What seems now like a half a lifetime ago, I wrote a post called “A Different Type of Bullying.” If you haven’t read it, the post was about the bullying of people who may seem younger or weaker on those who are older or more stronger. I explained that the reason this type of bullying occurs is because the bully knows that if the victim were to retaliate, it would be the victim who gets into trouble. The popular comment of “You’re older,” is used to quash any explanation of retaliation by the victim. However, if the victim tries to address the bullying through more appropriate means, they are often rebuffed with the same comment or “He’s just a little kid” or similar comment. This results in the victim feeling powerless because whatever they do, it is wrong on account of the sizes and ages of bully and victim. The knock on effect is devastating to the victims’ self esteem.
As Mark finds out in “He Was Weird,” the gap between bully and victim doesn’t have to be great. While Mark is a seventh grader, he gets bullied by a sixth grader named Nick Higbee. It starts when Nick makes threats on Mark when he perceives Mark to be in his way. Egged on by friends, Nick grabs his shirt in a threatening manner. However, Mark defends himself by using a self defense move that involves grabbing the hair. Unfortunately, any advantage is taken away as one of the friends use the hair pull as an excuse to intervene. Even though Mark knows he acted in the correct manner and that anyone else would have done the same, he is the one who comes out looking the worse.
Taking strength from the incident, Nick uses it to bully Mark. While the bullying is relatively, low level, mainly shoving and tripping as he goes past, the fact that he is being picked on by a sixth grader makes him the target of more teasing and ridicule. It makes him feel completely powerless and any self esteem he does have is shattered.
When Mark’s big day comes, it’s a no-brainer that Nick is one of his intended targets. While he is blasting away in the playground, he sees Nick through the crowd fleeing with his friends and sends some bullets in that direction. However, he is never sure whether or not he hits him.
Later in the book, we learn Nick does survive because he makes a big act of bravado about it when questioned about the shooting by the FBI. The two agents, both unimpressed by this display, are quick to inform Nick that the bullets that killed his friend would have definitely found their mark with him had not his friend been in the way. That’s enough to shut him up, at least for the moment.
Creative license once again ensues with the real life bully whom Nick Higbee is based on, Mark Hicks. While the first confrontation did happen, it didn’t get physical. He never grabbed my shirt and I never executed any self defense moves. Saying that, he did take pleasure from the incident to push me and even spit at me when the opportunity arose. Plus, he was egged on by his friends. The fact I seemingly allowed myself to be bullied by someone a grade below me was devastating to my self esteem. But by that time, with all of the bullying that I was suffering, I felt powerless to do anything and if I did, I would be the one in the wrong. As for Mark Hicks, should he remember his transgressions against me, the offer of forgiveness will always be there.
Next post: One Off Bullies