On second thoughts ~ Was it really bullying??

After writing the previous post, I came across an article in the NewYorker , which elucidates the whole set of events that happened before and uptill Tyler Clementi’s suicide. Do take note, that the article does not include conversations with Ravi and family (they refused to give their views).

This article sort of disturbed me and completely twisted my notions of what would have happened. In fairness, i am sure many of us would react the same way as evident in my previous post.

But  after reading this article, which sort of gives a very very close idea to the mental states of Tyler and Dharun, I  feel I should add this :

1. Both the teenagers appear socially inept with themselves, confused, at times lucid, curious, making jokes in fact like typical teenagers. ravi appears as an intelligent though confused, boastful, caring about his image a lot while Tyler is more shy, has few friends.

2. The whole conversations reflect just typical teenage behaviour, thoughts, confusions, judgements, curiosity.

3. References to Ravi gives an impression of an artificially extrovertish person with an inability to express feelings. ( The judge amongst others states that he shows no signs of remorse. This is in sharp contradiction to the last few text messages sent by Ravi)

3. There never seemed to be any hate thoughts by Ravi on Tyler because of his gay identity or anything else. There was an obvious difficulty to communicate and share. This grew and grew into a difficult situation because, each suspected the other of keeping tabs on each other. Maybe the usual teen sensitivities, more exacerbated due to difference in backgrounds.

4. Yes, there was definite spying/sneaking behaviour by Ravi and friends,which though initially taken casually by Tyler led him to take a more harder position as the article says. This subsequently led him to lodge a complaint against Ravi with the hostel resident. In fact just before the suicide, the Hostel advisor had informed ravi of the complaint.

5. what happened between lodging the complaint and the suicide? what made Tyler to commit suicide after taking a firm decision?  something we will never know. What mental changes occured? Very sad to say the least.

6. The sad fact is Ravi had sent messages explaining and apoligising for his conduct to Tyler’s phone  around 5 mins after Tyler’s suicide post on facebook, without being aware of this.  Another twisted leap of fate.

7. From the reconstruction, as far as I am concerned, there is no evidence of hate/murderous instinct/gay victimisation nothing which merits a serious punishment. for spying yes.

All I can say, is at the minimum a tale of two teenagers which went haphazard and ended in tragedy for one and life long chastisement for the other for carrying out a senseless prank/sneaking intrusive action ( which is not actually such an uncommon thing, after all, what are paparazzi doing?)

After reading this, would I call it bullying? I am not so sure.  Not hate motivated anyways. But thoughtless, careless, intrusive , sneaking, which may have certainly indirectly contributed to Tyler’s discomfort certainly , yes

More importantly, it raises issues for all parents regarding teen issues, communication, sexuality issues, internet and web challenges they will face inevitably with teenagers.

_______________________ Previous post below__________________________________

Many people over the world can only dream of aspiring to prestigious universities  like that in Rutgers, NJ, USA and of leading a successful and comfortable life in the US. This guy had it all and in the course of an irresponsible, irremediable and unjustifiable action, he blew it all.

I am talking about Dharun Ravi, who is right now the subject of intense public and media scrutiny as his trial is going on.

Dharun’s unjustifiable spying/bullying of Tyler Clementi, a sensitive extremely talented young person, on his sexual habits led to the subsequent suicide by Tyler. The incident involved Ravi installing  a webcam to spy on Tyler during his dates and Ravi’s friend subsequently streaming the live cam coverage to others in the dormitory.

Suicide of Tyler Clementi

Suicide of Tyler Clementi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, it was reprehensible on the part of Ravi and his friends to do this.  This was complete infringement of privacy and intention to humiliate  a young man, whom they must have known was sensitive. Even if they were unaware, there is no excuse for this sort of action. And obviously, they may not have been aware of the grave consequences of their spying ~ suicide of the target, untold suffering to both families concerned, media circus, two lives gone. Which makes me come to the root of the matter:

Why did an obviously intelligent and smart boy, resort to  such measures like bullying? Why could not the innate intelligence prevent him from discriminating between right and wrong? Was it the temptation to lord over someone who is vulnerable and may be ‘weak’in protecting himself? To make fun of the ‘sexual tendencies’? Basically, why do we bully? They say, there is always a space between thought and action. Unfortunately, in this case, not much thought was given. One needs to understand the psychology of bullies.

Should parents be wary when they send their students into residency programs?  If such cases, can happen at well known institutions, well,what about other more down to earth ones? In India, ragging has been a culture of colleges everywhere, and considered the primary ritual for the indoctrination of a student into a college life. Whatever its beneficial intentions , it has degenerated into a foul exercise of humiliation, degradation and often sexual abuse of students involved. There have been even cases of ghastly murders when students resist. engineering/medical colleges have gained notoriety in this regard. Even though there has been some measures put in place , it still occurs.

Could the suicide have been prevented?

In this case, the victim was too sensitive to withstand the shock of personal exposure. Maybe it would have been good if there had been a friend for him to share his anguish and thoughts, which may have prevented the untimely death. He may have felt alone and helpless in the hostel. This again sheds light on the fact that being an 18 year old does not mean, that a person won’t need help at hand for emergency. Maybe there should be counselling centres open overnight for emergencies.

Was the scale of punishment meted out to Ravi justified?

Some feel that he has been bombarded with different charges. The punishment of 30 days plus community action/counselling may be considered as light by some. In my view, since there was no explicit encouragement or abetment in suicide nor was there any other intention of physical harm ( besides the obvious intention to make fun), it may be a reasonable punishment. It is difficult in such cases to give a judgement which makes everyone satisfied.

What can be concluded from this story is:
1. Bullying and ragging is a serious offence against human life and rights. It must be combated with as much means as possible. Tough measures and tough action have to be in place to deter future bullies.
2. We, as parents, teachers and society leaders must deal strictly and firmly with potential bullies in our family, neighbourhood and society.
3. Bullying habits can be observed from childhood onwards. Unless, we take steps to nip it in the bud, we may have kids who will think it is okay to bully/jeer/humiliate/intimidate and will suffer the consequences of their action later in life. We need to impress upon them that BULLYING is a no -no.
Bullying is often due to insecurities, the person may have. We need to build up the morale of our kids in a healthy manner so that they dont have to resort to bullying to express their need for power
4. As parents/teachers/society leaders, we need to be on the watch for potential bullies and their victims. We need to be alert and aware. Of symptoms and signs. There should be safeguards in place for dealing with bullying incidents sensitively and effectively.
Kids obtain many of their initial impressions on behavior from us. If we display to them that it is okay to bully, then that it is what they are going to learn.
5. What can be done for bullying victims? Need to build up self confidence and trust. Need support and guidance at all times. Need, moreimportantly friendship.  Need to build up assertiveness so they can counter the bullies.
If we don’t nip bullying in its various forms, from the bud, we will have many other sad  Tyler Clementi – Dharun Ravi stories, many more anguished parents, who will end up losing their children ( both the victim and the aggressors)
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About terriblethinker

dreamer, hoper, lover of life, beauty and nature, passionate about reading and music

Posted on May 22, 2012, in Social Issues and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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