I have been at both end of the stick when it comes to bullying when I was growing up. I’m not proud if it as I know how nasty (a very simple word for it) it is.

I was out teaching the other day and witness some really bad bullying amongst the kids were were teaching. My co-instructor and I have talked about it, and we really don’t think there was anything we could have done to stop it.

They group of kids was hard to control from the start, and it slowly got worse. The school had warned us that as a group they are bit of a handful but one-on-one they are fine. This was true.

While teaching the kids the ‘passing a side road’ drill, we had split them into pairs: two at the start, two in the middle (side road) and two at the end. This was in the hope that it would calm them down, but it didn’t work as planned. Soon they started kicking and pushing each other around.

When one of the kids was doing the drill, another was calling things out at him e.g. “cover your brakes”, “you should have looked behind you”, etc. While that was going on another child picked up a stone and threw it at the kid who was shouting; this missed and hit a car which bounced off and hit the kid who was doing the drill.

We then called it a day. Normally when bad behaviour happens we walk the kids home, with them pushing their bikes. This tends to piss them off but does keep them in control since they finally realise that they have gone too far this time, and it also gives them time to reflect.

However, this group just kept going. Instead of kicking each other they used their bikes to bump into each other. Then the name-calling started. They didn’t even listen to us when we asked them to keep quiet. We had truly lost them at this point, and agreed to get them back to school at fast as possible, as we were fearful a kid would totally break down or run away if we told them off even more.

The whole thing went pear-shaped when we passed an elderly lady and her dog en route back to school. The dog started to bark at the only child who was scared of dogs. He jumped up, dropped the bike and ran in to the road shouting “that dog is evil!”. This just set the other kids off: they started making barking noises at him, and calling him names. They were really nastily laying into him.

The shocking part was the way that every child took some part in the bullying, even the two we were sure would not do such a thing. It was also shocking to see how the victim of the dog-barking incident just accepted it, as if this was entirely normal behaviour he was used to. His expression was “I’m used to this, and I know that in five minutes someone else will get it, so not to worry, we do this every day.”

Once back at the school we told the teachers what had happened, and talked over what had happened with the kids themselves. When asked how they could improve the situation the kids did come up with some very clever questions and answers on how they could stop the bullying in the future. But, as one teacher said “they can do all the talk, but not the walk”.

I really do hope that I never get a group like this again.

LINK : http://www.bullying.co.uk/