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I normally don't answer these all that often, but this one struck a chord, so let me relate a little story to you.
I was harassed and picked on a lot through middle school. I was a wiry, gangly kid without much mass. Glasses, interested in nerdy things like reading, roleplaying and computers (and, yet, strangely, also in sports ... figure that one out).
Anyways, the school I went to had a "parental responsibility zone" around it, which is schoolspeak for "no bus service if you live within a mile and a half of school." Since we lived just within that radius, every afternoon, my Mom would come and pick me and my sister (who as attending the adjacent Intermediate school) up after school. We'd always wait outside in the common area around the traffic circle, where there was a large brick and concrete sign with the school name on it. I used to love to sit on top of the sign, as it was partially shaded.
One afternoon, I was sitting on the sign waiting for Mom to come pick us up. I was reading, if I remember correctly, and suddenly I felt myself fall forward. Someone - we'll call him Todd, because frankly I don't remember his name all that well, even though he'd been one of the lead bullies taunting me for years - had given me a running push off the sign. I saw him running past as I fell.
As I fell, I gashed the side of my face on the corner of the sign, spilling blood everywhere and leaving a scar I still posses today (to the right of my right eyebrow). And, of course "no one saw it happen" despite there being probably 40-50 other students waiting outside, all within 30 yards of all this.
All I could do is hold the side of my face, covered in blood, and stagger back inside the school to the nurses's office (who thankfully was still there). In an era before cellphones, a teacher had to flag my Mom down outside to get her to come inside and take me to a doctor to have it fixed. I would eventually need stitches (I believe it was five) to close the gash in my face. Left a nasty black eye, too.
Since "no one saw it happen," no punishment was ever meted out. And, with only two weeks left in the school year, there was no real point anyways.
So we start the next year, and he picks up right where he left off. Harassing me. After two weeks of putting up with Todd's shit, we were sitting in science class and he reached for my shirt while the teacher wasn't looking, intending to give it a pull and probably send me over backwards in the chair. At this point, though, I'd had enough of his shit. I'd taken it for two and a half years. Enough.
I turned around, and I beat the motherfucking shit out of him.
Right in class. Right in front of the rest of the class and the teacher (who had to pull me off of him). I dove over the table and landed three punches before being pulled back: one socked his ear, one gave him a black eye, the last one broke his nose. It was like Hitler invading Poland - it happened so fast he didn't have time to react, and didn't land a single punch on me. The whole thing lasted probably 5 seconds, but left him lying on the floor.
The interesting thing, though, is what happened next. I was taken to the principle's office (while he was taken to the nurse). At our school, it was school policy that, no matter how the fight started or ended, or what it involved, both parties had to be punished.
After waiting for about an hour, I received a week of after school detention (3pm - 5pm) ... while he was suspended from school for a week. I suspect my teachers intervened on my behalf because, all that week while I served my detention, some of them would stop by and see me and bring me candy, and the detention monitor "somehow" let me read Arthur C. Clarke instead of a math book (I actually read the first two Rama books
in detention that week). When I got home that afternoon, I got what could only be described as the most half-hearted lecture ever from my Dad. I believe his final words were "next time you want to do that, wait until you get off campus."
So what lesson did I learn from all this? That violence is the answer? No.
I never got in another fight in school, mostly because I didn't need to. Todd stayed well away from me for the rest of school, and pretty much everyone else who had been harassing me quit.
The lesson I learned - and it was a positive one - is that you have to look out for yourself and stand up for yourself. No one is going to do it for you. And, the sooner you start doing things like that, the less likely you will need to resort to violence at all.