Sticks, stones, and bullies
March 25, 2002 6:52 PM   Subscribe

Sticks, stones, and bullies A British Columbia teenager who bullied a classmate into committing suicide has been found guilty of uttering threats and criminal harassment in a case the victim's mother is calling (the) ruling "for every child." When childhood bullies become adults they are more likely to have criminal records - but will the threat of criminal charges at an earlier age deter bullies before the damage is done?
posted by hannahkitty (20 comments total)
Will it act as a cluestick for parents? Will it help schools deal with the problem? Will it empower the picked-on, helping them take action against it?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 PM on March 25, 2002

My opinion? Wholly unsubstantiated? No. Certainly not if the bully is 16 (the age of the girl convicted in the B.C. suicide).

Child bullies are the rectal acorns from which the assholes of society grow. Past a certain point the only relationships they are comfortable with engendering are those based on fear and domination. "Scared Straight" aside, pretty much by 16 the twig is not only bent, it's broke.
posted by umberto at 7:09 PM on March 25, 2002 think the whole empowering the picked-on is sort of what Columbine was about.
posted by umberto at 7:10 PM on March 25, 2002

The issues that surround bullying in the school are many. The one I like to focus on is the parents. Do parents know when their child is being bullied? Or that their child is a bully? If the answer to these questions is no, then we have to ask them why they don't know.

The defence argued that it was normal schoolyard behaviour, and insisted the teens never planned to kill Dawn-Marie.

FWIW, I don't agree that this was normal schoolyard behaviour--it was a little excessive for bullying, at least the kind that I remember. This case is nothing like the ones reported here, however.

Also, FWIW, I don't believe that by age 16 "the twig is not only bent, it's broke". For many, 16 is the stepping stone into exploring who and what we really are.
posted by ashbury at 7:19 PM on March 25, 2002

umberto - I agree with you on bullies being the 'rectal acorns' of the adult assholes, who sadly seem to rule the world much of the time, I have to beg to differ with this statement:

"Scared Straight" aside, pretty much by 16 the twig is not only bent, it's broke.

I still believe humans can change for the better, and that it's never too late. That may sound naive, but it's a theme that's been reoccuring here on mefi lately. I've known guys who were complete miscreants as teenagers who've grown up tbe decent adults. Hell, when I was 16 or so, many people had me and most of my freinds figured for a hopeless losers, and guess what most of us are productive members of society now.
What changes people can be a variety of things, finding God, doing something so horrible that you have an attack of conscience, coming to grips with an addiction or psychological problem, sometimes just coming up against someone tougher than you can snap people out of their knuckleheaded ways.
16 just seems awful arbitrary to me. If the die is cast so early why bother making any effort to help anyone out.

That said, in this case the right decision was made. as someone who's taken his share of bullying in his life, I agree that hounding and threatening someone to the point of suicide is a reprehensible act that must be answered for. I still believe the person who did that may change into a good human being one day, but the process of that change will have to involve punishment and confinement.

posted by jonmc at 7:26 PM on March 25, 2002

ashbury: As far as the parents being being aware of bullying, no, they often do not know. My son was being bullied a few years back and the only reason I found out about it was because he has sisters. I don't like to think of it as neglect (naturally) on our part so much as it is the normal reticence of youth to admit to weakness or to rock the boat (with the exception of those who live to rock the boat, different issue.) Despite my doddering current incarnation, I can recall only too well that my parents were aware but dimly of maybe 30% of what went on in my life at the time. A statistic that I felt wwas way too high at the time (pardon the pun) but now frightens me.

And Jonmc: As I hinted in the paragraph above, I, too, was figured for a total loser as a teen, but now I am the east coast's largest distributor of custom, sculpted chopped liver arrangements ("liverearies" we like to call them) for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. Or something like that, anyway.

And some of my loser friends ended up being extremely sucessful, responsible people. And even some bully asswipes I know are contributing members of society.

But they're still bullies. That has not changed. They still try to inspire dread and overpower you with physical presence. Actually, the ones who are not successful are worse, so I guess there is some mitigation there. But not a lot. My opinion (and I freely admit that's all it is) still stands.
posted by umberto at 7:58 PM on March 25, 2002

umberto, you have good points. I too felt that the less my parents knew of my life, the better. I very conveniently forgot about that, and it's something to look forward to with my own son in a decade or so. yecch.

The thing with bullies is that as they (and we) get older they get easier to ignore, to the point that they tend to be looked down on and laughed at. It would be so much easier to get thru life in school if we knew that, but that is also what growing up is all about--we learn as we go along.

School bullying is a fact and probably unavoidable, and I feel that it is something that should be addressed in the classroom along with sex education, preferably pre-secondary or first year secondary as well as at home.
posted by ashbury at 8:18 PM on March 25, 2002

I grew up out there and went to high school in Abbotsford. I remember there were fights (girls and boys) after school and that there were a lot of toughs, but noone ever committed suicide over it.

This story has been in the news a lot locally, and while I don't think the girl who did the bullying should get off lightly, she did seem genuinely heartbroken that her actions led to such a horrible tragedy. I don't think she'll bully anyone again, but if they put her in juvie, she'll have to be tough again, which will create a greater problem later on.

It's amazing to me that it's hit the point where schoolteachers and parents can't deal with it anymore, now the ferocity and level of violence has escalated to the point where you need the kids and the cops. Really sad.
posted by Salmonberry at 8:47 PM on March 25, 2002

I meant courts and cops. Not kids and cops.
posted by Salmonberry at 8:47 PM on March 25, 2002

Ha ha he could sell hot tubs to eskimos that kid

Also, this is terrible news. Imagine the sort of inhuman goading that that must have been. Whoever could do that to a person is seriously disturbed. A good example could be made of him, don't you think? I was lucky, at my school everyone was considerate and there was no bullying aside from bits of intimidation. But most highschools are really huge impersonal institutional places and I think that the sense of isolation that these organizations create is the most harmful effect they have.
posted by Settle at 9:01 PM on March 25, 2002

I am going to endeavor to use the phrase "rectal acorns from which assholes grow" in one sentence each day this week.
posted by kindall at 12:16 AM on March 26, 2002

I was a dork in school, I got picked on, and I even remember thinking about suicide as early as 5th grade.

But this is ridiculous. Bullying is not going to stop. Kids say mean things to each other. Kids must have said "you're dead" to me, and I must have said it back, thousands of times by the time I was 14. We are not ever going to advance toward some schoolyard paradise where all the kiddies sit cross-legged playing tiddlywinks during recess.

I'm not saying it's okay that the girl died. But I'm disturbed by how much that first article focuses on how bad the bullies are, as opposed to how sensitive and vulnerable the poor girl was.

And I'm also bothered by the use of the word "bully," which in my corner of the world, was not used seriously when talking about any kids over about 12. And I'm bothered by the lack of detail regarding exactly what the bullies did/said to this girl, and exactly what she was worried about. I have a feeling that the situation is more complicated, interesting, and maybe profound, than it seems. But it reads like the kind of naive "Kids these days are so bad, whatever shall we righteous and wise parents do?" pieces that you might expect to find in Time.
posted by bingo at 12:55 AM on March 26, 2002

This whole anti-bullying mentality came about after several kids used it as their excuse to kill other kids, teachers, and parents. As usual, when knees start jerking the pendulum swings too far at first, and some parents and schools are now wanting the courts to do their jobs for them. Things get out of hand when those in positions of authority are derelict in their duty and keep passing the buck.
posted by Mack Twain at 1:25 AM on March 26, 2002

One thing that contributes to trouble with bullies at school is allowing too much hidden space for unsupervised kid-on-kid traps. Schools should be designed and run to minimize the chances that a kid will be caught and thrashed without teachers seeing it. One-kid bathrooms. Teachers (parents? cameras?) in the halls when classes change. Supervised locker rooms. More 1984 but less Lord of the Flies.

Schools are full of current and potential rectal acorns, vaginal warts, and so on, but you can reduce their opportunities to sprout by watching them and listening to them.
posted by pracowity at 2:09 AM on March 26, 2002

Child bullies are the rectal acorns from which the assholes of society grow.
best. mefi. quote. ever.
posted by quonsar at 6:45 AM on March 26, 2002

More 1984 but less Lord of the Flies.

Ugh. I commend you for being willing to state your preference so directly, pracowity. Neither situation is good, but I would choose to live in Lord of the Flies every time.
posted by bingo at 12:10 PM on March 26, 2002

Although bullying persists into adulthood, now the picked on can respond creatively to our oppressors.

Caveat: I was picked on by two girls in elementary school, who threatened to have their thug boyfriends beat me up if I didn't bring them candy.
posted by mecran01 at 12:28 PM on March 26, 2002

So did you bring them the candy? That's the only interesting part of the story.
posted by bingo at 1:04 PM on March 26, 2002

I didn't think there was any interesting part of the story. Yes, I brought them candy. And then we moved shortly afterwards, and before I left, they both said they would miss me because I was nice. And I've been codependent ever since.
posted by mecran01 at 1:40 PM on March 26, 2002
posted by todd at 5:56 PM on March 26, 2002

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