Interlude: On Bullying

I feel I should warn you, I’m a little dazed at this point from throat cold and lack of sleep, and this blog post goes in a pretty dark direction. Not sure what I’m really warning you about but oh well. The important thing is you were warned. Rambling commences in 3 … 2 … [silent TV-style 1].

Yesterday I saw a news story about a bullying case in Melbourne Australia. In this bullying case, one girl got a group of girls on her side to bully another girl, who was 13 at the time. The bullying went on. Then the bullies got two older boys to gang rape the girl. Then the bullying went on. Two years later, after a change of school and a change of address that made little difference to the trauma the girl had received – particularly since the bullies followed her mobile phone and stalked her on social media – the girl, now 15, committed suicide.

The story was about the letter the girl left behind, and the plea from her mother that more people think about the bullying that occurs among kids, particularly this extreme. At that point, of course, ‘bullying’ just doesn’t seem to do justice to the crime.

And on the topic of justice for the crime, obviously across Facebook and the assorted news media, there were a lot of comments calling for the execution of the guilty parties and their disposal in an unmarked Australian desert location. One suggestion involved burying them all up to their necks in the sand and leaving them for the dingoes. And I don’t even disagree with this, in my savage heart of hearts, because this story hit me hard.

I can’t even comprehend the horror of seeing my child going through the sort of transformation from happy adolescent to suicidal teenager that the mother described here. My mind just shudders away from it. The idea that there are kids out there who would do a thing like this … well, that doesn’t really shock me, because kids are sociopathic animals still learning the rules of society. But no, it absolutely does not absolve them of blame. The overwhelming majority of kids manage to become adults without driving another child to suicide[1], these ‘bullies’ are categorically guilty. I just think there’s plenty of blame to throw around, starting with whoever raised these vile creatures to be the vile creatures they are. Let’s make a few bigger holes out in the desert for those worthless fucks as well.

[1] Here’s where I do the obligatory open-up and say yes, bullying is vastly common and many would argue that it’s an important lesson to learn, regardless of the child’s role as bully or bullied. I was a pretty laid-back school kid, there were plenty of utter pricks who I had to tolerate and a few brain-dead psychos I had to avoid, but I wasn’t really bullied. In 1991 I spent a year in New Zealand where I was a victim of low-key anti-Australian sentiment for a brief time before I adopted a New Zealand accent and basically made myself as harmless as possible. A kid from Sydney turned up at the school later in the year and – to his credit, sort of – steadfastly refused to be anything but 110% Eastern States Australian, so he got a lot of the flak from then on. And to my lasting shame, I was something of a bully myself towards another kid, with the rationale that it was better to pass it on than to take it myself[2]. My bullying is easy to pass off as the usual school pranks – the worst I ever did was the old locker-rigging trick where you make the victim’s books all slide out onto the floor – but it was mean and the kid took it hard and he did not need my presence in his life making him miserable. It remains one of the things I am most ashamed of myself about.

[2] I was 12 or 13, which is a) about the age these kids in Melbourne were planning a gang-rape; b) still no excuse for being a little shit regardless of my unhappy home and school situation. I was old enough to be a better person than that. No excuses. Okay, back to the main post.

This whole awful, ugly story obviously left me thinking what I would do – or will do – in the same situation. The thought of seeing Wump or Toop spiral down into something so horrible … it just chills me, and upsets me to the point at which I can no longer function. The main reason I am inflicting this on you is just so I can get it out into words, out of my head where it is burning, and then maybe I’ll be able to get something productive done.

I’m under no illusions that I could do violence in this situation, and I think it’s pointless to speculate about “what I’d do” for a case where I really have no idea how I would react psychologically. But the thought of it makes me want to do violence. Against the kids, and against the adults who made the kids what they are, and I would tap resources among my family and friends who would help me do that violence and dispose of the bodies.

If I were to write an impassioned message about bullying to other parents and society in general, following the suicide of my child, I would want to be writing that message from prison.

This is in no sense a pre-emptive confession – like I say, I have no idea how I would (or will) really react to a situation like this. But I don’t think my sense of justice will permit me to just cry about it and write a message to the world, even though writing messages to the world is pretty unarguably my main strength.

The guilty parties here cannot be sentenced because there was never a formal accusation of rape. The guilty parents couldn’t be sentenced anyway.

And I think that points to a massive failure in the criminal justice system and in the rules our culture has about fitness to bring children into the world (or to adopt and raise children, for that matter, I don’t make a distinction between parenting types).


But don’t get me started on the question of parenting licenses.
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4 Responses to Interlude: On Bullying

  1. brknwntr says:

    I’m here for you.

  2. dreameling says:

    I agree completely. Which is to say I feel exactly the same. (Like you, I don’t know whether I could do violence to another or to what degree, but, in a case like this, I would certainly want to be able to and to an extreme degree.)

  3. C Itkonen says:

    I will knock a kid’s milk-teeth right out of their head.

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