Saturday, June 30, 2012

Teen bullying video kindles outrage across the nation

From flandersnews.be (full story here):
The mother of a 13-year-old school girl from Tielt (West Flanders) has posted a video on Facebook to show how her daughter is being brutally bullied by other pupils. She put the footage online to support her daughter, hoping that such incidents can be avoided in the future.

The video goes back to last Tuesday. The victim is waiting at the Roeselare bus station when a group of other pupils from her school arrive. One girl starts bullying her, with the support of her friends and with one pupil making a four-minute movie.

The victim is being told to stand up. The verbal aggression is followed by physical aggression. The girl is being slapped in the face and kicked, and is being pulled by the hair several times.
This is the video. (Apparently it's not visible in Google Reader, so you'll have to click through to the post to see it.)



Kayleigh was bullied because she's an easy target - she has autism. These kids decided to make her last school day memorable by putting her through several minutes of physical and emotional abuse. Now the most shameful moment of their lives is online for all to see, and the reactions are unanimous.
The mother wanted to share the video to support her daughter and to make a statement. It worked: the film was shared over 70,000 times in a couple of days. Most viewers express their support for the victim and some have very hard comments towards the bullies. A Facebook hate group was created against the 15-year-old girl that takes the lead in the incident. She also received death threats.
The bullies now risk expulsion from school.


I'm glad to see the spotlight being put on bullying in such an explicit way. However, death threats are by no means the right way to stop bullying. The bullies are now receiving much of the same treatment they put Kayleigh through. If we want to make the world a better place, we need to condemn all kinds of harassment, including the revenge-based sort.

6 comments:

  1. I saw it on Facebook the other day, and then the next day it was all over the news. I get so annoyed at the video because no one seems to notice what's happening. I also think the girl is bullied because she has a pretty face - a lot of people bully others out of jealousy. Anyway, I hope they get what they deserve: expulsion.

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  2. That's right, you saw the uncensored video on Facebook before it got taken down. I'm sure it had an even stronger effect to see the faces of both the victim and the culprits.

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  3. I have a form of autism myself and have been bullied a lot in my school days. I am proponent of separate schools for autistics. Our disorder is genetic, we cannot be "cured" (and why do we need a "cure" anyway?) no matter how often we deal with non-autistics. Being the only autist in school only makes socialising less attractive than it already is, it triggers the desire for isolation. If surrounded by fellow autists, it may trigger the desire for socialising, and you can use specially trained teachers. I don't believe that we (the autistic people) should be in a classroom amongst non-autistics. There's simply no point in it. It makes us prone to being bullied more than in a special surrounding that is prepared for dealing with autistic children. My school days were extremely depressing because of the bullying and it triggered my need for isolation. I hope there won't need to be more Kayleigh cases before the government realises that minorities cannot function in an ideal way when they are the only different one in an environment that doesn't know how to deal with them.


    As for the video: putting the video online is an understandable reaction as a call to stop bullying at schools. The one question: why Facebook? Why not a simple website where nobody can react to the video but simply watch? That would have brought dialogue too, but without the whole reaction that followed such as hate groups and death threats. The bullies are being bullied themselves now in an unacceptable way. In the paper, a psychologist compared Facebook to a modern era version of the medieval town squares where people could spit on a criminal. Facebook takes the barriers away and makes very rude comments easy: people feel anonymous behind their PC and post without thinking twice. To put the video online was a good idea, but Facebook is a site so hard to control that there were better options available. Of course the family of Kayleigh could never expected this so they're not to blame.

    In all honesty, if someone decides to censor Facebook alltogether, I'd say fine. I am all for freedom of speech, not for abuse of that freedom. Facebook makes that abuse very easy and gives an easy platform for people who abuse the liberties they are given. This is not the first time things get out of hand via Facebook. We should be careful to protect freedom of speech as much as we can, but we should also not turn a blind eye to clear abuse of that freedom.


    The mayor wants bystanders to be held co-responsible for not interfering. I think this is a step too far because on a busy bus station not everyone is paying attention to the hundreds or at least tens of people in the area. And those who did witness it: the bullies apparently were a group of 4 or 5. If you come in between you're just gonna get kicked and punched too. The best thing to do if something like this happens is to alarm the security staff that should be present in any busy public transport hub, or ring the police instantly when you notice something goes wrong. The bullies would be identified and arrested on the spot too, saving time to let justice take place. I guess a lot of people either did not see what happened or were afraid to interfere. That is a normal reaction, you feel fear and that sort of numbs you. But at least have the reflex to call the police and alarm the security of the bus station ; or even just alarm the bus driver of the nearest bus you see.


    Last remark but regardless if the bullies will be sent away or not, if I were in Kayleigh's place, I'd opt for another school. This case will follow her forever and I doubt it's a good situation to be a sort of "student in the limelight" all the time. For the sake of leaving this traumatising experience behind as much as possible, it may be better for her to take a fresh start in a new environment.

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  4. Besides this year, My son was getting bullied since he started to primary school here in Belgium. Now, he is 10yrs old and in his new school, there are no any bulliers because his class is the oldest kids class.
    He was getting bullied because his taller than his peers,good looking, baby faced boy and he is so sensible. Plus he speaks several languages due being trilingual, which takes attention of others.
    Next summer, we are planning to move to England and i am terrified with the fact that the bullying there might be worse than Belgium :(

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that your son was bullied in primary school. I sincerely believe that bullying is something that becomes less common as kids get older. Good luck with your move!

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