Blaming the Victim

2 May

The line that defines a victim from an instigator can be very hard to recognize, but figuring out if that line even matters might even be a harder task.

In the news not terribly long ago was a story about a boy who was getting bullied at school because of his My Little Pony backpack. When this child tried to get help and stop his bullies, he was instead reprimanded for contributing to bullying by choosing to wear said backpack.

In other words, he was asking for it.

Let’s say that this little boy just really, really liked his backpack and didn’t understand why he was being picked on. It’s absolutely horrible that school officials would punish him, and not the children bullying him.

But lets switch things up a bit. Let’s say this little boy doesn’t have any attachment to his My Little Pony backpack, and simply wore it because he knew these other kids would pick on him for it; he wanted to get them in trouble. Instead of being “the victim” in this case, he might more readily be considered an instigator.

To me, the most likely scenario falls in between: he liked his backpack, and when the other children picked on him, he didn’t want to give into peer pressure, and continued to wear it.

While these three scenarios are only slightly different, the view of this little boy with a backpack changes how we think he should be treated. Should it? I’m not convinced either way, but I do know that he shouldn’t have been punished. He has no control over how other children treat him – only they have control over their own actions. Even if he had no attachment to his backpack, these kids should still know better than to pick on another child.

If we think of this child as an “instigator”, should he have been reprimanded for contributing to bullying or should the other children have been disciplined? Does someone being a “victim” and an “instigator” at the same time change how we should handle the situation? Have you ever been picked on my kids for something silly like this – what was it? Have you ever purposely done something just because others thought it was weird?

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3 Responses to “Blaming the Victim”

  1. Perpetual Musings May 2, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    If the child was deemed an instigator, we have to ponder and address why. If he didn’t even really like the backpack, then in all likeliness he was conducting a conscious experiment in which case he should probably have let people know. Otherwise it’s just another case of bullying.

    In any case, the my little pony backpack wearing kid has no reason to be punished, but it does open the door for conversation between him and his parents, not the media. In any case, bullying is bullying and the bully should always face consequences for his or her actions.

  2. tictact0e0 May 9, 2014 at 6:48 am #

    little boy…, with this in mind, would a little boy risk being bullied? maybe that depends on if the bullying happened once vs multiple occasion. but as a little boy, it’d be pretty traumatizing to be bullied. If and it seems like a big big if, this little boy was being an instigator, he would have went through some traumatic experiences of being previously abused, and had this set up to wear the backpack such that the instant the bullying happens, he runs for help. overall, I’m pointing to the idea that to be an instigator requires it to be in some fashion premeditated.

    and as to why the little boy would wear the backpack, I’d probably include that the little boy could have came from a poor background and just ended up with his possible older sister’s hand-me-downs, just an idea

    • mishie1 May 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

      That is a very good point! I hadn’t thought of the hand-me-down issue.

      I bring up the instigating as valid, because that is definitely something I could have done as a child. I was picked on quite a bit, so I became “toughened” and while I can’t recall ever instigating something like this, I definitely wouldn’t say it didn’t or wouldn’t happen.

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