Bullying is a great cause for people to
take on nowadays, but a couple of recent stories I've read and seen
have me wondering if we need a new word for what's happening.
The one most people probably know about
is the Miami Dolphins football player who left the team because a
teammate was harassing and threatening him. This problem was
exacerbated because one is white and the other is black.
The other is, I guess, a local story
out of Grainger. The school system there is being sued by a girl and
her family after she was beaten up by another student. The teenage
girl was beaten so badly she suffered bleeding on the brain and had
to endure surgery, according to the story I read.
What does one have to do with the
other, you might ask, and it's a good question. The only thing that
brings the two into the same arena is they were both called instances
It's been a long time since I was a
kid and considering I was pretty much the size I am now by the
seventh grade, bullying wasn't something I had to deal with. But
there was bullying, even way back then, and I don't recall any of
it ever leading to a bleeding brain and surgery.
The two football players are now acting
kind of whiny and backing off racist remarks and murderous threats
they texted back and forth. It's being called locker room culture
and people are asking how a 6'5, 350-pound man can be bullied?
Another good question. Not only how can
someone that big be bullied, but someone who is also very in the
public eye, has tons of money and could undoubtedly have a hundred
people rush to his defense if he asked.
No, it's not bullying, what's
happening in Miami. It could be harassment or threats or just basic
stupidity, but it's not bullying.
And neither is what happened in
Grainger County. I'm pretty sure that's felony assault. It should
have immediately been taken out of the school's hands and given to
law enforcement. But the school, allegedly, tried to brush it off and
now we'll have a trial probably two years down the road.
What is bullying? I know things like
Facebook and Twitter and probably 10 other things I've never heard
of, have made bullying a different game, but if I recall correctly,
it's things like slapping somebody on the back of the head,
knocking their books, or something, out of their arms. Maybe getting
shoved down, called names, having stuff thrown at you. Occasionally
you might even get hit and suffer what we used to call a "busted
I know, thanks to the above mentioned
Internet stuff, you can't run from bullies anymore. Once upon a
time, as soon as you were out of the bully's sight, you relaxed and
immediately got on with your life. Now they follow you on computers
and phones and tablets and anything else they can find, I suppose.
What do we call bullying when it
escalates into full-scale assault? What if that girl had suffered
permanent brain damage, or even died? Would we say it was bullying
gone too far? Are bullies even bothered by being called bullies? Would it make a difference if we called them attempted murderers?
Advice used to be along the lines of "just outgrow it. There are no bullies in the adult world." That
was a lie back then and it's certainly a lie today. Bullies come in
every shape and stripe and seem to end up in charge in a lot of
places. You can run, but…. Well, that seems to be all you can do at
But we do need a new word for when what
bullies call "just messing around" turns into something much
worse. I don't know what it should be. Intimidators? Murderous
thugs? Nah, neither of those are catchy. I'll keep thinking on it.
You do the same and maybe we won't have to hear about a young girl
being beaten until she needs brain surgery and have it called