Sometimes bullying is the best thing that can happen to a boy.


It wasn’t called “bullying” when I was in school. We called it “picking on.” The b-word may have been popularized by the film Bully (2001), or maybe two years earlier in the aftermath of Columbine High School killings. The concept of bullying is now politicized. I won’t dwell much on that aspect here except to note that anti-bullying campaigns don’t do much to protect White or Asian kids from race-based attacks in Black schools. But what I want to look at here is the dynamic of bullying among boys on its continuum that spans from legitimate in-group correction or rite-of-passage hazing, on to its destructive excesses.

Here is an anecdote: I made friends easily at age 13, having just arrived in the United States. It was a neighborhood with blue collar families and young couples with starter homes. There was also a tall 14-year-old mesomorph Brady (all names have been…

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