Bully Incident #6: The Principal (1977)

During the years of Bob bullying me, there were many moments where the adults let me down. Looking back, I would chalk most of that up to either a lack of understanding of the issues of bullying or just the “kids being kids” mentality that I think a lot of adults hold about issues of bullying and fighting.

One of the most crushing blows I can remember that made me realize how alone I truly was in my battle with bullies occurred after a rather brutal confrontation when I ended up with a bloody nose after Bob bashed me in the face. It’s hard for me to believe the teachers outside the school did not see that happen, but I have to admit that many of these fights probably only lasted a minute or two. Since I was not fighting back at the time, it was pretty much one punch and out.

Principal’s OfficeAfter this particular session, I believe the school was finally catching on that I was getting bullied. Option #1 for the school was to have me meet with the principal, a person I’m not sure I had ever met before. I vividly remember nervously sitting outside her office. There were children’s books there and I recall picking up a “Curious George” book about him ending up at the hospital. While in the hospital, Curious George finds a canister of Ether. He ends up sucking up the Ether and goes into a dreamlike state. At that time that seemed pretty appealing to me. Maybe that’s why the memory sticks with me. Interestingly enough, years later my son had that book. As I was reading it to him I noticed that the whole Ether section was removed from the book (I’m sure the powers that be decided that it wasn’t good for the kids to see Curious George high from Ether). But I digress. Back to the real story.

So, I was reading this book and then the Principal’s door opened. Out she came. I recall her to be a cherubic woman who seemed to tower over me. She called me into her office. I sat down with my nose stuffed with a tissue still wet from perspiration and tears. I recall the Principal asking me many questions about what happened. About who it was that did this and about why I think this was happening. I don’t ever recall her asking about how I felt and she didn’t even involve my mother, which may have been good or bad.

After several minutes of questioning, she was done. She claimed she would take care of it and that I shouldn’t worry about it. Then she sent me off. I was more petrified than ever. Should I have told her Bob’s name? What is she going to do? What should I do?

The next day it started. Now Bob and his cronies were really mad at me. Now I was just a RAT! No adults were watching closely. For the next several weeks I just played very close to the teachers outside, so they couldn’t come after me. The Principal never called me in again. Now, I was referred to the school psychologist, who I had to start meeting with several times a week.

Nothing was solved by my meeting with the Principal. No follow-up was done on her part. In fact, I got the impression she avoided me like the plague after that meeting. More about the psychologist and those mistakes to come in future stories.

Did anyone else have negative experiences with school administration? Please share via comments here if you would like. I look forward to hearing your side of the story.

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About Alan Eisenberg

Alan Eisenberg is a Certified Life Coach, Bullying Recovery activist and author of "A Ladder In The Dark: My journey from bullying to self-acceptance" and "Crossing the Line". He has been writing and speaking to various audiences about the issue of C-PTSD and Bullying Recovery. Mr. Eisenberg has been featured on several print, radio shows and podcasts on this issue, including NPR and in the Boston Globe. He is currently working toward his Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling.
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  1. I feel that administration at schools often let’s down more than just the students. The children in my classroom at my last teaching position could be extremely disrespectful and when sent to the principal there would be NO consequences for their actions and they would return sometimes feeling more emboldened than when they left. I like the earnesty with which you touch on these issues and would like to point out that I found you on the Blogger’s Choice Awards website, you’ve been nominated for Best Education Blog. I think it would be to many people’s benefit if this blog were easy to find. You might think about adding a “brag badge” to facilitate votes. You can find the code at: http://www.bloggerschoiceawards.com/blogs/show/13891 .

    • hello wow that is very intreasting well that bob guy is wrong to what he is doing because you sound like a woderful girlbut i am a little confused but not because what did the princibal finally do i mean stand up to the bully maybe he will stop and maybe he wont who now if not ingnore him or agree and laugh when he is laughing at you and agree when he calls you names and then he will be counfused and stop and go to someone else or just stop bulling in all so try it if not, PRAY!!!!!!! because God maid you like that because he thinks your beautiful stand up for who you really are

      • I don’t agree with that. “Praying” will not solve anything. I’m not only saying that because I’m Atheist. However, I do agree with standing up to him and agreeing. I’ve done this many time and also had it done to myself when I was a bully on multiple occasions. What I don’t agree with is him hitting on a female. I do my best to try and protect the women of the world and I can say that if I ever run across him, he’ll be getting something from me.

  2. Your story reminds me of Ryan Halligan’s. When Ryan told his father about his being bullied and Mr. Halligan wanted to go to the administration, Ryan’s response was “No dad. It only makes things worse. I’ve seen it happen before.” How sad to think that a child is aware they don’t have the support of the administration. Ryan’s story is partially told below. His website is http://www.RyanPatrickHalligan.org. If you haven’t seen it, I urge all to see it.

  3. heh…i got a bad impression of school administratives. Well i was like 12 at the time and i had really worried about getting a bad grade on my report card. And since i was always worrying, my teeacher thought there was something wrong with me. I remember crying a lot when she sent me to a teacher who dealt with mentally unstable children at the school. When i think back on it, it doesnt seem that bad, but at the time i only remember feeling really bad about myself being mental and crying a lot.

  4. I have felt this, I know how it feels to have teachers scorn you, I’m still living it.
    My mother only buys me one outfit, so I wear the same outfit to school everyday, she calls it my “uniform” but of course everyone else mocks me. Once in 2nd grade a teacher told me to “go out and buy some clothes” so i didn’t get beaten. Now that I’m older teachers also tease me about my uniform. I really need clothes, but can not buy them or convince my mother that I need them, I’ve resorted to stealing them out of the donation boxes I sometime see around for the poor and hiding them in my locker. It is very dishonest of me. Also, I only have a raincoat and no winter coat. One teacher in particular told me that if I didn’t go get a normal coat, he wouldn’t let me come to school anymore. Of course I had to get a coat and have one now, but I took it from the lost and found at a theater so feel little better than a criminal.

  5. Hi. I have just started reading your blog because I am doing some work in schools (UK) on bullying, and why it’s wrong.

    I just wanted to share with you: My headteacher in school was brilliant and I truly admired her (she is the reason I am training to be a teacher). But I regret not reporting it to her. She was someone who would have actually sorted it out (and she did whenever she caught them bullying me). I didn’t want to tell her because my head of year had told me that if I didn’t act so strange I wouldn’t be bullied and that it was all my fault. The headteacher thought me a special child, and I didn’t want her to think negatively of me, so when the head of year said I was being an attention seeker and a tell-tale when I reported it, I decided I didn’t want to report it to the headteacher in case she thought the same.

    But she was smart, and she kept an eye out to catch the bullies. I’ve spoken to her since (we are good friends now) and she didn’t realise it was as bad as it was, but she did know it was happening and that I wasn’t speaking up about it. Eventually, it all died down. I think they realised she was watching. But there was no happy ending.

    She herself was having problems. Our UK schools system is very strange because our headteacher has to answer to the Board of Governors as opposed to a super intendant. Well, they pushed her and pushed her (most people would say she was victim to workplace bullying) until one day she just walked out. She literally packed up her office and went. I wrote letters to her. Even though she was no longer at the school, she was still my saviour and inspiration.

    But of course the bullying suddenly became unbearable. And when I reported it to the new headmaster, he said the most annoying phrase you could ever here ‘there is no bullying in this school.’ I am not sure what the moral of this story is, but i just thought I’d share that there are some decent headteachers and teachers out there, but still the really bad ones can cause problems.

    • There are most certainly great and wonderful teachers and administrators out there. My story only recounts one bad situation in the 1970’s, prior to the current anti-bullying trend. I know it still happens today. Just read the Phoebe Prince stories about what the school administration said there. But certainly there are outstanding mentors in teachers and administrators who know how to help victims of bullying. I am certainly sorry you went through any of this.

  6. The principal at my son’s first grade school never attempted to get to the bottom of the bullying or address it as such. There was very little fact finding to find out all the details of what was going on. All she did was to meet with both children and told them to get along without acknowledging who was at fault. The bullying somewhat subsided, but in fact, the same person is still indirectly taunting my child.

  7. One day while on the playground a boy came up behind me and spiked a football into my back as hard as he could from probably about 2 feet away. It hurt very badly and knocked the wind out of me. When I went to the teacher I was told “quit being a crybaby” and made to write 1000 times “I will not be a crybaby.” That was the day I learned that no one would protect me.

  8. these stories go to show how much it is needed for people to look out for each other…..
    the only question is why people don’t….

  9. My middle school principal thought that the way to deal with the situation was to arrange a meeting with the bullies. We were all put in a conference room to discuss the situation. During the meeting, I was called upon to describe how I was being treated and during the course of the conversation I used the word “crap.” The principal pounced on me verbally and spent the next five minutes screaming at me for using foul language. The meeting was adjourned after the principal told the bullies to leave me alone and I was told to tell him if they gave me any more trouble. I left knowing that nothing had changed, that the principal hated me as much as the bullies did and that no one was on my side (I must say that even my mother treated me as if I deserved what I got). It has been 42 years and I am still dealing with the emotional scars.

  10. Reblogged this on Bullying Stories and commented:

    When I watched the movie “Bully” by Lee Hirsch, I saw this same scenario play out 30 years later. It really upset me that there are school administrators who still don’t understand the ramifications of the action of bullying. Maybe one day a new education program will be created to help train school administration on how to advise and handle bullying situations. ~Alan Eisenberg

  11. Pingback: Bully Incident #6: The Principal (1977) | Bullying Help

  12. Thank you for sharing your past and your journey forward. I have been a quiet reader ever since I happened upon your site many years ago and at a time when I finally realized that I had not escaped the bullies from my childhood. The bullies from my youth had moved on, but had been replaced. Your site has helped me to realize that (1) I was not alone, (2) there is nothing wrong about the person that I am, and (3) I was not ok with the ay I was being treated. As a child I hoped that authority figures would recognize my worth and help to shield me from the hurt I felt. Bully incident #6 brings to memory a time I sat crumpled on the floor in the girls bathroom of the christian school I attended and my teacher explaining to me that I was responsible for reading the note that had been placed on my desk by my then bully “Katie”. (The information in the handwritten note was not dissimilar to information that today’s generation of bullies now post on social media.) I just wouldn’t accept that it was my it was my fault for reading this note. I guess that was upsetting to my teacher for some reason. It wasn’t as though Mr. M was oblivious to the problems going on in the class. This particular incident occurred when I was in sixth grade, my teacher Mr. M was well aware of the issues of bullying at our in our small class that had trickled down to 14 students. He was well aware because he had also been our same teacher for fourth grade, which was the school year that had started with 20 fourth graders and ended with 18. It was no coincidence that students left the school before the end of fourth grade and others left over the couple of years since he had last taught my class. I had pleaded to leave like the others before me, but I was not allowed (I’ve since appreciated that my mom was and still is a bully too). Nevertheless, fourth grade was the first year Mr. M was our teacher, the year Katie arrived, and our once cohesive group of elementary students was changed. Katie was a good friend of mine at first, but I later didn’t like the way she treated some of my other friends. I had stood up to her and told her I did want to be mean to whoever she had chosen to pick on. I don’t recall if I stood up once, twice, or more, but I definitely recall when she turned her rage on me. I have to add that I was not the only person who stood up to her, but I was alone because we were each unable to realize that would have had strength had we joined together. It also didn’t help that the authorities at school probably did more harm than good. The nuns thought it would be helpful if we all prayed for acceptance of one another. Mr. M and other teachers lectured the class about how friendships change and that we each need to understand that some people don’t want to be friends. I just couldn’t understand why the teachers placed responsibility on the shoulders of the students being tormented and not on the root of the problem. They also did not understand the effect their words had upon the the bystanders. They praised Katie for her accomplishments and reminded us others that we should “do unto others…” I spent the reminder of my time at that school in the shadows hoping to not be noticed.
    I mentioned that my childhood bullies had been replaced. Indeed they had been replaced many times over. The last time I was bullied it had been by different characters, during a different time, and in a different state, but a developed storyline that extended for a period of 22 years. I am not going to go into detail about about the abuse I endured, but I will share that there is a happy ending. My husband’s unhealthy choices devastated our family financially. I had not worked outside the home for more than 20 years and job prospects during the recession were already limited people with recent experience. I was afraid and I thought I was alone. Somehow I was held responsible for his unhealthy choices (in the eyes of his mother and sisters). They also used the opportunity of my husband’s vulnerability against him to the point he considered suicide. I will admit that this was not the first incident of their collective abuse, but it was the worst and the last.
    It was the last because I found support from stories of others before me who had the courage to stand up. It was the last be because with the information shared by others I was able to recognize that every person (including me) deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect. It was the last time because I realized it was not ok for his family or anyone to treat me in anyway less than with courtesy and respect.
    The happy ending for my family: we recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband is making healthy choices, our children have seen the strength their parents have to recover and they are healthy as well as happy.
    My happy ending: I graduated from law school (with the help of a scholarship and financial aid). I passed the bar last fall on the first try and I’m employed!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story and your eventual triumph from the bullies of your past and even present. There is still so much to talk about on the issue of bullying and the new studies about the long-term effects show that the damage is real. We all need shoulders to lean on and it is actually a large and vibrant community of people who are working to reduce and help on the bullying issue. I am glad you shared here and that you have been doing better. Stay in touch and know we are a big community.

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