The earliest documented instance of bullying goes back to February 28, 1825, when Eton Scholars George Alexander Wood and Alexander Wellesley Leith were charged with hazing the Hon. F. Ashley Cooper to the point of death on February 28, 1825 at Aylesbury Assizes. Safe to say, then, that bullying has been around probably since anyone reading this can remember.
The reasons are many, varied, and all dumb. Jealousy, a desire to look tough or be popular with a particular group of people, extortion (mostly for school lunch money, natch), or simply to get attention. All of which can easily be accomplished in many other forms (though extortion isn’t highly recommended).
Yeah, this article probably sounds a little glib at this point. Even like I’m not taking this very seriously. Totally understood why it might sound like I’m making fun of this whole thing, but that’s the farthest from the case. It’s simply impossible to fathom even why this sort of thing goes on.
Certainly peer pressure still plays a part in it. What better way to look cool than to disparage those that seemingly aren’t seen as such? Was that what Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei were thinking when they streamed a video of Tyler Clementi having sex in his dorm room all over the internet, leading Clementi to jump to his death? Hey, the kid’s gay. Nobody likes him, anyway, right? Let’s humiliate him! That’ll be a scream!
And a scream it turned out to be – much of Rutgers campus (where Clementi went to school), Hollywood and the gay community screaming for these two kids’ heads on a platter for being asses.
Of course, Rutgers has a reason to scream in outrage. To a point, Hollywood might, although it’s either sad or funny (depending on which side of the coin you look at) that it takes a high-profile suicide for stars to pay attention to anything other than their own careers or publicity and get “political” for a moment without mentioning that this has been a long-standing problem that plagues gay and straight people alike.
The gay community has a right to be outraged, sure. One of their own was lost because intolerance still exists despite the fact that nine States have legalized same-sex marriages with twenty more considering doing the same. Whether or not being gay is right or wrong is up for debate between Christian conservatives and the gay community; whether or not a barely-legal teenager should have to kill himself because others thought it would fun to perform an act of debasement for laughs. However, only recently has bullying become such an “epidemic” that now we have to pay attention to it because a young gay man died.
If you want to talk about young men dying, how about discussing young boys as well? Ty Smalley committed suicide after being suspended for three days for standing up to a bully – when the bully himself was suspended for one. He was eleven years old. Seth Walsh hung himself from a tree after repeatedly taking playground abuse at school. He was 13.
Those are only two examples of young kids killing themselves not only because they were constant victims of abuse, but also because no one cared to do a damn thing about it. Believe it or not, there’s even a name for the act: bullicide. How the hell did it get so bad that there’s actually a name for when a child takes his own life because of constant bullying?
The reason it got so bad is that no one wants to pay attention to it unless it gets them attention in return. Of course, the media was “outraged” at all these child deaths, but they followed their usual modus operandi – they feigned shock, watched the ratings pour in, and then moved on to more talk about the latest useless wannabe starlet to get caught with drugs.
CNN had a whole week of coverage on their site – the centerpiece of which was an Anderson Cooper special. However, if you go to the link for Anderson Cooper’s special, “Bullying: No Escape,” you might notice that there’s no mention of it. Go ahead, hit Ctrl + F and look for it. No mention of the word “bullying” on the site now that it’s “old news.” The prosecution rests, your honor.
Because of this, I could – and very well might – be accused of the same, but honestly, I was asked to do this. It’s not something I wanted to take on because I simply don’t understand how it’s even still happening, but I figured I would because I’ve actually managed to keep my kids safe from it, for the most part. That’s a rather tall order because, as a father to three children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, I’m rather used to the idea of my children being picked on. Several calls to police and several righteously indignant confrontations with parents of kids who had nothing better to do than pick on mine have kept my children safe, for the most part.
It’s an approach that’s worked wonders, simply because I’ve cared enough and was involved enough with my kids’ lives to be able to prevent something truly tragic up to this point. It’s actually a rather easy solution to an age-old problem that people – especially those in high-profile occupations that these bullies seemingly want for themselves – can’t seem to want to do anything about until lives are lost and they’re left with no choice but to be “outraged.”