When Bullies Win, Everyone Loses

Thought for the Week

“Though the boys throw stones at the frogs in sport, the frogs do not die in sport, they die in earnest.”  ~Bion of Borysthenes (325 – 250 B.C.)

Suicides among children have tripled since the start of the 2000s, and bullying is a key factor in this upsurge. Five years ago in my city, Gabriel Taye, the eight-year-old boy in the pictures above, hung himself. Today’s Cincinnati Enquirer recounts (edited):

Gabriel was bullied repeatedly before he took his own life. He would come home (from school) with injuries that school officials either did not explain or lied about in the months leading up to his death. (His) parents said their son would come home with bruises or teeth missing. One of those incidents, which took place in the boys’ restroom days before Gabriel died, was captured on school video. In the video, another student pushes Gabriel into a wall, knocking Gabriel unconscious. Gabriel lays on the floor without moving for seven minutes while other students step over him and kick him. A former assistant principal found Gabriel unconscious in the restroom (and took no significant action). Two days later, Gabriel was bullied in the restroom again, and two students stole his favorite Batman water bottle. He killed himself that day in his bedroom.

The illusion of the bully is that by knocking others down they have somehow elevated themselves. But, as Booker T. Washington observed, “You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” (Not all bullies are men, by the way. Two of the biggest bullies I’ve ever encountered were women.)

Bullying can be practiced against groups, too, sometimes by a leader, a “bully-in-charge” who claims to be doing so on behalf of others. Vladimir Putin comes to mind, of course, but he’s far from alone in this. It’s a trick that keeps the bully and a handful of his cronies in power while lowering everyone else.

So what can we do? We can hike up our courage—again and again—confronting bullies whenever and wherever we find them: in our schools, in our offices, in our neighborhoods, at the polls, and, yes, in the mirror. It’s a fact that bullies were often bullied themselves, but, as St. Ambrose notes, “No one heals himself by wounding another.” Two of the most compassionate people I’ve ever known were reformed bullies. Because…

A re-formed soul is a far more powerful force for good than an un-formed one.

So let us learn to listen with ears of compassion, to look with eyes of protection, to speak with voices of healing…

And teach our children to do the same.

“If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
~Desmond Tutu

“If you see someone being bullied, make it stop. Why is that so hard for us to do?”
~Susane Colasanti

“We first crush people to the earth, and then claim the right of trampling on them forever, because they are prostrate.”
~Lydia Maria Child

“If bullies actually believe that somebody loves them and believes in them…they will become better people, and many will even become saviors to the bullied.”
~Dan Pearce

“Now that you know, you cannot feign ignorance. Now that you’re aware of the problem, you cannot pretend you don’t care. To be concerned is to be human. To act is to care.”
~Vashti Quiroz-Vega

“Free the oppressed, and break every yoke.”

~Isaiah 58:6

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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63 Responses to When Bullies Win, Everyone Loses

  1. Julia says:

    There is nothing worse than to think you endured bullies through school only to find that sadly later in life there are still bullies who have grown older and have not changed. Be Blessed Mitch.
    Julia

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A tragedy beyond words…thank you for giving this precious child a voice.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Thanks for raising this issue, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Mark Johnson says:

    Such a tragic story. The scars of bullying run deep. I know from personal experience. We can all do our part be speaking up, giving voice to the victims,
    and stepping in when we see it. Thank you for this post, Mitch.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: When Bullies Win, Everyone Loses — Mitch Teemley | Ups Downs Family History

  6. Many “Zero Tolerance” policies in schools are just that—policies. In order to truly stop bullying, policy must become practice. The adage from the TSA comes to mind: “If you see something say something.” Better yet, do something.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. ejstoo says:

    Here, there was a child literally beaten to death outside a school. https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/teen-dies-in-hospital-after-assault-outside-edmonton-high-school-1.5864148. I’ve read of children being killed at a party. I think as a society, we need to look at what we are doing and teaching our children. When we talk down about any culture, we are teaching the children that the person who is different is not a person. When we put down others for being different, we are showing kids that they are less than human. It is what we teach our children that DOES make the difference between life and death. Teach them wisely, speak wisely. Do not teach hate for others on the basis of being different. If we can teach hate, then we can also teach love (to misquote Nelson Mandela). If we learn hate, then we can learn love. Works both ways and we have to be better people in order to teach our children to be better people.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. revruss1220 says:

    That story about Gabriel is so incredibly sickening and heartbreaking. It makes me pause and wonder how one person can act with such cruelty toward another. But it also reminds me that as Americans, we stand where we are today as direct beneficiaries of bullying… on a grand scale. First there was the bullying of the people who lived here long before we did. Then it was the bullying of African people to come and do our manual labor for us. Yes, we should all stand up against bullying wherever we see it. But we also have to atone for the bullying impulses in our own hearts.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. #hood says:

    isaiah 83:06

    Like

  10. That poor little boy. Only 8 years old. My heart aches for him.

    I, too, was badly bullied, abused, and traumatized. When I was 15 years old, I could not take it anymore, and I hung myself. Although I was a very skinny girl at the time, the pipe that I hung myself from broke, and I fell to the floor. I am so thankful that I did not die that terrible day. But at the time, my life was unbearable, and I couldn’t see any other way out of my pain.

    Just as our skin was not created to withstand a sharp knife blade — if you cut your skin with a knife, you will bleed — in the same way, our souls were not created for verbal and physical abuse, for bullying, lying gossips, prejudice, and rejection. The God who is love, created us in His own image. This means that we were created for love, not for hate.

    When I was 15 years old, all I needed was just one person who actively cared. That person came into my life a few weeks after I had hung myself. He saved my life. Today, I have three wonderful adult children, one of whom is a licensed psychotherapist,I have three awesome adult grandchildren, one of whom works for Harvard University, where she earned her master’s degree, and I have one very precious great-grandson. None of these people would exist today if that pipe hadn’t broken back in 1969. I thank God that the pipe did break, and I thank God for Dr. Fenster, who afterward saved my life.

    I just wish there had been someone to save this precious little boy.

    It only takes one actively caring person, to turn a life completely around.

    Liked by 11 people

  11. Such an important message. Well said, Mitch. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Badfinger (Max) says:

    This is so tragic. I don’t think social media helps these days at all…but this was physical…there was no need in this happening.
    Our son when he was in 5th grade…was bullied…he was very small…we went through the proper channels…nothing was done…but it was just one kid bullying him…I told him he had to hit back…I had to convince him for over an hour but that is all it took…one time and the kid stopped…but of course our son got into trouble not the bully. They boy never bothered Bailey again.
    This situation though was different.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      I’m glad Bailey made it too, Max, even if every situation is different.

      Liked by 1 person

    • “… our son got into trouble not the bully.” This is frustrating! Even more frustrating is when the authorities do nothing. It’s teaching children that the authorities won’t protect them. How’s THAT going to go later on when they’re in trouble and need a police officer?

      Liked by 4 people

      • Badfinger (Max) says:

        Thank you yes it was….I hated telling my child to hit another child but I ran out of options. To your point yes…we sat down afterward and talked to Bailey (our son) and I had to walk a line of telling him he was not in trouble at home and why this happened.

        After this he never was in trouble again…now he is jr in college…

        This was going on for 3 months…that is the reason for the decision.

        Liked by 3 people

  13. robstroud says:

    Growing up in a military family, with frequent moves and few long-term friends, I usually felt like an outsider, or at best, on the fringe of the school population. That, and having an alcoholic father, led to some unhealthy self-defense mechanisms…

    I have always loathed bullies, but I sometimes used my “words” (sarcastic wit) to act like a bully myself. Of that sin, I long, long ago repented.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Heartbreaking indeed. How school officials can ignore such situations–especially when there’s video evidence–defies comprehension. The rise in bullying is another symptom of our broken society.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Rhonda says:

    This breaks my heart. Thanks for shining a light on this epidemic.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. ruthsoaper says:

    “If bullies actually believe that somebody loves them and believes in them…they will become better people, and many will even become saviors to the bullied.”
    ~Dan Pearce
    I think this is a huge part of the answer.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Webb Blogs says:

    Such a tragic story. Truly heartbreaking. Thank you for spreading awareness on bullying Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This is so heartbreaking. I continue to be amazed at our human capacity for cruelty to each other.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Jennie says:

    This story is tragic. Where were the teachers? Someone must have seen or suspected something. And the parents should have been standing on the Principal’s desk. I combat this every day at school. When a child is hurt, by being pushed, or hurt by hearing words like, “I don’t wan’t to be your friend”, I swoop down to help the victim and address the perpetrator. It works! The ‘secret’ for every adult is jumping in right away. And, children need adults.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. successbmine says:

    A well-written post on a topic which is very difficult, yet necessary, to write about. I wrote a book years ago for adolescents. In it I created many different types of personalities. I included a bully. In the process of the book the father (a Christian who cared about the kids in his daughter’s school) took this boy under his wing and he was transformed. I know that seldom happens, but in the Lord all things are possible. The book was left unfinished for many years, but finally I picked it up again and finished it. I still need to do a lot of revision to get it to a place where I can publish it, but hopefully that will happen some day. It is so tragic to know that young kids commit suicide because they are bullied. If only the bully could understand what he/she is really doing. I agree with Jennie: “And, children need adults.”

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Manu says:

    Gosh! My heart breaks when I read this sort of stories. You are right Mitch, we should not just overlook when we see it happening or even confront such behaviours within ourselves if that is the case.
    Thank you for sharing this

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This is such an incomprehensible and senseless tragedy. Mitch, you did an excellent job of bringing apt attention to this topic. I grieve with Gabriel’s parents, for our nation for tolerating this, and with God that we are sinking to such depravity. Lord, have mercy on us.

    This hits a deep chord within my soul, being a parent who has buried a son that died by suicide and six years later, burying my husband from the same cause. But suicide should NEVER be happening to one so young–a child. Eight should be an age of playful innocence, laughter, creativity, and imagination. I’m not saying it’s acceptable at any age but still, this screams of cataclysmic moral failure in our society. Lord, have mercy on us.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. pkadams says:

    There is no one to blame here but the parents who kept sending that boy back into that terrible place!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      It’s pretty complicated, I understand, PK. The school reportedly lied to the parents and covered up what was going on.

      Like

      • pkadams says:

        I looked it up after I commented, and I know it’s complicated , but I still believe parents are ultimately responsible for protecting their children. I think the schools have way too much power and authority and unearned trust .

        Liked by 1 person

  24. You’d think schools would understand that dealing with bullying instead of ignoring these attacks would be less damaging to public relations than the kind of press that comes from (or ought to result from) a suicide. Schooling is compulsory. Home schooling isn’t possible for everyone. If we made school officials who knew and looked the other way personally liable, bullying would be a much smaller problem. It’s always been with us, but kids haven’t always felt like they could do whatever and get away with it. They do now.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. c.f. leach says:

    Too young to have suffered so much in so little time. Seems to look the other way or being desensitized has become part of our daily lives. Our moral compass is truly pointing in the wrong direction. I pray for God’s mercy, grace, and peace upon Gabriel’s family. And I pray that more people will come forward and be accountable in an age where it appears the world is going to Hell in a handbasket while leadership is out to lunch. Blessings and Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. cheriewhite says:

    My heart breaks for the family of this child. Sadly, instead of curtailing bullying, the rising suicide rate seems to have emboldened the world’s bullies. And as suggested in this article, bullying happens on all levels- school, workplace, family, community, and yes, government and politics. And since bullies are least likely to be held accountable, perhaps the best way to bring down rates of bullying is to teach targets confidence and how to stand against bullies- this will shrink the victim pool. Thank you so much for posting, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Ann Coleman says:

    My heart breaks for that poor child and his family. That should never, ever, have happened. To think that a child would be so upset he could see no way out but to end his life is unbearable…..

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Oh Gabriel…how much I wish I was there to stand up for you, to look after you. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is that under His wings, we find refuge. I pray Gabriel is at peace in Heaven, playing, laughing and hearing Jesus’s voice every day, filling him up with love. So heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Silvia Lia Leigh, MD says:

    Thank you Mary Ann for your words of wisdom and encouragement. This is a reminder that life on earth is not easy. Sin has influenced men to be selfish and wicked. Life itself, is a bully. This oppressor is spiritual and cannot be conquered by human wisdom or strength. Philosophy, science, education or wealth cannot conquer the bully called ‘life’. We need the power or resurrection to defeat and openly disgrace all bullies. That power is found in Christ alone. My husband and I were married for 47 years when he suddenly passed. Richmond was a strong man. He loved me. He protected me from all bullies. After he suddenly went to heaven in 2020, I was left alone, to continue the ministry we have started in Nigeria. One question was on my mind… Who will protect me now? For the first time in my life I felt ‘old’, vulnerable and lonely. I had to learn to be ‘single’ again. It was not an easy road. But the Lord is faithful. His grace is truly sufficient for me. How many times I took encouragement from the parting words of our Lord: “In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]” (John 16:33; AMP).
    Lastly, these are wise words from the same man of God you quoted. “The devil tempts that he may ruin; GOD tests that HE may crown” (St. Ambrose).
    God bless you, Mary Ann!
    Love in Christ alone,
    Lia!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. My heart breaks for Gabriel and the many others who have faced the same or similar. I am crushed for his parents too. I can hardly imagine what it must feel like to lose a child that way.

    Thank-you for your comments on facing, acknowledging, and standing up against bullies. Spot on. I pray and hope the future will start to look brighter again, especially for the children. School grounds can be such a cruel, heartless, and dangerous place when left unchecked. Prayers for the teachers and other adults who are doing what they can as well. We need more like them.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Pingback: When Bullies Win, Everyone Loses – DIGITALNEWSLINK

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