Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-bully the victim March 19, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 2:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Everyone thinks they’ve been bullied.

Everyone has had someone say something mean

been called a rude name

felt misunderstood

felt completely unseen

felt left out of the game.

Growing up means learning that not everyone thinks you’re great.

Growing up means knowing you’ll get called out when you’re weird.

Social correction.

Don’t be so intense, trying to fit everyone inside your fence

If they’re just being nice, don’t make them want to slice

their wrists rather than interact with you

Social rejection

is a natural reaction to those things you do.

Social conversation

starts out small, don’t demand their all

Everyone has met the kid that’s on the bullhorn

the irritating thorn who blames everyone for the scorn

he invites himself.  If you want deep contact

don’t start combat if interaction contracts.

If you want a friend

Be a friend.

The end.



A few years ago, I was overheard a conversation between a Special Education teacher and a new student on the autism spectrum who was visiting the high school in preparation for attending the following year.  She explained to him that in high school, if he was doing something inappropriate as a grade 8 student with poor social skills, a grade 12 would call him on it, and that wasn’t bullying, that was social correction.  It was probably the most effective way for him to realize his own responsibility for the irritations of others; social correction was an enlightening concept for him.   There’s a line here.  Some behaviour is not appropriate!  It’s important that bullies receive just as much social correction as ‘victims’ do.  “We don’t treat each other like that” goes both ways.   To other students, the student in question was a bully, in the way he monopolized the class room with irrelevant questions or self-indulgent narratives.  He impacted them negatively, and they retained the right to tell him he needed to be quiet.  He responded better to students than teachers giving the same message.  What do you think?  Is there such a thing as ‘social correction’ or is any negative feedback just a form of ‘bullying?’


36 Responses to “poem-bully the victim”

  1. doncarroll Says:

    That was very insightful and it can go both ways. I’ve seen enough on my watch. Have a great evening Shawn.

  2. “Social correction” until recently has existed in socially accepted norms of behaviour. Not that “socially accepted” always means the right thing; in the recent past that has meant stigmatizing blacks or gay people. But with the advent of “social” media and the capacity to post anonymously or under an avatar online, even useful social norms are breaking down. We must make the link between this online behaviour and our face-to-face interactions. I think schools are going to have to start including courses on the acceptable uses of social media as part of social studies courses, making the link between “small” behaviours we might think of as the right to free expression and the impact on the larger social picture. i.e. Help students appreciate that just because they can do something anonymously doesn’t mean it’s right—basic integrity, in other words. It’s sad to think that something as basic as integrity might need to be taught in the 21st century, but there it is.

    • Why can’t parents teach this? lol They keep finding more things for the schools to teach, while giving less and less funding to do so. It’s frustrating. (I say this laughing. Perhaps we are more qualified to have this conversation than many parents, but we really need financial backing to do all we need to do, and my district faces 2 more years of huge cutbacks. It’s awful!)

  3. joshuadragon Says:

    Isn’t it so, that the “great society” also tends to correct each and every individuals who tries to be as unique as he/she supposed to be?

    Maybe schools are a microcosmos of our adult life, a mirror we like avoiding…

    Thank you for sharing it.

    Have a Nice and Blessed Night!

    • Absolutely.
      I was reading something about how people get bullied for being creative. Personally, I was bullied in high school for being confident. I didn’t have interest in the ‘cool things’ and those kids really hated not having power because of it.
      It reminds me of the Japanese proverb, “The nail that sticks up will be hammered down.”

  4. I think social correction can be appropriate if given in a kind, gentle, considerate objective manner. One cannot be too harsh but at the same time you must get the point across that certain behaviors are inappropriate. My brother Stephen has Autism and yes sometimes I do have to correct him but I use the redirect method. I try to explain why he cannot do something. Everyone can and must be trained in order to operate in the greater society. There is nothing wrong with being different or eccentric but one’s ways of being cannot trump other people’s comfort levels in specific situations. Get the person away from the situation and have a brief discussion at first then later on if needed a longer more involved talk. That’s just my two cents.

  5. lisajsmi Says:

    I was a little confused by the story perhaps because I read it too quickly. I will try to address this as a Special Ed. teacher who is not taking a lot of time to think before answering.

    Bullying requires someone to have power over another by their actions or words.

    I have a limited education when it comes to autism.

    A fellow teacher, who teaches autistic students, told me that a child with autism does not empathize with others. They are not capable. This is not to say that they don’t have feelings. I don’t know if it is bullying for other students to correct each other but it must be done in a kind and loving way. If not, the student with autism (depending where he is on the spectrum and where he is with his social skills training) may act out even more because the other students aren’t “getting him” and he could be come very frustrated.

    I only have one autistic student this year in my resource room because she is pretty high functioning. She is often hurt by her friends because she says and does things that she doesn’t see as inappropriate. She sees it as stating her opinion or saying how she feels. She has come a long long way but is very often misunderstood even by the closest of friends.

    In many ways it has helped her to grow. That being said…when a student she doesn’t know makes a comment about her behavior or words, she feels bullied. She tells me that they were mean to her.

    It is a very delicate balance and I do not think that most of our students are prepared or qualified to know how to “correct” a student with autism, especially because it is such a broad spectrum. A student who is higher up on the spectrum and has who has pretty good social skills may still be seen as rude, unkind, weird or even as a bully themselves.

    I admire the efforts to have students monitor themselves but if not carefully monitored by a knowledgeable adult it can be devastating. There may even be some students who see this as a way to have power over others…and that would be bullying.

    I hope this helps.

    • I suspect your student would benefit from the concept that people will respond negatively to behaviours that they don’t like. Example, a student lives in the same clothes for a week. Sleeps in them, comes to school in them. Doesn’t want to shower. Other kids are going to say, “Man, you STINK!!” when they’re beside him in line. Are they bullying? Or are they letting that kid know his actions are socially unacceptable? I have been a part-time special needs teacher, and I had to tell a kid he needed to have a shower and change his clothes. (This a month after the school had to take him to buy new shoes, because he wore his non-stop and developed nasty fungal issues so his feet were rotting). Wouldn’t it be nice if the parents looked after this? But kids bully the parents, refuse to listen, and the parents give in for peace at home, despite the stink. Poverty might mean buying new shoes is a problem. Nothing is clear-cut.

      Social correction is not about kids being prepared or qualified, it means reflecting the social norms. “Man, you STINK!” might be rude, but if the kid is stinking so no one can stand to be around him, someone has to say something! If they aren’t going to listen to parents or teachers, then the logical consequence is going to be kids letting them know.

      The other component of this is, of course, that the stinky child above would have NO problem telling anyone else he thought THEY stunk!

      • lisajsmi Says:

        I try to teach my students some discretion. I can only monitor this when they are in my classroom but I still try. Kids can be hurtful but they can also be the ones to make the most positive impact on another student. Thank you for your thoughtful posts. I enjoy reading them when I can make the time. Life has been verrrrrrrry busy.

      • I like “Be kind” as a general mantra.

  6. narble Says:

    Depends on the circumstance and tone of the “correction.” Is it constructive?

    • One person’s constructive is another person’s bullying.
      In allegation of sexual harassment the legal definition is that one ‘feels harassed’ whether the intention was there or not. Bullying is that way as well. What you’re fine with one day, you’re not the next. What is okay from one person, isn’t from someone else.

      All these subtleties require a profound understanding and awareness of social cues. Many kids (and adults!) do not accurately read social cues. It can lead to trouble!

      • narble Says:

        Yes. The measure of it begins in the heart of the “correcter.” If it is misconstrued and taken as bullying, who’s at fault? Does that mean good-hearted compassionate, empathetic people who want to socially correct behavior should just stay silent? Tough question.

      • Precisely. Everything is risky.

  7. cpsingleton42 Says:

    Negative feedback by its own label is incorrect. Some children will latch on to it has a way of empowerment and then it is up to the teacher and the parents to set them quietly straight.
    In a positive way.
    So, yes, you are right, it is a form of bullying that needs positively correcting.
    My son -who is now 24- and I were chatting the other month and he pointed out something I had said when he was around eight.
    I don’t remember saying it, but am glad he took it positively.
    He had arrived home from school and had apparently told me how he had had been accepted into the school classroom hierarchy by upsetting another boy.
    I apparently asked him to explore he would feel if he was the upset child.
    He then went back to school, apologised to the boy and never bullied again.
    As I say, I don’t recall this, but I’m glad my son has and had the intelligence to realise where his path was leading.

  8. Riddhi Mehta Says:

    Beautiful poem… Novel thoughts!

  9. “The nail that sticks up will be hammered down.” I was a nail that responded to being hammered by bending, and twisting. I returned the favour of being accepted in High School, by correcting most of my “weird” behaviour, without being straightened out forcefully, and hammered further.

    • and I never did respond. With the maturity that comes in gr. 10 most kids just let live, and there were enough of us with similar interests that friends were plenty in the nerd camp, but I never stopped doing things the way I wanted to do them, whether or not it made sense to people around me. 🙂 (This drives my children and husband crazy).

  10. I absolutely believe in social correction. If done in a respectful way, it’s called constructive criticism. I too work with the special needs population. I’m a speech language pathologist. Social language has to be taught sometimes because some people just don’t pick up on it naturally. I had one student that was in my face all the time and I had to constantly work with him on allowing me my personal space. Autistic kids don’t understand sarcasm, idioms and non literal language- which is another barrier for them socially. Great topic. Great discussion.

  11. lucywilliamspoetry Says:

    I think some people are too quick to say that they are bullied. Everyone has nasty things said to them but actual bullying is much more intense than that, trust me I know! That odd thing that is said to you probably does come under the “social correction” bracket but being told you are being told you can’t do anything and are no good as a person, amongst other things, all day, everyday for five years is probably a little extreme for “social correction”.

    • Yes, Lucy, I think you’re onto something there. And if kids are so hung up on being victimized that they don’t grow discernment regarding appropriate behaviours, we’re not doing them any favours.

      Look at writers. If they research well, send manuscripts to appropriate places, they will generally have good responses, if their work is good enough. I read from editors about hate mail they get from rejected writers, damning them for not recognizing brilliance. It’s so astonishing. How did these people not learn so separate personality from product? How did they not learn to accept constructive criticism?

  12. LVital7019 Says:

    I love your take on this issue and the lesson you took from the interaction you overheard. So true! It’s a two-way street!

  13. hunterhawke Says:


  14. Excellent post! I tried to finish reading this a few days ago on the bus but it bumped too much:) Part of growing up is realizing not everyone likes us and that is totally okay!

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