back.

I wasn't someone who would physically attack people, but I would relentlessly verbally abuse them. I'm not sure about the legal consequences these days but I know that if the person I picked on punched me in the face, I'd probably back down. This is what I have told my kids if they ever find themselves bullied. I'm not sure about the circumstances of the OP but I do think if you allow the bullying to fester, then kids who normally wouldn't bully start looking at you as a target and join in. The key is to not make yourself a target and if they know every time they bully you, that you will fight back tooth and nail, eventually they will choose someone else. It's sad and unfair, but true. It's like Lord of the Flies.

The one thing that makes me glad that I'm not younger is the fact that I didn't have the internet when I was a kid. I know for a fact I would have engaged in cyberbullying so I'm glad I never had access to a tool like this when I was at my worst.

I agree, but I don't think it is ever that easy. The problem is bullies target people who they know won't fight back, whose personality makes that particularly difficult. There is usually more than one bully involved, too, which makes one feel like s/he has to try to fight back against all of them, an overwhelming proposition.

Benjamin Franklin's solution to getting a person who hated him to like him was to get the other person to do things for him[1]. Doing something for somebody you hate causes cognitive dissonance, as you do positive things for a "negative" person, and the way this often resolves is through a reduction of those negative feelings (empathy may also play a role). Suspension and other punishments don't solve the underlying problem, which is a lack of empathy. A punishment of service to the abused seems like it would be more useful.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Franklin_effect

Yes, but that's the point. I never picked on someone who I felt would fight back. I don't know how I developed this intuition as a kid but it was fairly accurate. The thing is if the kid fought back then I would probably have picked someone else. It must be hard for the bullying victim but it's something that has to be done.

This link you gave is interesting. My corollary to this is as a victim, never do favors for your bullier. It only makes you look weaker in their eyes and it will only spur them on. For me, the only solution is to fight back and make yourself not look an easy target.

> It must be hard for the bullying victim but it's something that has to be done.

That's another thing. I sometimes wonder if, with all these rules and regulations and protections in place, we're not taking away some of the development that kids have to do for themselves. Standing up to a bully is extremely hard, but it's something a lot of kids eventually just have to do. I honestly think it builds character to do so.

I think the Ben Franklin effect depends on the person willingly performing the favor. The cognitive dissonance arises from the conflict of their own willing action. Subconsciously the thought looks something like, "I don't like this person, but I did choose to help them, so I must not really dislike them all that much."

A punishment of service to the abused is likely forcing the attacker to do it against his will. If anything I think that would make the attacker feel even more hateful towards the abused. The subconscious thought is something like: "That little dweeb got me in trouble. Then they made me kiss up to him. I can't stand it."

Interesting. When I was a kid, verbal tactics were my defense against bullying. Whenever a bully tried to give us shit, I'd hit back with ruthless insults. Divorces, learning disabilities, etc. Nothing was off limits. For the most part, it worked, though there are still some people who avoid me today because I pushed back too hard.

The great equalizer in my life was my autistic brother. It was the 80s, before anyone knew about or understood autism. He was constantly under threat from bullies. And as a physically small kid, my verbal battery was the only tool I had to defend him.

That situation gave me a lot of perspective. If not for my brother, I imagine I may have been a verbal bully like you. Would've been interesting to put us in the same school back then.

As a black kid, punching some verbal abuser in the face is a good way to get caught in the system for the rest of your life.

As some who was/is(by managers) being bullied.

The best line of defense against bullying is to become indifferent to bullying. And act like despite the best efforts from the bully, you are just not getting bullied. Or the bully is trying his/her level best and you just don't take them seriously at all. Nothing pisses off bullies as badly as this. You can literally enjoy the expressions on their face when you see how you have defeated them mentally. And know one thing, bullying is mind tactics. And you have to fight it out that way.

Like many innocent looking nerds. I was not only bullied by kids, but by a few teachers too.

Last year, one of my school mates called for re union at a local cafe. Everyone gathered, among them was a guy who helped my Math teacher in high school to bully me. He not only bullied me, but fed the teacher with all sorts of wrong information and got me bullied through him. Anyways the guy was present, and he doesn't seemed to done anything much in life so far. Then my other friends sort of praised as to how far I had gone among all other dudes in our class.

For whatever that brief moment. It looked like the bully's face had dried, gone cold and the expression on his face looked like a greater defeat had been handed over to him.

Unfortunately, it sounds like you fell in the same trap that I was in for a number of years after school.

I'm sorry to break it to you, but in your case, the bullies have won.

> For whatever that brief moment. It looked like the bully's face had dried, gone cold and the expression on his face looked like a greater defeat had been handed over to him.

Years later, you still care enough that hurting the bully made you feel good (and in a serious way: by making him feel that he's a failure in life. Uppercut!) That's not a victory, my friend, that's defeat. Victory is when you're free of the long-term influence and side-effects of the bullying.

I strongly encourage you to examine your life and find which parts of it and of your character have been affected by this bullying, and set to work actually undoing the influence that this has had on you. As long as you let the bullying define who you are, you've not won. That's perhaps one of the most pernicious aspects of bullying - the long-term overshadowing of all the things you do in your later life.

I get the broad idea.

Actually I never went to the re union with those memories at all. But when I saw the person, I just recalled everything that happened back then.

>>Years later, you still care enough that hurting the bully made you feel good

Sorry but I never did anything to the bully, but he did it to himself. Instead of spending his time studying or making good use of the time in some meaningful way, his plan of action was pull down others.

That can work once or twice, with some helpless people. But life itself is a bigger problem, and you can't bully life. The fact that most bullies end up in prison or with permanent problems with anger and people issues. And then land up in life long economic misery, is a self infliction.

I some how get a feeling that most bullies realize the futility of physical power in a world where power and money hold the key to success. And then also realize its the innocent looking nerds who are likely to win big. There fore try to pre-screw/pre-revenge them for the likely outcome they will face in the future: "Ending up doing small time jobs for nerds themselves".

You touch upon an important point: so often teachers are simply complicit.

In my school, a PE teacher allowed other kids to bully the same guy over and over again, walking out the room when they pointed a fire-hose at him because he wouldn't shower after class (for medical reasons I found out much later). I also remember him smiling in agreement when kids laughed at the smallest kid who was a little stalled in his development and had small private parts. What a guy!

Years later I told him off at a reunion, in public, what a horrible man and disgrace to education he truly was. He left the event. Good riddens.

That's the worst thing you can possibly do. Damn near any other course of action is better than just sitting there and taking it.

The first line of defense against bullying is to fight back. More often than not, this will suffice; even if you don't win the fights, most bullies will leave you alone once it's clear picking on you is more trouble than it's worth.

But if that's not viable - if the power imbalance is too extreme, or if the level of violence is life-threatening - then you need to either get backup (parents, teachers, senior management, police, as applicable) or leave the situation, permanently. Yes, that means dropping out of school or quitting your job is the right thing to do if no other countermeasure is available.

I would definitely advice getting help in case of violence. And the bully must be dealt with real consequences which punishes them in harshly, in order to mend their ways.

>>Damn near any other course of action is better than just sitting there and taking it.

I am saying the same. Don't take it. Don't take it at all.

Just like the best way to stop trolls is to 'not feed the trolls'. Just don't take them seriously at all. At workplaces I've used this technique and found bullies to grind their teeth in frustration.

Ignoring me never worked. It would actually encourage and motivate me to keep going and upping my verbal attacks until I got a reaction from you.

I do not suggest to anyone to just simply ignore their bully.

As a bullying victim, I concur that ignoring the bullies does not work.

In my case I switched schools (bullying continued, probably because of my personality), and things didn't improve until my last year of school, when I switched schools again.

This might work in some cases where the bully is a pathological outlier but if you're in a culture that systematically supports bullying (e.g. Because of race or class), it won't.

Sometimes bullies are the odd one out, but often they simply representing an aspect of the culture that is actually condoned by those around them.

Why did you bully? Why did you stop? How do you feel about your actions now?

I've been thinking about this a lot. I'm remorseful of what I did as a kid. I was at times the ringleader that would make fun of particular kids and if I were a parent now, I would do my utmost to get me kicked out of school.

I grew up in a happy household, my parents were both highly educated, and my siblings and I are all relatively successful. I don't think my parents even knew about my bullying because I was really good at making sure I didn't get in trouble for it.

I didn't bully everyone, just particular kids. The best way to describe it is that I saw weakness in some kids, it sickened me, and I wanted to crush it. I didn't do it to make myself feel better, or because I had self esteem issues or to make myself popular. I was amongst the top students in my class, had a bunch of friends, and even kind of nerdy so it wasn't like I was a stereotypical jock picking on nerds.

I can't explain why I felt this way, I just did. And to be honest, I can still feel these feelings sometimes around certain people, but I just stifle them because I know it's wrong. So I think it must be genetic and something I was born with because despite me knowing it's wrong and I don't want to act on my feelings, when I interact with some people I still get the same feelings of "God this person is weak, I want to crush them."

This is why I recommend people fight back against their bullies. If the person I bullied punched me in the face, not only would I not want to get into a fight (as I mentioned I never physically attacked anyone and never got into fights because I was really good at picking kids who wouldn't fight back) but then I would reconsider whether they were actally weak or not.

What is end goal of "crushing them?" You want them to stop being weak? You want them to not be in your life anymore? Quit their job, or quit their school?

I also sense weakness, I was in the Marines, and my impulse is also to be tough with "weak" people, but in a avuncular helpful way, leading them to be stronger. You have to give them queues that you're on their side even as you're not putting up with the bullshit. In the civilian world you have less room to do it and you have less of a standing to involve yourself even if you think you ought to. If someone doesn't like my tougher approach, and it becomes a problem, I transform into being the polar opposite, overly nice, very careful with that person. I don't think this would help them, but I can at least build a personal relationship with them that works.

I'd be proud of someone, whether I had anything to do with it or not, if a weak person stood up for themselves. I think bullying just makes weak people even less self confident and even weaker.

I was a child so I had no end goals. I hated their weakness and wanted to make them suffer.

These days, whenever I feel those same feelings albeit a lot more muted, I stifle them because I know I'm the one who is wrong. If I just can't stand being around the person because they annoy me too much, I'm still cordial and friendly but I remove myself out of the situation.

> I was a child so I had no end goals. I hated their weakness and wanted to make them suffer.

Thank you for sharing your perspective. I know you already regret your past, but I just don't understand why anyone would ever think this is the right thing to do. I'm pretty sure my 6 year old daughter knows better than this. It is probably genetic. I think the thing missing here is empathy and there is evidence linking genes and ability to feel empathy.

I'm sure almost everyone knows it's wrong, and I probably knew it was wrong too, which is why I was secretive about it in the sense that I never really got caught by teachers or my parents.

If I were born hundreds of years ago, I probably would have been a very hateful person, burning purported witches at the stake, etc. I'm just glad that I'm not that type of person now and that I was able to be self aware enough to stop my own behavior before it became a pervasive aspect of my personality. To answer your question as to why I stopped, I think I just realized it was wrong, and was wondering what was wrong with me and I didn't want to be that person.

> I think I just realized it was wrong, and was wondering what was wrong with me and I didn't want to be that person.

I feel this way about things in my past too.

This is a fascinating piece. That you still don't understand your motivations is a testament to evolution's sinister machinations.

My friend, you are describing your evolutionary impulses with incredible accuracy. Humans are primates, and primates form social hierarchies spontaneously. Furthermore, tribes of primates must fight against rival tribes for food and mates. Whether you knew it or not, you were on a mission to purge your tribe of weak members, whom you deemed as parasites and liabilities. If they fought back it would mean they wren't weak, and you would be satisfied, as they had proven they could be useful to the tribe.

I would recommend you read Dawkins' Selfish Gene, and a few landmark evolutionary psychology books like The Moral Animal, Blank Slate, Sex at Dawn, and any others that have come out since.

Human behavior is fascinating, and rarely is an extremely widespread behavior (e.g. bullying, religiosity, etc.) prevalent without a strong causal foundation, which very often is linked to increased fitness in an ancestral environment.

As a former victim of bullying, my advice is that fighting is the wrong move. The only thing anyone will see is that you started a fight. You will be suspended or expelled, and the bullies will not be punished nearly as severely. Worse, other bullies will see how you reacted and try to provoke you into lashing out again.

It's not worth it.

Depends on if you win the fight or not. A black eye or two is a badge of shame for a few days at least.

Ender: "Knocking him down was the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too."

Note: kicking him in the head until he dies has certain issues as well.

Ender, as an ultra-rare 3rd child in a world wide society/government that enforced a 2 child per family policy (long before people started to realize such was stark raving mad), as a "super-genius" (why a 3rd child from his parents was allowed, if not quasi-required), potentially had many more such fights, at some level recognized that, and was essentially bred to respond in such a fashion (weasel word since the authorities were rolling the dice in the hope he'd be a suitable balance of his older siblings).

Very much a special case, only partially applicable to situations in the real world, here and now.

But there's reasons the short story and the first novel resonate with so many of us....

In 2004? This kind of bullying is inhuman.

I've experienced a bit of bullying (not cyber) and it really affects you a lot.

I was bullied for 2-3 years and it fundamentally changed me. Before that, I was a friendly, trusting person who wasn't afraid to lead. Now, I'm more on reserved and untrusting side.

I also found my sanctuary on the internet and it helped me recover a lot.

Anna, you're brave and strong. Had I been subjected to this level of bullying, I'd have broken down completely.

"This kind of bullying is inhuman."

Unfortunately it's very human. It's common human behavior, and common behavior among other social mammals as well.

Nature deals you and everyone else a more or less random hand of genes. Then, when you reach puberty, you duke it out to establish a pecking order based on relative fitness indicators. These determine who gets to mate with who, and who will be closest to the alpha males who will lead the tribe.

This is one reason that despite its trendiness I have never been able to accept the argument from nature. Nature sucks. Fuck nature. My hope is that we can start re-engineering this stuff as soon as we are able.

LessWrong: "we're running on defective hardware."

The argument from nature is completely ghastly from a moral perspective. I have never seen a solid argument that uses it. It's usually the domain of pseudo-intellectuals who are grasping at Internet points instead of actually thinking through the implications of what they're saying. It implicitly condones a huge swath of anti-social behavior in the pursuit of the all-important fitness. It inspires no hope, and it demands that you take an extremely unhealthy interest in your own self.

"The argument from nature is completely ghastly from a moral perspective. I have never seen a solid argument that uses it. It's usually the domain of pseudo-intellectuals who are grasping at Internet points instead of actually thinking through the implications of what they're saying. It implicitly condones a huge swath of anti-social behavior in the pursuit of the all-important fitness. It inspires no hope, and it demands that you take an extremely unhealthy interest in your own self."

That is very well put, and the last point is really an eyebrow-raiser. I've never seen it before, but now I cannot un-see. If you look deeply into the natural everything movement that's so popular right now you'll see an odd kind of cleanliness and purity obsessed narcissism.

One day, pal. I believe it will become possibile too. There are various upsides and downsides to humans achieving self engineering, I realised a terrible one recently - people would truly have nothing that belongs to themselves.

I have been told by my parents that I was a friendly, outgoing child going in to kindergarten.

I sure as fuck wasn't on the way out. (I was already a nerd.)

I've long since dealt with it. I don't even twinge saying that. But I am pretty firmly of the opinion that the school system tends to greatly underestimate the impact of bullying, conclude based on their actions that they are far more interested in not seeing it than in making it go away, and this has probably contributed to my current deep, deep skepticism about the schooling system as it stands today.

Seconded in full, save that I suspect in a lot of cases it's not just "interested in not seeing it" but rather silently cheering bullies on, on the same general theory as someone might, while finding the specific methods distasteful, approve in general of the idea of cross-gender rape as a corrective for homosexuality. (If that seems like an overly strong statement to you, consider that both "corrective rape" and bullying revolve around the use of violence to enforce a social norm. Granted, the former is much worse than the latter generally manages, but I'm increasingly convinced that the difference is more of degree than of kind.)

It's for reasons like this that, while pragmatically convinced it'll never actually happen, I am strongly in favor of the law treating adults who passively or actively enable bullying as it does anyone else who abets or conspires to a crime. Seeing the erstwhile principal of a school dragged off in irons, to be arraigned on suspicion of having been an accessory before and after the fact to assault and battery, seems to me just the thing to give every other responsible party, in every other school sharing the jurisdiction, powerfully to think. No, it'll never happen, but the once-bullied kid in me surely wishes it would.

If it's norm enforcement, then it reveals the disgusting inner nature of a lot of people: "these people are weak, so they should be harassed."

Can you sue a school/teachers for negligence here? Oftentimes demanding people to lawyer up seems to correct behavior remarkably quickly. Similarly, the threat of suing parents would probably also cause something to happen.

Well, as I understand it, you can sue over any tort if you feel so justified, and the rest is up to a judge. I'm not a lawyer, though, so I'm not even sure about that much, to say nothing of being able to predict the likely outcome of such a case in a given jurisdiction.

The point isn't even to win, it's to send a message.

Of course, if their parents are lawyers, or well-versed in law, this may not work. :)

There's also the question of what message you might send by losing such a suit.

I've lost the link, but something like that actually did happen in the US recently. It surely helped that it was so flagrant and that there was video evidence, but a teacher was arrested for encouraging a bunch of kids to beat up another kid in the halls.

I can't find the story either, but that sounds like an excellent start to me.

I am strongly in favor of the law treating adults who passively or actively enable bullying as it does anyone else who abets or conspires to a crime

That's a good idea. But as you said, it'll never happen. They have all the resources and power to make bullying stop, yet thye don't choose to.

I'm not sure whom you imagine to constitute "they", but I've found from my own experience that assigning the responsibility for a problem, to some nebulous "they", tends to result in considerable underappreciation of the complexities involved.

I was referring to the authorities. But yes, I guess I should be thinking and discussing solutions rather that assigning responsibility to "them"!

>>>> But I am pretty firmly of the opinion that the school system tends to greatly underestimate the impact of bullying, conclude based on their actions that they are far more interested in not seeing it than in making it go away

Fully agree with this. I remember telling a teacher about bullying near the end of school and he talked to those 4 bullies.

Talking in this case was basically taking them out of the class (while smiling) and then talking to them for 2-3 minutes. When they came back, they were walking proudly and clearly pointing at me. A few weeks later, it started all over again. And the optimist in me died a small death.

I just finished reading Paul Graham's essay on why nerds are not popular and it kind of resonates. It is not about bullying but talks about schools in a completely different light.

Thanks for mentioning that essay. I just finished reading, and it made a lot of sense. Being popular in school is like a job. Most nerds I know (myself included) simply didn't care to put in the time or effort for the grooming, fashion, and surface-level socialization necessary.

Oh wow, I am so sorry. I don't really want to imagine what would have happened if I had been bullied for that long..

Indeed, I was made fun of for maybe 10 minutes; and it completely changed me. Back in 2005, last day of school (8th grade), many of us had gathered in a park in order to hang out and just spend time together before the start of the summer holidays. And then, the girl I had a crush on for the past two years, approached me with 3-4 other friends of her. She told me that she really liked me. It felt so thrilling and exciting and I was so happy and I told her that I liked her as well...

And then they left, and met up with a group of another ~30 people or so, maybe a 100 meters away. They all started laughing.. I felt so empty, I wanted to disappear, when one of them came to tell me "Oh by the way it was a joke that she likes you".

That summer I started playing MMORPGs, did not go to the beach once, just stayed home. Indeed, I spent the rest of high school pretty much isolated (although luckily eventually I replaced MMORPGs with actually studying). Whenever a girl showed interest in me, I immediately avoided her as much as possible, since I thought she just wanted to make fun of me. And it took 8 years, maybe a bit longer, until I started trusting people again.

So, why did I write all of this? Partially, because it came into memory after reading this thread. But more importantly, I am really scared by the fact, that the bullying I experienced was so so minor compared to the other stories here; yet it affected me so fundamentally.

Not adding to a sensible discussion perhaps, but I'm convinced that bullying is the result of inaction by parents and teachers/schools. Merely standing by and letting it happen is the worst thing you can do to your children.

As a dad with young kids, I can assure you that if this were to happen to them, I'd wage all-out cyberwar, on the kids and any parents that didn't properly curtail their child's behavior after official notifications. From doxing and redialing faxes to bully-vision youtube channels naming and shaming their family. It isn't slander if it's true…

I've made it 100% clear to my kids that I've got their backs. It's my duty as a dad.

Edit: Yes, this story obviously struck a nerve for me. I was bullied as a 12yo kid for a few months. I was a good kid, and did well in school, which made me the outlier.

I remember how terrified I was when the bell rang at the end of the school day, knowing that the pests would be waiting for me on the way home.

I also vividly remember the day my dad took me aside and simply said: "Go ahead. You have my permission to make them feel sorry. I have your back. Just don't do it on school property."

The day I took action was a truly glorious and empowering day. Hearing my dad tell their parents afterwards they had it coming, supported by some photographic proof of damage caused in the past, was even better. Upside: nobody ever bothered me again.

This happened a long time ago, and not in the litigious USA where money and lawsuits get off every bullying 'precious snowflake', yet I'm certain I'd take that risk today, if official channels failed to ensure the (mental) well-being of my children.

>> As a dad with young kids, I can assure you that if this were to happen to them, I'd wage all-out cyberwar, on the kids and any parents that didn't properly curtail their child's behavior after official notifications. <<

Uh, cyberwar? No. This happened once to my one of my sons. I found out who the parents where (divorced, different locations) drove to both their houses, and said, "If your kid doesn't stop today, you, your kid and your family, are not safe outside this door. I never said this." I put on my best pycho face. Truly, I was psycho, so it didn't take much.

It stopped.

I was the target of intense intense bullying as a kid. Affected me my whole life until my 30's. No kids of mine was going through that.

Good for you. I hate bullies. I heard this story once about my mother-in-law's tailor / dry cleaner. He'd moved to upstate NY from Italy. His kid was being physically bullied on his way home from school. One day, the guy hid in the bushes and jumped out at the bullies with a kitchen knife and told them "If you toucha my kid again, I'll fuckin kill you."

Nobody should have to put up with bullying. When it's this social kind on the Internet, I think in many ways it is worse because it's less clear how to defend yourself.

>> I found out who the parents where (divorced, different locations) drove to both their houses, and said, "If your kid doesn't stop today, you, your kid and your family, are not safe outside this door. I never said this." I put on my best pycho face. Truly, I was psycho, so it didn't take much.

This was one great way to deal with it. Though I can't stop thinking about the legal issues this could've caused.

Bullying in school by kids is one thing but going out there and threatning someone is completely another ball.

What if they had recorded it somehow and complained?

I say this as someone who's in early twenties and have dealt with bullying in school for 4-5 years.

>> What if they had recorded it somehow and complained? <<

I couldn't imagine someone being ready to record a conversation in the first 15 second of them opening their front door.

It's a matter of judgement, to be sure. I have a spotless police record. Both of these parents do not (and the father's was violent in nature). As another replier here noted "restraining order." I would have enjoyed a legal battle with these parents, as they have not near the resources to draw on as I. I also had evidence against their child in the form of notes and drawing that were violent and threatening in nature.

If that had of been some other type of parent, I'd maybe had done it differently. But with these people, that's what worked.

Kudos to you. This comment clears the picture and paints it more as "well thought" rather than brash action feeling reflected in parent.

I will note this down and will remember for the time when I am a parent.

Edit: Grammar.

Thank you for the reconsideration. I've never actually been in a fight in my entire life (probably why I got bullied so much) and it took every last ounce of my self control to walk up to someone who had already had a history of violence. It's just bad all the way the 'roud.

> with these people, that's what worked

And this is a very important point - there isn't a magical cure-all solution to these things. You have to consider what approach works not only for you, but also what works on the people you need to reach. People really are diverse enough that the approach you took, while one that some could consider ill-advised, was the actual right way to communicate with the other party in your situation.

Lots of people today have cameras recording what happens at their front door.

>> I found out who the parents where (divorced, different locations) drove to both their houses, and said, "If your kid doesn't stop today, you, your kid and your family, are not safe outside this door. I never said this."

Hello, restraining order.

Seriously, there are good ways to deal with situations like this. Threatening people is not one of those ways.

>> Hello, restraining order. <<

Okay, I'll call that. Have you tried to get a restraining order? Do you know what's involved?

I've tried: Here's what you get:

What proof do you have? What is your relationship to that person? They deny it, how do you respond? More bullying, because they know you tried to go through the system, which favors the aggressor because authorities are too busy putting pot smokers behind bars.

I think the first step should be reasonable discourse with the bullies parents, not threatening them. But I also think that threatening people can be a good solution. In the past I was involved in a situation where the law just couldn't really do anything until it was probably too late. A simple quick threat later, and the problem went away. I'm not saying I'm proud of it, or that I prefer it as a solution, but we're still animals, and we respond to threats.

You're not getting the point:

a) A whole lot of people have been figuratively buried clutching a piece of paper with the title "Restraining Order".

b) cognivore, who knows what he's talking about, was not the harasser. He would have absolutely no intention of violating a restraining order, unless his threat failed, in which case he'd violate it once, but for much, much higher stakes.

Your final statement needs some support, and I don't see any in this topic.

As a parent, I'm afraid that I wouldn't know if my kid was bullying people at school. She'd never come home and tell me about the bullying she did.

But you better believe that as soon as a concerned parent, teacher, or child told me about it there would be hell to pay for my kid.

I jump to blaming the kid before I blame the parents. Sure, we are responsible for raising our children, but there comes a time when they are away from us and we don't always get the full story about what is going on when we're not there to see.

My mother always assumed the adults were right in any situation I was ever in as a kid. I believe that has had an affect on me and on my relationship with my mother. My wife tells stories about how her mother came to her defense in important moments in her life. Besides creating amusing stories to tell later in life I think it had a role in strengthening their relationship. I always get a bit sad and jealous when I hear those stories.

If you generally jump to blaming your daughter by default, it makes sense that she wouldn't tell you openly about what is happening for her.

I think you misread that comment. She stated that her kid would not tell her that she IS bullying (not BEING bullied).

I'm a man, but that's unimportant here. Yes, my kid would not tell me if she was a bully.

Any sort of meaningful conversation with my kid about it would likely devolve into a childish argument where the defense is "No, I'm not. It's the other kids."

You're faced with two choices here. On one side, you can back your kid. On the other, you can think that you're likely not getting the full story and that something really is going on.

My child, in particular, has a real problem with shifting blame. You need to have a read on your children so that you can properly judge for yourself what's going on. Bullying is not ok and your kids need to know that it's going to be no nonsense when it comes to bullying.

Kids certainly do develop patterns of shifting blame, it's true. That's usually because they've learned that it's better to shift blame than to take responsibility.

No, I didn't misread it. I am pointing out that if kids expect to be blamed for things by default, then they will learn not to disclose them.

It is the adults who have the power to create an an environment of trust. Not the kids.

Consider that it is possible to be both bullied and a bully at the same time, and that while bullying is a terrible behavior that cannot be condoned, a bully may not want to be a bully and may need help to stop other than simply being blamed.

Do you really think a child is ever going to tell any (responsible) parent that they just beat up another kid for fun today and ask for a high five?

I don't think I've ever encountered, in real life or media, a child coming clean with their parents about harassing and hurting other people without some outside pressure (aka other parents or the school getting involved)

No I don't think that they are going to ask for a high five. That's a meaningless straw man.

I think that kids do experience shame when they hurt others, and will confide in people they trust, if they have such a person.

I have witnessed this. Obviously if they've developed a serious pattern of bullying then it's going to be a lot harder, but having kids have someone they can confide mistakes in before that happens is part of how we can prevent it from developing.

As a dad with young kids, I can assure you that if this were to happen to them, I'd wage all-out cyberwar, on the kids and any parents that didn't properly curtail their child's behavior after official notifications. From doxing and redialing faxes to bully-vision youtube channels naming and shaming their family.

You will make your child's school life more of a hell than it already is.

No, not true. The parents of bullies are usually bullies themselves. The solution is to draw a hard line and say, I will take this so far you won't want to go where it ends up.

When I was a kid I got pushed so far that one day, when a bully stole my stocking cap for the 50th time and was going to dunk it in a cold puddle along the curbside I ran up and pushed him into the busy street's moving traffic. He was totally shocked - at that moment he realized I would now do anything to stop him. He never touched me from that day forward.

Hmmmm. Bullies pick on the weak/inactive/defenseless. Key is to nip it in the bud, swiftly and vigorously. Don't allow it to fester.

Bottom line: I want my kids to know they can come to me and I will take action, immediately, so they never have to feel alone.

PS The writer seemed half-hearted in dealing with the bullies [I didn't want them to get arrested, I just wanted them to stop]. That was a major mistake. No repercussions so more bullies pile on.

>> The writer seemed half-hearted in dealing with the bullies [I didn't want them to get arrested, I just wanted them to stop]

This may be based in the fact that we are taught from childhood that we should forgive and be good.

And many of us take it seriously. I "let it go" bullying for too long, though in my case, it wasn't this serious!

I guess I was fortunate that I was taught forgiveness without genuine repentance on the other side is pointless, and generally not something to do.

Catholic doctrine, if I remember correctly.

A more (but probably still imperfect) description of Catholic doctrine would be repentance + forgiveness = reconciliation; either repentance of forgiveness on their own is incomplete, but not undesirable for the party doing it .

> I guess I was fortunate that I was taught forgiveness without genuine repentance on the other side is pointless, and generally not something to do.

> Catholic doctrine, if I remember correctly.

?!?! That's not Catholic doctrine at all. Not that it's well practiced, but Catholics are taught to forgive, period. That doesn't mean forget. Trust, once lost, can be hard to earn back depending on how it was lost. Someone who beats you up can be forgiven, and you can still go out of your way to avoid them or to never let them stand behind you.

Ah, yes, as you're applying it, I think that's correct.

I was more thinking in the confessional, where you must truly repent for your sins to be forgiven. Which is not what's applied to daily life.

In my book, its not just that.. its forgive and forget.

You only forget if there is repentance at the other side.

forgiving is for yourself, so that you can get on with your life and not be consumed by hatred. Never forget if the other party doesn't repent.

Do that and you will be prepared to deal with re-occurance and also be more mature about it.

Yep, its even better if the kid retaliate themselves and right away, it must cost someone lots to go pick on you. That way they pick a weaker target.

I think you have to judge each case on its merits.

The sure fire way to beat a bully though is to stand up to them and let them know that what ever they throw at you, you'll throw twice as much back. They will not win.

Some bullying stops if you just ignore it and make it "not fun anymore" for the bully. But it all depends on the individual circumstances.

The hilarious things kids have discovered is that bullying in groups is even more fun. Fighting back just makes it funnier. Laughing and participating means being in on the joke and out of the spotlight. Standing up may be the worst thing you can do.

So you propose "to ignore them and it will go away?" I tried that once. No dice.

Only a disproportional reaction solves the issue, once and for all. Shock and awe.

I suspect cognivore agrees, and perhaps even kjackson (self-described former bully)

As I said in my other comment, I don't really have answers to how to solve it. I just know that from my experience I ended up knocked out and hospitalized with a fracture in my skull from having my head kicked in by a group of teenagers. A friend of mine was jumped and beaten into a coma for six months. I've read about kids in the newspapers stabbed to death, gang raped while passed out, and worse. I don't think any amount of rage you can throw at the situation will make it better for you if you're being bullied by more than one person.

"Standing up," may work in some scenarios but in those which the OP and I are familiar with it's pointless at best and dangerous at worst.

Update All I did was skip school and show up for tests. Maybe leaving is the only option for some kids.

As the parent said, it needs to be a disproportional response. I mean REALLY out of line.

One time a friend of mine got jumped by six dudes. He was able to defend himself by taking a pencil out of his pocket and jamming it right into an eye socket. The other kid literally lost his eye. The fighting immediately stopped and nobody messed with my friend again.

That's what it takes.

Internet Hug

Yes, I absolutely agree. Ignoring never worked, it only made it more fun and challenging for me. The best way to stop a bully is to punch them in the face early on and make them think twice about considering you a target.

For me, I deal with crowds of jerks by concentrating on the first person to insult - and announceing it. I've diffused physical violence against me by a crowd by announcing that the "first person who attacks me will receive all my wrath."

I agree... IMHO, parents should be legally responsible for the behaviour of their children. That is, if their child harasses someone, the parents should be prosecuted for harassment. If their child steals, prosecute the parent.

The majority of parents are good, and instil a good sense of morals into their children, but there's always those parents that either do not care, or decide to make their children rude evil little things.

The logical outcome of that approach is that all parents remove their children from school, because otherwise they risk being held responsible for behavior over which they cannot have any control over.

This might not be such a bad thing.

Edit: Downvoters? Consider a minority family. Think how easy it would be to goad of otherwise trick a child into doing something that could be legally actionable. Think about the already racially biased access to justice.

This would be a recipe for disaster.

Truancy is illegal, and homeschooling is not an option in many Western countries. So these parents will not be able to take their kids out of school...

So if you make parents legally liable for kids actions and then take the kids to an environment where the parents have no control or visibility, you are creating a nightmare of oppression.

That's why there is a legal term 'in loco parentis' which is applied to schools.

If "in loco parentis" means schools taking the role of parents, then they've certainly done a bad job of taking care of their "kids", at least in the United States...

Absolutely true.

Isn't that just a recipe for disaster?

It is in a society where parents have so little control over their children, where e.g. there is great debate over mild corporal punishment and using it can get your kids taken away.

Compare to the Roman principle of pater familias https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pater_familias

Wait, aren't parents responsible for their children in America?

I was bullied like this when I was in high school. My car was vandalized on several occasions, almost everyone would throw food at me if I entered the cafeteria, and I was hospitalized once after losing one of many fights. A friend of mine wasn't so lucky and ended up in a coma for six months. That kind of abuse never leaves you.

Every time I read a story like this it all comes flooding back.

Sadly even > 12 years on and I still don't have any good answers.

Do internet hugs work?

I was bullied from about 12 (right after moving to a new school, a VERY susceptible time, in hindsight) until at least 14.

I wouldn't call this justice but the main bullier ended up taking a shotgun to his own head just a few years ago. I have a feeling that bullying harms more than just the victims, it also harms the perpetrators...

I don't think it is the bullying which does the harm, rather the opposite: those who bully do it because they are insecure in their own person. They bully because they want to make themselves stronger by making others weaker. In other words, those who bully are already damaged, they bully as a consequence of this damage. Obviously your bully was damaged enough to blow his head off.

The thought is nice.

I mostly share the story because the idea that you, alone, can stand up to these sorts of situations doesn't seem right to me.

In some (maybe most?) cases, you can. Bullies look for easy targets. So all you have to do is decide not to be an easy target and ignore any size difference. I told a story of doing that here, and it did work:


The bully I mentioned above, who took a shotgun to his head? He only stopped bullying me when I threw a basketball into his face (suspension for me, of course). This was after at least a year or 2 of abuse in junior high.

Here's the thing about bullies- the school iteration is only one kind, and you can keep running into them later in life. In all cases you will have to stand up for yourself and fight a bit (perhaps not in actuality, as adults, but it's the same energy source).

> I have a feeling that bullying harms more than just the victims, it also harms the perpetrators...

Most likely, they have already been harmed when they start bullying.

I think so. [trigger warning -- abusive words, etc]

I think that if it wasn't for the violence and bullying I would have had much in common with my tormentors.

I had an opportunity once to talk, briefly in private, with the kid who was ultimately responsible for sending me to the hospital. He was one of the few black kids at our school of mostly white upper-middle class kids. He was also a foster kid and lived in a home with a violent foster father. I don't even remember if he apologized or not. I just remember being struck by how much we did have in common: I spent my teenage years living with my single, mobility-challenged mother and had escaped a very abusive household. We never spoke again and if I ever saw him around he just went back to his old behavior: spitting at me, cursing, calling me a faggot; so we just learned to avoid one another after that.

I completely understand. I was set on fire by bullies in the elevator of my building when I was 13. I think that experience completely changed me from an outgoing person to someone weary of trusting people and who always looks for the downside in things. I am working on it, but that one little experience changed so much.

There is only one thing possible you can do that help in a situation like this. It is to fight back. Throw punches (literally), let them be suspended, arrested, do everything you can do to punish everyone who tries to mess with you that way. You will gain respect, because you have to, even if you sometimes lose a fight - legal or physically.

And I know how horribly hard that is while you are under constant attack. And how it feels how it will make only matters worse. One thinks "maybe it will stop if one just tries to fit in a bit more, or be a bit invisible" But it never does.

People behaving like this follow animalic instinct, not reason, so the only language they understand is on the same level. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to fight yourself - but hard responses are necessary, and a 2m police man talking angry to a teen is a hard response.

Edit: Tried to make it a bit clearer that it is not only about fighting physically.

This is very dangerous advice. You will most likely lose that fight, badly, because you are in the minority. YOU will most likely end up being suspended and arrested, because the bullies have friends who will testify against you, and they're the popular, trustworthy ones.

And escalating violence can quickly get to a point where consequences are completely out of proportion especially when you're up against people who "follow animalic instinct" - anything you do that makes them look bad compels them to retalitate in kind.

What you need is allies and/or support from authorities.

You and onli are talking about different situations.

At the low end of the spectrum, onli's advice is correct. At that end, trying to call in authorities is useless and fighting back is highly effective; even if you lose the fight, it'll probably convince the bully that picking on you is more trouble than it's worth.

Further up the spectrum where the power disparity is too extreme or the level of violence is life-threatening, yes, fighting back becomes less of a good strategy - it's still better than just sitting there and taking it, but better still is, as you say, seeking backup - and if that fails, leave the situation permanently.

As long as one of the bullies is sufficiently bloody, maimed, or dead, you'll have accomplished your purpose.

Plus you can chose when to retaliate, every member of a group bullying you can't be with overwhelming numbers all the time, especially at their home and the like.

I too was "different", brilliant, and bullied to more than a small degree early on into junior high (8th grade) ... but I had over the years, starting in elementary school, established a reputation that while I was a generally very nice and good guy, if you crossed various lines there was absolutely no limit to what I'd do to retaliate (note, with a continuum of force, just no upper limit to it). Oh, yeah, I started learning how to shoot in 1st grade, and was very good at it, although I'm not sure if that was clear to others until high school when I was on the rifle team (I certainly never made threats, especially of that nature).

The key, of course, is deterrence. Perhaps it's a Southern (USA) thing; I grew up in a culturally Southern area, one parent raised in it, another from the Deep South, although a skewed version of it, Louisiana and Cajun (French settlers who were forced to leave "Arcadia", a formerly French part of Canada). So unlike this victim, once a line was crossed, I did care about getting my adversaries hurt, that was the objective after all. Let it be cost free and you can see what happens.

Strange anecdote: one day when I was a senior it did come very very close to serious violence, the closest ever, but the adversary ran into a closed off for that period area where teachers were. His complaints that I was armed with a dog choker chain around my right fist fell on deaf ears as I silently and casually put it in my pocket.

I was later told by a school authority that the school would have done nothing to me if I'd beaten him up (!). Back then, at least (1979), I guess it made a difference having a perfect record of good behavior and being college track etc., vs. being a notorious trouble maker and not so bright (come to think of it, pretty much all the other bullies had given up by then).

If you can't bring yourself to retaliate, and it's clear to your adversaries ... don't know what to say or advise. But that you'll lose big time, as this victim did.

> As long as one of the bullies is sufficiently bloody, maimed, or dead, you'll have accomplished your purpose.

Unless it's you who ends up bloody, maimed, or dead, which I submit is the more likely outcome when faced with multiple bullies who are not all stupid and can lay ambushes for you as easily as you for them.

> I had [...], established a reputation that [..] if you crossed various lines there was absolutely no limit to what I'd do to retaliate (note, with a continuum of force, just no upper limit to it).

You got lucky that you never went up against someone with the same philosophy. A continuous escalation of violence is something you need to avoid at all costs.

Retalitate, sure, but not using violence, at least unless you have exhausted all other options. And kids suck at judging whether they have, because they misjudge risks and will e.g. consider reporting to the police and being judged a sissy a greater risk than entering a violent confrontation that could leave them permanently disabled.

"A continuous escalation of violence is something you need to avoid at all costs."

Absolutely, and my continuum didn't have all that many points.

E.g. while I never faced a multiple bully situation as you described above (the one in college wasn't of that nature), if the first exchange went as you posit, if and when I recovered from the ambush, I'd have "gone nuclear". In my case, methodically shot them dead from distance until inevitably stopped (if I didn't have those skills and weapons availability, command detonated IEDs).

Each level must be met 10 fold at bare minimum, e.g. the 50th time a stocking cap is stolen, push the bully into busy moving traffic: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7646592

Or just "get the hell out of town" one way or another; for more than a few respondents in this discussion that would have been the best option. E.g. if a credible threat of death is not something that fazes them, it's not much of a threat....

"As long as one of the bullies is sufficiently bloody, maimed, or dead, you'll have accomplished your purpose."

Life is not Ender's Game. If you kill another kid, you might get taken out of your current environment, but it will be to prison: full of many more aggressive people, callous power figures, and an inability to be safe even in the shower.

Actually, that sounds exactly like Ender's Game.

That's why I emphasized the deterrence factor. If you have to go beyond the occasional punch of a bully, you've already failed.

Also, "kids" are not to my knowledge generally put into such situations in "prison", although I'm sure it does happen.

And, yeah, I do identify with Ender quite a bit.

I think what people are missing is it's the mindset of "willing to defend one's self, no matter the cost" that deters most people from messing with you. I was raised in the rural south and was brought up with the thought process "If they're bigger than you, get an equalizer." I was an openly nerdy loner, but I was not bullied, and only had to throw a couple of punches, generally to people outside my class who didn't know me and quickly backed off.

I find this mindset has served me well in adult life as well. Funny story, a few days ago I was at a dinner party and someone jokingly threatened me with a case knife. I immediately drew my knife and fork into "combat positions" without even thinking, which drew a "just kidding man" response and respect for the rest of the night.

Some people think they can act like we live in a totally "civil society" in some sort of "pretend you're in the world you dream of" practice, but it ignores the reality that there are bad actors in this world that will take advantage of that. Some times you just have to stand up for yourself, legally of course.

"...respect for the rest of the night."

Respect or fear? Dude, all I know about you is that comment and I don't want to have anything to do with you. I'm sure you're a great person and all, but....

Out of curiosity, while we're discussing escalation, at what point do you start being a "bad actor"?

You know, you're absolutely right - she /is/ a better person than you.

Could be. But I know I'm a much happier person.

> YOU will most likely end up being suspended and arrested

Note that I'm not in the USA. That consequence doesn't exist in my country, not if you are provoked.

And note that I agree. Allies and Authorities are a good mean of fighting back.

> That consequence doesn't exist in my country, not if you are provoked.

Oh, but there are 5 well-respected pupils who all say that you started that fight without provocation.

Per my above comment, you're missing the point.

What's the problem if you started "the fight" (which should be a carefully arranged beat down of your target, nothing resembling a fight)? Your objective is to stop the bullying, not be perceived as an angel (well, except for possibly those terrible Old Testament smiting types).

The problem is that you get removed from school and given a label of "potentially violent" which will follow you around for a while.

Some countries will prosecute youths involved in violence. Even if prosecution is avoided there might be something like the English "caution" where the person accepts their guilt and accepts a caution (which is kept on record) in order to avoid prosecution. This could also follow you around. Being arrested could make travel to another country tricky.

Finally, beating one or two bullies might not be sufficient. If there is a group of people around you could end up very badly beaten, perhaps hospitalised, and potentially even dead.

Valid point. It make me think that perhaps sousveillance isn't a bad idea.

> Throw punches (literally), let them be suspended, arrested, do everything you can do to punish everyone who tries to mess with you that way. You will gain respect, because you have to, even if you sometimes lose a fight - legal or physically.

It pains me to report that this is the only thing that came close to completely stopping my bullying and I have the multiple suspensions to prove it. I have to say that I'd be much worse off today had I not decided to defend myself, sometimes physically.

In one instance, a larger tougher boy (I was a scrawny kid) kept messing with me in study hall, kept challenging me to fight after school. One day I finally got fed up and with a bit of grit in my teeth I stood up and said yes, fine, it's time to fight after school. Know what? He patted me on the shoulder and said "you're cool, man, you're cool." ?!?!?!

This advice is likely to remedy a bullying-situation somewhat, but it's often the most difficult and harrowing response for a victim to fathom. It often doesn't stack the odds in your favour an awful lot in terms of when an authority begins to intervene.

I was the subject of, what I consider, mild bullying at points during my schooling, and I really could never bring myself to physically fight back: a. because the bullies are almost always multiple in number and rather daunting b. I didn't want to hurt anyone, per se

Eventually, as with most bullying, it became more and more infrequent simply because I refused to retaliate or show any kind of response. It's the hardest pill to swallow, as a victim, but often the easiest and more fruitful of the alternatives.

Giving bullies attention of any kind for their behaviour is a rewarding mechanism that only serves to attract more atrocious individuals and increase its frequency and intensity. I respect your advice to 'fight back', but I honestly think a policy of ignorance (where the victim is not seriously endangered and has a support network) is the much more practical way to go about things.

Thanks for sharing. I'm happy it worked for you.

But I want to point out that you were incredibly lucky this worked. You only need one enemy with a sadistic impulse and it will never stop. By not retaliating, you also show others, less courageous members of their group, that it is safe for them to mess with you.

Making a fuss about it, from teachers to parents to police to violence, is the one thing I know that helped me.

My case was never that severe. But there was a group of people in my school who enjoyed bullying me. And I went through all those phases, sans police, and I regret every month I tried to do nothing about it. I suffered, and I now think unnecessarily.

Later, when that had basically stopped (most of them had to leave the school) there was a group of younger kids who thought they could do the same to me. One I gave a kick in the stomach after he attacked me, and he stopped. Sure, he tried to attack me a few month later in the city, but that didnt work out for him.

One group of younger pupils tried to insult me while going to class, so after the third time, I rushed into them and grabbed one and hit him again and again. He cried the whole following school hour I was told, and they never bothered me again.

I know that his is not politically correct, and not totally applicable onto the authors situation. Maybe one can do it better with help from above - if you have the chance, do that first. But hard responses, that is my point.

Some people don't have the physical strength required to use your strategy successfully.

There is a well-meaning but equally short-sighted view that every bully is themselves hurt in some way and the bullying is a projection of that hurt on others, a coping mechanism. While I think it's important to understand that that can be the case, it's equally important to understand that it's not always the case.

Yes, some bullying is acting out to get attention, deflecting the bully's own insecurity on others. That is the kind of bullying that "ignore it" works on. But when bullying extends to larger groups of antagonists than just one person and their immediate clique of friends, is likely to be a sadistic game of oneupmanship. And I think cyber-bullying can only happen effectively under such a scenario.

Sadistic games continue to go on because the players get more pleasure than pain out of the act. Suspending them will fuel their cause, make them martyrs in the eyes of their cohorts. They have identified that nothing serious will happen to them and they can continue on.

Sadistic bullying is as much the fault of the school administration for not maintaining discipline as it is for the children who engage in it. It doesn't come out of nowhere. It doesn't just happen once. The ring-leaders are probably well known for their behavior problems. Weak leadership at the school is what allows things to get so out of hand.

The only way to stop it is to demonstrate clear, harmful consequences to anyone involved, even tangentially. But given the scenario in which it is allowed to get so bad, it probably won't be corrected because of weak leadership on behalf of the local authorities. So perhaps you can see how some people will conclude that taking matters into their own hands is the only answer.

Sorry I don't have the sources, but I've read a study once that this actually isn't true - bullies do it mainly for the boost in social status, not because they are insecure deep down inside.

I'm afraid thats something people tell themselves to feel better about it.

Grasping at social status in this way is insecurity: you admit you're so weak that you have to demean others to be viewed better.

I'm splitting hairs here, but it's not a different reason at all.

I've seen this happen too and despite the apprehension of causing a "fuss" the only proper response is to fight back through proper channels and use the laws in place designed to protect you and potential future victims - in the UK there is harassment law, the malicious communications act and court injunctions you can take out. The police tend to take quite a hard line too so don't suffer in silence.

i understand the rationale behind "fight back" and in many instances it is probably the right solution.

but if 15 people are bullying you and sending you death threats, punching one sounds like the dumbest god damned idea.

This needs more votes, simply for reminding people that bullying isn't some generic situation. The least bad case of bullying is when you have a single bully, who can be made to start treating you as a human being without going as far as a fight. The worst case is a group, who chronically hate you for whatever reason. Not every situation in life has a solution, if you have enough enemies.

It's really an "it depends" thing.

If it applies, oderint dum metuant, "let them hate, so long as they fear". If making a stark object lesson out of one or more of the bullies will prompt all of them to find easier targets, it's an option. Or have your father make credible threats to their families: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7646566

In other situations, some described in this discussion, that won't work. Although you have to factor in your own psychological health:

Ah, yes, I forgot, I was subjected to one group "bullying" incident in college (assault, actually), and I replied with a credible threat of lethal force, was in fact one step from planting a Kabar knife in the gut of the closest adversary, as in that would have happened if he'd moved one step further and finished trying to place his hands on me.

He and the group decided there were easier targets. And, sure, they hated me, but they never dared try anything again. And I would have never been able to respect myself if I hadn't stood up to them that night.

(A few more details: there was some harassment later that night, busting my door knob by hurdling a shopping cart? into it repeatedly, turning off my power, pretty much pathetic stuff like that. But absolutely none after, except for shunning. And the dorm floor graduate counselor/baby sitter? probably talked to them, perhaps pointing out the consequences of assaulting people. I know he did to me, but it was just to confirm that I wasn't the sort of person to threaten or use lethal force without proper justification.)

If you get death threats, it is a case for the police anyway, before any cyber bullying laws. And severe enough, like described in the article, for them to act.

i didn't downvote you but i admit i was probably too dismissive of your post.

i see now you were suggesting that punching/suspension/arrest are all different methods for fighting back (some more suitable than others depending on the circumstances).

I'm all for fighting back, and this is what I will teach my kids as they get older.


This reminds me of what happened to my self last year. I had a YouTube channel with Gaming Videos, they went to my channel created a fake Google+ account using my name and started posting offensive content on it.

They then went to videos with homosexual acts and posted comments with my name saying things like "I endorse this", etc..

On the Google+ page they posted Male Pornography all under my name.

I went to the Police here in Dubai and after a few weeks of no response I found out that they lost my file and that I would have to do another report to get anything done about it.

I eventually took it into my own hands, contacted Google+ send pictures of my passport and they shutdown the account and removed all Google query's of the page.

Cyber bullying isn't any different from regular bullying. Just because technology is being used doesn't change anything. As most nerds/geeks I was bullied during my younger school days. Not quite as bad as in the story, bud badly enough. Technology was not used, but it was bullying all the same.

The real problem is simply that bullying, cyber or not, has no consequences. Back in the day I was punished more for fighting back than any bully ever was for harassing me. Until teachers and administrators are given the ability to actually punish bullies with real consequences, why would they stop?

By seriously punish I don't mean violence. Obviously the right punishment in each situation will be different. But the first idea that comes to my mind is to simply remove all the bullies and disruptive students from school and put them in a separate school of their own. Perhaps a military-style academy?

Cyber bullying is different from regular bullying because it follows you to your home and your entire outside-school life. This is a huge difference.

Normal bullying followed me home from school. Okay so life-penetration wasn't as deep. But, to the point that walking into town on a saturday was risky business.

The difference with cyber-bullying isn't any of these things; it's just that it's much harder for other people to see happening (unless, of course, you show them the messages).

Quite a few times at school people would come across me being bullied; and more often than not they put a stop to it.

On the other hand, cyber-bullying doesn't physically beat the crap out of you. Which kinda sucks when it happens on a daily basis.

Could be both, as for example when not only do you get your ass kicked, but some prick uses the iPhone Daddy bought him to take video of it, which he later uploads so he can share the link around your entire school.

Just another point in demonstration of the fact that "cyberbullying" vs "(just plain) bullying" makes a distinction without a difference.

Disagree. What you are describing happens in "regular" bullying as well. In the OP, this happens literally: "I was followed home". Young people don't necessarily have many escapes from school life.

The people they see at school are probably the same people they see near their home and encounter throughout their whole outside-school life. Their school peer group is their social peer group.

Adults can just walk away, find another job, find somewhere else to live, which provides a last-ditch solution to such a desperate situation. Children often don't have that solution, even when things get desperate.

Online communication provides another avenue for bullying, perhaps, but it also provides a secure connection to people outside of the local area - one that didn't exist before.

I don't know why people downvoted you, I thought you made a great point. Maybe "different" isn't quite the word, since it's still a type of bullying, but with more powerful tools. I agree that the intrusion into the home is an important distinction, though.

I was geek and nerd too. Some kids tried to bully me. My episode of bulling ended with me going berserk and one of the bullies skull cracked and the other with a broken rib.

When I convinced them that I was meaner and crazier than them I was left alone. It also helped that is was in era past so when all five of us were sent in front of the principle and he got all the facts his comment was - "It is wonder you haven't done that sooner."

Physical bulling is easier to deal with than with cyberbulling - what this girl was subject to is much hard to retaliate.

Looks like she doesn't want this to be posted here.


Probably just expecting the usual dumb comments:

"Thanks, it's ok. It seems to be being moderated well for once. And I can take any stupid comments these days."


Wow, it is interesting that I didn't realise there were groups of people who knew enough about Hacker News to care about it, and would go out of their way, including buying ssl certificates and changing solver configs, just to block HN.

It is distributing to find somewhere you thought of as a "safe place" seems like such an upsetting place to others. I'm not sure what HN should do about this, but it is a very disturbing turn of events. Perhaps it is time to pack up and leave?

It is distributing to find somewhere you thought of as a "safe place" seems like such an upsetting place to others. I'm not sure what HN should do about this, but it is a very disturbing turn of events. Perhaps it is time to pack up and leave?

Someone finds HN to be upsetting, this is such a shock, it's time to pack up and leave...

Can't say I'm following your line of thought. What, people should stop visiting and/or revamp communities that someone else doesn't like?

If someone doesn't like a community, I certainly think it is worth finding out why, and if their opinions have merit.

Particularly when in this case (front-end developer, reading the title of Anna's blog), you would hope these would be exactly the kind of people HN would want to attract, both as articles to link to, and people to come and comment.

It's kind of futile to expect to reach some equilibrium where all people who have title X are attracted to HN's community.

> somewhere you thought of as a "safe place"

Ha, you must not read a lot of the comments then. HN likes to whip out the sexist and/or victim blaming rhetoric quite often; it doesn't surprise me at all that someone would like to distance themselves from this site.

This thread is one hour old and there's already some victim blaming going on.

You've got to be kidding me. Almost all the responses here are positive and this forum is extremely politically correct. Just because there's an occasional bad apple shouldn't be an excuse for you to attack HN in general. Its unfair, overly critical, and frankly turns the bullying discussion into a meta-discussion about HN which is unhelpful.

As someone who's been on the receiving end of HN traffic, its a lot of eyeballs. Its one thing to write a personal blog posting for your 500 readers and whole other to find 500,000 hits that day.

Actually, this thread has been moderated heavily both by us and the mods as well. A lot of negative stuff has been downvoted or even removed.

HN is above criticism now?

> meta-discussion about HN which is unhelpful.

Why is this unhelpful? Why isn't discussing sexism and bigotry on HN important?

Make a new posting instead of stealing thunder from existing ones.

The victim blaming that I've seen permeate some HN comment threads has been extremely disappointing. I'd like to think we're actually starting to move on as a society but the HN comment threads always manage to slap me across the face as if to say...tsk...tsk.

HN has really hit the limelight as of late.

I'm thinking she might be afraid of the word "Hacker".

She probably wants to avoid comments such as "she's a liar, this didn't happen, etc."

Then why does she put it on the Internet for everyone to see?

To be callous, that's the question I feel about the entirety of the story. The bullying is horrible, but the solution seems to be a tiny bit of anonymity.

- start texting you and calling you (at all [distracting] times) making your primary number useless?

Get a new number. In 2004, not everybody had cell phones (or especially texting plans) If a cell phone loses its utility of being a tool, then ditch it.

- Messaging on Hotmail

This is [the known attacker version of] why many parents concern their kids with not being searchable or using their real name. Don't have your real age or name on hotmail. Further, don't accept unauthenticated im friendships and give out private information.

- Blog comments

How did they know her URL, if not just for her class? Is the easy solution to just not allow comments, or at least require authorization to post comments?

People go out of their way to block traffic from HackerNews? Why?

I have no idea in this particular instance, one sensible option is that these comment threads are a space where many victims of abuse feel their accounts are dismissed and/or questioned.

If you're coping with a trauma, it's not a pleasant thing to have happen.

It is an attempt at controlling the discussion, and the threat of blocking HN is often intended as a way of controlling the site, ala "I don't like the conversation, so until all comments are favorable I will vaguely threaten to block a single site."

For those clicking down arrow on this -- am I wrong? In fact, the author said, essentially, exactly this by this backing down from their thin threat, encouraged that everyone is dancing to their tune. Personally I find that simply reprehensible.

Instead of moderators saying "oh, better start deleting" when facing claims like this, simply remove the submission and blacklist the domain.

Yes, you are wrong. There's a huge difference between trying to shut down conversation, as you seem to imagine such a reaction to be, and simply trying to keep conversation on someone else's site from spilling over onto your own, which is the most anyone could possibly hope for out of a referrer block.

Personally, if I'd been subject to the sort of ongoing campaign of abuse Ms. Debenham describes, I doubt I'd have held up under it one fourth as well. If I'd found the fortitude to post about it in the first place, seeing the post linked on HN might well be enough to convince me it'd been a bad idea talking about it in public at all. She seems to have found a happy medium between the need to protect herself and the desire to put her experiences out there where they might be of benefit to others, and I say good on her for it.

Someone posts a detailed, intimate story about a horrific sequence of personal experiences onto their Twitter timeline, notices that it's been forwarded to HN - which doesn't have the most sensitive of reputations at the best of times - and is momentarily worried about the possible fallout.

And you're essentially accusing them of trying to pull a cynical PR move. Have a think about that.

I'm "accusing" them only of doing exactly what they indisputably did.

It is sensitive and I applaud them for talking about it and taking control. But when you post something to twitter as a public post, it is a public post and you simply don't have control over the discussion.

As someone who grew up with the internet, as they say, they surely understand this.

People might be mean. People might point out that "bullies are people too". People might post stupid jokes or asinine comments or talk about it being one side of the story.

Avert thy gaze. Geez, when I post technical articles and they get linked here or on Reddit, I don't even read the comments to that because I'm overly sensitive to disagreement. But that disagreement and the normal course of discourse is important, and I understand that I can't suppress it, nor should I.

Which is why I noted that when someone says something that the author said, the submission should be removed, as seems to be their desire regardless. The invisible hand of coercion is corrupting. Alternately HN should abide by some sort of robots.txt agreement or something.

And just to be clear, instead of simply making the post private or researching how to block sites, they instead called out HN specifically, to exactly the expected results: Lots of navel gazing and people talking about how mean HN is, so we really better keep it civil for them. They withdraw the threat. How can anyone argue that isn't explicit, obvious coercion?

To put it another way, the comments on HN are for the service and edification of the members of HN. They are not to serve the interests of the linked content or the people involved. This is a point that so often is missed in these "woe be us" discussions.

There is no coercion here. You need to learn to distinguish between what you see and what you imagine you see.

> But when you post something to twitter as a public post, it is a public post and you simply don't have control over the discussion.

There are always shades of publicity. If I took any stupid comments / drunk photos of you on Facebook or Twitter and ran a full-page ad in the NYTimes featuring them, would you say, "well, public is public"? That would be just giving into the slippery slope fallacy.

Do people actually try to block sites from linking to them?

That's as bad as the AP trying to charge people for links years ago.[1] It's just fundamentally against the nature of the internet: you don't get to control who links to you.

That being said, I have sympathy for experience and could absolutely see why she might be disturbed by the (potential) HN response. Probably the best solution in such cases is to not post the article, or to protect it with a password.

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2008/06/16/heres-our-new-policy-on-ap-...

Ouch - maybe we should all flag this then?


> All my sympathy for her just instantly evaporated.

Wat? Why!?

If people don't want something to be linked to by people who find it interesting, they shouldn't post it on the public internet.

Harsh but true.

Here's what you said, but with some context you missed:

> If people don't want something to be linked to by a particular community of people who historically dismiss or question accounts of abuse, people who are perfectly happy to ignore their wishes and desires not to have it posted there, they shouldn't post it on the public internet.

I think what happened to the author is horrible, but yeah, even this. The internet is awash with different good, bad, crazy, wrong, stupid, hilarious, weird, and batshit insane ideas and places where people can say anything they want. If you post an article they may even throw a link up and discuss it.

I may not enjoy their conversation, so I will not visit that website.

That is a heartbreaking read. I had to deal with bullying at school but what is described here is at such a different scale I feel it would be wrong to compare my experience to the author's. If, like me, you were surprised at first at the magnanimity she showed towards her bullies (not wanting them to get a criminal record) consider that even if you absolutely wanted them to be punished there would have been a psychological price to pressing charges and going to court, so it would by no means be an easy choice to make.

I don't think the term "cyber bullying" really conveys how serious it can be. I have no idea how anyone could endure this. It's inhuman.

It's the word "cyber", which is essentially an indicator for "Please ignore me, I know nothing about this subject" to anyone other than mainstream news media. If it was called online bullying, it'd be a different story.

Why does it need to be called "anything bullying"? It seems to me that for anyone who's been bullied, or who hasn't but has seen what it does to someone who is, the noun stands quite well on its own.

Heartbreaking story. As a father of an 8 month old girl this really tugs at me. Nobody should have to go through this.

On a positive note, Anna is a very talented designer. Hopefully the positive experiences doing meaningful work for appreciative clients will eclipse some of the pain in the past.

When facebook was on the rise I had a situation when several students came at me for no reason. So many people behave like animals, hatred and bad jokes are like a source of energy to them. I failed to have a degree due to these people.

That was a reason I stopped using facebook too. I think the web should be used to drive people who have the same interests towards each other, but that's the opposite that happens: you end up confronting the people who know you and dislike you, and it's impossible to avoid them because you either work with them or you are in the same class.

What boggles my mind is when I read on the internet people saying "bullying is fine and it's part of life". Sounds like it's a game for them, and they don't realize that people just don't want to play with them.

If I could relive my teenage years, I would stab so many students. The scars bullying leaves on you are for ever.

I can sympathise with the author. I didn't suffer to the degree that she did, but it was there none-the-less.

Sometimes bullies like this have no rhyme or reason other than they find some kind of self-worth in bullying. It's a difficult situation to be in, especially as a teenager where you feel like your only options are to either stay silent and suffer, or tell someone and commit social suicide.

The problem with telling someone is that they can't stop it completely! Author told the school and the bullies still continued.

Your point about self-worth is excellent. I've seen bullies being very happy/proud after teasing someone.

Sad thing is that all this changes you and hinders your progress a lot.

I run an online service that connects teens with experienced lawyers who advise them for free (it is a labour of love).

Obviously I am biased, but I think we need more services that can help kids deal with online realities. In our experience, kids who are being bullied have no idea how to get the help they need and burrow instead. We owe it to them to change that.

I am convinced that the tech community can play a big part in that, it certainly has for my organization.

I don't understand why parents of those bullies did nothing? It looks like they all were informed (suspension, police)? And that - "I knew that if they got a criminal record, they might not be able to go to university. I didn't want that burden." looks like a strange position. Why would you care about that happening to someone who was giving you death threats?

Stuff like this makes me proud that the internet and technology industry can give people a way of taking control of their lives back and finding a purpose and career when others are trying to deny it to them.

Just to play devil's advocate, consider that the Internet is what enabled this bullying to be as horrible and psychologically damaging as it was. It's not only tech geeks that get bullied.

Which is another way of saying that this technology, like any other, is morally neutral, and only the actions of the people who use it have any moral weight.

True, although I'd say the interesting part are the properties of the technology. In this instance, the cyber-bullying stuff is worse than traditional bullying because of the anonymity and lack of repercussions. Sort of a corollary of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory if you will.

Just browsing her portfolio on that website, this looks pretty interesting:


Relevant - interesting article from a couple of days ago: http://www.care2.com/causes/ways-school-bullying-can-affect-...

5 Ways School Bullying Impacts Your Life Even Decades On

"Following participants into midlife (aged 50), the researchers then tested for evidence of the known effects of bullying at regular intervals throughout the subjects’ lives, and participants were tested for psychological distress as well as their general health, with tests at 23 and 45. At age 50, participants were also tested in terms of cognitive functioning, social relationships, as well as for general levels of well-being (these were assessed using standard scales).

What the researchers found was that, even after accounting for things like IQ and socioeconomic status at the beginning of the study, bullying appears to have a significant impact on people’s lives for decades after the bullying has finished."

That is really horrendous. Sent shivers down my spine just reading it :/

FYI, she wants to block hackernews visitors (probably due to a hosting issue), so can someone throw up a mirror?

Her Twitter implies she didn't want it here because she didn't anticipate a good conversation (i.e. she expected abusive comments on HN). So a mirror is probably the last thing she wants.

Bah, sorry. Accidental downvote!

You know what would be awesome some sort of anti-bullying squad -- that dishes out some of their own medicine. -- Have maybe 10-15 people situated along the pathway of a bully's walk home, and cameramen to ask him questions... like Did you know most bully's bully because they hate themselves, what do you hate most about yourself, what makes you a bully? ... etc... -- get it all on tape, if they run--get their cowardice on tape.. youtube it for the whole world to see, enough instances of this happen, and it'll cut back on bully's I'd hope-- I wonder if To Catch a Predator had any statistics on if the program curtailed any predatoring...

Everything in this article is terrifying and, somehow, what scared me the most was how much Internet is actually the world for so many people born not that later than myself. It is incredible how fast this change happened. Also, I know my role as a professional is doing nothing but making that a bigger issue.

As a side note: bullying (cyber or not) is not the same in all countries. In my hometown, when I was growing up and we were not that penetrated by american culture yet, nothing like this would happen. The worst thing possible was a light fist fight.

> The answers to my secret questions on my accounts are all fake, so not even a friend could know them.

Side note, this is good advice for anyone. Many sites use the same questions, and they're often stored in plaintext in the database. One compromised database on an unimportant service may expose vulnerabilities to your most sensitive accounts.

I treat these like any other password field, using random text as the answer, and store the random answer along with the password in 1Password.

This story is a perfect candidate for that new comment filtering feature on HN. I'm not even sure a meaningful HN discussion is possible on this sort of topic anyway.

I beg to differ. I have no proof, but I suspect a large number of visitors to HN (technically inclined, perhaps not as socially developed as kids, most pretty darn smart) have some personal experience in the matter, which may explain the number of comments.

In terms of meaningful discussion, there are comments from those who were bullied and those who did (interesting perspective).

My sister went through the same things about the same time. She put a hockey stick in the face of the ring leader in the end, smashed her teeth and broke her jaw. She was arrested but the duty officers agreed to write it off as they'd already been contacted by my parents about the bullying it and they said the CPS wouldn't touch it in this case.

So up turns a guy at my door one day (the girl's father) ready to kick off at my sister and my parents. He was removed by our dogs.

Two years down the line from this, her father is in prison for robbery and the girl was in youth custody for assault.

Moral of the story: half the human race is shit not worthy of a breath of air. Fight fire with fire. No sympathy regardless of the background for any behaviour like this.

Also avoid living in shitty suburbs of Nottingham (this was Woodborough Road next to St Anne's).

To the author of this post and anyone else who may be the victim of cyber-abuse: my heart goes out to you, but you must fight back. Tooth and nail, fullest extent of the law, the whole she-bang.

It seems to me the victim in this account held back, thereby preventing justice and prolonging the abuse.

I think the problem lies in that we often never tell children this, don't support them if they try, and the system in general in its effort to make the problem no longer visible to the authorities (as opposed to actually making it go away) often finds the easiest path is to get the compliant target to shut up about the problem rather than the much harder task of actually fixing it. (They don't even realize that they're doing this... but when the kid's talking to the authorities for the fifth time because the first four didn't do anything, and the authorities give off a "this again? jeez", it's not hard to figure out how pointless the meetings are.) Which, as an adult, I now realize they simply don't have time for, but I wish they'd be more up front about it and let kids deal with that, rather than pretend they've got all the solutions, ban you from doing anything effective, then fail to do anything effective themselves.

I'm a male, and my tormentors were male, and I think that makes this a radically different situation than the linked article. But for me, I'm pretty sure two or three well-placed swings (they probably didn't even have to connect) would have made school orders of magnitude more pleasant for me. I wish I hadn't been raised with everybody around me telling me how wrong that always is, because in hindsight it would have been a great deal less wrong than what happened to me.

So, other parents, I encourage you to take a more nuanced approach than mine did. You certainly don't want to encourage violence for everything and sure, start with the proper authorities, but I would encourage you that if that still can't fix the problem, stand behind your kid if they need to take a bit of action on their own. And please don't teach them complete passivity as the answer to everything. I was lucky in ways I didn't even understand at the time, and my personal psychological makeup was mostly able to withstand this and come out with very little scarring. Don't count on that for your child. I've observed that it's not true of everyone.

Incidentally, I submit as evidence the fact that people even here have a hard time agreeing to this idea. Think about it. You're asking one person to put up with years of physical and/or psychological abuse to save a small set of bullies, who are by definition being bad actors... what? A bruised nose, once or twice? Bruised egos? What kind of fucked up ethical system have you all subscribed to where a bullied person is obligated to put up with years upon years of inescapable abuse rather than throw a punch? Seriously. Please. Think about that for a moment, and stop valuing years of psychological and/or physical abuse at what appears to be "zero"... you are, and I am dead serious about this, part of the problem if you act that way. Bullying is bad. Really bad. Not just "I say the word bad and pat myself on the back for having Good Think", but really, really drive-people-to-the-brink-of-suicide-or-beyond bad. Don't mouth the words about how bullying it bad, act like it!

(And again, if something other than violence works, hey, great! It's not a good first resort. It's not the solution to everything and it isn't magic. But don't act like it's nuclear waste and take it entirely off the table at the cost of years of soul-searing abuse. It's a bad situation and there may not be a "perfect solution", but I find it abhorrent how many people even here would rather see someone put up with epic abuse rather that assert themselves even a little.)

That's also what I got from the article, specifically: "Despite everything they'd done, I didn't want them to be arrested. I didn't even want them to be punished, I just wanted it to stop."

I can sympathize with the author in that she just wanted the whole thing to end, but that's the thing with bullies: until they start feeling some pain, they don't stop.

Bullies are cowards. You don't have to get all of them, just enough of them to scare the rest.

I'm really confused as to what the author did to upset this group of people. I find it hard to believe that so many people who go so far out of their way for such an extended period of time for absolutely no reason other than to harass someone for laughs.

Edit: What's with the downvotes? Are we not allowed to ask questions here anymore? Or is it inappropriate to not believe everything you hear at face value? It isn't even that because the author doesn't explain it at all.

Children don't need a reason to be absolute shitheads.

Perhaps once, but for such a long period of time? I don't believe it.

Do you have retrograde amnesia, or were you homeschooled?

What are you even talking about? Make your point if you have something to say.

War, famine, disease, losing your liver -- all this pales compared to cyber bullying!

I was bullied as a kid, it was awful, but I was being hit with fists, and when I didn't have any money to steal, they'd hit me again. They also carried knives. I lived in a ghetto.

If this is the worse thing that happened to her in her life, she must have had a pretty good and happy life. I am certain that cyber bullying is real and can create a huge emotional torment, but what I read here is pretty lame. Colleagues post mean comments and it affects you emotionally? Seriously? Maybe it was much worse than the author can express, in which case she is just a bad writer, but her twitter reaction[1] made me think this is not the case, and it made me lose all sympathy for her.

If this stuff affects you, it's bad parenting. If you live in Disneyland and are this isolated from real life, it's only the fault of your parents who didn't teach you anything about the real life, where people are hateful, mean, and generally want to fuck you up in some way.

Because I am extremely arrogant and because I am always right, people hate me a lot, especially people on the Internet. This doesn't affect me negatively, this amuses me. Seven years back (wow, already 7 years!) some guy hated me so much, that he hired thugs to beat me up. Real thugs. With sticks. Sticks that hit me in the eye. I couldn't see for two weeks with my left eye. I still have floaters and flashes in my both eyes.

Did this depress me? No! I am now stronger, I learned a thing or two about self-defense and I got my revenge, except without violence.

[1] https://twitter.com/anna_debenham/status/459673982149877760

/edit: this was downvoted less than two seconds since when I posted it. Two seconds! HN readers muts read pretty fast, since I assume everyone here actually reads before downvoting. Surely that's true! As I said, amusing.

> because I am always right

Really? Your whole comment here constitutes a contemptuous dismissal of anything, suffered by anyone, which doesn't live up to your particular standard of "bad enough to cry over", and you say you're always right? Certainly you're arrogant, but that's neither an accomplishment nor a cause of reasonable pride; as far as right goes, I can only imagine that hit in the eye you took must have done something bad to your close detail vision, because you certainly give the strong impression of having badly misread the definition of the word. Here, have a dictionary link [1], and since it's online, you can zoom in on the text just as far as you need to, in order to actually read it this time.

[1]: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/right

Wow you are weak. I apologise for the trollish statement, but in reality it was a test for the community; test that wanted to prove that some people just don't know how react on the Internet. It was an obvious bait, and you took it. If people feel offended for some reason, that have to react, they have to say something, they have to complain. Just ignore and live with your life. This is why the article exists, because some people care when they shouldn't. Thanks for proving my point.

Hey! Here's an upvote though, because I found your comment very funny.

Primus: "(something really stupid you'd have to be an asshole to say)"

Secundus: "That was really stupid, and you're an asshole for saying it."


Nowhere easier to win an argument than in your own mind, I suppose. Seriously, though, what are you doing on Hacker News? /b/ is thataway, just past the dumpsters; when you get to the open sewer, you're there, so jump right on in.

The 'LOLITROLLU' response? At least put some effort into your trolling.

Elsewhere in this thread we have people talking about the problem of putting a lot of emotionally immature people with limited ability to emphasise together in schools, and how inevitable bullying and so on are in that environment. Your posts are providing a nice example of a further point: some people never achieve emotional maturity or the ability to empathise with others. Which is one of the reasons bullying isn't a problem limited to the classroom.

I shouldn't need to point this out to an adult but it seems like it needs to be said: ignoring the emotions of others is not a sign of emotional maturity.

"The world contains things that are objectively worse than the thing that has hurt you, therefore suck it up you crybaby" is neither a particularly valid argument (as it can be applied to nearly everything unfortunate that can happen to a resident of the first world), and honestly won't win you a lot of support either.

Win me support? My post is why she doesn't win my support. I don't need anyone's support. That's the point really. I don't care if you hate me, and honestly I don't care if you like me either. I don't want your support. The author is exercising her right to post stuff on the Internet. The author is looking for sympathy (I guess? Why would she write it otherwise). She doesn't deserve mine. Surely it's my right.

> The author is looking for sympathy (I guess? Why would she write it otherwise).

You must really not be as smart as you think you are if you can't honestly figure out other reasons for people to share their negative experiences. Hint: spreading awareness, letting people know they're not alone, generating conversation, highlighting things that need to change, ect, ect.

Sorry, but you are wrong, the author wants the thread off hacker news, so she doesn't want to spread awareness. Read her other tweets and you'll see that she doesn't want any kind of negative criticism, she is interested only in positive comments. If you are only interested in reassuring comments, that's called sympathy.

> author wants the thread off hacker news, so she doesn't want to spread awareness.

She posted it on the internet so obviously she does. I don't speak for her but maybe she wants it off of hackernews to avoid the misogynistic trolls that always seem to dwell at the bottom of these threads (that's you btw).

Your argument is basically "toughen up" which is complete bullshit. See: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Suck_it_up_and_deal

Hahaha, I should have known this is about feminism.

I'm sure everything is "about feminism" to you. It must be so oppressive.


There might be a reason, but it's probably not a good one. These things are chaos-theory-like[1], with the causes so tiny that they're impossible to observe or predict and so may as well be random. It could be as simple as "One day, someone was in a bad mood and took it out on the nearest person unlikely to fight back. They realised that they enjoyed it, and did it again. Others observed and joined in." - by the time it reaches that point, you're already talking about group bullying by multiple people. Knowing the cause, or that there even was a cause, doesn't really help anyone.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect

They don't just bully a random dude/gal. There must be a reason. But this could also be a fictive story, just to raise attention.

This has to rank as one of the most profoundly stupid things I've ever seen an HN user utter.

Maybe there was a 'reason'; maybe Anna was shy, or overweight, or interested in unusual things. Or maybe not; either way, it's totally irrelevant.

> But I seriously cannot believe this if there is not a single reason WHY they did such horrible things.

ugh. just fucking ugh.

OK. I got the crap bullied out of me in school. You know why? Because I was nice. and because I was different.

When I was around 14 I had to move schools because I was too terrified to go in. I was a boy, but I liked having long hair, so of course that was a huge vector for bullying, amongst other things. One time I even got chased around a classroom by someone trying to cut my hair off with scissors.

Don't ever fucking try to fucking justify or contextualise bullying in a way that blames the victim.

Why? Because they can, and the school environment often actively encourages the kind of power hierarchies that result in this sort of bullying.

See also: http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

That link of yours is amazing. A lot of thought put to the problem of high school hierarchies in the US. I disagree about it not being about the age, though. School goes slower where I live so the 12-16 year period hits in secondary (youth) school instead of high school. The bullying basically stops as people go to high school. The pupils are still in the classroom. The situation doesn't change. Yet the bullying stops.

I think it's partly because grades and school simply don't matter prior to high school (in the US, at least). Theoretically, as long as you don't fail, you could barely scrape by in elementary and middle school and it would never make a difference in your life. School then is something you put up with, you "put your hours in" every day, but your performance doesn't really mean anything to anyone, so kids have all of this pent-up energy during school hours and nothing worthwhile to put it into. Into social hierarchy bullshit and bullying it goes. There were definitely instances of bullying/power hierarchies in my middle school, but for the most part kids were just indiscriminately dickheads to each other because we had nothing better to do in our boring little world.

Once you get to high school, your grades actually matter for deciding the course of your life, so all of a sudden you have to try in school if you want to get into a good college. Three consequences: kids have less energy to waste during school hours, they actually have a goal (however meaningless) to work towards, and being a good student becomes cool (as long as you meet some baseline level of attractiveness and social skills) because (in an ideal world) it means you have a brighter future ahead of you than flipping burgers at McDonald's. At this point, most kids just want to focus on their "work" and enjoy their remaining time with friends, not trying to inch their way up a pecking order. The exceptions were the kids that knew they had special privileges (football players and cheerleaders with rich daddies), and the poor kids with the worst grades that knew their futures were bleak.

It pains me to say it, as a slacker that hated the "school" part of school much more than the social interaction, but maybe making grades "matter" earlier on would improve the quality of social interaction in middle school. I don't think that's worth wasting more years of the lives of children, though.

Two other non-age related factors: American middle schools encourage microcosms to form by generally being smaller than high schools, and by having tighter-knit class units (at least in my school, you stuck with the same kids for everything except electives). Among the first things I thought when I started high school was "there is no way I could ever meet all of these people," later followed by the realization that no one else gave a shit about strangers anymore either.

"There must be a reason" - of course there is. Murders, robberies and other crimes all have reasons.

"They don't just bully a random dude/gal." - of course, the more vulnerable the better!

From what I have seen and experienced, teens just need to make fun if someone. And usually, they will pick someone who is:

1. Different (out of community, different religion etc.)

2. Not good with words (doesn't reply back)

I was in category 2 and a few bullies always made fun of me because of this. I was called names and humiliated for no reason.

IMHO, they don't need a reason. Just someone to make fun of.

I remember doubling 10th grade. As I entered the new community of new grade 10 students, I noticed that one girl was being bullied. I did not understand why. I asked the other students about it, but they were never able to explain it to me. Some didn't understand either, but had accepted the situation as normal. Others, all from the same village as this girl, seemed to participate more actively. Somehow, sometime during their elementary school years, the culture formed by the students of that year in that village had to come to include bullying that girl. There might have been an origin to it all, but when I entered their subculture in 10th grade all that was left of that narrative was an unexplainable shared dislike of that one girl.

    > But I seriously cannot believe this if there is not a
    > single reason WHY they did such horrible things
So what if there was? Would that make it all better?

It would help understanding why that happened and thus maybe how to prevent it.

Bullying is mainly a way of gaining status and popularity for youth. They gain advantages for themselves by abusing those weaker than them. Think a bit about how offensive your question is, though. I am quite disgusted when people ask it from victims of bullying, it's not beneficial and shows a lack of empathy and understanding.

Imagine asking this about the Holocaust.

"I seriously cannot believe this if there is not a single reason WHY they did such horrible things"

Imagine asking this about slavery.

"I seriously cannot believe this if there is not a single reason WHY they did such horrible things"

Imagine asking that from a little girl who is tortured psychologically every day for years.

Google "Just World Fallacy".

> not a single reason WHY they did such horrible things

There are reasons, but to a warped mind, cutting someone in a line is enough for death by hanging. I mean Ted Bundy probably had some reason for doing the things he did - maybe a girl dumped him so he decided to take revenge (on other girls).

It could have been nothing else than just wanting to rise up the ranks and enjoying the abuse way too much.

Explain the GNAA then.

I'm probably being voted down because the parent deleted their post.

Dude. Victim blaming. Not cool. Seriously not cool. As in, giving-a-ninety-year-old-Jew-a-shower-head-and-a-gas-bottle not cool.

Ooh, you were doing brilliantly for the first 8 words.

Sometimes, you gotta go for the Godwin. Victim blaming like the OP just indulged in, that was one of those times.

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