A guy pulled my pants down and now my brother is telling me to man up. What should I do, asks a letter writer.

Our elder has some tips on overcoming bullying.

Dear EWC

In PE a couple of days ago I was getting my school uniform on when a guy sneaked up on me and pulled my pants down. Everybody saw. The guy was a friend of a friend and I didn’t really know him. Anyway I burst into tears because I’m insecure about the way my body looks. The person knew I was upset by this and apologised when I confronted him face to face before he knew I was upset but just walked away. I don’t think he meant it but when I was going to my next lesson my eyes were still red and people kept on asking me if I was OK. I told them I was when I wasn’t. I then burst into tears in that lesson and my teacher told me to go to student care, which is like where people go when they are upset. I eventually told the teachers who punished him. Somehow my older brother found out I was crying in school. I am in the 9th grade and he told me to man up and stop being a wuss, which made me feel worse. I see this person who did it all the time. What should I do????

William replies

This sounds like a classic case of bullying. Many years ago, when I was around your age, I too had to deal with similar issues in school. No one pulled my pants down like they did to you, but there were events just as embarrassing that I had to endure. As I read you letter it brought back memories of how difficult it is to deal with these things.

You have a number of options. You could fight back but I don’t recommend that as it’s likely to escalate the issue. Also, I doubt if fighting is tolerated in school these days, so let’s not consider that. I only mentioned it because it’s an option some people take, and it usually doesn’t end well. 

I think you’ve done the right thing in getting him to apologize. It may not have seemed as sincere as you would have liked, but at least he knows that his actions hurt you more than he expected. My guess is that he won’t do it again. If it bothered you to the point where you became upset enough for the teachers to become involved, then it’s not really over. You say you think the teachers punished the guy who did it. It’s hard to predict his reaction, but it’s not as if you purposely “squealed” on him. You were upset and the teachers could see it, and they got the reason out of you and took what they felt was appropriate action. We have to trust their judgment.

Hopefully you can move beyond this. Could you talk to the guy who did it?  I don’t mean bring it up again, but try to start a conversation with him about some unrelated topic. Over my life, I’ve had negative encounters with people that I ended up becoming good friends with! Yes, even from middle school onwards up into my 60s. Most people have things in common if they are willing to talk. I’m not saying this approach would work in every situation, but it’s worth a try. You want to try to defuse this as soon as you can.

Regarding your brother’s comments, he’s older and probably that’s just his simplistic reaction. Maybe he never was bullied. I don’t know, but seeing as he’s not directly involved, take his advice with a grain of salt. Sure, he’s got a point in that you can’t let one embarrassing incident drive your social interactions in school, but he wasn’t there. Consider what he said, but don’t give it a lot of weight. I’m sure he means well, but as I said, he wasn’t there, and he didn’t have to deal with the embarrassment. It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback and second guess others.

Your letter ends by asking what to do. I’ve alluded to a couple of options in my discussion above. The one thing that seems to have the most chance of success is to try and develop a good relationship with the guy who embarrassed you. He might be insecure and be looking for attention (and friends.) Maybe not, but he did apologize without being forced to do so. As a first step, hunt him down and start a conversation if you can. If that doesn’t work out and he’s upset with you, it’s probably best to avoid him. You are going through a transition period toward adulthood. These uncomfortable, embarrassing situations occur occasionally for many of us. It’s part of growing up. While it may seem like this will go on forever, time flies by quite quickly. In no time this incident will probably just be a faint memory.

I’m confident you’ll do well in life. You just hit a bump in the road, as we all do. This is just part of maturing to adulthood. Hang in there and I wish you the best of luck!

Letter #: 404647
Category: School

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One Comment

  1. I would submit this: The guy who pulled down your gym shorts was probably bullied and was “dared” to do that, and if so, he was a victim as well. Therefore, talk to him and see. Also, I want to say that your honest reaction, tears, was Truth and there is a high value on that. It’s the ones who try to hide that are then vulnerable to being bullied to take the side of the bullies. And the bullies are the most hurt, hiding creatures of all.

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