When Child Abuse Victims Become Bullies

by Yvonne

Note from Darlene: 
Generally, I do not post bullying stories, because bullying does not fall under the realm of child abuse. Some would disagree and argue that child abusers can be and ARE bullies. While I do not necessarily disagree with this assessment, child abuse is defined under the categories of emotional child abuse, physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, and child neglect. For the most part, bullying is considered a child to child behavioural issue.

I have made an exception for posting the following commentary, as it is an excellent example of how bullying can be an effect of child abuse. D., the boy who bullied Yvonne, was a victim of child abuse. The story below further shows how bullying victims are adversely affected when teachers, principals and administrators fail to act when bullying occurs; which some might consider a form of child neglect (failing to meet a child's basic needs: i.e. failing to keep a child safe, lack of supervision—a complete list of the basic needs can be found at Signs of Child Neglect on this site). However, proving child neglect in such cases would be a challenge in a court of law, since public policy does not typically hold teachers, principals and administrators to the same standard of care toward children in school as they do parents and guardians in the home.

Still getting over it - Part 2: 
After my horrible daycare experience around the age of 3 and 4, I was kept at home with my mother until I was five and could go to kindergarten. Although I faced trials among some of the students because I often acted odd and different, things went all right. I was bullied sometimes, but for the most part, I pretty much got along with almost everyone, and the teachers loved me despite my goofy mischief.

All of this changed in second grade.

By the time I reached second grade, I don't know why, but I started acting out more in class to make my friends laugh. Half the trouble I got in was due to goofy behavior or mouthing off. I also cheated off other kids' papers during test time, and I often stole from the other kids. I don't know why I did this. My home life was fine. The teacher would get so mad at me and everyday I was in time out and given a bad note to take home to my parents who would be so disappointed in me.

During the middle of the year, we got a new student. He was my worse nightmare. If you read my part one of this story (see Child Abuse Story From Yvonne) you'll see that this kid was almost the same as the other kid who bullied me at the daycare. He hated me with a passion. Only this kid (we'll call him D.) was even worse.

D. would take out his rage on me by punching, hitting, and scratching me. Most times, he would wait until the teacher wasn't around and wasn't looking and he would lure me off to do his evil deed. Since I had been taught by my parents to always first tell a person in authority whenever someone mistreated me so that they could deal with the problem, I would run to my second-grade teacher and tell on D. Most of the time, she either ignored me completely or accused me of lying. (I did have a reputation for lying.) Sometimes, she would confront him (which would make things worse for me because he would threaten to hurt me even worse if I told) and tell him not to hit me again. But that was it. He was rarely punished for what he did to me, and if I fought back against him, I was the one yelled at and sent to the principal's office. It was always me. Even worse, sometimes, the teacher (we'll call her Ms. M.) would snap at me for being such a "tattle-tale." I understand that I often caused a lot of trouble in her class, which wasn't always on purpose, and I understand she was frustrated because of my behavior, but is that's not justification to allow a student to beat the crap out of another. I'm thinking, well maybe she's right. Maybe I deserved it because I caused so much trouble. After all, nothing was ever done about D., until my mom got fed up (I'd scream in my sleep at night and beg D. not to hurt me) and stormed into the school on my behalf to speak to the principal. When they told her she wasn't there, she sat there for an hour until the principal showed up and spoke to us.

We found out that D. came from a troubled home. He lived with his grandparents who were trying to raise him. His mom was on crack and his dad in prison. My mom is in a leading religious role in our church and the principal had come up with the idea that maybe my mom could counsel troubled kids at our school since we didn't have any counselors. My mom declined, but she did talk to D.'s grandmother, who was very nice. Unfortunately, the next day, D. stormed up to me and told me that me and my mom better stay the hell away from him and his family otherwise he would kill me. I believed him because once he tried to wrap a rope around my neck and strangle me in art class. Of course nothing was ever done about it, even though I told Ms. M. and the art teacher who saw him with the rope.

Sometimes I still wonder why Ms. M. and others never punished D. I'm still trying to get over it. I mean, just when I think I've let it go, it comes back and I get angry and sad and sometimes take my anger out on others.

I really try not to hold things against people because I know I've done my share of bullying against others, but isn't it wrong for an adult to allow a child to hurt another child and not do anything about it just because they think the other child deserves it?

Darlene's comments to this Child Abuse Commentary "When Child Abuse Victims Become Bullies" can be found at Comments below this submission. Depending on system activity, there are sometimes delays in comments going live on my site; but rest assured, they do eventually appear. So if you don't yet see them, I hope you will return later to read what I, and possibly others, have written. I thank you for your patience and understanding.

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Comments for When Child Abuse Victims Become Bullies

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Oct 23, 2008
To ALL my visitors:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

I recognize that Yvonne, the author of the story above, has been adversely affected by both the bullying AND by what she perceives as a lack of consequences imposed on the bully. However, the issue of bullying is very complex, and often the consequences of bullying behaviour are blind to outsiders. When bullying victims, as well as others, don't see a change in the person doing the bullying or don't witness "punishment" for the deed, it is often assumed that "nothing is being done". It is my experience that that is often not the case. Please understand that I'm not saying this IS the case with the story above. There is no way for me to know one way or another.

Furthermore, some would say that bullying DOES indeed cross into the child abuse domain, and should therefore be addressed on this website. But as things relate to this website and what it is I'm trying to achieve with this site, bullying reaches beyond the purpose I've set out here. Yes, I am trained in this area, but my plate is so full dealing with issues directly related to child abuse and its effects, that I cannot possibly also take on the complicated issue of bullying. I hope that Yvonne and my other visitors understand my position on this.

No one deserves to be bullied. But "punishing" bullies by bullying back or mistreating them in some way isn't the answer. Studies repeatedly show such actions serve to increase, rather than decrease bullying behaviour. And turning a blind eye toward bullying is equally ineffective, as it sends the message to the victim that s/he deserved to be bullied. I repeat, this is a very complicated and multifaceted issue that entire websites are dedicated to addressing. My own professional workshops on bullying have always taken at least 4 hours; and could easily have taken 4 days, even longer.

Yvonne, I strongly recommend some form of counselling in order to help you deal with the effects that this bullying has left you with. You said yourself that you've bullied and that you take your anger out on others; that inappropriate behaviour MUST stop. You know better than anyone how bullying feels and the lasting effects it has on your emotional well-being. I appreciate that you've been so honest with your stories. I also say you are old enough to make changes in your life and to take responsibility for your own behaviour. Perhaps your negative experiences with bullying (from both sides of the bullying fence) will lead you in a direction that will bring on changes in the schools, changes that will stop bullying in its tracks. Perhaps THAT is the purpose in all this adversity you are facing.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with my visitors and me, and for your honesty with regard to your own behaviour. That honesty will take you far.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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