It's not only parents, teachers and other adults who punish. Boys punish each other. They can be cruel. Physical bullying on the playground is one thing, emotional and psychological bullying are just as cruel--and just as effective. Here's a vivid memory from a younger brother, who asks to be identified only by his first name. It's remarkable that so many years later he remembers the incident so physically, with such clarity, and with such evident emotion.
Home from school sick, the youngest stealthily plays with oldest brother's toy soldiers.
Unexpectedly, the bedroom door opens. Caught behind enemy lines.
Big brother binds and gags his little brother with neckties. “Into your footlocker."
The lid compresses his lungs. Latches lock. His temples ache. His heart races. No one can hear his silent screams.
Downstairs making dinner, far away unheard, Mother asks: "Where's your brother?"
Brother points upstairs.
"What have you done?"
The toy chest opens. Mother liberates him from prison.
Untied, ungagged, the youngest gasps for air. He thinks. Next time I'll ask before playing with brother's toys.