I ran across a headline in Jezebel (not my usual reading) yesterday.
“After Body-Shaming a Fellow Gym Patron, Dani Mathers Will Be Tried in Court”
Well, don’t get me wrong. She definitely did that, too. (Allegedly, but in an already admitted it in an online video, and apologized, but really doesn’t want a record kind of way.)
But what she’s being tried in court for is taking a picture of a naked 70 year old in the gym locker room and posting it to the internet.
Let’s put it this way: if she’d said the woman was “hot” instead of the nasty thing she did say, she’d still be on trial. And probably for a sex offense. The DA delivered a nifty sermon on the evils of body shaming, but in the end, that’s not what she’s charged with.
The media likes to do the same thing with “bullying.”
“Bullying” can stretch all the way from not eating lunch with someone through harassment, and assault. Most of the time, if “bullying” hits the papers, what we’re really talking about is a concrete, nameable crime.
Sometimes, it’s lots of crimes.
You can sit and count the crimes in the articles that announce the “bullying” victims’ eventual deaths.
We could call this kidnapping, or false imprisonment, or assault or battery, or any number of things. We can name people who went to prison for the same things. If someone did it to an adult, they’d call the police, press charges, and name the crime by name.
But if the crime is committed in a school, we have a tendency to find the euphemism. Bullying. He was pushed (assault) into the women’s restroom (kidnapping), held there against his will, (unlawful imprisonment). Let’s call it “bullying.”
Let’s call the principal instead of the police.
Let’s keep it out of the papers until someone is actually, literally, dead.
Let’s fudge over the reports and the details, so no one can really be sure how often something like this happens in the school their children go to. You didn’t really want valid statistics on that in-school crime rate, did you?
And why on earth would the principal have any obligation to report these things to the police, in the first place?
It’s only a crime against minor children.
Oh, that’s right.
It’s a crime against minor children.
The next time you see a story that says something like “Bullying Victim Commits Suicide”… NAME THE CRIMES. Chances are pretty good that an adult would have called the police months or years earlier.
And if you have children, make sure they KNOW that these are crimes. Not just so they’ll understand the impact doing things like that can have on their own life, but so that if they are a victim, they’re able to walk into the principal’s office and say, “I’ve been assaulted, and I need to call the police.”
Sometimes, a stern talking to just isn’t the answer.
The punishment for assault–for kidnapping–for unlawful imprisonment–for any number of things that get waved aside as “bullying” isn’t that you don’t get to go to the winter Snow Ball.