I’ll start with the disclaimer. Teen suicide is a serious problem. It’s limited, but it’s serious. Bullying, is a problem, but a lesser one and the solution is simple, but inapplicable given the current political atmosphere. Back when I was young and someone was bullied the conventional solution was to smack the bully around until he left you alone. I wasn’t a bully as a kid, but I was bullied. I don’t know that I’ve been emotionally scarred by that, but on the surface it seems not. The prescription I followed when bullied was given to me by my grandfather. It was simple, “If a kid picks on you, kick him in the balls.” My grandfather was one of the most gentle men I ever met, but he knew what to do if attacked. I never exactly followed his advice, but I did once punch an assailant in the testicles. That not only stopped the fight, but it stopped him from bothering me again.
The worst bullying I experienced was from a former friend. He would torment me in school whenever he had the chance. Talking to the school administrators was to no avail because their weaselly way of avoiding have to deal with the issue was to claim that they had to witness it to do anything. One day while walking in the hallway, said bully approached me and knocked my books out of may hand from behind. Again. As the noted philosopher Popeye the Sailor Man once said, “That’s all I can stand and I can’t stands no more.“ Before the bully or I knew what happened, I had him in a head lock and punched him in the face about five times. And then looked up to see one of the teachers watching us. I guess he saw the whole thing, including the start, because he just looked at me, smiled and walked away. That was the end of that bully.
Not that we’re supposed to suggest that any more because now we “talk things out” because kids aren’t supposed to resort to violent to solve their issues. Well, nothing solves a bully like beating his ass a bit.
Yes, I’m old school and no doubt will get a comment or two pointing out how I am a Neanderthal and shouldn’t be allowed near decent society.
Now that my Oprah minute is over, here is a story that I’m linking to because it’s important.
Sadly, these days the media is not filled with deep thinkers. It’s filled with people who would rather create the news than report the news. Hence we have sensational stories with an agenda, not what we should have. Which is impartial reporting that presents the facts of a story and leaves it to the reader to make judgements.
Reporters looking for more motivation to steer clear of the popular, yet erroneous narrative need only look at the way this story echoes through history. Whether it’s the proliferation of cars, rock n’ roll music on the radio, video games, cell phones, or social media, we find ways to demonize technology’s impact on the young people who embrace it with such enthusiasm. Over time, we look back and marvel at our own hysteria.
Bullying and suicide are serious problems. Journalists owe the public more than they are delivering. We owe the public the science and research. We owe the public the knowable facts. We owe the public the nuanced context of individual cases.
Of course this is made worse by politicians who are interested only in their next election and not serving the public or being impartial.
Reporters are often reacting to other misinformed authorities. For example, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd explained to reporters that he arrested two girls (one 12, the other 14) in Sedwick’s death, after seeing a callous social media post from one of the girls, “We can’t leave her out there, who else is she going to torment? Who else is she going to harass? Who is the next person she verbally and mentally abuses and attacks?” While it’s a great quote, it implies that this girl has the ability, through random meanness, to inspire others to commit suicide.
The misinformed authorities also react to misinformed journalists. It’s the requirement that politicians “DO SOMETHING!” that causes this. The media sensationalizes a story and the politicians overreact. As a result, we end up with bad laws that are subject to abuse.
Criminalizing this behavior does nothing to solve the problem, but it does a lot to sell advertising for the media and further the careers of slimy politicians. Sadly that is like so many of the “crises” in our society.