Friday, June 15, 2007

Rethinking Greg

Male Bullying: The Story of Greg

Male-on-male bullying is commonly a mixture of both physical and verbal abuse. Let’s take a look at an example of bullying from the perspective of a ninth-grade boy named Greg. Greg had started his freshman year at his new school with a feeling of both nervousness and excitement. He had experienced a lackluster eighth-grade year at his old school in Tennessee and hoped for fresh possibilities in this new Pennsylvania high school.

Unfortunately for Greg, things took an unexpected turn. During his sixth period technology education class, he ran into a much bigger student named Chad. Chad began by poking fun at Greg’s Southern accent in front of the other students. He was called "Reb" and "Redneck." The other teens in the class laughed along with Chad—usually out of fear, so as not to be singled out by him themselves.

As the days progressed and the leaves began to turn, Greg’s experiences in this class began to worsen. Since the technology education rooms were very large and the teacher was often distracted with machinery and the needs of other students, the bullying Greg faced at the hands of Chad most often went unnoticed. Chad would hide Greg’s books while he worked on a project elsewhere in the room. If Greg protested, Chad would threaten Greg, sometimes even giving him a quick punch to the top of the head while the teacher wasn’t looking. In the cafeteria, prior to his sixth-period class, Greg was often unable to enjoy lunch or even to eat, dreading the bullying he would face in during the next part of his day. Chad would occasionally come up behind Greg during class or in the hallway and kick his feet out from under him, making him fall or trip in front of others, who would invariably laugh for fear of becoming the next target.
This daily humiliation and defeat made Greg feel powerless. There was no getting around the fact that he was smaller than Chad. He was embarrassed to tell a teacher, worrying others would find out and that he would be branded a tattletale or a coward for not taking it "like a man." He was also hesitant to tell his parents; after all, his parents had troubles of their own and didn’t want to be burdened with his problems. It is important to recall that bullying is one of the major reasons cited by students who have carried out several widely publicized school shootings.
Like so many others, Greg simply stuffed it all down and, in the end, felt depressed, fearful, and lonely. Thoughts of taking his own life even crossed his mind with greater frequency. Greg felt as though he was trapped in a dark cave, and Chad was his Polyphemus. Like Odysseus, he needed a plan.

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