Log in

The Weird Times

Good Kids Are Worse



Being a trail of lies and deceit with occasional amusing moments....

Good Kids Are Worse

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

When I blog, I usually blog about books or the lighter side of things. I’d like to take a moment, tho, and comment on the recent suicide of Tyler Clementi, the gay college student who was recorded by his roommate having sex.  I’m not going to discuss the dynamics of being a gay teen—others are doing that. It’s the support and defense of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei---the two students involved in the recording—that I want to address.

When you hear about bullying in school, what image arises for you? The muscled boy known for getting into fights? The kids in that class for underachievers? The antisocial tough girl who doesn’t take crap from anyone?

Yeah, bullies are in those groups. When you are a target of bullying, those are the kids you naturally avoid. They wear their attitude on their sleeves. You know by their reputation—and likely your own personal experience—what will happen if you go near them or find yourself accidently trapped alone with them.

When one of these “usual suspects” gets accused of bullying, the victim at least has a fighting chance that something will be done about it. After all, these are “bad” kids, troublemakers, problem kids. They’ve probably had previous run-ins with adults that have nothing to do with bullying other kids. The problem with these kids is isolated and individual. They buck the system, defy authority, resist conformity. They are “other,” easily identified, easily accusable, easily punished.

They aren’t the only bullies. They’re not even the worst ones.

The worst bullies are the so-called “good kids”—the sports players, the cheerleaders, the popular cliques. The kids who have an edge with teachers and coaches and parents because they’re smart or sociable or athletically talented.

Why are they worse? Because they're excused from their behavior.

Look what’s happening with Ravi and Wei. The first thing out of the mouths of parents, friends and supportive administrators is that they are “good kids,” they didn’t mean anything. People attacking them are “unfair,” “over-reacting,” “pushing an agenda.”

Every fat kid, every nerd, every minority kid, every unattractive kid, every quiet kid, every smart kid, every “slow” kid, every gay boy, every poor kid, every lesbian girl, every nonathletic kid, have heard this story before.

The “good kids” didn’t mean it.
The “good kids” would never do that.
The “good kids” are just being kids.
The “good kids” were provoked.

The victim had a history.
The victim asked for it.
The victim had problems.
The victim should have known better.

Dharun Ravi recorded two people having sex and broadcast it on the internet to humiliate his roommate. Read that sentence again. Now compare with this sentence: “He’s a good kid.”

Molly Wei, who allegedly didn’t record anything or post messages encouraging people to watch the video, sat and watched her friend record two people having sex, upload it online and encourage other friends to watch in order to humiliate someone and didn't even think to say stop it. Now compare with this sentence: “She’s a good kid.”

Ask a gay kid who he’s more afraid of: the school drug dealer with a reputation for fighting or the popular football player who ridicules him for being gay. Ask an overweight girl who she’s more afraid of: the tough girl who couldn’t care less about her existence or the popular cheerleader who takes every opportunity to tell her she’s fat.

People are upset Tyler Clementi is dead. You know what? It’s easy to have sympathy for a dead kid. What’s not easy is recognizing the living kids who are going through the same humiliations as Tyler Clementi right now at the hands of other “good kids”—and their friends, parents, administrators and, yes, religious leaders who have their backs.

After all, they’re good kids.

  • I was very intentional in not making a post about “this case,” but using it to make a larger point about how a cultural environment plants the seeds of acceptable bullying—not teasing, not run-of-the-mill peer pressure, not typical teen social hierarchy—but bullying. If Ravi and Wei were high school dropouts, high on drugs, with a history of fighting, no one would be rushing to their defense except, perhaps, their parents, who would likely be demonized for being bad parents. Please read my last paragraph again.
    • See my post about how close we are to the chimps.

      Maybe bullying is acceptable, because it's part of our human dark side make up. It came about through our survival times.

      I have to wonder, why this case? Why did it gel into this post? There are other more horrifying stories of bullies and victims(and they may or may not be gay or any other ism).

      I also have to wonder, why the hue and cry on bullying? Is it because we can all empathize to some degree, but can't to the Autistic child who is penalized by the judicial system(Arkansas, teacher sat on kid, and he hit back and he's being hit with a felony and cps is involved). Why this issue, instead of say why section 8 has years long waiting lists?

      Call me bitter and frustrated but there are more pressing concerns, then this. Bullying is not a new occurrence. It will be here till the end of time.

      The only effective way of dealing with them, is to make yourself less of an omega and stand up and fight back. That has to be learned. So does proper conflict resolution. We can't bubble wrap things so no one will ever get their feelings hurt.

      I just don't get it.

  • This isn’t a contest about what’s more or less important. I’m sure, for instance, that the concern about Section 8 waiting lists would be found equally baffling to genocide victims in Africa. There isn’t a national uproar about an autistic Arkansas student getting charged with a felony probably because there isn’t a pervasive trend of autistic students nationwide getting hit with felonies. The conversation about bullying isn’t about individual cases, per se. It’s about the larger context that allows bullying to occur.

    Phoebe Prince committed suicide here in Massachusetts in January 2010. If you don’t know about it, yes, that makes me sad. Prior to her death, she had slept with a popular boy. She was subsequently harassed daily, called a slut and disparaged because she was foreign born. Her tormentors? The popular girlfriend of the boy, the girlfriend’s friends, his friends and, yes, him. Honor students and popular sports players. Twelve kids were indicted on serious charges. An additional three were charged with assaulting another student for speaking to the media about it. Fifteen kids—not an isolated problem child—operated with impunity because, apparently, they thought they could. And they did. The school administrators and teachers knew what was happening and no disciplinary measures were taken until Phoebe, 15, hung herself. As examples go, yeah, I’ll say that was worse than what happened to Tyler Clementi. But it was the circumstances in both situations that led to the same result—adults turning a blind eye to “good” kids’ behavior until it was too late. If any one of her tormentors was the school thug, I’d bet my eyeteeth he would have been hauled into the school office long before Phoebe’s 12 year old sister found her hanging dead.

    The chimp argument is definitely a left turn in this discussion. Chimps masturbate in public and throw excrement at each other when they’re angry. Humans kinda frown on that behavior. One might say that’s different, but why pick and choose chimp behaviors as acceptable or not? Since you’ve invoked a Darwinian philosophy here, is it okay to say to people on the Section 8 waiting, suck it up, you’re poor? Or to an autistic kid, suck it up, the teacher wouldn’t have had to sit on you if you weren’t autistic?

    You stated: “The only effective way of dealing with them, is to make yourself less of an omega and stand up and fight back.” What do you think I’m doing? I’m standing up and saying no kid is an omega. I made a post that stands up and says it’s not just the bully, it’s the environment that gives rise to bullying. I’m fighting back against the attitude that only a bad kid is a real bully but being a good kid mitigates the same behavior.

    We’re either chimps or we’re not. I’m kinda in the not camp.
    • There actually is more autistic students getting prosecuted. Your just not hearing it. As for Autistic kids, having to suck it up as you devils advocate me, what makes you think they don't. What makes you think society isn't thinking they are the throw away's? 1-150 or less are Autistic. What the heck are we as a society doing about it. Not a whole heck of a lot. Juvenile Diabeties gets more play. So does bullying. Because we as society don't have to do much.

      I guess what gets me about this, is the people you mention, they are the Bambi cases of this. It's easy to get up in arms. It's a fad that will last for a few weeks as people get to point and stare Jerry Springer wise at those they consider to be the meanie pooh pooh heads. It's an easy fix(not really but makes us feel better) you incorporate some useless rules that the smart bully kids will find a way to circumvent, and we wont' hear about this until the next case, years later. Likely another pretty Bambi case and not the convoluted ones.

      Again it's easy to feel sympathy for these people, unless your a cold hearted bitch like me, who doesn't have much more emotion, or patience to give over this, oh heck lets be honest sympathy either.

      Frankly Phoebe prince case, there should have been no disciplinary measures taken. I think the only charges that should have been filed were the assault ones.

      What are you going to put students on suspension for calling another a slut? How does that teach kids to deal in a real world setting conflict. It doesn't. It turns things into a there there dear thing. What is the lesson there, don't be a mean girls episode? How about instead, we have classes(which being a public school will be watered down to almost being useless, kinda like sex ed) on witty comebacks. How to deal with unkind words.
      How about we teach them things like this paper dealt with
      The journal pdf needs money, so I can't give you the link.
      What happened to the good old sticks and stones analogy?

      Why does it matter if Phoebe was foreign born? Why is that a factor in why she decided she couldn't hack life?

      And yeah as an autistic parent, we do end up teaching the autistic kids to suck it up. We teach how to deal and how to communicate and we celebrate their small achievements. But autistic kids have a high suicide and accident death rate. It doesn't get much play, because it's harder to feel sympathy for them. They aren't the pretty Bambi suicide cases.

      Except we are chimps. If we do not acknowledge our dark chimp ape human side, then we let that side come up and bite us in the butt in unexpected moments. We go to war like Chimps do(Americans being one of the kindler gentler ones in war). We split out the jobs between men and women like chimps. We mate like them, for good and bad. We give the cold shoulder like them, and we give the warm shoulder like them as well. We teach our children, like they do. We care for our young. There is a huge amount of similarities.

      Maybe we've evolved past the masturbating in public, or else our moralistic Churches frowned on that enough that most of us dont' do it. Though we do still fling pooh in various forms. They apparently do it to mark territory, we do as well, but not with pooh.

      We have changed much from our past in the last 150 years, but it's still part of us. You have to consider the context of the past in some of the things we do. We also have to acknowledge that while we are at the top of the food chain, we are still animals. We are not above nature, but part of it.

      • part deux

        As for the genocide being worse it is. However unless were willing to commit troops and the time to change their society and sit down and shut up and let those who actually know it do it, then no I don't have the emotional attn to give to it. Speaking won't do much, because their govt doesn't give a rats patootie what we say or do. Unless your willing to do a big money making campaign so those that are victims can hire mercs?

        You want to help people being bullied, its' gonna take more then feel good posts. It's gonna take some serious discussions with psychologists and anthropologists for this. And it may mean, sucking it up and realizing there isn't much we can do, except empower the victims but not empower them in the wrong way.
    • I’m standing up and saying no kid is an omega.

      People seem to think that victim-hood is something that can be avoided. Yeah, under the right circumstances. I agree with you that it is the environment and cultural attitude that needs to be addressed in this issue;

      We should stop blaming the victim for being gay/slutty/weird/whatever. We need to accept that even *nice* and *good* kids can be BAD and that part of their behaviour should not outweigh the fact that they are pretty/good athlete/smart student/whatever.

      It's like saying that the charges against the priest who molest children should be dropped because he did good for the parish/feed the poor/whatever.
  • I think central to this discussion is that we should address the environment that fosters and support bullying behaviour. Our DNA match with chimps notwithstanding (we actually share more genes with plants than with primates) but humans are supposed to be a creature of reason.

    Do we surrender to genetic imperative and natural instinct alone and not be accountable for our actions? No.

    The issue with autistic children is real and important; wouldn't it be better if we could foster an environment where the teacher would not have acted that way towards the child? That people would be more understanding and supportive of the autistic child and his/her family?

    Yes, it is easy to say that people are assholes and we can't change the world, but silence can also be regarded as assent. The post is not about making a hoo-ha just because a kid is dead after being humiliated online; to my mind it is about being aware that we need to look into the circumstances that promotes such atrocious behaviour so that perhaps we can mitigate this next time.

    People who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat them.
    • Here's a situation where even after the child was dead, her peers still mocked her.


      THAT is the culture of bullying that we need to address. Four children in one school? I don't know Mentor -- I'm from Northeastern Ohio, but not that far up toward the lake -- What you say "silence can also be regarded as assent" BINGO! Yes, exactly. With regard to bully behavior -- it really is true that if it is going on around you, if you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

      I have often thought that we just aren't helping people to grow their own inner sense of compassion -- and that is behind a lot of today's societal ills and unpleasantness. And having a sense of compassion is different from guilt. When you can identify with someone's pain, when you can feel their pain, it is a lot harder to act in away that will hurt them more. Children need guidance in helping compassion grow. But studies have been done with very young kids, and the good news is that even 3 and 4 yo kids often display a remarkable empathy for others. It's the culture of school that kills it.
Powered by LiveJournal.com