1. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anti-Bullying Sentiment in the media

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by cruciFICTION, Oct 4, 2011.

    Long story short: I was on a troll pictures website, where I viewed an embedded youtube video, which then showed several of the "related videos", one of which did not seem related, but I watched it anyway. It was called, "On Being Bullied and Bullying - Mitchell Wilson". You can look it up if you wish. Watching an overweight man talk about bullying got me thinking. I tried to leave a comment on his profile, but was informed, after hitting "Post", that it exceeded the maximum character limit. I lost all of what I wrote.

    Thus, I have written the first draft of an article which essentially states that anti-bullying sentiment in the media, especially that by governments, is damaging because it focuses on the bully and not the victim.

    What I'm looking for here is your response to the following questions:
    * Do you believe anti-bullying campaigns have the capacity to be damaging? Why or why not?
    * What are some pieces of advice that you've heard over the years in relation to stopping or avoiding bullies? This applies to getting it as a victim or giving it to a victim.
    * What opinions do you hold toward situations like that of Casey Heynes or Mitchell Wilson?
    * (Possibly controversial) When you were growing up, was suicide ever something that was mentioned in relation to bullying, or is it, as far as you know, a recent development?

    For those of you who do not know, here's a quick run down of the two names I mentioned above.
    In March of this year, Casey Heynes (16), a student at a Sydney school was filmed by another student being punched in the face by a 12 year old, Ritchard Gale. He basically snapped, picked up Ritchard and then threw him to the ground. Ritchard is then seen on the video stumbling around, very obviously injured.
    It got a lot of internet attention, with Casey being referred to as "Little Zaglief" in reference to a Mortal Kombat character.

    Mitchell Wilson was an 11 year old who killed himself because of bullies. Eleven years old. He was disabled, got mugged by a 12 year old who stole Mitchell's Dad's iPhone off him and smashed Mitchell's face into the pavement. Rather than testify in court, Mitchell killed himself with a plastic bag over his head, to be found by his Dad in the morning.

    So, give me your opinions, experiences, whatever. The focus questions are above.
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Interesting question. I'm a girl, so the type of bullying I saw around me in middle/high school was far different than the kind boys might have dealt with. From what I've seen, guy bullying is more physical, or if verbal than still of the in-your-face variety. Girl bullying tends to deal more with catty cliques, passive-aggressiveness, two-faced people etc.

    I think the best advice to give bullying targets (I hate the word "victim" and am not going to use it) is to be confident, assertive and stand up for yourself. This doesn't mean beating the crap out of someone, nor does it mean forced, cheesy, smiley, obviously-rehearsed one-liners. Just say something like "I don't deal with passive-aggressive crap, if you want to say something, say it to me directly" and if they still deliberately bother you, walk away.

    The reason why people bully is mainly because they're insecure. A lot of people think they have to live by invisible social police rules (i.e. being 'cool enough') and have every decision (concerning what to wear, who to hang out with, etc) validated by their peers. If you play along with a bully, either by stooping to their behavior or by allowing them to have power over you, you're reinforcing the rules they think everyone has to live by, which you don't want to do.

    Suicide because of bullying was never an issue that me or anyone else dealt with personally. For me, it was always something you heard about on the news.

    I think in cases like Mitchell Wilson, the 12-year-old who bullied him (stole the dad's phone, smashed Mitchell's face in the pavement etc) is guilty of assault and liable for criminal charges. However, there's no way anyone can--or even should--try to police snarky comments, clique behavior, etc, because then we're talking about crossing free speech rights lines, and that's not acceptable either.

    Mainly, people need to have more confidence and independence, instead of relying on what their peers think. This would solve both the insecurity that drives bullies to bully, and the emotional issues suffered by the target.
     
  3. LaurenM
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    LaurenM Member

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    What a (sadly) timely thread. A kid at my school committed suicide last week because of bullying. Of course, the news and all that's saying that they "don't know if bullying was a factor," but all of us who knew the boy (and I did) knew he was being bullied, even back in middle school. In fact, middle school was the last time I had a class with him. After that I never saw him at school again.

    I would have to agree. The campaigns all just say, "Don't bully," but that doesn't really make a difference. They're too impersonal, and don't reach out to the victims and show them that there is help. I actually was going to talk to the broadcast students at my school about that. I was hoping we could put up a different kind of campaign this year.
    As a victim, it's tell somebody. I was being teased by some incredibly catty girls in 6th grade. I told my parents, and we talked to the deans about it. They said I could tell the girls I would file a harassment agreement, and let me tell you, as soon as those words came out of my mouth, the girls cut it out real fast.
    Giving it to a victim, I would have to say that it always gets better. Don't give up hope. Please don't. Talk to somebody, rise above them. There's always someone who's willing to be nice to you, and be your friend, and tell you everything's going to be alright. You just have to find them.

    And personally, all those silly little one-liners and "advice" given don't work at all. They're lame and shouldn't even be given any more. What works is telling somebody who can help change the situation.
    My opinion is that they could have been prevented, both of them. The story about the 11 year old really breaks my heart. He could still be alive if the right actions were taken.
    I'm growing up now in all of it, and even though suicide and bullying is much more connected and are brought up together more, they aren't enough, in my opinion. Suicide from bullying is happening so much nowadays. In the past month, 6 teens have committed suicide in my city. It's so sad.
     
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  4. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not a huge fan of the term "victim" either, but after reading a few news articles, "target" left my mind and "victim" kind of overran it.

    I'll be honest, the article I'm writing on this deals with the issue mostly from a male perspective because I know how vicious women can be and don't want to even touch it. I mean, I don't mean to sound sexist here, but women excel both in compassion and evil equally, from what I've seen. As a majority, men are idiots. Even those of us who have intelligence still want to be big and strong, or at least I do. And hell, I've bullied people in the past and I've been bullied plenty, but it's always been in a male to male capacity, which isn't really that dangerous at all. There's a slight element of psychological warfare, but most of it's the physical intimidation; the anticipation of a physical threat or the dealing of violence in close quarters.

    Female to male stuff is even more deadly because those of us who were brought up by real men learned from a young age that hitting a woman is the lowest thing you can do, so women hold a power over you and they know it. Hell, even when it gets turned into an equal rights issue, even when anyone will look a guy in the eye and say the woman deserved it because she screwed him over big time, guys feel extremely guilty about that sort of stuff for years, thinking they still should have been able to rise above it.

    One of the points I avoid bringing up in the article I'm writing, though, is the whole insecurities side of things. I think that's giving too much leeway to bullies in the way of an excuse. My main point is that we, society in general, are spending too much time trying to find out why bullies do what they do instead of why we're letting it continue. It's people who are submitting themselves to overly subjective views when they wouldn't let it slide in any other circumstance. No rapist would ever escape conviction if they used the excuse that they were raped first (not that I've ever come across such a situation), so how come we let bullies off the hook because they're "misunderstood"?

    EDIT: To LaurenM's post: I'm sorry to hear about the kid who commit suicide. I found it surprising enough that you said six teens had committed suicide in the past month, let alone that it was all in your own city.

    Here in Australia, we've got an ad campaign called "Cure the Bullies" (it has a website, www.curethebullies.com.au) which is really quite terrible. It has a child's voice stating that "if you've been online recently or on your mobile phone, you may have contracted one of these viruses". I can't remember the exact wording of that last bit, and my internet's slow, so I can't play the video again to check. Apparently, you've got "Onlookerosis" which everyone has unless they're an obnoxious white knight or keyboard warrior. There's also "Gang-Green" and "Commentitis" among others.

    See, the campaign directs itself towards cyber bullying in particular, which the media here really works itself up about. What I think they fail to realise is that the campaign itself is stupid. It tries to target children and make them take a stand against bullying by showing them ugly pictures of a cartoon foot with an eye in it and retro telephone poles, but really all they're doing is making teenagers and young adults (myself included) chuckle.

    My belief is that we need to go back to the good old days where bullies were looked down upon by those in authority, and looked upon with vague contempt and often pity by those who were bullied. Those were the days when the idea was to make yourself stronger and use the bullying as a way to strengthen your coping mechanisms, even if you didn't realise you were doing it. Now, the media decides to turn that around. Now the focus is on changing the bullies, not the victims/targets, which means they feel justified in being weak.
     
  5. LaurenM
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    LaurenM Member

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    Wow, that site's ridiculous, cruciFICTION. But it's essentially the same thing in the U.S. Cure the bully, not the victims. I have the same opinion on it that you do, though. The bullied need to learn to be strong, not have a reason to be weak. And the bullies need to learn that they're fools with no respect.

    And yes, six teen suicides in 1 month, compared to 7 in my city in an entire year last year.
     
  6. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Anti-bullying campaigns hardly do anything. Idealistic preaching, but never any acting. The activists light a spark, hand out a few guidelines, and move on. People do not take it seriously - the 'bullys' just take it as a funny thing they caused. The lack of action just makes the frequent targets believe they are in a community with rampant apathy.

    Bothering you: Get away, ignore them.
    Bothering someone else: Confront them. Others may join you. Think Kitty Genovese.

    Casey Heynes is cool. However his retaliation by means of suplex was over-the-top as the results could have been much, much worse. Little Zangief's bully, though, was a victim as well. The situation could have been handled much better - counselors in middle school can work wonders. I was harassed constantly those days - one word from the counselor shut them up for good.

    Sad to hear of Wilson. Suicide sucks, I've had plenty of experience with it. Via friends and myself.

    Yes, the two been connected ever since middle school.

    Considering Mallory's post about self-esteem, confidence, etc. : That's a tall order for children. Humans are social animals - people need some form of acceptance to a society. We can all choose to be lone wolves, but we all are pack animals at heart.
     
  7. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find it funny that you bring up lone wolves. As I was running through ideas for how to word things, I considered the lone wolves approach for something, and considered mentioning that lone wolves are usually the old, lame, or otherwise unproductive members of a pack. They're the ones holding it back, so they're excommunicated.

    I suppose I'm just glad to see that my view is actually shared. I was worried that people would think that I was being too harsh or expecting too much, perhaps.
     
  8. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    This may sound crude, but a lot of it is worthless.

    No bully will change their ways because Mr.used-to-be-a-bully-but-now-is-not spat his heart at a bunch of kids. And regards to the bystander thing, I doubt many people will get the courage to stand up from an assembly, so no I don't think it causes harm or helps anything.
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's not helping anything, then it is causing harm. People are devoting time and funds to these campaigns. That's financial harm right there, not to mention the amount of attention these bullies are able to revel in. They see that their actions have a real effect. It strengthens them.
     
  10. topeka sal
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    topeka sal Senior Member

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    Women (girls?) of a certain age do (excel at evil, that is). In my experience it was girls aged roughly between 12 and 17 (though it did get better around 15 in most cases). Of course, some people never stop.

    When I was in Jr. High I was bullied relentlessly, not only by the girls. The boys did their fair share. Actually, my little group of friends were targeted by most of the school, and it was a big school. Yes, a lot of it was verbal abuse, but it did get physical. They lit fire to our hair with cigarette lighters. Pushed us into lockers. Dumped and destroyed our school work. Spit at us. There was even hitting in at least one instance. And it went on for years. The teachers knew all about it (how could they miss it?) but I only remember one intervention, and this only happened on a day when we fought back. Our group and the bullies involved in the incident were taken to the Principal and told to knock it off. That was all. And it stopped nothing.

    The saving grace was that we were a group. And though individual bullying often took place to each of us when we were without the others, we at least had the comfort of knowing we were not alone. That was important. It also helped us to devise ways of coping.

    Interesting. I'm not sure what I think about the anti-bullying campaigns; I haven't looked into the specifics. I suppose what I like about the idea of them is that people are talking about it now. They didn't used to. In my case at least there were no support mechanisms. No public voice.

    I do think that the "just say no" approach is misguided. It's much more complicated than that, and I think it implies culpability on the target's part, which can make the target feel even more helpless when nothing they try--ignoring, confronting, even telling an elder--works.

    You mention 'society in general'. I think this is key, though not, perhaps, in the way you mean. The problem with 'society' goes so much deeper than individual blame or understanding. Yes, many bullies are insecure or come from abusive homes, etc, etc. But this is only one manifestation of what I see as a much bigger problem, which is the dysfunctional culture at large. We, as a society, value "strength", but, sadly, take a narrow view of what that means. We pay lip service to "strength of character", but what we seem to reward or revere is a kind of bull-headed strength based on competition. Survival of the fittest. Dog eat dog. There's a myth we cling to about "good versus evil", but what we seem to follow in practice is a notion of might = right. You see it in the combative nature of contemporary politics where bullying runs rampant. It's in the films we watch wherein the hero makes a cute remark while blowing someone away. It's in our foreign policy, our attitudes towards the societal underdog, our fascination with reality TV, our blind worship of wealth and acquisition, the bullying discourse that fills our internet exchanges, and the elevation of the self as the ideological pinnacle of a so-called democratic society. (I don't mean to imply that these ills only exist in Western democratic society. I'm simply talking about the society I live in. But we by no means have a monopoly on aggression, etc.).

    The trouble is how on earth do you change an entire culture? For one thing we don't even know what an alternative would look like. But for starters, we need to stop rewarding the bully in society. We need to find values other than wealth, power, and acquisition, and recognize that what we identify as "weak" could be something else entirely. Maybe it's simply a different set of values. It all depends. Sadly, I don't hold out much hope for this.

    When were these 'good old days'? Even if there were a time when bullies were looked down upon, I don't think that today's targets are being taught that weakness is justified. I think you may be polarizing. It's not a question of strong vs weak. A target is not necessarily "weak", just as a bully is not necessarily "strong", just as there are behaviours that people identify with weakness (or strength) that may be about something else completely.

    So... how'd I do at muddying the waters? It is my specialty. :)
     
  11. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Jesus. *Breathes.*

    I'll answer this first as it is probably the most simple to answer, being that it's a simple misunderstanding.
    When I talk about 'weakness', I'm not polarising. It has nothing to do with a bully having any kind of strength. What I refer to is the weakness of a target's coping mechanisms. I've said before in this thread, and I'll say it again, that I think that the ad campaigns are too focused on the bully and not the target. I think, subconsciously, these targets are learning, "Oh, it's the bullies who have to change. Not us. We're fine the way we are," and this is echoed and reiterated for them in a totally misunderstood way with the whole acceptance and tolerance side of things.

    What I believe is happening is these kids are, in their minds, logically refuting change, when really it's their subconscious desire to adapt and cope gone wrong. Rather than learning to cope with adversity, they're adapting to a society that gives bullies the attention. In "my day", when you were bullied, you had to rise above it because bullies were mostly ignored by teachers, and for good reason. They weren't trying to get attention from me or anyone else our age. It was, in fact, the teachers who they were trying to get to.

    I point out that your last word here was coping, and point out my final point above. To a child, a teacher (in lieu of a parent) is definitely the high and mighty idol of order. They attempt to keep their microcosm that is their classroom running smoothly and well.
    A bully is a chaotic creature. I can't fault your Principal particularly for their lax intervention; ignoring bullies, giving them as little attention as possible, was the idea they ran with back then. That said, in your situation, I'd likely have invested in a knife, and I say that with absolutely no psychotic underscoring. I just mean I would have invested in a knife.

    ... Damn, that was great to read.
    There's not really much I have to say with it since it's aligned with much of my point of view, esp. the bolded.
     
  12. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    ok i first wish to point out that i was bullied ALOT during growing up, so if any of these comments seem harsh or uncaring, believe me they have had ALOT of thought from a person who was on the recieving end of very harsh mental and physical bullying.


    * Do you believe anti-bullying campaigns have the capacity to be damaging? Why or why not?
    i dont believe the to be damaging, more simply pointless. a bullied person will be bullied regardless of what people say. and a bully will be a bully regardless of what you say.

    * What are some pieces of advice that you've heard over the years in relation to stopping or avoiding bullies? This applies to getting it as a victim or giving it to a victim.
    i think the worst piece of advice that i ever received (from my parents who are very strict Christians) was, just ignore them/ turn the other cheek, they'll get bored. i followed this advice in an extreme way to the point where i became a complete and utter pacifist to them. meaning i was beaten sensless (that term is over used i mean senseless) and would just stand there and allow it to happen.

    * What opinions do you hold toward situations like that of Casey Heynes or Mitchell Wilson?
    ill be honest i had to Google both, in the case of Heynes, if that kid was my son, id be beyond proud of him. and i hope the kid that attacked him walks like that for the rest of his life
    in the case of Wilson, it is very sad, I think that the fact he was disabled should have nothing to do with it, i think the fact that he was disabled only served as a latch for the media to grasp to make it a more emotional piece. if you say he shouldn't have been bullied due to his disability, your implying that if people don't have a disability then they should be bullied. its just a different kind of discrimination.

    * (Possibly controversial) When you were growing up, was suicide ever something that was mentioned in relation to bullying, or is it, as far as you know, a recent development?
    when i was 6 years old i cut a line about an inch in height up my own wrist, im 27 this Saturday and still have a visible scar from it. there is nothing recent about suicide due to bullying. its just better publicised. i can say for sure it has been a consideration for at least 21 years.
    i actually talked to my father about this some time ago and apparently one of his class mates committed suicide due to bullying when he was in school (he is now coming up on 65) so safe to say no to that one.

    aside from these questions let me also say, bullying will always happen as it is human nature and there is nothing you can do to be "bully proof" other than be bigger, stronger or in some way more powerful than the rest of the pack. we are essentially simple pack animals which means that there has to be alphas and runts.

    i hope this helps
     
  13. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've read your entire post, dave, and I'm kind of just flabbergasted to hear about that sort of stuff. It's horrible.

    What I'm replying to here is that you said you think his disability isn't really something that has to be brought up, but I refute that. His disability is key. His attacker had no idea he was disabled, sure, but if he wasn't disabled, he wouldn't have to have gone for walks every day, thereby avoiding being attacked. His disability was what led to his suicide, because as his father says, Mitchell realised after the attack how weak and helpless he really was.

    As for your "there is nothing you can do to be "bully proof" other than be bigger, stronger or in some way more powerful than the rest of the pack" comment, I have to add that this is my point: when I was a kid, before all these ad campaigns, what you were taught to do was bolster your mental defences. We viewed bullies as a tool used to test and improve our coping mechanisms. I am now essentially insult-proof because of the weak impact any and almost all insults have on me. The only way anybody gets past that defence is by insulting me because my mother died, something that has happened multiple times.
     
  14. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought that Little Zangief kid was awesome. Still do. I wish someone woulda powerbombed some humility into me when I was twelve.
     
  15. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    While a part of me knows it was absolutely hilarious to watch, the other part of me, that saw the related news stories afterwards, knows that it was totally uncool. The kid said himself that he "just snapped". Basically, he lost control. I don't think losing control like that is okay. Ever. Even if it is provoked.
     
  16. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Snapping happens; it's always a risk with bullying. Some of them make homemade bombs and shoot up their school, some of them make hilarious Youtube videos.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    ... that's because they _are_ fine the way they are.

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding you. But I'm seeing this as rather like an anti-mugging campaign being criticized because it failed to encourage the mugging victims to take responsibility for having been mugged. And a police policy to ignore the muggers because they're just looking for attention anyway, and the mugging victims need to learn how to cope with adversity.

    Now, I would agree that an anti-mugging campaign that focuses on the poor little muggers' self-esteem is misguided. But that doesn't mean that the solution is to change the _victim_. The solution is to stop the mugging.

    Am I comparing bullies with criminals? Indeed, I absolutely, absolutely am. If an _adult_ followed me around shouting insults, grabbing at my stuff, directly or subtly threatening me, I'd be able to file a restraining order on that adult and, in the fullness of time, if they didn't stop, I'd get them arrested like the criminals that they are.

    The bullies _do_ have to change. They don't have to change into people who are comfortable and happy with themselves when they're not bullying, they just need to change into people who are not bullying. I don't care if they're not bullying because they're comfortable and happy with themselves, or if they're not bullying because they know that if they keep it up they will be booted from all extracurricular activities and spend the next three months in in-school detention, or the next year in juvenile detention, or whatever consequence they will take seriously.

    ChickenFreak

    Edited to add: Also, I never knew a "good old days" when bullies were looked down on. In the seventies when I was in junior high (prime bullying age, IMO), the general consensus seemed to be that, well, bullying might not be entirely admirable, but it showed spirit and it was kind of funny and those kids who didn't dress and talk and act and think like they were supposed to, pretty much deserved to get bullied anyway. The teachers didn't ignore the bullying to punish the bullies, they ignored it because they more or less believed that kids should rule themselves by the law of the jungle and that the weird deserved to be punished for being weird. And sometimes the teachers joined in the bullying - subtly, but the quiet encouragement of the bullies was pretty apparent.

    Edited yet again to add: Have you read Voices from the Hellmouth online at Slashdot? It's a really good snapshot of attitudes and feelings around the time of the Littleton massacre, from the point of view of the bullied. (That was _ten years ago_? Oh, my.)
     

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