Bullying is built into our system.
The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, April 9, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.
The Bullies Union
I'm here to speak on behalf of bullies - who, after all, represent all of us, don't they?
Lately, people are down on bullies, like those who drove 15-year-old Irish immigrant Phoebe Prince to suicide in her first year at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts.
I recently had a chance to interview a group of bullies at another high school in the United States (the site shall remain unnamed - but it could be - probably is - the high school near you). In a similar situation to the South Hadley one, this teen girl, Joy, killed herself after she was picked on by a group of teens. Only they were never charged.
Cal (football star and popular student): Yeah, I dated the little slut, Joy. Sure, she was vulnerable and sensitive - just the way I like them (here he sneers). That way you don't have to spend any money on them - just take them out in your car and screw them! (Laughs.) I already had a girlfriend, Chloe. You know, she actually encouraged me to go for the slut. "I bet you could get her in two seconds," I remember she said.
But, after I did, Chloe got really angry with me. You know (he looks around), Chloe can be really scary. So together we started making fun of Joy around the school. We called her "whore" and "slut" and the SFG (stupid farm girl). Everyone joined in - the guys on the team, Chloe's friends. Like I said, Joy was totally vulnerable. Who doesn't enjoy picking on someone that defenseless?
Esperaldo (Chloe's friend): I'm Chloe's best friend. And that little whore Joy screwed her boyfriend - like she could possibly hope to have someone like Cal like her! Chloe's in the school elite - top of the class. I couldn't stand by and let that slut get away with it. So I started harassing her. At first it was only pushing her books out of her hand. Then I started spilling things on her in the lunchroom. Once I got soda all over her - I could see how uncomfortable she was in her wet trashy dress all day! (Smiles at the memory.) Then I started pushing her when I saw her - telling her I would beat her up. (Triumphantly) You could tell she was about to break into tears any moment!
Guy (Joy's English teacher): I had Joy in class with several of the kids bullying her. She was a sad little girl. Kept to herself. I heard she had a "fling" with Cal, who's a big man on campus. I could see she was doing it out of her vulnerability - out of a hope that she would be accepted since she was with him. But I knew this was a bad idea. Those popular kids burn through people like tissue paper! I know, I was a victim like that myself in high school - although never as bad as Joy got it. Why didn't I do anything about it if I knew all of this? Well, no crimes were committed in my classroom.
Jean (Esperaldo's mother): I can't believe they're tagging Esperaldo with that pathetic girl's death. What did my daughter have to do with it? In the first place, you don't go around having sex with someone's boyfriend - she knew Cal was dating Chloe. I'm not going to call her a whore - that would be cruel after she killed herself. But what kind of girl does that?
Noah (school district superintendent): I was shocked when I heard about Joy's death. We have zero tolerance for bullying in our school district! Her death was really horrific. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. I immediately issued a statement decrying bullying and reminding everyone about the district's zero tolerance policy. We're bringing in an anti-bullying crusader next month - you know, one who makes the kids aware of the consequences of their behavior. I hope and expect nothing like this will happen again as long as I'm here!
Selma (Joy's mother): I'm devastated! My Joy is dead! I realize I should have known more about all of this - but no one reached out to me from the school. I'm a single mother, and I rarely see my two daughters - now I have only one - from day to day. The district is going to pay for this, I can tell you. Just you watch!
Amy (Joy's younger sister): I can barely get up in the morning since I came home and found Joy's body hanging from the stairway in our apartment. I could see how much my sister was suffering through all of this. She had that boyfriend, Cal, but I could tell from what she said that he didn't really care about her. When she came home from school, she would just go to her room. Sometimes I could hear her crying. I would go in and try to cheer her up. But I didn't really know what to do or say.
[Note: I made all of this up. Nothing in it is true.]