A 14 year old boy wakes up in agony and is rushed to the hospital where the doctor is forced to remove one of his testicles. The boy was subjected to an ongoing bullying technique called Sack Tapping. Boys will hit, flick, punch a boy’s groin to see who can endure the most pain. The practice had lasting consequences for David Gibbons.
A six year old girl is walking home from school. The street is deserted and there are no other children at play close by. Suddenly an older girl stops her bicycle in front of the little girl. She grabs the little one’s chin and slaps her face leaving a redden hand print on her little cheek. The older girl then verbally abuses the child and slaps her again, threatening the child with more of the same treatment if the older girl sees her walking down her block again.
The child’s parents are concerned, but have no recourse because they don’t know the older girl’s name or where she lives and the incident didn’t happen on school grounds.
Bullying is more prevalent than most people realize. It is not a game. It is has serious emotional as well as physical consequences.
Dr. Ken Druck, the founder of Families Helping Families program, worked with families at Columbine High School and Santana High School and other families who have had tragedies. He describes bullying as having two faces: physical bullying and social bullying. Other researchers from around the world agree with him.
The US National Center for Education Statistics breaks the two different categories into Direct and Indirect bullying. The center goes on to define direct bullying as pushing, shoving, poking, throwing things, slapping, punching, biting, pulling hair, grabbing, kicking and the like. Sack Tapping falls into this category.
Indirect bullying, or social aggression, is characterized by isolating a victim with various techniques such as forming cliques to ostracize a person, rejection of former friends, bullying others who desire to socialize with the victim, deriding manner of dress or ethnic background, religion or disability. Other forms of indirect bullying are also delineated as spreading false rumors and gossip, name calling, manipulation, reminding of past failures, as well as taunting which is different from teasing because it has a malicious intent to harm.
Mona O’Moore, PhD of the Anti-Bullying Center, Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland says the growing body of research indicates bullying victims face many risks.
“Whether child or adult, those who are persistently subjected to abusive behavior are at risk of stress related illness which can sometimes lead to suicide. Individuals who bully others now risk judicial correction and conviction in courts,” O’Moore said. “Furthermore, passive bystanders in any bullying situation also risk suffering from anxiety that is brought on by the shame and guilt so often felt at not being able to intervene or defend a victim.”
Bullying is a problem that knows no cultural or country boundaries. It is as prevalent in Ireland and England as it is in Canada and the United States. It is a behavioral problem that affects the lives of thousands.
O’Moore points out the humiliation, fear, social isolation and loss of self-esteem results in absenteeism from school, deteriorating grades, personality changes, depression, illness and even suicide.
Unfortunately, it is often called horseplay, or just a game, but as in David Gibbons case it is thoughtless torture.
That six year old girl’s parents told her to walk with her head up high and shoulders back. Told her to not stop walking when someone stopped in her path, but to walk around the person, and told her to be on the look out for the older girl at school and report what she did to a teacher or the principal. Wise advice even though this incident was 50 years ago.
One week after the incident, the little girl spied the bigger girl on the school playground. She marched up to her and accused her of the dastardly deed in front of the girl’s circle of friends. She also told her what her parents would do if it ever happened again. The six year old was never bothered again on her walk home.