In other news, DUH.

Bullying harms kids’ mental health.

A new study provides strong evidence that being bullied can cause children to develop depression and anxiety.


I attended two high schools as my parents switched me from Mountainview High to Timaru Boys High School because they were concerned about my academic performance at Mountainview. Ironicall I hated TBHS so much more than MV that I bunked off FAR MORE classses attending it. I don’t think my grades improved at all.

TBHS had all the same shit as any other high school (like, say, having to show up at classes! The nerve!) and a whole new swag of other unique shit mostly driven by the unspoken pretense that TBHS was a sort of jolly hockey sticks boarding school with tuck shops and prep and “I say! Bad show!” and one of the worst things about it was that bullying was pretty much accepted and if you complained about it to teachers (like I did, exactly once) then you were told in so many words to Man Up and Build Character and Bad Show For Snitching.

Fortunately for me it got around in 7th form that I was often seen talking to girls (usually my ex-schoolmates from Mountainview) and since most guys at TBHS thought that women were a strange, alien species to be stared at from afar, my mysterious ability to communicate with them made me slightly cool and less likely to be subject to the kind of casual low-grade bullying that’s pretty much background noise for a fat computer dork attending High School.

I remember when the Columbine happened. And I was talking about it to my parents and they were going on about how horrible it was that those kids could do that, even if they were bullied at school by the kids they shot. And I said that I would never ever turn a gun on my fellow pupils … but I UNDERSTAND how they could.

This led to an argument which, even on the adjusted upwards to compensate scale that I use to grade arguments with my folks[1] was still at least a 8.9 – on a par with the time I mentioned that despite the fact that I was tired and had something to do it was okay because I had some NoDoz hanging around somewhere. THAT led into a 2 hour discussion on How Drugs Are Bad. From my mum, who has maybe 7 cups of coffee a day. For Fucks Sake. But I digress, hugely.

I honestly wish I could go back to visit myself at that age, or ANYONE else that’s been subject to bullying, and just say “See all this shit? The fucking INSTANT you leave High School and get out into the real world? It ALL goes away. Immediately. And forever. And you and the rest of the smart guys that get picked on for being nerds go on to get paid SHITLOADS because in the real world smarts are IMPORTANT, and all those rugby chumps go on to pump gas and hang drywall and in the unlikely event you see them again they’ll be trying to impress you. And you will be bored by it.

[1] This is an actual conversation I have had with my mum:

Mum: Hello.[2]
JSR: Oh, and what’s THAT supposed to mean?

[2] It was her tone of voice. You had to be there.


  1. Errr…. the bullying doesn’t ever really stop. When I was a uni student at Otago I remember the Rugby jocks beating up goth guys in the central city at night (early 90s), and I (yes, even blonde Barbie me) got bullied at uni by other girls (reason: jealousy).

    It never goes away. Corporations lose shit loads of money from workers not functioning properly, be it from thugby-head peers picking on them or Hitleresque managers stepping on everyone.

    Sorry you got bullied at school. Even the popular people, if they so much as stumbled from their pedestal for a moment, got picked on at some point. 🙁

    • Uh, yeah, no. The _bullying_ has stopped.

      What you have there, at least in the Rugby Guys vs Goths example is not bullying, it’s _assault_. When you lodge a complaint with the police, they follow up on it, especially if you have witnesses, etc. They’re not like teachers. They don’t tell you to “Man Up” about it, they arrest people instead. It’s much more fun for them.

      And as for bullying in the office environment. Well, you have a range of options. Again if you complain, your company will _do something_, especially if you mention that your next step will be the police or the media. Even if it’s psychological instead of physical – someone is just making your work environment toxic – you can _quit_. This ain’t really an option at high school.

      • I’m sure we could discuss this for ages and not agree.

        Subtle clever bullying goes on in all areas of adult life. I currently know of several adults who can’t manage to pin anything on co-workers who have bullied them for years. Management doesn’t want to know. Slippery bastards come in many forms.

        I remember laying a complaint with a manager in my previous job about a woman who was doing a bloody good job of bullying me. He took a limp-wrist approach and whined at us both, telling us to get our shit together and that he didn’t want to hear any more about it. I threatened to take it further up the food chain and he said that the more senior staff wouldn’t want to know about my little interpersonal problems. I eventually left that job.

        FWIW, I know of kids who’ve left schools because of bullying. It’s always an option. Escape/running away comes in many forms.

      • Yeah, sadly the bullying does continue into the workplace. There is occasionally more you can do about it though.

        I was once told by the owner of a company that “if you quit now, I’ll bad mouth you to everyone around and make sure you never work in the industry again”. I tried talking to the other staff and I think people sort of believed me but not enough to actually back me up.

        (one of the reasons I like working at a university now, if that kind of thing happens there’s actually a support structure to help out.)

        – MugginsM

      • Yes as soon as I left school when I was assulted in front of two witnesses, I went to the police, the guy got 6 months probation, ie if he did it again he would get whatever jail term he got + my six months.

        It was the last time this ever happened to me.

  2. With two kids on the verge of starting high school, and being able to vividly remember what it was like, I’m a-scared. And I am telling my kids when they start that it’s not going to be fun, but one day it will be over, and it will never, ever be this bad again.

    And it’s not, and I say that as someone who copped some horrendous shit from a boss who was a sociopath. As an adult, when it’s bad, you can extricate yourself from the situation. As a teenager, you’re absolutely powerless, especially if your parents are unsympathetic.

    What really gets me now is that the ‘suck it up’ attitude has sort of been replaced by this very two-faced attitude in schools, where they claim to have a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude to bullying, and then simply ignore it.

  3. Oh, and this one’s a doozy too.

    Male primary school teachers who are heterosexual, rugby-playing real men make better role models, according to a survey of primary school principals.

    • Yup that is mad. Especially as I can’t see anyone who shares genetic material with me and Jamie being “heterosexual, rugby-playing real men”.

      I want my kids to be taught by people who are bright, enthusiastic and kind – don’t really care how they spend their free time or who with.

      • It absolutely boggles me, you’d think they’d be grateful to get any vaguely competant teacher they could. This year is the first time since my kids started school seven years ago that Riccarton has had a full-time male teacher.

        I suspect Chch in particular is still dealing with a Christchurch-creche-shaped hangover when it comes to getting men to train as primary school teachers.

        But what really gets me? is that I consider that blokey rugby-playing guy they’re describing to be a SHIT role model. I’m not, for instance, in a big hurry to have my kids hang out with, say, Tea Ropati.

        • Frankly, I’m not surprised. I would never be a primary school teacher (or similar) because of the incredible knee-jerk paranoia about predatory pederasts that has developed over the last few years. Because of this hysteria, if a child in my care gets hurt or upset I’m not allowed to offer any physical comfort unless I first arrange a chaperone, presumably owing to one’s Y-chromasome apparently causing an irresistable urge to molest any child one touches.

          Quite apart from the legal danger inherent in being a male in a primary-school situation, being unable to give a distressed child a cuddle would just be emotionally unbearable. I’d have to leave.

          Just as an aside: I was a very pretty little boy – there are pictures to prove it. I went to Cubs and Scouts and church groups and all those sorts of things, and completely failed to encounter any of the pedophiles who apparently swarm around them like blowflies. Maybe I just didn’t notice being constantly predated on. Or maybe they aren’t quite the omnipresent threat they’re made out to be.

          • My partner did the library at our kindergarten for a couple of years while our kids were there. He wasn’t allowed to have the kids sit in his lap, and if they climbed up there, he had to take them off.

            That wasn’t as stupid, though, as both teachers having to supervise each other if one of them needed to take a child to the toilet.

          • I guess we’re really lucky at our playcentre (and it’s probably a feature of being a parent co operative rather than anything else) – we have several really involved Dads and touching the kids is absolutely fine. We have one awesome Japanese guy who, when he started, had very little english so the way he communicated and played with the kids was VERY physical and the way the kids responded to that was amazing and wonderful to watch.

            We still have the rule that you can’t toilet any kid who isn’t yours without another adult there though.

          • To be fair, and being aware that I’m in danger of totally derailing the original topic, I’m conscious that most of the reason for this is to protect the STAFF, rather than the children.

          • I would hazard to say I was cuter even than you, we may have to have a cute off at some point and I too had no untoward attention even from the guy who offered us wine biscuits.

            I really hate how society has turned me into a pedophile because of my sex.

        • I would love to train as a Primary School teacher, however my experience as a teacher’s aid years ago really put me off, they told me how to keep myself safe at the same time as telling me I would be the first to be accused if there was a problem and also they regularly put me in positions where I was vulnerable.

  4. The trouble is that even when/if the bullying stops the damage DOESN’T go away. I’ve had several moments where someone will say something, quite inadvertently, that just brings it all flooding back in techincolour. I still struggle a bit with self-esteem stuff too. And I wasn’t even bullied that badly!

  5. I’m going to ignore the bullying thing entirely and just point out that “drywall” is not the correct term (unless yr a silly yank). 🙂