The recent news about the arrest of 9 teenagers for bullying has created a much needed (probably way too late) discussion of bullying. I saw a segment on Anderson Cooper’s show Monday night which highlighted not only this tragic incident which resulted in the suicide of the 15 year old victim, but he also put up the photos of 3 other recent (within the last year) suicides that were the results of incessant bullying.
I know I am probably way too uneducated on the topic, but I’ve always related suicide to some sort of chronic mental illness. Depression that just wont lift, not seeking help, ceasing taking medication etc etc.
It struck me though, reading this post from someone I’ve known on DailyKos for a long time that this woman does not fit that description at all. And yet she admits that had her parents not pulled her out of school, she was ready to take that ultimate step to end her anguish. It seems to me that these kids, had they not been bullied, would be alive. Does that make the bullies indirect murderers? I am sure it is hard for the parents of the victims not to think that way. Yet I think it’s not that simple as Dr Phil pointed out on the CNN program, at that age with their brains still not fully developed not only are kids not thinking those 2-3 steps ahead on how their actions might put *themselves* in danger as teenagers, they also are not in any way anticipating just how much psychic pain they are inflicting on the kids they pick on. On the flip side when you hear about some of the things they do these days in the way of cyber-bullying it is hard to believe they could NOT imagine how painful some of their actions would be. Some of them think of it as harmless joking around – assuming that the result will be laughter or maybe embarrassment.
Sportsboy just had a taste of that with a wrestling buddy who *did* take a picture of him that he didn’t want and posted it on facebook and then tagged SB. SB immediately removed the tag and asked the friend to remove the photo which was done, but not for a couple of days. Thankfully he told me about it and I told him I would gladly get it removed but it was cleared up between them. Still – another whole way of picking on kids that we adults have to police!
However, in the case of the arrested kids, their actions were not mere bullying. This is not ‘kids being kids’. In just about any other scenario this would be assault or stalking or harassment. What if it was a man treating his girlfriend like this? A boss-worker situation? A co-worker situation? Heck, just about any scenario involving adults? These are felony charges right? Yes, I realize that domestic abuse often gets swept under the rug like this too, but I also know that witnesses to domestic abuse are much more likely to report the situation these days than decades ago. Yet bullying is still largely excused and ignored!
I hope that the arrest of these kids continues to spark the discussion. I hope it sets some kind of example to schools/parents/kids on how bullying is NOT ok. That there are too many times when the kids do NOT laugh it off or just work it out between themselves.
I’m rambling and I’m sorry about that but perhaps because my child is at this age this story really has made me quite angry. I’m curious how my friends/readers who are teachers/administrators think this should be handled.
Your thoughts and comments are to the point and appropriate. Bullying is very hurtful, dangerous and so inappropriate!
there’s a high school here on Long Island where the students are boycotting formspring.me ….it seems that a very popular girl, a recent grad of the school who was supposed to start college in September, killed herself last week, and the things that were posted on facebook and formspring were horrific….nasty stuff said to her before she died, nasty stuff said about her after she died…
whne my yonger daughter was in middle school, a frenemy created a screen name similar to my daughter’s and tried to stir up trouble for my daughter….later the other girl hacked my daughter’s AIM account and actually signed on as my duaghter, also to create trouble for my daughter.
except for the cyber stuff, this is an old story — the nasty things kids do to each other can cause serious pain and damage to the one who is being bullied. but with cyber bullying the victim has no refuge.
The nasty comments made AFTER someone dies…this then makes me lean towards these kids really NOT caring one bit about the consequences of their actions. And then I lean towards them being true criminals as if they did murder the person and are clearly happy that they died whether by their hand directly or not.
What happens as a consequence to those kids who leave those nasty post-suicide comments on a place like facebook? Who followed up on that? And if nothing and no one, then why the hell not?
The problem with the word “bullying” is that it’s so vague. There are some bullying behaviors–like the bratty little boys who nastily teased my son about “wearing lipstick” because his best friend in second grade was a girl–that can appropriately be dealt with by the school and the parents. (Although I have to say that the school did nothing in that case–I finally told the ringleader’s mother, who was horrified and put a stop to it.) But physical and sexual assault, threats, and vandalism are crimes and should be treated as such.
What makes me crazy is that schools put up with this kind of crap from their students, and yet kids get are getting arrested and expelled over things like writing on desks and accidentally bringing pocket knives to school. Too many school administrators seem more concerned about protecting their own butts than their students.
Oh yes Virginia, that makes me crazy too. A friend’s child was recently suspended for 3 days because he was pushed into another child. Essentially he was a the ‘middle man’ right? It’s on video too! Yet he received the same punishment as the person who did the pushing? It’s the school SB will be going to so I was rather disappointed to hear that one.
I am so infuriated by this case I don’t know what to do. The parents of these kids should be held accountable. The kids should be made to understand the world outside of their narcissistic selves and the consequences of their actions. Clearly no one has taught them that.
This was not a simple case of a kid sending one mean text. It was RELENTLESS abuse and bullying. Infuriating. Maddening. And so filled with sadness I can barely stomach it.
Yep – hence the rather disjointed post with random thought processes…and why I say this was not mere “bullying” in the classic sense at all – it was stalking and harassment and assault all rolled into one.
And I really do want to know how much those teachers and parents witnessed…and turned their backs to.