Back toward the end of last year, I posted two blogs about bullying. One of them contained mostly my personal thoughts, the other was a review of an important book on the subject—HEART TRANSPLANT, by Andrew Vachss, Zak Mucha, and Frank Caruso.
In the interim, unfortunately, not much has changed.
In the past week, however, two incidents regarding the subject received considerable media attention and prompted me to write what you are now in the midst of reading.
Incident number one was President Obama giving a strong federal push to anti-bullying measures. For all the good that will do, in my humble opinion … well, let's just say I won't waste any more space on it.
The second incident took place at a middle school down in Australia. It was captured on video and went viral on YouTube. It involved a pudgy kid named Casey being harassed by a cocky little punk named Richard. The incident captured was, by all reports, not the first time Casey had to endure this kind of taunting, which included often being shoved and hit. This day, however, Casey reached a point where he'd had enough. After being punched in the face twice and jabbed in the stomach twice (to the jeers and cheers of onlookers), Casey grabbed his tormentor, twisted him off his feet, and slammed him to the sidewalk. Watching the news clip of the video for the first time, my reaction was to want to stand and cheer. After watching it a few more times on YouTube, my feelings haven't changed.
As a result of the altercation, both kids were suspended for four days and subsequently—surprise, surprise—the parents of the punk who got dumped on his ass have come forth with a lawsuit. And Casey's father can only lament that his son is "not a violent kid … He's always been taught not to hit."
Yeah, and right there is the start of the problem. In the first place, Casey ought to get a freakin' medal. In the second place, what Obama and others who insist on thinking they can fix the bullying problem simply with more legislature and more anti-bullying "policies" (how's that been working out so far, with about a gazillion such policies already in place and bullying practices only continuing to increase?) ought to do is promote Casey as the Anti-bullying Spokesman and send him on a tour showing his video and presenting it as Basic Step One in a real anti-bullying campaign. And, finally, parents like Casey's dad need to understand that, yes, it is fine to teach your kids "not to hit"—but it damn well is acceptable to hit back.
Yes, I realize my perspective may seem primitive and simplistic. But, damn it, at its core there is a truth that can't be denied.
I also realize there is a need for rules and policies. But they can only be affective up to a point because they always rely on someone in authority seeing the infraction. Otherwise it becomes just another case of "he said – she said" and there follows stern lectures and cautions handed out all around and then things go on as before … and the bullying victim is once again left to feel that, despite all the talk and all the hype, there really is no help or hope and, just maybe, he or she must deserve the shit sandwiches they are being fed.
Only when bullies—and everyone else—become convinced that continuing their ways will come at a cost - each and every time will the tide start to turn. Casey showed us a way to start making that turn; I hope enough people are paying attention to the message.
For another take on this same theme I refer you once again to a powerful, insightful article by Zak Mucha that can be found at http://www.vachss.com/better .
Persevere — WD