There’s a great piece in the New York Times about what actually constitutes bullying and the problems with a defintion that’s too broad. I responded to it over at Babble, using a story from my own school bully experience.
I’m in 8th grade. Gym class is the last class of my day and we’re doing basketball. We stand in line, waiting for our turn to practice shooting layups or something equally useless. I hate it. Not just because I suck at basketball but because a girl I’ll call R has decided the best use of her time is harassing me. She stands behind me and runs her hands down my arms and tauntingly says “I’m a lesbian. I’m in love with you.” A veteran of being teased at school, I stay grimly silent in the hopes that for once the adage “ignore her and she’ll leave you alone” is true. It isn’t. R continues her harassment and unconsciously I roll my eyes with every incident. R begins mocking my eye-rolling, too. Eventually, after days or weeks of this, I haul off and slap her. No adult sees it but the other girls do. They take her side.
What I did was not bullying. What R did absolutely was. But in today’s atmosphere of no- tolerance policies and legislated bullying definitions, I probably would have gotten in more trouble than R.
Click on over for the rest of the piece. Oh, and Mom? Don’t worry that I never told you abut this. That girl backed off after I smacked her and I don’t think I ever interacted with her again.