I am not here to argue that what they did was in any way justifiable. I am not here to argue that they should not be punished. But a year’s suspension? Since when does any bullying incident result in a whole year away from school? This seems to be another case of media sensationalism leading to excessive punishment, without actually thinking about how these kids could be helped instead. Where is the repair? The discussion of what led to all of this? The plan for something like this to not happen again?
The sad thing is, we only know about this case because one kid foolishly published the video to Youtube, apparently proud of their achievement as bullies. The bus monitor didn’t report it, or at least we don’t know that she did. She also barely spoke up for herself throughout the ordeal, instead sitting their stoically taking whatever evil words they could fling at her. How often does that happen, those untold stories of bullying that we only discover after it is too late? How do school react to those stories where young children commit suicide due to the cruel nature of others? What about the every day bullying that happens in our hallways, in our lunch rooms, at our recesses, right underneath our noses? What punishment do those kids get? How often do we say it is just a part of growing up, it is just a part of school, it is just a part of life? How often do we come up with a repair plan but then don’t follow through? How often do we not believe the children that report the bullying? So when a case like this one, that seems so cut and dry, we jump on it, flaunt our muscles, blame the parents and then punish those kids with every thing we have. Those kids are going to pay. Those kids will be an example. Those kids will learn. And yet, we don’t actually fix the problem.
So I wonder what can we as a society do to prevent these situations from happening? And how can we serve justice in a way that makes sense, that makes children change their behaviors? How do we focus in on all bullying and not just those cases that make it into the media, that start an outcry? How do we teach children and adults, because adults are as much of a part of this as children, that bullying is vile and inhumane? They say kids learn best from examples set, well, how are we setting the example? What responsibility are we taking for all of this? And how do we truly show kids that bullying is not just “not ok” it is deplorable?