The Dallas Morning News explains how the yearning for belonging moves from the playground the prison yard:
I am never at a loss for amazement when it comes to the stupidity of inane parents. It has been hot in New York City this week. The streets are hot. Sand on the beach is hot. Black rubber playground mats are hot. Those basic facts of living still do not appear to scare some parents into proactively protecting their children from running around barefoot and getting burned when that danger to life and limb is completely avoidable by invoking common sense and human decency.
Ugly is everywhere. Some of it is visual. Most of it is internal. None of it is ever hidden.
A lot of it used to be punished via Ugly Laws. Some of the best Ugly Advice I was ever given came to me as a youngster in the form of punches to my face from a crew-cut boy two years older than me — but in my same fifth grade class. His name was Alex.
He was a bully. He wore a perpetual scowl.
He outweighed most of us in class by 75 pounds.
Everyone hated him.
Everyone admired his giant fists and punching power.
He was a brute in a boy’s body.
He was a boulder that gathered moss.
While the rest of us wore mop-top bowl haircuts, Alex waxed the ends of his crew cut and shaved the base of his neck every morning.
Alex imparted his reality to me in a flurry of blows to my face after I had taken the advice of my mother’s boyfriend to “stand up to a bully and fight him on your own turf!”