Tuesday, October 11, 2011


My Great Nephew, about whom I wrote last May, called me a few weeks ago. I could tell that he was very upset. It was hard to understand him on the phone through his crying. I went to see him on the evening on which he called me. I found out that he is being bullied -- again -- by some bigger guys physically abusing him, as well as calling him names and making his life miserable.

Apparently the bullies hide their tormenting quite well. No adult at his school or anywhere else has seen what has happened. Even these days when adults are much more attuned to bullying and will intercede to prevent it, they have to witness an assault, or it becomes a "he said/he said" trade of accusations where the bullies deny doing anything, and the person who is bullied is afraid to say anything for fear of making the bullies more angry.

My Great Nephew's father tried to teach him how to throw a punch -- not strike first, but know what to do and how to strike back if punched first. The thing is, my Great Nephew doesn't want to fight. He doesn't want to hit anyone, even if the person deserves to be clocked sideways and screwy. Gosh, he is so very much like me when I was his age.

Since he doesn't have a "big-jock-twin-brother" to hide behind, I suggested the next best thing, which I did when I was in school. I was very good in my studies, and knew that some of the jocks were not, and would be potentially suspended from playing on the teams (football, basketball, baseball, etc.) if their grades were not above a certain level. I offered to tutor some of these guys. I volunteered many hours of my time after school to help the jocks do better in their classes. That worked -- their grades improved and they learned that I was not such a dorky dude after all. They became my friends. When the bullies saw that a number of big jocks were truly friendly to me, and I seemed to be around them a lot, the bullies left me alone and picked on someone else.

I used that analogy to explain a strategy for my Great Nephew to try. And I am very happy to report that so far, it is working! My Great Nephew tutored one of the biggest jocks in his school. The jock got some good grades on recent tests and credits my Great Nephew for his help. In turn, the bullies are leaving my Great Nephew alone. Apparently some of the jocks overheard some of their bullying of my Great Nephew, and taught the bullies a lesson. (I didn't really want to know exactly what lesson was taught!)

So this is something to remember. If you are not the type to defend yourself by fighting, you can defend yourself by recruiting defenders by offering something you can do to help them. It is the most fundamental form of barter -- trading for services. Tutoring for protection. Whatever you want to call it, my Great Nephew is happier today than he has been since school started in early September.


Anonymous said...

My dear brother, you remain such a help to our family who reach out to you because they know they can depend on your love and support. I'm glad you let me know about it too, so I could explain to our great nephew how to talk to a "jock" (giggle.)

While I never had to face the torment that you did when we were our great nephew's age, I know how much it hurt because I saw you every day. Of course I was there for you, protect you as I may ... but you were always there for me. Remember, I was the first jock you tutored!

Thanks for all you do, and for bringing this important matter to light.

I love you, always.


Layla Winters said...

Wow, I loved that. Thanks for sharing.