We hear a lot today about “bullying” as though it is something new. The fact is that bullying has been around for as long as there have been schools. The truth is that some kids will always bully another child who appears timid or afraid. The old cure for bullying is frowned upon by the experts today, but the practice worked. Most bullies will back down if they are challenged, or if they are subjected to a good smack down by the victim.
The year was 1950, and I had just entered San Augustine, Texas, high school where I was considered lower than a snake’s belly by the upperclassmen. There was an initiation that all freshmen had to endure, an informal one, but an initiation nonetheless. I had been warned by older friends that if one “took his medicine” willingly and without complaint, then he was generally accepted into the brotherhood.
Lunchtime seemed to be a good time to kidnap some low-down freshman boy and take him off campus. So, here I was, kidnapped from off the high school campus by several senior boys and left half naked in the woods. They took off my shirt, shoes, and belt and left me alone to figure out a way to get back to school. However, there was one thing the kidnappers, or should I say bullies, did not plan on – they left me about a hundred yards from my home.
So, I limped home, barefoot, to find some replacement clothes. Unexpectedly, my parents had come home for lunch, so I had to explain to them what had happened to me. I had been kidnapped, bullied, and left alone in the woods, or the initiation into high school. I hoped that my dad would just let the matter drop and not make a big deal out of it.
My father did not appreciate his son being treated in this manner, and he put me in his car and drove down to the high school. He complained to the principal about my being mistreated and left alone in the woods. The principal promised to talk to these upperclassmen and take appropriate action.
Now, put yourself in my position. That was really going to make those older guys mad, and guess who they were going to take out their frustrations on? Right, me. And that is exactly what happened. The remainder of my freshman year was pure torture as these older boys would taunt me, call me names, and threaten me with severe bodily harm. Of course, they never actually harmed me, but the idea that they might was a constant fear. I think that we call that “terrorism” today.
The next school year was much better, as all these older boys had graduated and were no longer around. And added to that, I was no longer a “snake’s belly” freshman, but a sophomore, which, in the pecking order, allowed me to inflict some bullying of my own on the new freshmen. Nothing bad, you understand, but enough for them to realize their place in the order.
My father, in his effort to protect his son had really made things much worse for me that school year. But, I never said anything to him about it, because I understood why he did it.
My “kidnapping” was in reality an act of bullying by much older boys which, in the big picture, did not amount to a hill of beans. Perhaps bullying today is much worse now that the kids have the social media as a weapon to use. Except for a very few severe cases, I think our modern progressive teachers and political leaders have over-reacted to an age-old form of initiation into the herd. As long as there are kids and schools there will be bullying, which can usually be settled by the kids themselves if they are left alone. I feel I did not suffer any permanent mental damage from my episode. You just have to roll with the flow.
BY: NEAL MURPHY
107 HEMLOCK STREET
P.O. BOX 511
SAN AUGUSTINE, TEXAS 75972