School bullying was a problem when I was a child in the late 1960s, and it is a problem today. While some schools are addressing the issue, it is not being addressed widely enough or strongly enough. My experiences of being bullied in school may or may not be average, but I believe they do show both how and why this problem exists.
Bullying was not a common occurrence in my elementary school. I cannot recall any instances of other children being on the receiving-end of it. My particular situation involved a girl whom I will call "Karen." She was in my class, a little older than myself, and not well-liked by the other kids.
There were two instances in which I was bullied by Karen. The first incident involved Karen approaching me on the playground, grabbing ahold of me, and repeatedly slamming my head into a telephone pole. In the second incident, Karen came up to me in the classroom and started hitting me over the head with a heavy encyclopedia. In both instances, the impact was enough to cause me to lose consciousness.
Thinking about these experiences, there are some points I consider relevant. First, Karen did not have any special dislike of me, nor I of her; I was simply present at the "right" time. Second, both experiences have two common factors with bullying I have heard about since then: teachers who do not provide adequate supervision for students; and teachers and staff who are unwilling to deal with this kind of behavior after it occurs.
In my elementary school, some teachers had the tendency to spend a considerable amount of time "in other places, doing other things," rather than supervising their classes. Not only does unsupervised kids create an ideal atmosphere for bullying, it can lead to other problems as well. (One example of the latter was a first-grade classmate who accidentally started a small fire).
However, the "unwilling to deal with it" part is a large part of the bullying problem-- in the past, and today. There was simply no course of action a bullied child could take that was considered "appropriate." In my own elementary school, and schools my kids attended, it was a no-win situation: if a child were to fight back-- even verbally-- he or she would be "in big trouble;" if a child approached the teacher, he or she would be in trouble for "tattling."
The bullying incidents I experienced did not cause any lasting damage. The only result was I tried to avoid Karen as much as possible. When my own kids were bullied, however, I took a different course of action. Upon finding no one at the schools would take responsibility, I simply took them out of school and schooled them at home. While many parents do not have this option, it should not be the last resort when schools refuse to be responsible for their students' safety.