I have to admit, it makes me sick to my stomach to watch this video, which appears to come from somewhere in New York. (The user who posted the video hat-tips WPIX, a New York station.) The bully in it is a young teenage girl. The victim is an overweight boy, obviously a couple of years younger.
The lessons each of them has learned from life are written on the beginning of the episode like the notes of a funeral dirge. The girl has obviously made a career of bullying and intimidating those she deems weaker – and has never been called on it. The boy has learned that, for one reason or another, he has to put up with such treatment.
Ultimately, that’s because no one will step in and impose rebuke and discipline on the bully. (An adult voice is heard off-screen stating, precisely, that there’s nothing she can do about what’s going on.) But it’s also because the boy has imbibed, through osmosis, a sense of being obliged to remain passive – perhaps lest he be accused of escalating the situation, of attacking a girl, even of being a white boy attacking a black person.
If you are the age of these kids, you may never have known that things could be different. But it occurs to the boy, when the bullying girl starts kicking him in the head. That, he’s not going to sit still for. Within seconds, the pudgy kid is off his seat and gets the girl in a head-lock. The girl’s brother, whom we hear off-camera, now demands that the former victim let his sister go. The bully sings a very different tune, with her head locked down under the younger boy’s arm, suddenly sounding pathetic and frightened.
But who, watching this event, can think in terms of triumph? The whole thing is horrible. And so unnecessary. Not so long ago, hardly anyone in America would have imagined a teenage girl – of any race – bullying someone in this way. I can only think of the girls I grew up with – black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern – and remember that each one had her own sort of dignified, ladylike demeanor, whatever her personality or background.
This bullying girl is clearly intelligent, and seems articulate and well groomed. What a crying, screaming shame it is on our society, that we have let a “deconstructionist” spirit and a regime of social experimentation, resentment-mongering, and victim-worship take over her rearing. There are simply no excuses for this: no arguments in extenuation or mitigation. If your approach is turning out this result, you’re doing it wrong.
The poignant moment at the end of the video? The victim, having subdued his bully, lets her go. And asks, “Are you OK?” A fragment of gentlemanliness flies its tattered colors.
Will either child learn the right lessons from this incident? It’s so banal to point out that the girl shouldn’t bully, and that it’s really sad that the boy can only keep himself safe by subduing her physically. That’s not wisdom, it’s a pair of soul-deadening bromides. It might as well be a safety instruction sheet, for all the moral encouragement it offers. The tragedy here is infinitely bigger.
It starts with the fact that 40 years ago, things like this weren’t within the scope of the average person’s experience at all. How foolish it is to insist that America has not changed for the worse because of the breakdown of the family, the intellectual demonization of character and discipline, the change of school curricula to emphasize divisive political themes, and the mushrooming of government subsidies for destructive lifestyles. Of course those trends are why America has changed for the worse, and bullying is now a rampant, invasive problem.
A narrative attached to the video (see link in first paragraph) transcribes some of the dialogue.