MomZette

The Bullying Culture: What You Must Know

Latest Chicago case in which a special needs teen was targeted in a hate crime highlights worst of the worst

The torture and beating of a Chicago special-needs teenager that was filmed and posted to Facebook Live this week highlights the terrible cruelty that can happen to those who are especially vulnerable. People who assault and taunt others often develop their habits at an early age — and the weaker the victim, the crueler the perpetrator’s actions can be.

Kids who suffer mental and physical impairments are easy targets for those who will themselves spiral into adult lives of fragmentation and anti-social behavior.

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The Chicago victim, who is white, was held at knifepoint during the video. He was told by four black individuals, now in custody, to curse President-Elect Donald Trump. Others in the video could be heard saying, “f— white people” and “f— Donald Trump.” The video has since been removed from Facebook.

On Thursday afternoon the attackers in Chicago went from bullies to probable criminals: The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said it had filed felony criminal hate crime charges against three 18-year-olds — Jordan Hill, Tesfaye Cooper and Brittany Covington, as well as Tanishia Covington, 24, reported The Washington Post. Hill was listed as being from Carpentersville, Illinois, a small town about 40 miles from Chicago, while the others were said to be from Chicago.

The young suspects can be heard on the video saying they wanted it to go viral.

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The Chicago victim, who is mentally disabled

What type of person assaults and terrorizes a mentally disabled individual? This instance of cruelty reveals the lowest of America, the beating and taunting of someone unable to protect himself or advocate for himself.

These attackers no doubt started as bullies, taunting and terrorizing those in their environments weaker than they. Kids who bully need to be watched carefully, for the safety of others.

Sadly, children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied in the United States — and in other countries, too, according to data compiled by the Queensland, Australia, state government. More students with disabilities are bullied in Britain than are children without disabilities — in one study, 60 percent of students with disabilities reported being bullied, compared to 25 percent of students in general.

Some of the worst bullies are egged on by others either participating in the bullying or watching from the sidelines. In the case of the Chicago youth, four participated in his humiliation and torture.

“Bullies are strong psychologically and get a great deal of peer support,” wrote Jaana Juvonen, a co-auther of a UCLA study of 2,000 teens, according to Suicide.org. “[Victims] suffer from symptoms of psychological distress that are not necessarily observable. Victims have feelings of depression and social anxiety and loneliness, quiet signs of distress.”

“Bullies are a special breed of children. The vast majority of children (60 to 70 percent) are never involved in bullying, either as perpetrators or victims. Early in development, most children acquire internal restraints against such behavior. But those who bully do it consistently.” That’s according to a piece in Psychology Today.

The publication notes that this aggression starts at an early age, and that it takes a very specific set of conditions to produce a child who bullies and actively inflicts pain on others.

Related: No Bullying On This Bus

“I was stalked by a bully in high school and it was extremely traumatic,” one Maryland woman in her 50s told LifeZette. “This was a girl larger than me, and I can still see her piercing eyes and look of glee when she would locate me across the lunchroom. She focused on my eyeglasses, my braces, and my small size — and it was a living nightmare until, of all people, two popular football players stepped in. I’m not sure what they said to her when they caught her taunting me. But they yanked her aside, and her torture of me stopped.”

This woman’s story offers a lesson in what parents can reinforce to kids should they be blessed with a wide circle of friends and a secure social status with their peers and school community.

“Teach the other set of ABC’s – Always Be Caring, if you are fortunate enough to have a happy, popular child,” Jean Purcell, a former high school English teacher in New York City, told LifeZette. “I personally witnessed times when a more popular person would either emotionally or physically rescue a weaker student from the grip of a stronger one. I always thought that the weaker the victim was, the more disturbed the bully was.”

[lz_bulleted_list title=”If Your Child Is Bullied:” source=”http://www.stompoutbullying.org”]Become the expert on bullying.|Document everything.|Use a recorder at meetings in the schools.|Contact a mental health counselor and get your child help.|Obtain copies of any documents from the school on incidents.|File a complaint with the school.|If you still cannot come to any resolution, contact the Department of Education, which will investigate the matter.|Be persistent.|Contact an educational consultant and an attorney. [/lz_bulleted_list]

Bullies suffer their own dire consequences from their behavior.

“Most bullies have a downwardly spiraling course through life, their behavior interfering with learning, friendships, work, intimate relationships, income, and mental health,” noted Psychology Today. “Bullies turn into antisocial adults, and are far more likely than non-aggressive kids to commit crimes, batter their wives, abuse their children — and produce another generation of bullies.”

Bullying is not just physical.

“Remember, those who bully others do not need to be stronger or bigger than those they bully,” emphasized StopBullying.gov. “The power imbalance can come from a number of sources — popularity, strength, cognitive ability — and children who bully may have more than one of these characteristics.”

“It is critical to look out for the weakest in society,” said Purcell. “The horrific beating of this mentally challenged young man illustrates a society that is coarser, meaner, and crazy with the zeal for fleeting social media fame. It’s quite distressing, really.”