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He was dumped in a trashcan; picked up and jerked around. It was scary and dehumanizing, and happened often enough in middle school for him to see it coming and dread it. What finally helped? A story and solution from the best-selling author of The Fault in Our Stars.
I was bullied a lot as a kid, particularly in middle school. I remember being, um, put in the trash can in school and, uh, having this thing, I can't remember what they called it, where four different kids would pull me by each of my limbs, arms and legs, and tug on me. That feeling right before it happened when you knew it was gonna happen, it's so dehumanizing and scary. And then for the rest of the day or, you know, weeks often I'd just live in fear of that happening again because I didn't feel like a person when it happened.

Deep down I don't think anyone wants to be a bully. I think that what happens is that it's a weird social environment and it seems like that's the best way to keep from getting hurt yourself. And then if just one person in that group is like "Wait a second. Maybe we shouldn't do this. Maybe..." All of a sudden the dynamic completely changes. So I remember that happening in middle school. I remember, you know, one person saying "Ah, you know, he is a loser but, like, we don't have to, like, beat him up." Um, and that (laughs). But that made a huge difference.

Whenever someone steps in and is like "No. That's actually less cool than you think it is. Like, this is not, this is not helping anybody's social status." All of a sudden it changes the dynamic.