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4A Very Special Episode of ‘Kids React’: Let’s Talk About Bullying Already

I missed the last few episodes of “Kids React,” and I’m still waiting for this Sunday’s (they’re weekly, and this week’s isn’t online yet). But maybe we really should take a look at last week’s episode. I’m a child of the ’80s and/or ’90s, so I’m a sucker for “Very Special Episodes,” you guys.

This time, instead of screening some awful Lady Gaga clip, the Fine Bros show their panel of kids that one viral video in which a larger, much abler teen—then-10th-grader Casey Heynes—violently plunks his comparatively runty tormentor onto the concrete.

Remember that video? It’s maybe eight months old now, but damned if it didn’t strike an ugly, vindictive chord in every adult geek I know. And I’ll tell you the honest truth: I have that video saved to my laptop. I remember I felt conflicted in watching it, but I really was glad Heynes finally got his drop-kick in. (So this probably isn’t a healthy or useful attitude to have, OK.)

Most episodes of “Kids React” are funny, but even when they aren’t, they’re always illuminating. And over the months, I’ve become really attached to some of these precocious little squirts. So when my favorite mouthy, tousled tow-head (Jake, now 12) talks about his own bullying experiences, it kind of drives a stake into my weak, pale little heart.

Also, I am so glad I wasn’t bullied in an era of cameraphones. When I first hopped aboard the Internet—circa 1993—I was happy the other sixth-graders didn’t have a technological clue. Like poor Courtney Stodden herself, I absolutely used the Internet and its sense of connection to get away from my classmates. “Cyberbullying” didn’t even exist, to my mind, until I was a senior in high school, and even then, the kids who executed their malice were doing it through AOL. Not even Prodigy or CompuServe! What a bunch of lowlifes. Blogs? YouTube? Forget it. But now? Any old jerk has the pseudodemocratic capacity to televise your humiliation. I can’t even.

The kids in this episode of “Kids React” are realistic and even a little hopeless, a little too cynical: there have always been bullies, and it’s too difficult for some piddling teacher or schoolboard to legislate against bullying. “War takes a thousand men,” one kid says thoughtfully—I think this is a metaphor, so let’s not call him out on his math—”[and] that’s basically bullying.”

Look. I’m not sure what age our readership is (we do get an awful lot of comments on Justin Bieber posts, though), and I know we shred people on a daily basis, so why even take what I’m typing to heart. But, and sorry this is bitter, I have some words for you bullies: I’ll remember you long after you’ve forgotten me, and not in a nice way, and I’m not going to give two ishes about your pretty family on Facebook, and when the 20-year reunion comes around (so long, 10-year!), you can basically suck it. What I’m saying is, you will someday become a reasonable, responsible adult, I know, and yet you’ll be hard-pressed to wring forgiveness out of your victims. And by then you will be a good person, I know, and so you will be haunted.

Furthermore, I am absolutely prepared to be a complete baby of an adult and post this to the Internet: whoever picked on poor Jake? In the third grade? Seriously, screw them.

November 6, 2011 at 10:00 am by Jenn
Filed Under: videos

4 Responses to “A Very Special Episode of ‘Kids React’: Let’s Talk About Bullying Already”

  1. J-Kitt says:

    Hear hear, Jenn!

  2. mcmiller says:

    This video makes me miss working with kids for so many reasons, but teaching REALLY sucked (for me, anyway); damn beaurocracy/politics.

    • Jenn says:

      I only substitute-taught, like, ten years ago—and I was strong-armed into teaching junior high schoolers in addition to high school, which it turned out I loooooved—and I very happily abided hardly any rules, and some of my best and saddest memories are from that time. But I caught some teachers saying some garbage about kids, and it was just like, do this few junior high schoolteachers enjoy their jobs? How is a kid supposed to get ahead, with him being 11 and all these grown adults being obvious about hating him? I’d wager that the Culture of Bullying has as much to do as anything with that tiny, injurious percentage of jerkface teachers who ruin life for kids and, in so doing, either blithely or deliberately encourage other kids to hurt them. And don’t get me started on my slim experience with schoolboards. Oh, my God.

      And I am in no way knocking teaching; rather, I’m saying we need healthy, nurturing teachers to counteract a scant number of seriously bullshit people (many of whom join schoolboards). ETA: Worse, a lot of bullies eventually turn into schoolteachers.

  3. mcmiller says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Jenn.
    When I worked closely with other educators I always stressed what I believe deeply: that every child needs equal parts discipline and nourishment. My aim was to make my classroom a safe and thoughtful environment. I got burned out in the world of education for many reasons—one of which was the war I felt I was waging against the “jerkface teachers”, who either spoke poorly about children or neglected them, and failed to create a safe/thoughtful environment.

    The kids in the video reminded me of why I wanted to do that kind of work in the first place; maybe after some time away I’ll be able to get back in the ring. You really do need “a breather” in that line of work—to keep your sanity and compassion intact.

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