How come kids can be so cruel

What is the current theory? I just happen to recall a girl I used to know in elementary school. She had a flat face and of course we would call her flat face.

We’d say Hey Flatty, how you doin’ flat face. I feel so bad today, it is like how could we have been so mean to that poor girl.

What makes kids so insensitive?

I think that kids just don’t know enough. You know, they haven’t really experienced pain too much, and they don’t really know that others can experience that pain. With emotional pain, it’s even more abstract and thus harder to understand like that. So I don’t think it’s cruelty, it’s just that they see the humour and not pain.

It’s really a kind of chain reaction from what I remember of Jr High School, which was where most of the cruelty went on. It had kind of tapered off by high school. The unpopular kids were just ignored during those four years.

What I mean by chain reaction is that the most popular kids tended to make fun of those a little less popular than them. The picked-on kids felt bad, so they made fun of those even less popular to feel better about themselves.

I was about one or two rungs from the bottom. The kids on the very bottom (usually kids who were mentally a bit “slow”) have nobody to pick on and they either suffer silently or come to school with submachine guns.

Personally I’d have elaborate fantasies about constructing a trapdoor in the hallway and setting up metal spikes on the floor under, so when the popular kids who picked on me walked by, I’d pull the trapdoor and they’d fall to their deathes. Of course I never seriously considered any violence, because I really, really wanted them to like me for some reason, even though they belittled me.

The more I think about the behavior of kids that age, the more bizarre and otherwordly it seems. I was not the same person then that I am now. Not even CLOSE.

When you were a kid you lived in a world of I.
And all of your friends more or less lived in that same world. In that world with no money, no power and no influence it’s almost an automatic response to try to build yourself up by tearing others down.
Part of growing up is realizing that you are the sum of your own parts, not the shortfalls of others.
Some never make that leap.

Yeah, there were a couple kids that were subjected to a horrendous amount of abuse. One time my 7th grade teacher sent an abused kid to the principal’s office under the ruse of delivering some papers. Then he turned to us and just laid into us. He told us we should be ASHAMED of ourselves! We had the audacity to call ourselves Christians and then allowed this poor kid to eat lunch by himself everyday. “How miserable must it be to come to school everyday and not have any friends! What is WRONG with you people? Have you listened to NOTHING I’ve said all year. Is this what JESUS would do? If Jim EVER eats by himself again, you will all receive F’s in religion!”

Gulp! Needless to say, Jim never ate alone again. I just hope no one ever told him why…

Do not hold the popular delusion of some kind of fundamental natural goodness of human beings. We are born very aggressive nasty predators and all that is good and civilized about humanity is learned. Empathy for others does not come naturally and is non-existant in a substantial portion of society. I am not religious but that is one thing Christianity does very well - teaches humans to care for others, even strangers. This was, and still is, a revolutionary concept for people.

There is a famous example of a thug in New York City a few years ago who accidently shot a little girl while settling a drug feud. When asked if he felt anything for the little girl he killed he replied “Why? I don’t know her.”

I don’t agree that we are inherently shitty to each other. But I do agree that during the growing process, kids can be little Nazi bastards. I was one of them. Turned out the fat kid we picked on is a good friend of my now sister-in-law. I apologized for my hideous behavior when I was 11 or 12, and she accepted graciously. If you ever have the opportunity to make amends, I’d recommend it. I felt way better.

Hey Mark, why not ask yourself that question? I bet you have the answer.

I’d like to think that kids don’t know better.

But then I got hit twice by some dude 51 years old. sigh.

maybe we should ask someone who never outgrew it…Mr.Serlin??

I was an overweight nerd (still am, actually) who got picked on very much in school (that part, thankfully, is over).

Once, during high school, when one of the bullies was about to pounce on me, I asked him please don’t. And I was shocked to find that instead of ignoring me, we actually had a semi-intelligent conversation on why he should or should not pick on me. I told him various things along the lines of “Because it hurts, and you would want to get hurt, right?” And he responded with variations of “Yeah, but I’m not the one who is getting hurt here!” And we went back and forth for several minutes. I got absolutely nowhere with the guy. I really think he was unable to see the connection that hurting anyone is wrong. It was really weird.

(If you’re curious how the incident ended: I asked why he wants to hurt me, and he said that he wants me to stop going out with his girlfriend. The fact is that I did not know who his girlfriend was, let alone date her, but he wouldn’t believe that. So I convinced him that the his girlfriend would be upset if I got beaten up, so he should spare me for her sake, and in return I’d promise never to go out with her again. I couldn’t believe it when he agreed.)

Bottom line: Never underestimate the cruelty of the in-kids against the nerds. Nothing can excuse what the Columbine kids did, but I understand their desire too well.

I have been waiting for this column for SOOOO long…

I believe it works like this: kids are animals, learning traits from their parents. The child with the parents that are prejudiced against, let’s say, Poles, are going to develope this prejudice as well.

During school, a hierarchy(or type of food chain you might put it) develops in which the ‘weaker’ kids (unpopular, underdeveloped, of different backgronds, independent, etc) are subject to attacks from those ‘stronger’. Because the teachers do not permit physical violence, verbal results result.

Soon, the segregated kids experience pain. They mature faster, learning compassion much more quickly than the ones that have not experienced that pain. They become independent individuals, or they revert to total conformity.

When 11th or 12th grade rolls around, the ‘weak’ are strong, moved on, while the ‘strong’ are still weak, depending on their numbers, and their insults, to be strong. If an independent stands up to them, they have no choice but to leave, or have their ‘power’ taken away due to the ex-victims’ refusal to give in. Thus, the entire system flip-flops. In response, the now-weak either become crueler, or they regard the now-stronger as ‘weird’ or ‘creepy’, as they will refuse to admit defeat.

An EXCELLENT example of this genre is the ‘jocks’. I witness, on a daily basis, infinitly more ‘jocks’ get away with verbal abuse than the ‘independants’. The reason why?
Number 1- Tey are permitted to get away with it.
Number 2-They cannot attack otherwise, without losing power.
Number 3-If they lose power, they lose ‘respect’ from their peers, making THEM an independant, and that cannot be as they aren’t mature enough to handle it.

I have experience this chain of events, I believe it was worthwhile. I am strong, they are weak.

I believe my point is made.


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That’s exactly right - it’s a power struggle. I was never a nerd or ugly, but my father was an officer in the U.S. Army so I moved pretty much every three years. That made me the “new” kid in school all the time. At every school I would be tested by the popular fools - always ended in a fight. It helped make me strong.

I disagree with GirlFace - I think people ARE inherently mean, selfish, and petty. It’s hard work to rise above our human nature

I’m not at all surprised by the recent shootings. However, random shootings are pointless, without clear message. I just wish some of these guys would put some REAL effort into their endeavors!

Hell is Other People.

Well, speaking as one who was picked on pretty regularly from 3rd grade up until junior year, I would also agree that most kids are not “born nice”. I wouldn’t say that they are born mean, but there is definately an insensitivity that starts out when kids are young (Teasing other kids because of something), that can turn into “Meanness” (Purposely singling out someone to pick on and be cruel to).

Alot of it has to do with peer pressure. I had an experience where this one kid in 9th grade gym just decided to pick on me for no reason other than he had been told I was a nerd. Everything I had been taught about standing up for myself and “picking back” by my parents never really worked. What really happened was that the guy just didn’t know me and was told by some other jerk that I was worth picking on. Well, after about 32 months straight of this BS, I ran into him before a High School Concert we were in (he was in Band, I was in Orchestra). Apparently he didn’t know I even played an instrument and when he found out we had that interest in common, he stopped the harrasment… AND even apologized to me. I guess he decided that his friends were wrong and that I wasn’t such a bad guy after all.

I could go on about other incidents that didn’t turn out so well, but you all get the picture. As for growing out of it, there were some that never really matured through the 12th grade, although at the 10 yr class reunion, everyone was pretty cool.

“If God had meant for man to eat waffles,
he would have given him lips like snowshoes”
-Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

Sorry, I meant “2 months straight”. Keyboard was picking on me again! :^)

“If God had meant for man to eat waffles,
he would have given him lips like snowshoes”
-Rev. Billy C. Wirtz

I was ‘picked on’ for being the youngest in my class, as well as being Polish in background. The vast majority of my school’s background is Italian. Needless to say, I was the brunt of the ‘populars’ jokes.

There were about 4 kids who would bother me everyday. By fourth grade, I had thoroughly beat up all of them. Their childish antics stopped for a few days, but it was returned, diluted.

Then in 9th grade, they started again. I ignored them, until they threw a pair of broken scissors at me. By this point, I had learned a bit of self-defense, using the open hand style of Karate which I learned through books and through my friend. Needless to say, after blocking every attack they could muster, and punching once, resulting in a concussion, they never bothered me again. Of course, now I am referred to as ‘karate kid’ and ‘trenchcoat mafia’, but that’s ok. Fear is a good thing, if used and not abused…


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I hate it when the teachers say, “Settle it among yourselves.” For goodness sakes, if we had the skills we wouldn’t be here bothering your now. Settle it among yourselves means the biggest kid wins.

Why don’t the schools teach something about fighting fairly and give guidlines as needed? Something like “Fight Nice” 101.

In third grade this girl somehow became the moderator or whatever. Disputes were taken to her and she resolved. She was fair, unbiased, and not a priss; however this came about it made third grade one of my favorites. I hope she’s in the UN now.

no c&p

I wouldn’t worry about how people are in high school, because once one graduates, they may never see those cruel jerks ever again. At least that’s what I’m hoping…

I used to think that once I got out of elementary school, people would stop teasing me for being quiet, a bookworm, unusual, etc…but it hasn’t gone away, even though now as a junior I have more friends and I’m well-liked by people of various social standings. The popular kids are nice to me at times, but sometimes I wonder if they’re just shitting me or genuinely being nice. Anybody ever wonder the same thing?


I wonder what the king is doing tonight?


A short article on the home videos made by the Columbine shooters.,3266,35870,00.html

A much, much longer article that re-prints all the info in the latest issue of Time. (It could take more than an hour to read everything there.)


It really is a strange dynamic, the ‘bully vs. bullied’. I got the fuzzy end of that lollipop from about 2nd grade until my Jr. year of HS. The bully spectrum seems to run from the ‘big-dumb’ who loved to physically harm and intimidate the weak, to the ‘cool’, who loved to point out how uncool the ‘different’ kids were (both methods could be equally devastating).

It got worse for me when I entered HS. I was 5’ 2", 106 lbs and didn’t know anyone. My first week, one of the ‘cool’ guys threw a penny at me in class. His aim was poor and he ended up hitting the big-dumb sitting two rows over. After class, the big-dumb was waiting at the top of the stairs. He laid me flat with one punch to the stomache and I was open game from then on.

By my Jr. year, I had grown to 6’ 1" and about 150 lbs. I wasn’t ‘in’ with any of the cliques, but somehow managed to move quietly among most of them. The underclassmen didn’t know my history and I was actually pretty popular with many of them. So, I was happy as a clam in the more acedemic classes, but gym and shop were still hellish, until about half way through that year.

By then, there was only one big-dumb left who hadn’t beaten me down. I noticed that I was getting a lot of sideways glances and it was apparent that the final big-dumb was being goaded into taking his turn. One of the big-dumbs stood watch at the door and ‘final’ big-dumb walked up to the 8’ table I was sitting at. By the time he shoved the table into me, my adrenaline was boiling. I stood up and went at him with 10 years worth of rage and probably 10 times more fighting experience than he had. He managed to flat-hand me hard over the right ear, perforating the eardrum (it still bothers me when I fly, or dive) but I managed to stay on my feet and delivered a pummelling that left a roomfull of big-dumb jaws hanging. There were big-dumbs in the room who were still big enough to put me back down, but they saw pretty clearly that it wouldn’t be the painless ego boost that they had enjoyed in the past.

As I said, it’s a strange dynamic. From that day, the general response from the big-dumbs as a group was a sort of slap-on-the-back “No hard feelings” acceptance. Even the guy I unloaded on wrote something positive in my yearbook. In retrospect, I would have preferred to go without that fight and just go with the ‘living well’ revenge that I enjoy today.

This summer is my 15 year reunion (the first for my class). It will be interesting to see everyone, but I’d rather go to the class of '87 reunion, since that’s the year most of my friends graduated… Kind of sad really.

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I don’t mean to minimize the sheer bastardliness of many kids, but a secondary factor is how the “bullied” change over time. What I mean is, adults can be cruel, too, but as one ages they have less of an impact. The sort of taunting that would give me nightmares in middle school would, and does, make me laugh now, if I even notice it. Furthermore, as a child you can’t help but be self-centered, and that blows everything out of proportion. One person makes a remark abut your hips, and you assume that that means that EVERYBODY is thinking and making judgements about your weight ALL THE TIME. As you age you realize this is not true–everybody is too busy thinking about thier own hips to worry about yours.

I repeat, I am not trying to minimize the horrors some kids inflict on others. I’m just pointing out that even if the jerks never get better (and many of the bastards don’t) their ability to effect you does go down.