Bullying at School

You were expected to stick up for yourself

By Ted Blowers

I was at school in the 1940s.There was no such thing as looking down on someone because they didn’t have fashionable clothes. There was no such thing as designer labels - you wore what you what you were given to wear and if you had an older brother you wore his hand me downs if suitable and the same applied to the girls.

Bullying did occur but not like it appears today, where it seems to be that a large group will pick on one individual. In those days it was usually one individual picking on a weaker one, and that was usually straightened out by ourselves very quickly. I remember only one lad that was an obvious target for bullies. He was a real mother's boy who didn’t fit in with anybody. I remember coming out of school one day to find a group of girls picking on him. I saw them off and later tried to show him the rudiments of fighting. He couldn’t even make a fist - he was totally hopeless. I felt sorry for him so I let him walk to and from school with me for a while. He just disappeared. I don’t know if his mother moved him to another school. If she did, it wouldn’t have helped as our school wasn’t bad. We ourselves didn’t tolerate bullying let alone the teachers. Another strange piece of logic that I remember - it was frowned upon to call anyone with glasses 'four eyes', (though I am sure it happened on occasion), yet it was not considered fair play to hit a kid with glasses, so there was provocation on the one hand, yet a fair amount of protection should the kid with the glasses retaliate with aggression or insults of his own.

In those days you were expected to stick up for yourself, but if you were unable, then usually someone would come to your defence. The rule of the day seemed to be in sport and life in general, that fairness was important and good sportsmanship essential. It was always more fun to win in any sport but should you lose, you were expected to lose gracefully, and as long as you had done your best, you were not expected to moan about the referee or how you were unlucky or any other of the thousands of excuses that you can make. You were expected to respect the other team and acknowledge that they were better on the day. it seems to me that with that attitude it was a better world in many ways.

This page was added by Ted Blowers on 19/09/2010.
Comments about this page

I have just read Ted's comment about bullies. I was a pupil at Welbeck Road No8 School and left in the summer of 1957 when I was a couple of month off 16. It was a pretty tough school but you had to take your lumps if you wanted to be respected. This started with all new 11 year olds either being tossed into a May Bush or ducked under a water tap; it happened to everyone so you didn't complain. A few bullies did exist but would never pick on kids as big or bigger than them; it didn't always pay them to punch or kick a smaller boy either for the cry of 'Bully' would go up and the entire first year would attack the big kid and bundle him to the ground where he would get a good hiding. We would sometimes get into fights but never with a boy with glasses as Ted says and it wasn't done to hit a smaller or younger nipper unless he was cheeky in which case he was told his fortune and got just the one clip round the ear. Outside of school it could be different because there were a lot of tough nuts around. You didn't even have to say anything to be barged over a privet or receive a crafty clump then you had a choice; get up and stick up for yourself or wait until the youth or gang passed. Where I lived in Peterborough Road, there were a lot of boys who were three to five years older than me, I learned early that you never cried and didn't snitch to Dad. I had to take a few smacks, try to fight back and never, ever say that I had, had enough. These guys became my friends and took me to places where other kids of my age never went. Rough some of them yes, but it was all a game to see if you were worthy of becoming a friend. Because of these tough guys I was chatting up girls when some of my pals were still playing Coyboys and Indians, seeing X Films at the age of thirteen, mind you it helped that I was almost six feet tall at that age. Today, the youngster must have a really bad time with all the thugs and knife carriers about. I don't envy today's young people at all; we had fun then in those days of early Rock 'n' Roll when an argument could be settled with a row or a fist fight. Bullies didn't want to kill you or take your money anyway and once you stood up for yourself they soon lost interest whether at school or outside.

By Ron Harris
On 27/09/2013

Bullying was rife at Garth, especially in our first year; we had boys stealing dinner money at the point of a knife, but then Hugh Morris introduced a new system: anyone caught bullying had to do three rounds with John Skidmore ( still around John?) the school boxing champion who went on to become the National Schoolboy Champion, ( can't remember the weight John), then he joined the RAF and distinguished himself further by becoming the ABA Champion. Net result was that bullying was brought under control.

By John Tipple
On 16/10/2013

Interesting to note the comments, original comments by me relate to the 1940s, then Ron's who went to Welbeck (they had a good Boxing program in my day) Ron's comment much the same, John went to Garth cant say I remember that, no clue as to years, things had evidently changed, by then.

By Ted Blowers
On 03/02/2014

Interesting again to read John Tipples ref to Hugh Morris, Hugh Morris was a teacher at Tweeddale Rd school prior to becoming head at Garth, and was famous as a disciplinarian well respected by all. In our day which is at least 20 yrs. earlier he would have sorted things out very quickly himself, trust him to think of an innovative way to solve a problem.

By Ted Blowers
On 06/02/2014

It was necessary to stand and fight if necessary to make sure you were not bullied. I remember in about 1949/50 a couple of lads who went to Welbeck school took to picking on me but then they got transferred to my school Tweeddale where during some dinner breaks the teacher, a Mr. Williams used to supervise ad hoc boxing and one of those lads from Welbeck who picked on me challenged me to box, what he didn't know being new was that I had previously boxed for the school. I took great delight in knocking seven bells out of him, so much so that the spectator lads told Mr. Williams to stop the fight, a great pleasure.


By Bob Edwards
On 05/04/2018

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