Thingish Things

How To Stop Bullies

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Feb• 05•11

I saw a report on school bullying on the local news this morning while getting an oil change.  It must have lasted a half hour, with the number of psychologists, sociologists, guidance counselors, parenting experts, student committee leaders, safety patrol officers, and PTA bullying subcommittee co-chairs interviewed (no such thing as an “instant” oil change anymore.)

Not one of them told the truth. They talked about community strategies, adolescent dynamics, stress disorders, and state-sponsored counseling programs.  But they never talked about how to stop bullying from occurring.

There is one tried and true method to dealing with bullies, and everyone knows it: Clench your fist, walk over to said bully, and punch his nose as hard you possibly can.  If that doesn’t work, hit him with a stick.

That works every time.

But you can’t say that publicly, of course.  You could get jailed for it these days.  In the confines of homes across America, however, I would venture to guess that this terrible time-tested wisdom is imparted on boys and girls through the whispers of parents on an almost daily basis. I feel badly for the ones who aren’t clued in.

In almost all cases – and I say this anecdotally but with supreme confidence – win or lose the fight, bullying stops when the bully is physically confronted.

When I was in junior high school, there was a gorilla of a bully in my class.  We were in seventh grade and he had a full grown beard and a voice like Sam Elliot’s.  The ground shook when he walked. I barely had pubic hair, and this guy was shaving twice a day and carrying girls over his shoulder into the boy’s room where I could only venture to imagine what was happening.  There was nothing he liked more than meatball heroes and picking on smaller kids.  He was stupid and he was mean, and everybody feared him, including me.

One day it was my turn.  He pushed me over a bench in the boy’s locker room and then laughed and laughed with his friends, and his garlic meatball breath, while I lay dazed on the floor looking up at him.  It made quite an impression on me.

What I did the next day was rooted in fear and  practicality, not bravery.  I fully realized that he would push me over that bench every day for the rest of the year if I didn’t confront him.  So I did.

I will not write here exactly what happened, but I will hint that  it involved a hypodermic needle, my thumb, and his thigh. From that day on, neither the behemoth nor any of his cronies would walk within 100 feet of me.  (I was a bartender at his wedding about a dozen years later and we had a good laugh about it. Turned out to be a great guy, just a little hairy.)

No one denies that bullying is a problem, and I am not making light of the problem.   There have been bullies in classrooms since the dawn of time.

But if everyone knows how to stop them, why can’t we say it any more?

Yes, violence begets violence; two wrongs don’t make a right, and the meek shall inherit the earth – yadda, yadda, yadda.   But none of those sayings will do a damned thing to help a frightened child a.) avoid being picked on, and b.) gain back his self-respect.

We all want safe schools and a peaceful society.  But sometimes that requires a good punch in the nose.  I’m just saying…

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  1. Me says:

    Hypodermic needle? Seriously?? I had two memorable bullying incidents. One in elementary school that ended with the girl flying across the room and into two desk chairs, which fell over on her. Quite a racket! (In my defense, she had grabbed my reporter’s notebook, and I was just trying to get it away from her.) She and her friends gave me wide berth after that. The second was the first week of junior high. Somehow word got out that I was to fight the daughter of a Golden Gloves champion. Tough-acting kid from the north side (!!) but shorter than me. I’ll never forget the shock and fear in her eyes when she shoved me, and I responded by grabbing her collar/throat and shoving her up hard against the wall. Seriously, her feet were entirely off the floor. I told her I didn’t want to fight, and she said she didn’t either. None of them picked on my ever again, despite my (forced upon me) pigtails, braces, and skirts with kneesocks! It pays to grow up with brothers close in age:-)

  2. Monique says:


    Yes sometimes you just want to go over and slap the bully, but there could be cases where he retaliates and the bullying becomes worse.

    We all must stife on to stop this “sickness”.

    And then we must be make urgent aware about the “sickos” on the net = cyber-bullying.

    I am very passionate about creating awareness about this and making known the methods of trying to stop it.



  3. Me says:

    Much easier to stop a real-life bully than a cyberbully.

  4. Dave says:

    You’re ignoring the obvious, and only true intervention – involving the little criminal’s parents.

    No committees, no psychiatrists. The answer is holding parents accountable for raising their children properly. And maybe police, if the criminal assaults continue.

    Cause, these Rocky stories are great, but what happens if it’s a smaller, less athletic kid, getting picked on by a larger, stronger, more coordinated kid or group of kids?

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