Bullies, Twenty Ten


2010 Bullies, courtesy of Rutgers Class of 2014.


New and improved, for both our schools and workplaces:  Bullies!

They come from good families.  If adults, they are attractive, ambitious.  If young, they have parents with good jobs and attend good schools, at which they excel academically.  They have every single advantage — and technology — money can buy.

Modern bullies do not resemble the Scut Farkuses of your schoolyard youth.  They have spent no time roaming the back alleys of their hometowns (would they even know where to find an alley?  What’s an alley, anyway?  A kind of cat?)  They are smart, accomplished, cherished people.  And after they mess up, they lawyer up.

Today’s bullies are bright, deliberate, calculating, and cruel.  And they have no one to blame but themselves.

This is why I am proposing a new approach to the crime of hounding, humiliating — yes, bullying — another person, even to his or her death.  After the deadly September we all just had, wouldn’t you say we need one?

Zero Tolerance

It works to varying degrees in application to lesser crimes.  When a kid can be expelled from school for aiming a chicken nugget at another and saying “Bang”, don’t you think an equivalent approach is necessary here?

Having studied the habits of bullies for some time, I think that Zero Tolerance could work best in imitation of how they work.  From the beginning.

Identify a Leader:
Locate the source of the bullying.  For example:  Jacobsen Middle School (“Home of the Bulldogs!”) and its principal, Susan Ortega.  She claims her “door is always open”, and that she’s pursuing some kind of advanced degree while allowing her students to bully each other to death.

Better yet, go for a school district:  such as the one currently covering for Hamilton Middle School in Houston, home of the Texas (“we’re not responsible”) school-district Two-Step.  In this case, a spokesperson for the school district is actually married to an assistant principal at the school.  This fact emerges while the district tries to spin its culpability for the suicide of a 13-year-old child on “problems at home”.


Hamilton: We make bullies!


And on the same day as that child’s memorial service.  Keep it classy, Cy-Fair!

Go After Weaknesses:
The weaknesses in some of these systems are obvious.  We can talk all day about how being the assistant principal of Hayseed Middle in the heart of I’m-Going-Nowhere, Texas might induce such brain-numbing despair that a man ignores everything going on in his own business, for years.

But RutgersWhat about this?  What if you can’t find any apparent weaknesses in the bullies, just a simple shared streak of meanness, wealth, and access to technology?

The good news:  Technology works both ways.  And in some cases, the bullies are not minors.

Also, filming a person without his knowledge and streaming the product on the Internet — even an attempt to do so — may be nothing as simple as “invasion of privacy”.  Depending on state law where you live, bullies, it’s a felony.  Not only are the Rutgers days over, for both Dharun and Molly — their prison time should be significant.

For younger offenders, some have suggested “bully schools”:  or schools just for bullies.  I think this is a great idea, both for bully kids and bully adults.  What’s great about this is that these places already exist:  they are called, for young offenders, Juvenile Hall (or “juvie”, for bullies’ parents in the suburbs, who may be new to this idea).

And for adults — Hi Dharun and Molly! — there is Prison.


The "South Hadley 6", on trial now for bullying Phoebe Prince to her death.



Deploy the Ice Floe:
A bully’s favorite tactic involves totally cutting off the target of the bullying from the social stream of others in the larger community.  We’ll call this treatment “Siberia”; we can employ it here.

How about a nationwide registry for those convicted of bullying offenses?  It could be similar to the registry for sexual offenders.  The degree of offense, and bullies‘ innate attraction to the opportunity, is comparable.  They will always look for those around them that they perceive as threats to their delicate bully ecosystem.  They will always seek to destroy before they seek to build.

I do not intend to come across as lighthearted.  I am dead serious about bully combat.  If I could have found a single image, a name, of the young offenders who bullied Seth Walsh or Asher Brown to their deaths, I would have posted them here.  I will not stop looking.  If I find this information, I will post it.

I don’t care that the bullies are in middle school.  Death is the most serious of consequences.  There must be repercussions.

Zero Tolerance begins with me.


2 responses to “Bullies, Twenty Ten

  1. Mary!

    You know, I’m not sure those two students considered the long-term repercussions of their actions. I think they just used the tools they had at their disposal to make fun of a vulnerable person. (Knowing just a bit about bullies, I think they may have been trying to turn insecurity outward. But who knows? And more to the point, after that young man died as a result of their actions — who cares?)

    What those two newly-minted criminals did just happens, in their state, to be a felony — whether or not the act of sharing a secretly-filmed private act results in death. I hope the prosecutor of this case pursues it as such. Dharun and Molly were smart enough to film and stream the private act, but not smart enough to know the consequences of doing so.

    Talk about a teachable moment, huh?

  2. Hear, hear … outing the bullies and isolating them should be a key outcome of their actions. There’s some comfort (albeit small) in the knowledge that when prospective employers google or bing these kids for job applications, the news stories broadcasting their actions will pop up. What’s most troubling to me about the Rutgers case is that the “invasion of privacy” charges carry a maximum sentence of only 5 years. It might be a stretch for the victims’ attorney to make a hate crime accusation (which carries more serious prison sentences) “stick”.

    It’s hard for me to understand what prompts kids like the Rutgers duo to hurt (deeply) another kid … if they’ve got that kind of time on their hands, why are they utilizing it in that way? Why expend so much effort on shaming another person? Are the long-term benefits THAT attractive? I am reminded of what our sister Ellen said to a bully in grade school: “Your mommy must not love you very much.” The comment stopped the bully in her tracks – clearly Ellen struck a nerve. So… is that what’s going on with bullies??

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