Bullying Online

I’m not talking about texting, Facebook or Formspring.  This time, I’m talking about YouTube.  And although I know there are sickening incidents of animal torture and abuse on YouTube, this has to do with two middle school boys.
Cheryl, one of my fellow Edge-ites, showed me a video the other day that she saw through her daughter’s website.  She did warn me, “You gotta be ready for this.”  I wasn’t.  It was of two middle school-aged kids, one who is clearly taunting, and eventually throwing punches at the other.  The other takes the non-reactive stance until he clearly has had enough, then proceeds to pick up the other kid and slam him down on his head onto the concrete.  The injured kid gets up (thankfully), and wobbles towards the camera.  End of video.

Sadly, it doesn’t end there.  Video uploaders create mixes of videos (this has happened for years) set to music, with additional animation.  I counted 16 versions of this video, often set to intense “gangsta” music, and often with titles that glorify what happened. People are chiming in everywhere to show their support for Casey Heynes, the boy who threw Richard Gale to the ground after Richard repeatedly punched and taunted Casey.  A Current Affair (not the most reputable “news” magazine to be sure) interviews both of them, and paints them both in a troubling light.  The video has gone viral.

There’s debate about whose fault this particular altercation was, and for me it doesn’t matter.  They are both sad examples of what it feels like to be kids.  They are representative of bullies and victims everywhere – Casey, for instance, has been bullied all of his life.  Perhaps some victims of bullying long for the drive to retaliate, like Casey did.  I would bet many victims wish they could have their instances recorded.  But why the “Yeah! Go get ’em, Casey!”?  Why the recording?  Why is it glorified?  Is it that a bully gets his due?  Is it what some of us wish we would have done to our tormentors? Is Casey a hero?  Is Richard just a kid afraid of getting bullied himself?  How do we explain the popularity of this video to our students?  Our children?  What happens to bullied kids when “turn the other cheek” doesn’t stop the bullying?  Do we point to the Caseys of the world as an example?  If not, how do we promote non-violent solutions?

I wish I knew the answers.  Do you have any?

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