Like the rest of us, I went to school with bullies. I suppose every school has them. They’re just people, after all, and children come in as many different flavors as adults.

I didn’t have much trouble with bullies. I’m a fairly easygoing guy, and I was then, too, but I’ve never been good at violence-lite. Some boys would often play-fight, usually boxing, but I didn’t like getting hit even in fun, so I didn’t play-fight. If it looked like I was fighting, I was.

Women of all sorts—parents, teachers and miscellaneous—told us to tell an adult if we were roughed-up or threatened, but no boy worth a nickel would do such a thing under any circumstances. I couldn’t haul an adult around with me all the time, and that was the only way telling on a bully was going to work for me. There were too many hallways, locker rooms and tall hedges for me to think I could avoid an ass-whipping by telling my mother.

On the other hand, I never met any boy in my neighborhood whose father had told him to tell on a bully. I bet some of those fathers had been bullies themselves and knew what we could expect if we were so foolish as to listen to the ladies in the ‘hood.

When Ralph Mackey said he was going to wait for me after school because I wouldn’t let him wear my required white T-shirt for gym class, I was scared. Ralph was the complete thug, so I took seriously his vow to have his friends help him. As it turned out, he took me seriously, too, and since he didn’t really have any friends, he didn’t show.

Among the wad of papers my son brought home from Bidwell Junior High School recently was an “Anti-Bullying Pledge.” It starts out, “We the students of Bidwell Junior High School agree to join together to stamp out bullying at our school.” It goes on to list what students are expected to do in regard to bullying, including talking to teachers and other students about it and supporting the victims and being a good role model.

Some of the pledge sounded a little silly to me, but much of what comes out of public schools sounds silly to me. What I objected to was this: “I acknowledge that whether I am being a bully or see someone being bullied, if I don’t report or stop the bullying, I am just as guilty.” It didn’t say what the student is just as guilty as, but public school standards don’t involve schools’ sloppy English.

The last statement reads: “Both Student and Parent ‘MUST’ (sic) sign the Bottom Portion.” Setting aside the confusion about capitalization and punctuation, it’s clear Bidwell Junior High School requires a student to promise to be a snitch. The “MUST” (sic again) implies unpleasant consequences. We’ll see. Passing on responsibility for our individual dignity and well-being to others is still a bad idea. I learned long ago how to deal with a bully, and the tactics haven’t changed just because the bully is a school.