There is a popular delusion in American society that bullying is just childhood shenanigans or a right of passage for kids. Set aside for a moment the severe toll that bullying takes on a child’s mental health and success in life, as discussed in our chapter on the effects of bullying. It’s not uncommon for acts of bullying to become so severe that it’s blatantly criminal and involves serious assaults on the victim.
Severe Cases of Bullying
So just how bad can bullying get? Let’s explore some of the more egregious assaults that bullied children have experienced:
Severe physical injuries from bullying
Lawyer Marty Cirkiel, who has represented parents in lawsuits against Texas schools, describes some of the bullying his clients children have experienced: “One kid had pencils stuck up his rectum. Another was burned and branded with a heated paper clip. A boy with autism was sexually assaulted.” In another reported bullying case in Texas, a special-needs teenager was purportedly held down while another boy forced his penis into his mouth. (Hollandsworth, 2011, p. 76) Eleven-year-old Mathew Mumbauer was left paralyzed and on a ventilator after being pushed down the stairs at his school by a bully. (Turley, 2008)
There are bullying cases involving broken bones, damaged testicles, and internal organ damage. The non-profit children’s charity Kidscape writes of the different physical injuries they found in one of their studies: “The types of physical bullying reported…were nauseating to read and listen to: broken bones, internal injuries, scarring, operations to remove damaged testicles and kidneys, stabbings, being blinded in one eye, severe beating, being strung up upside down in toilets and almost drowning, being thrown down cliffs, into water and pushed onto the road in front of oncoming traffic, having objects inserted into various orifices, etc. The catalogue of abuse was horrifying.” (Kidscape, 1999, p. 4)
Other examples of extreme bullying
Tami Carmichael, mother of a boy who killed himself, describes the bullying her son Jon experienced: “He was pushed to the ground on an almost daily basis. They’d throw him in the school’s dumpster a couple times a week, and they stuck him head-down in a toilet and started flushing. One day they stripped him naked, tied him up, and stuck him in a trash can, and they taped it with their cell phones and put it all on You Tube.” (Hollandsworth, 2011, p. 76) That was a day or two before he killed himself.
Billy Wolfe, a 15-year-old in Fayetteville, Arkansas, found himself the target of a group of bullies at school. His troubles started with a single bully, then mushroomed into several years of ongoing torment after his mom complained to the parents of the bully. The very next day, the bully presented Billy with a signed list of 20 other boys who had vowed to beat him up, and beatings would soon become commonplace. His tormenters turned harassing Billy into a sort of “collective sport prey,” even filming their hunt. One video depicts a boy spontaneously announcing that he is going to beat Billy up in front of Billy’s younger sister, then walking up and punching him at a bus stop. He would be attacked at any time and in any place his bullies could find an opening – bus stops, hallways, the school bus, bathrooms, shop class. One attack was severe enough it required medical treatment. His parents are now suing the Fayetteville school district, which is no stranger to this type of lawsuit. It had been previously sued after one of their students was savagely beaten for being gay. (Turley, 7-15-2008)