According to Wikipedia, victim blaming happens when “the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm that befell them,” and that is the most apt definition I can think of. To put it simply, victim blaming is when the victim is blamed for something someone else did to them.
For some reason, we have become a society of victim blamers. You were raped? You shouldn’t have been wearing that seductive clothing. You were robbed? What were you doing in that part of town? Somebody stole your car? Why didn’t you lock your doors? You can’t afford medical care? Why don’t you have a better job? You’re being abused? Why don’t you just leave?
It’s bad enough that victims have to suffer the consequences of the crimes committed against them, but then others have to dump salt in the wound by adding guilt to the myriad of emotions victims are experiencing. Victim blamers make the victims believe what happened to them was solely their fault and no blame is ever cast at the perpetrators of the crime. I can’t for the life of me figure out how we became a nation of such heartless individuals.
To see an example of what I’m referring to, look no further than the news this week, where a 9-year old boy is being punished because he’s being bullied. Grayson Bruce is being bullied by other children at his school because of the My Little Pony backpack he carries to school on a daily basis. According to Grayson, kids are “taking it a little too far, with punching me, pushing me down, calling me horrible names, stuff that really shouldn’t happen.”
So the logical thing for the school to do would be to address each of the children bullying Grayson, tell them their behavior is unacceptable, and punish them if they continue, right? Well, evidently logic in the educational system in Buncombe County, North Carolina is as elusive as the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa. The school didn’t address the situation with any of the children bullying Grayson. To my utter shock, and to the displeasure of rational beings everywhere, the school only addressed this situation with Grayson, telling him not to bring his My Little Pony backpack to school anymore claiming it is a “trigger” for bullying. In essence, the school just told him that the bullies were right and that he was wrong. What the actual fuck?
What the fuck is a trigger for bullying? And why are they rationalizing the behavior of the bullies by saying, “Well, if you didn’t have that backpack…”? Grayson’s mom is LIVID. As a parent, I am fucking LIVID. Parents everywhere should be LIVID.
What is this teaching all of the children involved? Obviously only time will tell, but I’m going to go out on a limb anyhow. Poor Grayson is being told that when he’s denigrated and beaten it’s totally his fault. The bullies are being taught that might makes right and that it’s okay to harass people who are different. They’re all being taught that conformity is more important than individuality. The handling of this situation by the school is completely fucked up. They took the coward’s way out in dealing with this and all school officials involved should be ashamed of themselves. They just did a monumental disservice to every child involved.
The Buncombe County school administration has said that they “will continue to take steps to resolve this issue.” Well, that’s a relief. They’ve handled it all with utmost class so far. What will they do if the bullying continues? Prevent Grayson from showing up to school at all? Send him to a different school? Make his mother home school him? Or just let it continue until Grayson becomes so broken that he commits suicide?
No one is responsible for anyone’s actions but their own. When a person is raped, it is the fault of the rapist and the rapist only. When a person is sexually harassed, it is the fault of the harasser. In the specific instance cited here, the kids bullying Grayson are to blame. It’s their fault and they’re the ones in the wrong, yet Grayson, the victim, is being punished.
I can’t properly articulate how much this infuriates me. This is a gross injustice. Victims are continually subjected to further victimization and it’s the most backwards, asinine shit imaginable. People like Grayson should have folks lining up to help him, but instead he’s being told the crimes committed against him are his fault and he’s being punished accordingly. Sorry, kid, leave that backpack at home otherwise you’ll get your ass kicked. What a crock.
I’m often critical of our litigious society so I don’t say this lightly, but I think Grayson’s mom should take legal action against the school. She has a right to send her child to school free of fear that he will be harmed by other students and/or faculty. They are not holding up their end of the bargain.
This is a dark time for Buncombe County schools, and they just set a dangerous precedent. The parents of children attending those schools should be worried. If I had children in that school district I’d be worried. Student safety is obviously not a concern in Buncombe County.