The other day, I was happily eating ice cream and playing on the internetz when I came across a meme that read: “We will never, ever get rid of bullying. We should teach kids to stand up for themselves and cope instead of wearing pink shirts and passing anti- bullying bylaws. We are creating a society of victims.” I put down my ice cream because memes like this really leave quite the bitter taste in my mouth. It’s not so much the meme, really, as it is society and its take on what it means to be a victim.
The LGBT* community are commonly found to be victims of bullying. 9 out of 10 LGBT* teens report being bullied at school with almost half of them resulting in physical harassment, according to bullyingstatistics.org. Most bullying incidents go unreported, however. I think there is a fear that their concerns will be brushed aside or the tables will be turned against them, like in the case of 9 year old Grayson Bruce, a 9 year old from North Carolina who loves My Little Pony (a show that has a massive cult following in the gay community) so much he carried a lunchbox with the characters on the front. Grayson became a victim of bullying because of his lunchbox and so the school told him he couldn’t bring it anymore because it was a “trigger for bullying”. Fortunately, when word got out around the country, Grayson was overwhelmed with supporters and the backlash against the school was extensive. He was allowed to return to school, with lunchbox in tow. Even teachers are getting in on the bullying action, like a California teacher who drew an “S”, short for sinner, on a teen’s hand who was wearing a t- shirt that said, ‘Gay is Good’.
It doesn’t stop there. George Will of the Washington Post is under a lot of heat for his recent article in which he claims students on college campuses are coming forward to report rape because “victimhood [is] a coveted status that confers privileges.” He goes on to say campuses are “making everyone hypersensitive, even delusional, about victimization.” Stop being so sensitive, you guys. It’s not like a quarter of women attending university are victims of rape or anything (sarcasm).
I think the meme is right in the respect that we do need to teach our children how to cope with bullies. And it is true. Bullies will never go away. They were around when I was a kid (as I was definitely a victim of bullying) and they will be around long after I am gone. But to trivialize what our children or even adults are going through and then to shame them for not standing up for themselves—I think we are letting our brothers and our sisters down. They deserve to have a support system and people championing for them when people are being… Well… Assholes. Bullies need to be held responsible for the disgusting things they do and they need to be dealt with appropriately. Their effects on young people can linger for a lifetime and can cause emotional turmoil that eventually leads to suicide. 38% of frequent bully-victims reported suicidal thinking or a suicide attempt during the past year, according to the Megan Meier Foundation. WAKE UP. THIS IS NOT OKAY. We have to end this thing that we do which is making the victims feel responsible for the heinous things that happen to them. You may not be saying it so much in your words (or maybe you are if you are George Will), but you are sure as hell saying it by what you don’t do when you turn your backs on these people.