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Young Students Hiding Academic Talent To Avoid Bullying 684

jones_supa writes "The recent anti-bullying survey conducted by ABA brings up some interesting findings. According to it, more than 90% of the 1,000 11-16 year-olds surveyed said they had been bullied or seen someone bullied for being too intelligent or talented. Almost half of children and young people (49.5%) have played down a talent for fear of being bullied, rising to 53% among girls. One in 10 (12%) said they had played down their ability in science and almost one in five girls (18.8%) and more than one in 10 boys (11.4%) are deliberately underachieving in maths – to evade bullying. Worryingly, this means our children and young people are shying away from academic achievement for fear of victimization."
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Young Students Hiding Academic Talent To Avoid Bullying

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  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:17PM (#42033273)
    A few things...

    Talent schools do exist, a lot of them are private though.

    Being in the top 10% of your math class doesn't make you a math prodigy.

    Smart people who act "cool" tend to get applause for their "talents" , not bullied

    Lifting weights never killed anyone in this age group (at least I don't think)

    Where the f' are the parents in all this?

    In life in general, sometimes it's better to fit in than be the nail that gets hammered

    If the kids actually cared about excelling in their subject of choice, they wouldn't care about being bullied, I can think of a chess person, and a chem person who are testaments to this from back in HS

    Last, but not least, AP Calc has yet to help me in life, AP chem... kind of :)
  • Opposite of Asia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:20PM (#42033325)

    In Asia, overachievers and well-studying kids are looked up to. While that still doesn't make them the 'cool' kids, they do just fine socially and have no such problems as TFA.

    I suggest North American culture change its stigma of nerds, geeks, and intelligence, or face vastly deteriorating social values and social/scientific progress.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:30PM (#42033447)

    Dearies, when I was growing up in India, I was very good in academics. Yes I was good in a number of extra curricular activities too, but acads were stellar. I was fit, but except for some recreational table-tennis, I was not much into competitive sports. Oh btw, I was a small kid in stature compared to others. Anyway, I was actually respected, especially because of the acads. And thankfully the culture has not changed much at all. Kids who are talented in sciences and acads, or other stuff, get respect, and are considered cool enough to hang out with - it's not the losers who sit around and are bulky that are considered cool (well, India being India, if the losers start getting physical, rest assured there are external contractors whom your parents can hire to take care of the matter quickly - and the losers know that too).

    Anyway - this is good news for India and china. At least their brainy kids would not be beaten up and turned away from studies by the idiots. No immediate worries of ending up as an idiocracy. I guess future generations of Indian and chinese kids will thank the prolific US 'cool' football and basketball stars for beating up the brainy ones and damaging them permanently.

    Good show USA.

  • Re:So Sad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:36PM (#42033547)

    The reason they have to hide their abilities is that they set the bar too high and make everyone else look like dumbasses. Of course you are going to beat the shit out of them. They are making life more difficult for us normal people. There are consequences for that.

    In that case, authorities ought to do the usual thing - make it an aggravating circumstance, just like with racially motivated crimes.

  • Re:So Sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @07:58PM (#42033861)

    Just exactly how many professional adults have to hide their abilities and intelligence? I bet it's the same percentage cited in the article. Bullying just doesn't happen to the intelligent in grade school, but throughout their life and in the workplace.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @08:46PM (#42034397)

    Actually, most people already know that a woman walking through a park, at 1am, in a mini-skirt shouldn't be all that surprised if she gets attacked. That doesn't make the attack wrong and does not excuse the attacker. The victim should also learn to not be so damn stupid.

    We're usually taught how to stay out of that sort of trouble. However, it seems pretty rare that we sit a kid down and teach them how to avoid being a target of bullies. That's what the parent is pointing out and shouldn't be mocked. I can't think of a single kid in school (of any age) who was being bullied and wasn't an easy target. Kids should be helped to learn why they are targets and how to help change their situation.

  • by Eightbitgnosis ( 1571875 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @08:48PM (#42034421) Homepage
    Or maybe you were just an easy target and in response you had to justify this somehow. So you make up these head games about how those who wronged you "instinctively knew you were superior" so you can maintain YOUR ego.

    When really you were just an easy target in the wrong place and the wrong time; nothing more
  • Maybe... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DRMShill ( 1157993 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:08PM (#42034655)

    But I have to say that when I was in school, the fact that I did pretty well academically is always something that earned me respect. I run ins with my fair share of bullies and shitheads but really it didn't seem to have much to do with my intellect. Stupid kids got bullied just as much.

    I have to wonder if this whole concept of "nerd persecution" is concocted by nerds who don't want to admit that maybe they have obnoxious personalities and kind of had it coming.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:09PM (#42034671) Homepage

    Concealing your true skill level is something different than slacking down to that level. As long as you're getting into the schools you want, it absolutely doesn't matter what your junior high grades were after you finish college/university - and most bright kids do go on to higher education. Knowing this is a temporary situation some kids may be simply showing a bit of street smarts by not provoking an inferiority complex, I don't think just among bullies but also among your social circle that consider themselves your peers. As people grow up they'll act less immature about it and they can return to their true skill level.

    The only exception for that is if you're bright enough to skip classes/years, but that has its own sets of pros and cons. I've met a few that were clearly math wizards, at 10-12 they were dealing with math for 15-20 year olds and had accelerated classes with much older students. And they were all kind of odd and I don't mean because they were obviously bright and skilled, but they'd been hanging around older people so much they were like awkwardly premature adults. They saw kids their own age much like an older teen would see a bunch of brats and at the same time they didn't really fit in with the older ones either. If I knew I had a really bright kid I think I'd worry less about reaching his full genius potential and more on not raising a Sheldon.

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:29PM (#42034879) Homepage Journal

    Holy fucking shit, how did you get a single positive mod, let alone 2 or more?

    How was I, weighing 95 pounds my first day of high school*, supposed to react when the fat tub of shit asshole in my gym class decided to tackle me INDOORS onto the hard gym floor for no reason and knock the wind out of me? Fuck you and fuck him.

    What if I come to your house with a gun, and you're unarmed? If you act afraid, does that make it OK? And what if you stand your ground and I STILL shoot you? How would you like that?

    Tell me exactly what defensive options I had at 12 years old (or any age, really) against someone who is literally 50% larger than me. With friends present. Not ALL bullies fall into the bullshit movie-of-the-week "if you stand your ground, he'll respect you and leave you alone" category. In fact, I've never met one like that in my life. All the bullies I've ever known were just fucked-up cliquish assholes who never let anyone into their club.

    Typical scenario: bully comes up to you and decides to fuck with you. Option a: Act scared, get beat up. Option b: stand your ground, get beat up. I've seen it happen.

    Yes, kids need confidence, but thinking that being meek in ANY way makes you deserving of ANY amount of bad treatment is so totally beyond belief I don't even know where to start.

    What you're talking about applies to literally maybe 1/2 of 1% of bullies. Sure, bullies might be insecure assholes who need to make others feel bad in order for themselves to feel good, but they also usually have the size, the strength, and the friends (and, later in life, the political skills) to make your life miserable no matter what you do.

    * Private college-prep high school, by the way. Just because some kid's parents have money and send him to a private school doesn't mean he's a great guy. My school was roughly evenly divided: half the kids were pretty bright and their parents wanted them to go somewhere "better" than a regular high school, and the other half were bright kids that maybe didn't work so hard, or average kids that the parents were hoping to make smarter, thanks to tougher classes and stronger discipline. That is to say, it wasn't just full of super-bright kids who chose to be there and never bullied each other. And the ones who were assholes on the first day were still assholes at graduation.

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:48PM (#42035113) Homepage Journal

    I will say this, I definitely received less bullying at a private school than I believe I would've at the local public school. I never felt like I should underperform in order to fit in better or to avoid bullying.

    It might be interesting to read about a comparative study of bullying in private vs. public schools. I've had friends who went to both, and from that small sample, I'd guess that there's not a lot of significance to the public/private labels. It depends on the people running the school.

    I got sent entirely to public schools. But I also learned at an early age to make friends with the school's authorities, and mention the bullying topic to them when there were opportunities. There were usually adults around who were interested, and wanted to help protect the kids. On several occasions, I and a few other kids worked with the cooperative adults to "entrap" some of the bullies, by enticing them into physical attacks when there were adult witnesses in a position to watch. There were interesting effects when they then reported the incidents to the bullies' parents and to the local legal authorities.

    But this doesn't always work. As others have mentioned, sometimes there are no adults in a school who care, and sometimes they're even bullies and/or molesters themselves. It can be sorta difficult for a child to handle such situations successfully.

    I did have one friend who ran into this in a private academy, where the local legal authorities were even unwilling to get involved with the school. After a couple of years, his parents understood the problem, pulled him out, and he did a lot better in the local public school.

    (British readers should swap the terms "public" and "private" in this discussion. It's an interesting different between the dialects of English. ;-)

  • Re:This is news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tbird81 ( 946205 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:49PM (#42035121)


    Are you bullied because of your 98% score in the maths quiz? Or because you're a weirdo who picks his nose, and stands way too close when trying to have a conversation?

    In my experience at school, the most bullied people weren't smart. One was smelly (he must have had constipation and some faecal leakage I guess, and his home didn't have a shower, only a bath) and would have only been about average academically - he turned out okay as an adult I remember. Another kid I remember used to insult someone randomly, then run away because he knew he'd get the bash. I remember at a school concert him sitting on his mother's knee, he would have been 15.

    I remember being punched in the stomach once for no reason, but that was by an older kid who would have had no idea about my grades. Probably because I was weak looking and he didn't like my hair or something.

    Sure my friends/classmates might have said something like "geek", or "schoooolaaaaar [said sarcastically]" or whatever we said in 90s, but no-one was actually bullied for being smart - just occasionally for the baggage that can come with being academically smart. Being smart was a good thing, because at least that could explain some of the weirdness and was a valued skill.

    My thought is that "bullying" now means "said something mean to me once". Whereas I think of it as the daily harassment of someone with constant verbal barrage, destruction of property, deliberate ostracism, demeaning and devaluing comments about the victim, and physical violence and irritation.

  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Monday November 19, 2012 @09:50PM (#42035135)

    My senior year physics teacher used to regularly ask me what I was doing in his class (the only girl), and on of my teacher from the previous year repeatedly told me that I only needed to learn how to cook and sew. I was the top student from my year and the only girl doing the Maths/Science stream. This was in the '80s.

  • by FoolishOwl ( 1698506 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @12:15AM (#42036601) Journal

    We're homeschooling my younger stepson. It was becoming clear that elementary school was simply a waste of his time, even when he was attending a progressive private school (with a generous tuition assistance program). He learns more efficiently on his own initiative. We live in an urban area, one in which there's a fairly substantial community of homeschoolers who coordinate activity, and of course there's the Internet. I'd say he has far more social interaction than I did at his age, both with other children and with adults.

    From everything I've heard about modern educational theory, elementary school is pretty much pointless, and I'm increasingly dubious about the structure of later stages of formal education. I took classes on programming and system administration, and that prompted me to study specific topics that I wouldn't have, otherwise -- but, most of what I know about those subjects, I knew from tinkering with Linux on my own desktop, and most of the topics I studied that I wouldn't have on my own initiative, have proven to be obsolete or irrelevant to both my personal and my professional work. Meanwhile, I'm watching my ten-year-old, rapidly learning the ins and outs of package management and system administration, because of his interest in Minecraft.

    The main problem with homeschooling, in general, is that I think it's relatively unusual for most people families to be able to ensure there's an adult at home to supervise a younger child. Fortunately, my wife is in graduate school, and my work schedule gives me several weekdays off, so there's always an adult around in our household; we also have adult relatives nearby, as backup. But, I think more broadly yet, our social and economic organization is grossly irrational. We work far more hours than we ought to -- real wages have been static in the US for forty years, even as productivity has more than doubled, so I think we'd all be better off in many ways if our wages were increased, we worked fewer hours, and we did less useless crap that just wastes resources to prop up an irrational economic system based on perpetual expansion.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @12:17AM (#42036609) Homepage

    Because the guys who do well on the athletic field are better at punching people they don't like than the guys from the chess club. At least, that's how it was when I was in school.

    For me, sports were not in any sense easy. I never played any kind of eye-hand coordination games or running games with my parents outside of school, so I sucked at them, and had no idea that I only sucked because I hadn't practiced. The "smart kid who plays sports" dodge is great if you can pull it off, but it's not just a matter of choice—you have to be fortunate enough to be able to actually pull it off, or it's just another reason to get punched.

    The really sad thing about all this advice is that kids, whether they are jocks or geeks, are dumb shits when it comes to understanding things social. It takes years of practice to get good at it. You can fake it 'til you make it if you're at the top of the heap, but the bottom line is that I, and probably most of the kids I knew in school, even the popular kids, could _really_ have used some instruction on how to behave well in social interactions with our peers. Unfortunately, I never got any of that, and neither did they, so I learned it by trial and error over the next thirty years or so. I don't know how it worked out for them.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.