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The Bully in the Schoolyard

This local neighborhood sign has infused my walks with many hours of confused contemplation....
This local neighborhood sign has infused my walks with many hours of confused contemplation….

I love my neighborhood.

Packed full of vintage charm, some of the houses (including the one I live in) have been in existence far longer than I have!

My neighbors are friendly and we have a thriving online neighborhood message board to share news about safe and not-so-safe local happenings.

One street over, there is a quiet little house with a yard sign posted out front.

The sign reads: War is not the answer.

I see it several times each week when I’m out walking, and I always find myself nodding as I read those words.

And then I start to feel sad. And confused. And irked. 

This is because the sign isn’t telling me anything I don’t already know.

In fact, I think most of us could probably see our way clear to agreeing that war has not proven itself to be a permanent solution to much of anything….and even has a tendency (over time) to breed more of the same.

But then what IS the answer?

Today I was telling my dad about the sign. I told him sometimes I’m tempted to knock on this neighbor’s door and ask them what the answer is – since clearly they’ve at least narrowed down the options enough to rule war out.

Speaking of which, that would be a sign worth reading.

War is not the answer. The REAL answer is…..

I’ve lived in this neighborhood for nearly three years now, and that sign has been there as long as I can remember being here. But right now, with nearly weekly news of more bombings, more shootings, more of everything we all say we don’t want, I would really, really, really like to know what we should do instead.

Because here is how I see it.

There is a bully on the playground. The bully will not stop hurting the other children. We’ve tried child-to-child playground negotiations. We’ve tried parent-teacher conferences. We’ve tried time-outs. We’ve tried sanctions.

We’ve tried everything else we can think of, but the bully just keeps on swinging those big fists and hurting the other kids. They come crying to us for help, faces black and blue and bruised and bleeding.

We are looking for a mentor, someone who has faced this situation before and has resolved it successfully for all concerned.

We are looking for “the” answer – the thing that will work.

What is it?

Today’s Takeaway: How would you fill in the blanks in the phrase above? What do you think the answer is?  How do we keep the bully from hurting anyone else – now or ever?

The Bully in the Schoolyard

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2016). The Bully in the Schoolyard. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Feb 2016
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