Bullies

What makes bullies tick? What would make a cruel, mean spirited 14 year old creep pick on a six year old girl? What would make him push her down in the mud and force a jar of tadpoles down her throat? What would make him chase her and hit her, break her teeth.?

The bully in question was the teacher's son. The teacher was also abusive, not only physically, but emotionally as well. She humiliated the child by calling her, and her parents names in front of the whole class. The little girl's family were poor, not destitute but poor enough. There was always food and shelter, but the clothes weren't always nice, and they were usually second hand.

The teacher often hit the girl's left hand with a ruler until her knuckles were bruised and bleeding. The teacher wouldn't let her print with her left hand. She insisted that the world was right handed, and the girl must not use her left hand. The child was confused. There was another girl in the class who was allowed to write with her left hand. Her parents would have had the teacher arrested if she had hit the other child.

The girl's parents literally worked night and day for low wages. There were four kids to feed and clothe. The parents were not abusive or unkind, just work weary and tired, often sick. The abuse at school continued until she entered high school.

There is an incident when the girl was eleven years old that should have put the teacher in prison, or at least made her lose her job. The rural school had only one room and eight grades. The six year olds attended class with the thirteen and fourteen year olds. The teacher's sons went to another school, but they often came to school with their mother.

The bigger boys at the school, including two of the teacher's sons, liked to torment the younger kids with sharpened sticks. The year that the little girl was eleven, the big boys forced her to wrestle with her ten year old brother, who was overweight. The girl fell on the ground, the brother fell on her legs, and broke one of them. When the bell rang for class, they all ran inside. The girl couldn't walk, she crawled. One of the bigger boys jumped on the swollen leg. She could hear the crack. If the leg wasn't already broken, that would have done it.

When she crawled to her seat, she couldn't stop crying and shaking. The teacher said that she was a cry baby, that there was nothing wrong with her. The girl just shook and sobbed in her seat. Finally she told the girl to go home. The teacher pulled the girl out of her seat, and dragged her by the hair to the door. She could only hop or crawl, she couldn't walk. She got half way across the school yard and collapsed.

The teacher sent one of the grade eight boys, a thirteen year old, out to the yard with her car keys. The boy was not one of the bullies that had hurt her. He had tried to stop it, with no effect. He offered to take the girl home, otherwise the teacher would have left her there in the school yard. He got her home, and got her on to the veranda. There was no phone at her house to call her parents. There wasn't even any ice to put on her leg. He was only thirteen, there was nothing he could do. He just said he was sorry and went back to School.

This all occurred in the late 1950's, and corporal punishment, even child abuse was allowed unless the parents were well off enough to hire a lawyer. The police didn't believe the parents, because the teacher was articulate and well spoken. Besides that, She lied consistantly. She couldn't deny the broken leg, the girl was in a cast for three months. She said that the girl lied about her sons' involvement. She blamed the whole thing on the girl's brother.

The police were called, it was investigated, and the school superintendent was informed about the whole incident. There was an attempt to get another teacher, but it failed. The school board couldn't get anyone else to teach at a rural school with only a wood stove for heat, and no indoor plumbing. The teacher continued to teach there until it was closed two years later, and the girl went to high school.

The teacher was still abusive, but it was more subtle. She gave undeserved low test scores. She tried to fail the girl's brother. He had earned grades much higher than she gave him credit for. That incident was also investigated, but nothing ever came of it. The school closed shortly after that, because all of the rural small schools were closed, and the children were bused to bigger schools in the towns. Nothing ever happened to the teacher, except that she never got another teaching job.


Child abuse laws are a lot stricter now, particularly in the schools. Hitting or humiliating children is cause not only for dismissal, but legal action. In the early 1950's there was little that a poor family could do about it. Even going to the police didn't help, because the child's family couldn't prove anything.

The little girl is all grown up, a senior citizen in fact. She has put the past behind her, and she is happy with her family and her life, but the abuse she suffered as a child left emotional scars that may never heal.

The End

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