Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist

More Things That Really Bug Me

Via ginmar, Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon talks about a New York Times article about an Arkansas bullying victim. It wouldn't be a story if his school was doing anything about it.

There's a slide show of photos linked from the story, showing some of the wounds and bruises this boy has suffered at the hands of his classmates. There's also a link to a copy of the cell phone video shot by the friend of a kid who tried to beat this boy up while waiting for the bus, in front of his younger sister. All of it left me unsettled for most of yesterday.

The article talks about a Facebook group created to harass the victim, "Everybody Hates Billy Wolfe". Of course, it's been deleted and a bunch of supportive groups have sprung up. And then there's one called The Whole Story It's some kids at Fayetteville HS responding to the media attention, taking a "leave the guy alone and let the circus go away" perspective. Some comments indicate Billy isn't as innocent as the NYT article paints him. As always, there's two sides, and the truth lies somewhere in between. Having been there and done that (though fortunately not to the physical degree seen in this case,) I think I see where things fit. If you take the kind of crap that he has for more than a little while, you develop some way of defending yourself. Some people close themselves in, some quit school, some push their parents to move or transfer them to another school. Some will return the verbal assaults in kind. And some may strike preemptively, maybe because they see the confrontation coming anyways, and want it on their terms. Or maybe because they're Sick And Tired And Aren't Going To Take It Any Longer™.

I'm inclined to belive that's where this boy is. His school clearly doesn't care, its administration is wholly concerned with order and image, as most public schools are. His parents, maybe for good reason, but maybe not, won't move him to another school. It's true, someone shouldn't have to move to escape bullies, it does feel like admitting defeat. But changing an inherently hostile system is a much taller order. (And maybe, moving is irrelevant when everybody's so widely connected thanks to the 'net.)

On a side note, there's another article linked about the dissolution of friendships in junior high. By and large, my own experience there wasn't as painful. With a single exception sophomore year of HS, everybody just drifted away in other directions.

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