I just watched the video, which has gone viral, of a young teen age girl cowering from an endless beat down, under a table at a Brooklyn McDonald’s. There she lay, as she continues to be kicked and stomped in the head. Her small frame, withstanding the terrible, indescribable rage of the five girls beating her with a force of hatred that seemed bigger than their own bodies should be able to house.
As I sat through the video, I could barely breathe. When it was over, I remained stunned, struck dumb before my computer as I replayed what I had seen in my mind’s eye; her small unmoving form, left with only the sound of cheers and laughter from the crowd of over 50 bystanders who did not intervene to help her. Over 50 adult and student bystanders who had the presence of mind to film her being callously bludgeoned, but felt nothing stir within themselves to stop it.
Despite this very incident of bullying and bystander behavior epitomizing the gravity of what I witness in my consulting within schools, colleges, and companies around the country on an ongoing basis, I found myself asking the very questions that I know the answer to:
“Why and how could this “savage” attack have happened?” and “How could such a complete lack of compassion and regard for a young life—any life—be possible?”
It can be seductive, even soothing, to think of this brutal incident as a random, stand alone occurrence that took place on the outskirts of Brooklyn. However, this type of incident can and does take place throughout every socio-economic community every day, several times a day. What the national and INTERNATIONAL statistics of the emotional and physical bullying taking place in EVERY SCHOOL, COLLEGE AND PLACE OF WORK leave out is: the accompanying backdrop of both adult and student bystanders who lost the empathy, will and/or ability to intervene.
The truth for ALL of us remains: that in any moment, each of us are likely to be in one or more of the following roles: the bullied, the bully or the bystander. The real question that ADULTS who are gravely disheartened by this video, will have to ask of ourselves is: “ What are we willing to change or do differently to empower ourselves and to begin taking better care of the young people and adults who are bullied every day?”
It is imperative that we each courageously linger in the discomfort of this question until we find the answers within ourselves. Here some links to resources that may assist you in the process:
Help for Students
The Braveline: 212-709-3222
A confidential hotline where you can call to report an incident and talk about bullying issues such as what you may be able to do to help and how you feel about bullying.
Project Bully Free Zone www.ProjectBullyFreeZone.com
A national campaign and training organization, found by Traciana Graves, that features additional resources and information on preventing and recognizing bullying
Help for College Students and Faculty
Bullying Can Happen in College, Too. Don’t think bullying can happen on your college campus? Think again. The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an insightful Letter to the Editor that details how insidious college bullying really is. http://chronicle.com/article/Bullying-Can-Happen-in/126330/
Help in the Workplace
Recognize and Prevent Workplace Bullying:
Learn the warning signs that you or someone you know is being bullied at work—and what YOU can do about it!
Traciana Graves is America’s leading bullying prevention strategist. She has been featured in HuffingtonPost as well as several national publications. She is also the founder of www. BullyProofDiva.com an interactive blog meant to empower people with tangible tools and resources to be safe and inspired at WORK and in LIFE.
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[As printed on Amsterdam News New York on 3/12/2015, shown here]