What Constitutes “Bullying?”

by on November 15, 2010 · 13 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

toilet papering houseHave things really changed THAT much since I was in school?

Judging from the experience my daughter – and more specifically – my 11 year old grandson just had – I would have to say that changes have taken place but not necessarily for the better.

Today’s papers are filled with news accounts of “bullying”. There have been many deaths caused by bullying. In some instances parents have goaded their children to “bully” another student and seem to think it is funny. There was the young lady that thought she had a boyfriend because he told her nice things about herself. And then things turned nasty and she committed suicide. Turned out there was no “boyfriend” involved; rather, it was the mother of another female that “encouraged” the bullying. There is the case of the young male that had his sexual inclinations shown all over the internet. He, too, sadly, ended his own life.

What happened to Zac, my grandson, is not anywhere as grandiose as the above two cases. In fact, one could think that the entire happening was of a comical nature.

It seems that Zac went to a dance. And…he left the dance without saying “goodbye” to the girl he was dancing with. Duh! He’s only 11 years old. But the girl and her friends decided to toilet paper his house. They did, and left a note telling Zac why they papered the house. That was three days ago. My daughter and her husband cleaned up the mess.

Yesterday, my daughter heard voices outside her house at night and thought it was Zac and his father. She went outside to see why they were out there, and found the same girls toilet papering the house again. But…here is the rub…One of the girls mother’s had driven the girls to the house and was waiting while they did the job!!! The girls saw my daughter and they ran to the car that was idling at the curb. Since they were caught red-handed, the mom made the girls turn around and clean up the mess. Funny, she didn’t have them clean up the mess when they were not caught!

So…here is the question: Is it OK to drive pre-teens to a house and sit by while it is being toilet-papered? Sure, she knew where her kids were at night, but this doesn’t seem to me to be the behavior I would expect a mother to model for her daughter.

My daughter – and her sister – another one of my daughter’s, decided to ask their friends about this behavior.

In a way the answers were appalling – the expected and the unexpected.

For example, a woman said that “in Austin if you ask permission of the home owner to T/P a house you will not get in trouble.” Ask permission? Is she kidding? She also said it was an “honor” to have your house toilet papered.”

Someone else asked the question “Is it okay for a parent to drive their kids to someone’s house to vandalize it?” Her answer was the obvious one.

Others said that when they went to slumber parties – is that word even used anymore? – her Dad used to drive the girls in his truck to different houses to T/P. Her Dad had a good arm and could throw those rolls clear across the branches.

Others said that my daughter should have called the police; taken pictures of the girls and their mother for publication in the newspapers, etc. One comment was made that “ . . . if my Mom went with me to T/P a house it wouldn’t be fun!”

There were three comments that I find interesting: One said she would never let her kids T/P a house, but if her house was a “victim” she would think it was funny.”

Another said that “where I grew up, toilet papering was considered vandalism. It wasn’t cute or a friendly thing to do. Some would call it bullying and could be considered a hate crime. What does ‘contributing to the delinquency of a minor’ mean to the mother?”

The final comment that I want to quote was a mother who said:

. . this is no way to set an example and be a role model. This just smacks of parents trying to be their kids friends rather than their parents. When did it become OK to parents to encourage and facilitate their kids juvenile shenanigans? When did parents stop being adults and start acting like 12 year olds again along with their kids? How irresponsible can you be? Would the mom have made them clean it up if they had not been caught?”

And so, fellow OB Rag readers, is my dander up for nothing? Is it okay for parents to take their kids to houses to T/P them? Is this a form of bullying? Can it take an evil turn or should the person that had the house toilet papered be honored.

I’m curious as to what others think. I know where I stand.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar BillRayDrums November 15, 2010 at 10:07 am

This is a major concern for me, as I was bullied unmercifully coming up in school being the only 6 foot tall 8th grader. And I have a son now.

Except back then we could feasibly punch the daylights out of the bully if we had the gumption…without fear of reprisal from local law enforcement.

The nannying of our children and not allowing them to sort things out in a playground manner is clearly not a good thing; those who are the bullies realize the “angles” of all this and work them like a politician working a fundraiser.

I’m not one of those parents that teaches my kid “fighting is wrong”. NOT fighting is WRONG. NOT standing up for oneself is WRONG. Allowing others to run roughshod over you is WRONG. But if my kid is standing up to a bully and getting the upper hand all of a sudden he’s subject to suspension and possibly legal action by the bully’s parents. INSTIGATING a fight for the wrong reasons is wrong. Finishing a fight that was brought to you is the right thing to do. At least that’s what I was taught.

I’m not a violent person at all, but the above rant is precisely why I taught my kid where to hit someone that it will knock them out cold with one shot. Just get it over with and never be hassled again by bullies. The faster the better and hope no one sees you do it. The only people that need to know what happened is him and the bully. And the bully can tell his friends never, ever to mess with the Ray kid.


avatar dave rice November 15, 2010 at 11:37 am

Nice response, Bill.


avatar bcsy November 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm

wow! not sure what part of your post is more ridiculous. I too, was bullied but I was 5’10” 145lbs as a senior in high school. I got in my share of fights as my dad offered the same advice you do. I wish I had been taught to rise above and let it go. As for you teaching your kid to knock somebody out with one punch, we both know that without experience or a cheap shot, those require a bit of luck. I’m calling BS on you, as a matter of fact, I’d be willing to bet you a pile of cash that you couldn’t knock me out with one punch unless I stood perfectly still with my arms at my side and still, I doubt it. Also, these are different times, in your days breaking a guys nose might have bought you street cred, these days the guy with the broken nose jumps you with six of his friends. I feel your pain and understand you don’t want your kid picked on but your attitude is part of the problem. The real shame is when kids with no friends get bullied, they’re already ostracized and now fear for their safety. For the average kid with friends, getting bullied builds character and teaches that the world isn’t fair. There are bullies everywhere, some are employers who harass their female employees, some are cops, some are gang-bangers, etc. You can’t fight them all but you can learn to identify them early, not be a victim, and beat them with your brain.


avatar bcsy November 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm

also bill, if you want to take my bet, let me know, I could use the cash. In the interest of fairness, I’d like to wear a mouthgard so I don’t lose any teeth.


avatar annagrace November 15, 2010 at 10:45 am

What jumped out at me too, Judi, was the mother’s complicity in the prank. I can’t quite wrap my head around that. Calling it bullying or vandalism misses the point from my perspective. It is pathetic, thoughtless and abrogates adult responsibility. And I still can’t warp my head around it….


avatar dave rice November 15, 2010 at 11:45 am

Kids TP a house – would’ve been a harmless prank in my neighborhood 20 years ago, as long as it was a one-time deal. I think it’s kind of going off the deep end to consider it a serious crime, but I could see how as part of repetitious behavior it could be part of a pattern of harassment.

Like Anna says, the real kicker is the mom not only being complacent but actually assisting in the stunt…and I think hitting one house twice for one offense by an occupant seems overkill. I might’ve spent a few bucks on Charmin that I didn’t need as a kid, but I can guarantee you my parents would’ve rightly whooped my ass if they’d caught me, and my friends’ parents (the real victims) would’ve gotten into it with my parents if they’d been caught lending a hand.

I think I’m pretty laid back as a parent, especially still being kinda young (28 with a 7 year-old)…but stories like this make me feel like an old codger – and glad to be one.


avatar judicurry November 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I have to agree with all of you – Dave, Annagrace, Billy Ray, etc. The mothers implication in this is unsettling. In today’s society, it would not have been surprising if, after hearing noises, my daughter took her gun and went outside and fired a shot – or two – with the mistaken notion that she was protecting herself and family. (She doesn’t own a gun!) Self-defense classes are full and people are clamoring for more classes for all age groups, from young children to senior citizens. I told my kids that I buy 2-ply toilet paper. If they are going to toilet paper a house, they better separate the layers ’cause I’d be awfully mad if they used my Charmin!


avatar Jack November 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Hmmm….I haven’t posted for awhile, but this one brings back an almost tragic memory. Most of you know I am ex-cop, like long ago ex-cop. Back in the late 70’s or early 80’s I was on patrol late at night, 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, in the Loma Portal area. I saw a car with no dew on the windows, unlike the other cars in the area. I parked, got out of my patrol car and felt the hood of the un-dewed vehicle…it was warm to the touch. I ran the plate and I called for back up believing perhaps we had a burglar, car thief or worse in the area….

Just then three men in dark clothes walked around the corner. I yelled, “Freeze, Police!” and they of course, did not. Rather they took off in three different directions. In the street lamp, I could make out camouflage clothing, complete with military style boots and utility belts….I drew my firearm and pursued one of the “men.”

He ran between two houses and when he was trapped, he turned and charged me in the darkness. I opted a headlong tackle over deadly force. Good thing, it was a fifteen year old boy who ended up subdued and handcuffed. He and his other two friends were TPing a house up the street. He was twice fortunate…while the object of the TPing was a teen girl, the father was a DDA who was currently prosecuting a local biker gang, and had received death threats.

Do I think TPing is innocent? Sure, but not after 10:00 in the evening, after that, all bets are off.

Peace, Jack


avatar judicurry November 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Thanks for your response, Jack. As I said earlier, the kids were lucky that there was no gun in the household. My son-in-law looks like Paul Bunyon – over 6’6″; weighs about 280; and could have easily hurt one of the girls if he thought they were being threatened. Zac wasn’t happy with the situation but didn’t think that he did anything wrong to warrant the t/ping. He’s growing up too fast and the stupid mother of the girl did not help anything. Innocent? Maybe? But the repercussions could have been deadly.


avatar Zzach on the side November 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

TPing never impressed me from either standpoint, as the decorator or the decorated. Notice I didn’t say “thrilled” – I’ve never played either role (um, no pun). Whatever, it’s just childishness. Yes, the mother’s complicity is far more egregious in the sense of bad parenting than in being an unwelcome decorator.

But completely overlooked is the waste of paper. In days gone by, no one cared. In our present day, we need to be more conscientious about waste of all kinds. It’s not just money we’re wasting, it’s the Earth.


avatar judicurry November 16, 2010 at 1:27 pm

How right you are, Z. I buy 30 rolls of t/p from CostCo whether I need it or not! The expense is staggering, even buying it in bulk. How many trees go to make up those 30 rolls. And…if you t/p a house at night, you can’t “reroll” the t/p because the dew has made it wet! I’m going to start growing corn again.


avatar Ro November 19, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Or start using the Sears & Roebuck catalog again. :)


avatar Scott October 16, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Holy cow! Since when did TPing become “vandalism”?? I think of a car being vandalized as including tire slashing, broken windshields, spray painting, etc., i.e., actual damage. But toilet papering??? Seriously? Wow. And as for the mother’s involvement … IT WAS TOILET PAPERING, PEOPLE!!! The mother wasn’t buying the kids beer or pot. They weren’t egging houses or cars. Again, IT WAS TOILET PAPERING! Man, some people need to get some perspective. That’s just ridiculous.


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