Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Bullies used to be relatively benign. I mean, sure... there were the bullies who would threaten to kill your child, but more often than not, their bark was worse than their bite and they would just muss 'em up a bit, (and usually, only if they were boys). There were fights in the playground - after school at 3:00 - but you never heard of anyone really winding up with anything worse than a black eye or a bloody nose.

Today's "bully" is a whole new version of evil. In fact, I am THRILLED and I mean, utterly and completely THRILLED that I am no longer in school. Today's bully is inherently cruel, seems to have virtually no moral compass whatsoever, and shares various personality traits with certain serial killers... namely - the enjoyment of torture inflicted upon other human beings.

When I was growing up, incidents like Columbine didn't exist. At the time, even that was an isolated incident - at least for anyone younger than college age. In fact, Columbine was the 4th deadliest school shooting since the 1927 Bath School Disaster - but the three deadliest shootings that preceded it, (including Bath), all involved college age or older individuals who were severely depressed, had brain tumors, and/or anxiety disorders, that were not properly treated. Columbine wasn't too different in that respect either. The primary culprit, Eric Harris, had expressed depression, suicidal tendencies, and anger prior to the Columbine massacre. He was placed on various anti-depressants and medications, which some speculate may have led to his ultimate demise, and the gruesome, tragic killing of 12 other students, 1 teacher, and the injury of 26 others.

That said, today's bullies scare the living bejeezus out of me. They seem to just simply be mean, cruel and inexplicably violent.

Take for example the recent retaliation of one brother, (Wayne Treacy, whose other brother committed suicide), against a girl, (Josie Lou Ratley), he'd never met. He literally sought her out due to a text message exchange, (pertaining to his deceased brother), and decided she needed to die too. He found her thanks to the help of one of her "friends," and with no warning whatsoever, proceeded to stomp on her head with steel-toed shoes until she was unconscious and barely clinging to life.

This followed another gruesome incident at the same school... wherein a few boys who were squabbling over the cost of a video game, sought out the boy who they claimed owed them money - and set him on fire, using a flammable liquid. THEY SET HIM ON FIRE.

What befuddles me about all of this, is the continued speculation that it is all the result of violent movies, music and video games.

Really? Somehow, I don't think so. Does anyone EVER want to call into question the ability of the kids' parenting abilities? Anyone?

Maybe we should all take a look at the following and read up on Matthew Bent's parents - the parents of the child who actually set Michael Brewer aflame:


Um... I grew up watching scary, violent, and sometimes gruesome movies - and I'm FINE. Maybe thanks to the fact that I had a good set of parents, who appropriately disciplined me when I did something wrong. Fortunately, I didn't do anything all that wrong all too often.

Back to today's "bully." There's the recent story of Phoebe Price - a pretty 15 year-old transplant from Ireland to Massachusetts, who was literally cyberbullied and physically bullied by a group of catty, jealous girls, who clearly had no moral compass whatsoever, that ultimately led to Phoebe's suicide. Should we go ahead and blame that on the movie "Mean Girls' which the girls in question were referred to by their peers in school? Or should we perhaps examine the lack of reasonable parenting in today's society that led to those girls' abhorrent behavior? It sure is a hell of a lot easier to blame a movie, isn't it?

One of my favorite quotes from the movie Parenthood, "You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father."

But no, godforbid anyone point a finger at a parent. That's an outrage...

That said, I am NOT saying parents are the ultimate culprits here. There are, in countless incidences, MANY occasions where a great set of parents end up with a rotten egg... and it is truly unfortunate - and more often than not, inexplicable when their children do something horribly, terribly wrong...

But if people continue to point the finger at media... well... then I hate to say it folks, we're going to have a long, nasty, horrific chain of evil, violent events taking place at the hands of our children, thanks to evolving and ever-accessible media and the lack of accountability among parents.

And now... the conclusion of an altogether too long post: why I wrote this in the first place.

Every day when I'm watching the news, my jaw drops every time a story is presented along the lines of what I've summarized here. I can't believe what kids are like today - and part of me wonders... do I really want to bring another life into this?


  1. Leigh. It's probably one of the most important subjects to tackle right now. Some other angles that come to mind when I read this are - what amount of this extreme bullying is class related? I mean, is there a connection between the struggles of the middle class and lower middle class and poor classes that creates an environment in which what you call "reasonable parenting" becomes ever more difficult? Also, and I think very importantly....peers have more influence on kids, especially pre-teen and teen than parents do. I don't think you can argue this. I know many troubled parents who were great role models. Peaceful people. Intelligent, kind, respectful, and they ended up with sexist, violent, rude, dumbass kids because they went to a particular highschool at a particular point in time.....what can we do about that?

  2. My friend Christine Gustin Aghassi sent me the following and is allowing me to repost it here:

    Leigh - Another fantastic entry and you are absolutely correct. In this age of political correctness we now have a scary subset of the population - the entitled child/teen. These are kids who have had no discipline or boundaries set for them. They have seen no accountability, or consequence to actions, whether it's their parents' actions or their own. It's frightening. I work near a 7-Eleven that every afternoon has about 50 or so high school students in the parking lot. I won't go there. They scare me. It used to be kids talked a big game. But now, too often, they carry weapons with their words. I want to teach my child to stand up for herself, but I also fear the confidence I instill in her might rub some self-entitled brat the wrong way and well, I just have a fear for my girl and heaven help anyone who hurts her. Anyway, great writing. Great observation.

    Thanks Christine. Looking forward to a future post from you!

  3. I've always been of the opinion - and seen firsthand - that you can be the most perfect parent in the world and end up with a rotten kid... you can also be the worst parent in the world and end up with a fantastic kid.
    I don't think it would come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that I was bullied as a kid, and thus I have very little sympathy for them regardless of their family situation. "Your parents treat you like shit so I have to suffer as well? Great. That's fair."
    One of the major components that I think is starting to slip from society is CURIOSITY.
    It would seem that if your kid has even the slightest sense of curiosity, it will lead them to a good, productive, satisfying life. Curiosity inspires intellect and creativity which are important tools to facing life's challenges.
    I think parents spend a lot of time fretting over whether or not their kid is getting perfect grades or becomes captain of the soccer team... book knowledge and physical prowess will only get you so far... if your kid isn't curious, they won't seek any degree of enlightenment and eventually I believe this leads to the kind of frustration that drives them into violence.
    And keep in mind, when I say 'enlightenment' I'm not (necessarily) referring to anything religious or spiritual... just an overall curiosity about what it means to exist and what kind of 'effect' you're having on those around you. I think this is where siblings become useful. Kids have the opportunity to see cause-and-effect at a very basic level... "Gee... when I hit my little sister, I get punished. I guess I shouldn't hit people" etc. etc. etc.
    Anyway, I think it's a great big melting pot of nature, nurture, genetics, environment and everything else. It's like a DNA strand of complex components.

  4. I'm reading a book right now about psychopaths in our society...(Without Conscience: The Disturbing World Of The Psychopaths Among Us - Robert D. Hare, PhD); - it's very disturbing that some people just don't empathize or relate to other people's feelings, and the suffering caused by selfish, bullying brutality.

  5. adolescent bullying of such a brutal nature, doesn't really differ much from that of the psychopathic... at least, I think they seem to intersect, somewhat. Maybe I'm too harsh. I don't know. It would be nice to think that these adolescents could change for the better and become decent people.

  6. All of the comments here are quite compelling - and lead me to believe I now have to draft approximately 4 more posts just to address all of the insights here. Now the question is, when am I going to find the time to do that?!?

  7. I think the media can be a catalyst which can bring out the worst in the small segment of the population predisposed to be awful human beings. Maybe the same kids brought up by the same clueless parents 50 years ago wouldn't have gone bad in such a big way.

    Also, my uncle, who never wanted or had kids stated one of his reasons as the fact that the world was so bad that none of that generation would make it to adulthood anyway. And here we are blogging about it.

  8. It is extremely horrific to see how kids are treating other kids and over the most ridiculous of things.
    Samantha Wilson,a former police officer and child safety expert, along with hate crime expert husband, will be airing a blogtalk radio show on June 28th about extreme bullying. Them and some of there guest may help us all to understand better the effects off bullying and what some parents are doing to help fight it. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/connectthedots

  9. Thanks pigscanfly39. I've got to get better about keeping up with comments! I appreciate your contribution and the link and I'll check it out.