Tag Archives: Hallway

Freaky Friday: Bully Brains

by Richard

This is actually kind of scary. We know that being bullied makes for some big-time backlash for the young dudes who get bullied. What we didn’t know until recently is that being bullied also makes some physical changes in the brains of those kids who get bullied.

Yeah, that’s right. Young dudes who get bullied actually suffer permanent changes to the structure of their brains because of the bullying.

If we thought there was a reason to crack down on bullying in schools before, brother, you’d better believe there’s more of a reason now.

They lurk in hallways, bathrooms, around the next blind corner. But for the children they have routinely teased or tormented, bullies effectively live in the victims’ brains as well — and not just as a terrifying memory.

Preliminary evidence shows that bullying can produce signs of stress, cognitive deficits and mental-health problems.

Now University of Ottawa psychologist Tracy Vaillancourt and her colleagues at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario plan to scan the brains of teens who have been regularly humiliated and ostracized by their peers to look for structural differences compared with other children.

“We know there is a functional difference. We know their brains are acting differently, but we don’t know if it is structural as well,”said Vaillancourt, an expert in the biology of bullying.

According to Vaillancourt, she finds changes to the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for memory.

Bullied young dudes have already been found to score lower on tests that measure verbal memory and executive function, a set of skills needed to focus on a task and get the job done. Mental-health problems, such as depression, are also more common.

Come on, dudes. This is ridiculous. We need to have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying in schools that’s actually enforced all the time, every time.  Kids need to feel safe when they’re at school, trying to learn.

I mean, come on. How can you learn if you’re constantly looking over your shoulder, fearing the next push or the next time someone starts name calling?

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Snake In The Grass

by Richard

Sometimes it really doesn’t pay to try and teach your little dudes a lesson about life. I tried and now I feel like a bad man. A very, very bad man. To understand that, though, I think I need to give you a little background.

Here’s the deal: The other day, I was um. . . exercising (?) (certainly not out jogging on my bad knees, because, FSM knows what my orthopedist would do to me if he ever thought I was doing that) with my oldest little dude, Sarcasmo. He’s going to be running a 5k in early October and — Good grief! I just realized it’s going to be this Sunday. Darn. We’d better get He’s going to need to be ready for this. — he was in training. I was going with him (again, not saying I was training)

We were sweating along the road sort of near our house when an older woman in a nightdress came running out of a house on our right, screaming.

“Mr. White Shirt. Mr. White Shirt. You in the white shirt! Help me!”

I looked down. Sure enough. I was wearing a white shirt. I was tempted to just keep going, but I knew that wouldn’t be right. And, stopping to help might not only be the right thing to do, but it might help Sarcasmo learn the value of kindness and a willingness to help others.

I slowed down and started walking over to her porch. She was really panicked. Now I was glad I stopped, fearing there was something medical going on and she really needed help. Visions of us being in the paper for saving some stranger danced in my head, accolades and awards. You know, the usual.

“Oh, thank you, thank you,” she panted. “You’ve got to help me, there’s a snake in my house.”

My ego completely deflated. Still, helping others in need is the right thing to do, so I told Sarcasmo to wait outside and I went in. When I did, I saw the woman’s mother, easily 168, also in a nightdress and carrying a broom. She was staring in horror at the hallway closet door. The woman picked up a hoe (no, not that kind of ho. A garden hoe.) and held it in front of her as she inched inside. They told me they thought the snake had gone into the closet.

As I walked closer, I saw that the snake had, instead, found refuge in the hallway itself, between the wall and the hall table. I pointed this out to the ladies. Bad move. The woman who’d called me actually levitated into the other room and attached herself to the ceiling*. The woman’s mother backed quickly down the hall. I figured this would be easy. After all, it was only a little rat snake. No actual harm to anyone.

I took the broom and began sweeping the snake toward the front door. I quickly succeeded in getting it out on the porch. I closed the door and bent down to pick it up so I could move it across the street. That was when the woman and her mother crowded toward the door and, in panic-filled voices, demanded that I kill the snake.

“I won’t let you leave until I know it’s dead,” the woman said.

I tried to explain that I could easily move the snake across the street and they’d never see it again.

“Oh, no,” the mother said. “It could get into the sewer and then come up in our toilets.”

I tried to explain the sheer unlikeliness of that, but they wouldn’t hear it. What I did hear was the continued panic in their voices. They sounded almost out of their minds with fear. I could easily imagine my carrying off the snake and then quivering in fear for days until one of them dropped dead. I didn’t want that on my conscience. I also didn’t want killing a harmless snake on my conscience. I balanced them out and the snake lost.

Sorry, dude. I brought down the hoe (not the ho) and cut the snake’s head off, almost vomiting as I did so. I managed to keep my bile down as the women rushed outside and thanked me effusively. I couldn’t talk to them. I just waved vaguely in their direction and headed back toward the street and Sarcasmo.

I’d wanted to return to him in triumph. Instead, I’d achieved my objective, but felt all the worse for it. I told Sarcasmo what happened and he smiled and said I did the right thing. He’d love to kill a snake like that some time. Not exactly the lesson I wanted to impart. I gave him a little of the ole live and let live as we finished the exercise and I like to think it worked its way through those thick plates of bone in his head.

I just wish I could stop thinking about the snake.

*possibly not entirely true.

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