Spencer Cobb/Collin Sailor Bully Summary Response
Lee Hirsch’s Bully illustrates the lives of young people throughout their intense journey of bullying. Self harm and even the tragic outcome of suicide can be the result of being picked on every day; whether it is on the bus, in the cafeteria, or in the classroom, it doesn’t matter. The constant torture of being abused physically as well as mentally can sometimes be too much for someone to handle alone. Anyone who stands by and watches someone being attacked, either through fists or words, and doesn’t do anything about it is just as bad as the bullies.
Claim 1: Bully, by Lee Hirsch correctly portrays how bystanders are just as bad as the bullies themselves. As Alex, a 13 year old victim, that is constantly bullied and harassed everywhere. Teachers don’t help, and other kids just watch or join in. He doesn’t tell his own parents, and is having a very tough time. Every time he gets back up, he is pushed down again and again, both physically and mentally. He is called names, beat up, even sat on. He is actually to the point where he has gone through so much that he says he doesn’t even feel anything anymore. This is not only caused by the unthinkable behavior of the bullies, but the absence of help as well. All the bystanders are doing is creating a crowd, and ultimately pushing the bully to new heights.
Counterclaim 1: However, it is not the fault of the bystander that the kid, in this case Alex, is getting bullied. The bystanders are not at fault at all because they just happen to be at the same place as them by coincidence. The only time they would be to blame is if they watch it happen consistently and still do nothing about it. Another reason that the bystanders should not be blamed is because if they try to stand up for the victim, they may fear themselves getting bullied for being the one trying to befriend the “nerd, fish face, weirdo”, or whatever one might call the victim. In the film, the vice principal talks to the bystanders and they don’t get punished for being in the same place at the wrong time, so there must be nothing wrong with bystanding.
Rebuttal: At first glance, bullying seems to be a problem between two people, the bully and the victim. This conclusion seems very compelling because throughout Bully, on many different occasions, the victim was being directly linked with the bullies. Alex, Kelby, Tyler and more were all talked about in relation to the bullies who harass them. This is a helpful interpretation, but it is missing a key point. The bullies themselves aren’t the ones causing all the damage, and they are not even causing half the damage. Bystanders are the ones who stand on the side, watching a terrible scene unfold right in front of their eyes. Bystanders are the ones that are silently encouraging the bully further, and are the reason some victims never receive help. These people need to turn into upstanders, instead of being unhelpful bystanders. Ultimately, Bully is a story that definitely depicts how bystanders are a huge problem in bullying.
Conclusion: In the end, bystanders are as just a big of problem as the bullies themselves. They need to stand up for the victim, because most of the time, one person can’t stand up against the bully. Not only does the victim have to defend himself against his oppressor, but him or herself as well. Victims must have the courage to do whatever they normally do, with the troubling fear that they will get bullied. Bystanders need to step up and defend the victims in order to stop this.