Stephanie DonaldIn the past few years many of us have turned our attention to the problems of bullying in the younger segment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth and the possible impact that can have when this situation goes unchecked and the young person who is the subject of these attacks finds no support.

We’ve seen the devastation that this can cause not only to a young life cut short but those who are left behind such as family who often times knew little about the situation while it was going on.

Bullying has always existed in some form or another but in recent years it has become more irascible and vindictive than at any time since the Nazis persecuted the Jews during World War II.

If you disbelieve this then all you have to do is observe the American evangelist involvement in the attempted passage of death penalties against homosexuals and gender variant people in Uganda. Although the LGBT movement over here in the United States wouldn’t allow such draconian treatment against our minority it would in fact delight the more radical factions of the fundamentalist Christian movement here for our government to consider such legislation. With the election of “Tea Baggers” in such huge numbers to Congress last November there will be attacks upon the LGBT community’s rights within the coming months and years. It’s not a matter of “if” but more a matter of “when”?

It’s only been recently that the LGBT itself has begun to broach the question of whether society’s attitudes and treatment toward us has any bearing on whether it increases or decreases hate crimes against us and bullying, whether the right-wing wishes to acknowledge it or not or whether it’s listed in legislation or not, is as much a hate crime as taking a baseball bat to someone’s skull and killing them. The end result is written on so many gravestones that it brings a tear to anyone’s eyes that are still capable of feeling the emotion of sadness.

If we began discussing how this nation got so comfortable with the pack-mentality of viciously attacking the weak then it would take up gigabytes of storage space on the server.
Let’s just accept that several things contributed to the current situation from a historical, educational and psychological perspective:

1. The United States, as a nation, has since World War II felt that it has the right to tell the rest of the world what to do and how to do it. When they refused to listen to us then we backed it up with military posturing such as the Cold War, the Korean War, Viet Nam, Iraq War one and two and all other minor conflicts we’ve been involved in. None of these make us right. They just make us pushy and arrogant and prove we’ve got a strong military. Nothing else.

2. By their very nature conservatives will advocate the use of brute force first in any argument and they hate to lose an argument. This doesn’t make them stupid; this just makes them dangerous. When Ronald Reagan couldn’t win all his arguments with a Democratic Congress he got the American people on his side and began cutting the education budget. This has been going on since 1981. The result is three generations of very stupid young adults who now have very stupid kids. Ask anyone under the age of 35 years-old when the Viet Nam war was? They can’t tell you. Ask them when World War II was? They can’t tell you. Ask them how they vote and they’ll tell you liberals are stupid! Ask them why liberals are stupid and they can’t tell you! We have three generations of pre-programmed conservative pedantic morons who will express hatred at the drop of a hat…any hat, and they pass this attitude and temperament on to their kids.

3. There is no middle-class any longer. There are rich people (who are just as stupid as the poor people but they have money) and then there are 94% of the other people who struggle from day-to-day. Sure, some of them can buy a new car every 5-10 years or can take a small vacation every 4-5 years but if they have children then if they get sick more often than not they won’t go to the doctor because they can’t afford it and that spells “poverty” no matter what dictionary you use.

All these little issues add up to the strong intimidating the weak and under any definition you care to use that means we’ve become a society of bullies from the top-down.

So once a young person gets singled out as a target for bullies then what happens? Is it as simple as letting authorities know or their parents?

In most circumstances letting authorities know or even their parents (which in effect is the same thing as notifying the authorities) will just make things worse for the young person. In any generation; no one likes a tattle-tale and the authorities and their parents can’t watch them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, especially with the outreach of the internet these days. Terrorism can literally reach right into a young person’s bedroom and make them feel as if they have no privacy left in the world. Saying something to anyone about the attacks will just cause the level of terrorism to be stepped up against them.

What about their “friends”?

Unfortunately, in this day and age, the micro-second someone becomes a target of bullying then that person’s entire support network evaporates out of fear that they, too will become targets of the bullies. A “best” friend can suddenly refuse to take your phone calls and un-friend you on Facebook in a heartbeat.

I’ve seen high school kids on Facebook who had 150 friends on their list suddenly have no friends virtually overnight after being targeted by bullies. It’s fine and well for an adult to offer friendship to them through Facebook or all the celebrities in the world to make heart-rending “It Gets Better” videos for these poor souls to watch but let’s see the cast of Jersey Shores go to high school with one of these people or see Dan Savage swing his microphone out of the way and come punch a bully in the mouth (that’s assuming that these kids even know who Dan Savage is or care because most won’t or don’t care)!

Now if you have any empathy and can place yourself into the shoes of one of these kids and remember what it’s like to be a teenager who is completely alone and know that other teens never forgive and never forget once you become a target, then maybe you are the sort of person who is strong enough to go it alone until you get into college and make a new life for yourself; until things really do “get better”. Maybe you aren’t.

I was one of those who did make it through, although luckily, I only had to make it to high school before things “got better” and it wasn’t because people were more accepting of me because things in the world got better.

The reason it got better was because I was picked on since kindergarten and after so many years of not having a single friend and being by myself, it just got to the point where I presented nothing to ridicule anymore because I’d become almost a non-entity or a ghost that blended in. I learned to just not be part of any particular group; at least at first.

Then I began making some friends and they were pot smokers and part of the sub-culture that existed back then. I was a natural to gravitate toward the more outcast portion of my own peer group because they, too, had something to hide, so I continued to blend in.

A study that came out of Britain this week dovetailed with other studies already done here in the United States and future studies that will be conducted elsewhere. The study concluded that the LGBT community, particularly young people, are more likely to suffer mental problems and are particularly more likely to develop dependency problems with drugs and alcohol.

I was lucky in the long-run. Although I came from a family with a long history of problems with alcohol and prescription drug abuse problems I never had a problem being dependent on them myself and I’m thankful for that but what about other young people today?

What about those who look at “It Gets Better” and don’t see tomorrow as a purgative effect for this draconian treatment by their peers? What happens to all those who just lose hope because someone they know wouldn’t stand next to them and tell them they’ll still be there no matter what?

We will hold memorials and candlelight vigils for them and talk about the horrible effects of bullying on everyone. Some of us might even remember how bad it was for us when we experienced it but compared to today that’s nothing because it’s much worse now than ever before. Either that or we'll see them in drug or alcohol rehabilitation later; assuming they don't kill themselves before they get there.

We can beg and plead with those we know are out there and tell them over and over; “It Gets Better” but as long as kids keep killing themselves then why should any of them believe us? If we couldn’t help them then why would they possibly believe that we could help someone else?

In many instances, teen bullying not only targets young people but the young people who are the bullies will also target parents, teachers, police officers and anyone who gets in their way. The internet makes anonymous bullying without consequence a fact of life.

You can get multiple non-traceable Yahoo or Gmail email addresses, register hundreds of Facebook accounts and attack from every possible facet anyone who tries to help anyone who’s been targeted. The kids call these anonymous emails accounts “trolling accounts”. They even use them to do truly disgusting things like take video of sex with their girlfriends or boyfriends on their cellphones and posting it to their Facebook or YouTube account should that person ever break-up with them and then call their parents (or new boyfriend or girlfriend) and tell them exactly where the parent(s) can view their child having sex. A year ago some kids in California took video footage of a teenage girl getting beaten and raped at a high school dance and put it on YouTube for everyone's amusement. This is the sort of mentality we're dealing with these days.

There is no morality left in these kids. There is no common sense and there is no sense of honor or decency. If they had any intelligence then the “pack” mentality removed that from them before they graduated the 6th grade.

Their actions are ruled solely by revenge, anger and the desire to make someone else feel worse than they do up to and including someone dying and if someone else does die then no one would shed one tear for them in their peer group because to do so would be seen as a sign of weakness. They would more probably laugh than any other emotion.

I have no answers to this puzzle; only more questions.

The biggest question is: How did we get this bad?

Stephanie Donald


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