Bullying Incident#20 – The Teacher (1985)


As I believe I explained before, I thought I was done recounting my own childhood bullying stories a while ago. But just when I think I’m done…

This one is less about me and more about something I observed. It really didn’t strike me as bullying until I retold the story to my oldest son and realized while telling it and while we were laughing that this was a bullying event. While it didn’t happen to me, I recall being the bystander and, I guess, not so much joining in, but doing nothing to stop it.

Much like my story some time ago about the schoolyard fight I witnessed and my feeling of satisfaction that it wasn’t me being picked on, this story is one where I know I laughed along and was glad not be the one having something done to them.

By 1985, I was a Junior in High School. Bullying against me was a thing of the past and I enjoyed my High School years immensely. I had wonderful friends and was part of a great group that had a lot of fun over the years. In my Junior year I was in a World History class with a brand new teacher. It was pretty obvious to all of us that he was brand new to teaching and had no experience with a bunch of 16 year olds. Unfortunately, this weakness was exploited by some.

I remember him. He would share personal stories with us. He was a preacher as well as a teacher and had an easy personality. I think that first year for him, he wanted to be liked by his students. But, as a teacher, he showed that and it was a weakness that some of the kids chose to exploit. I have read many stories about the teacher bullying a student, but this is a story about students bullying a teacher. Not a unique phenomenon, I know, but one I hadn’t witnessed before. I have to imagine that many first year new teachers have an experience dealing with kids exploiting their newness to teaching.

There were a few interesting and well-known cut-ups in my class with this teacher. One I remember well is Clarence. I recall that it started with Clarence coming into class and saying “Hi Mr. Groin” (a play on his real name). Certainly not a nice thing to say.

The teacher  made the mistake of letting him say it without consequence, so every day Clarence would walk in and say it. We would all laugh. I recall telling my son this story and he laughed. I laughed too. Then I thought, well, that certainly wasn’t nice.

Of course once that wasn’t questioned, then the real mayhem began. Items being thrown at the teacher’s back when he wrote on the board. Things being put on his chair that made sounds. Kids being loud and rude. The problem grew.

The teacher would simply say, “come on now, let’s stop”, but no one would. No one was called out, punished, or got in trouble, so it continued. Everyone saw the teacher as weak.

The events came to a head one day late in the year. Clarence came in and announced he had written a song about one of the other students in the class. The student he wrote about, Neyo, was a much bigger kid than Clarence. But Clarence continued anyway and the teacher let him.

Clarence stood up and said to the class, “Want to hear my song?”

Of course everyone did. The class was ready and waiting. Even the teacher stopped to listen.

“OK, here it goes”, said Clarence. It wasn’t so much as a song as a poem that Clarence put a sing-song to:

“My name is Neyo
I live in Madrid
I got a lot of B.O.
and I got a big head”

That was it. Now I have to admit at the time, to 16 year olds, that was funny. Reading it back now…well not so much. As usual, you had to be there and know the kids. Well, Neyo. was not amused. Not at all.

He picked up Clarence by his neck and pinned him to the wall, choking him. He started punching him. Now you might think this is now a story of Neyo the bully, but it’s not. Because at this point the teacher had lost all control of the class. One student was punching another, all the other kids were in a frenzy, like a pack of monkeys, hooting and hollering. Finally, when he realized he had lost all control, the teacher yelled at the top of his lungs and stormed out of the room.

…and there we were. No teacher and the room subsided. I think many of us were struck by the fact that our teacher, our leader, was not there and at this point wasn’t coming back. Even Neyo backed down. The teacher didn’t come back for a while. We sat pretty quiet during that time.

When he did come back, it was obvious that he had been very upset, maybe even crying. It seemed pretty sad that we took him to that level. That the adult teacher was reduced to a total loss of control and had to leave. Certainly, this class had bullied him. Call it taking advantage or exploiting a weakness, but to me it’s just another form of bullying. He was the only teacher I recall that was exploited like this during my school days. I’m sure others had been hardened by years of teaching and knew not to let this happen.

I know that I still think about this class and this teacher. I recall his storming out and don’t know if he still teaches today. As an adult, I think that he probably sat that night and questioned why he went to school, sacrificed all those years of education, and got a teaching degree only to be treated like that by a bunch of 16 year olds. Maybe he should have known better. Maybe he should have taken control of the classroom.

But maybe, just maybe we should have respected another human being just a little more. Maybe that’s just something we should be teaching our children earlier.

Click Here To
Read More Personal Stories

4 thoughts on “Bullying Incident#20 – The Teacher (1985)

  1. dear sir i read your story about mr margram the teacher preacher that was bullied by your jr class we were much like that in my jr high years at martin luther king jr high in denver co infact we were so bad the school was featuered as the 5th worse in america by 2020 on abc

  2. THERE HAS BEEN SO MUCH TALK IN THE NEWS ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL BULLYING. TODAYS CHILDREN ARE FACING AN OCCURANCE THAT HAS BECOME A EPIDEMIC AND PLAGUE IN OR SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES. ALTHOUGH IM 46 YEARS OLD NOW, I STILL REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE BULLIED IN HIGH SCHOOL. MY EXPERIENCE LEFT A PAIN IN MY MEMORY THAT IS JUST AS PAINFUL AS WHEN IT OCCURED IN 1982.

    I WAS A YOUNG TEENAGE GIRL IN THE 1 GRADE HERE IN LOS ANGELES CA , RATHER ON THE TOP HEAVY SIDE , MEANING I WAS EXTREAMLY DEVELOPED . I WAS SHY AND REALLY AT 16 YEARS OLD STILL HAD A SOMEWHAT FEAR OF BOYS. ONE DAY THE HIGH SCHOOL QUATERBACK AND CAPTIN OF THE FOOTBALL TEAM APPROACHED ME , I TURNED HIM DOWN AND IN DOING THIS I BRUSED HIS EGO. HE THEN STARTED TO REBEL AGAINST ME , IN WAYS STILL HAUNT ME. HE HAD HIS FRIENDS THROW FOOD AT ME , SODA CANS FULL OF SODA ,SHOUT NASTY AND FILTHY COMMENTS AT ME. THE GIRLS WHO RAN IN THIER CIRCLE , MADE ME FEEL JUST AS BAD . THEY WOULD SHOVE ME AND PULL MY HAIR , CALL ME NAMES AND SUCH.

    THE PROGRESSION ANGER OF THE REJECTION TO THE BALL PLAYER, BECAME SO INTENSE. HE WOULD PUSH AND SHOVE ME , CURSE ME. I WAS ONLY 5 FOOT 1 INCHES AND HE WAS 6 FOOT 2 AND A SENIOR .HE’D BULLY ME ALONG WITH OTHERS THAT HE RAN WITH , AND NO ONE SAID ANYTHING. i was sooo scared to go to school, fear was so heavy in my heart and mind.

    I WAS ASHAMED TO TELL MY PARENTS AT FRIST , LATER I DID.I THOUGHT AT TIMES MAYBE IF ID REACTED TO HIS ADVANCES HE WOULD HAVE NOT TREATED ME LIKE THAT.MAYBE IT WAS MY FAULT. I DREADED GOING TO SCHOOL, AND WOULD CRY EVERY MORNING AND EVENING ABOUT MY MENTAL ABUSE AND PHYSICAL ABUSE. HE’S RIP MY SHIRT OPEN AND EXPOSE MY CHEST. , HOLD MY ARMS DOWN AND SAY LOOK AT THIS BITCH….TO EVERYONE .. MAKING ME A SPECTICALE…… IT WAS FUNNY TO EVERYONE AROUND HIM …….BUT WHY … I TOLD THE SCHOOL AND ALL THEY DID WAS TALK TO HIM .. HE KEPT ON ABUSINBG ME ….. THEY TOOK MY CLAIMS LIGHTLY.. DID NOTHING

    AFTER A YEAR OF THIS ABUSE , HE TOLD ME ON DAY WHEN HE GRABBED ME AS I WALKED TO SCHOOL … BITCH I’VE NEVER TRIED TO TALK TOU SOMEONE AND SHE STILL TURNS ME DOWN, HE SAID I LIKE YOU… BUT YOU KNOW WHAT , WITH THAT HE TOOK HIS FIST AND PUNCHED ME IN MY JAW , I REMEMBER WAKING UP IN THE HOSPITAL…MY JAW BROKEN ..WIRED ….HE HIT ME OUTSIDE THE SCHOOL ON THE STREET IN FRONT OF

    HIS FRIENDS. WHEN I HAD TO FILE A POLICE REPORT ….. AND THE POLICE INVESTIGATED …ALL OF HIS FRIENDS SEEM TO GET AMNESIA AND NO ONE CLAIMED TO KNOW ..HE WAS STOCKING ME AND ABUSING ME.

    HE WAS ARRESTED …..went to jail …… AND MY PARENTS SUED THE SCHOOL and his parents as well…. but you know some of the kids in that high school told me after all that was my fault … if id just taked to him and got with him this would have never happened

    its been 27 years or so …. and i still cry when i think about what happened to me. i went to my high school reunion …… just to see.. and i wanted to for my self let everyone see that he and they did not break me… well i was floored when he walked up to me .. he smiled and i acted like i did’nt know him … i still felt a little fear at being so close to him. he told me how sorry he was at how and what he did to me… but what he did mentally could not ever be erased..

    i often wonderd why i never try to kill myself, or had a neveous breakdown

    i got the last laugh , life for him an many of his friends had not been kind

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s