Bullying is not limited to kids like Keaton Jones; it happens to adults as well

Published: December 15, 2017
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If you are a parent, a trend follower, or simply someone who is connected to social media, then by now you must have seen the video of Keaton Jones, an 11-year-old American boy from Tennessee, who is seen tearfully addressing his bullies. The video, filmed by his mother, took the internet by storm, with celebrities like Justin Bieber and Chris Evans coming forward in support of Keaton and taking a stand against bullying.

Keaton was bullied by his peers, who called him ugly, told him he has no friends, and even went to the extent of picking on him physically and pouring milk and ham down his shirt. The boy tearfully questioned why people bully, and why they find joy in being mean to others – questions that, though immensely pertinent, perhaps have no single answer.

Although Keaton’s story is an American one, the very problem of bullying can be found in Pakistan as well. You can talk to any school teacher, or even your own school going child, and you will definitely understand the gravity of the situation. For me, not only must bullying be condemned, but more importantly, it should be looked at with a wider perspective. Those who believe that bullying is a problem that only applies to school going children and vanishes into thin air with time as kids grow up, are seriously mistaken.

I graduated from NED University of Engineering and Technology in 2007. At that time, smart phones weren’t very common and Nokia was ruling the cellular world with no real competition in the market. A decade passed, and a bright fellow from my batch made a Whatsapp group, adding most of our classmates. Although it was a virtual rendezvous, it nonetheless felt really good to have almost all of my classmates in one place again. People started discussing where they have been, what they have been doing, whether or not they’ve gotten married, shared pictures of their kids, and so on. It was refreshing to listen to the success stories, as well as the struggles of those who are still trying to make their mark.

After a day or two the chit-chat was done, and then what started in the name of fun can be only be described as bullying. The boy who used to be the most popular student of our class back then, decided to recreate the university days of a decade ago, and thus gathered a few people with him to kick off some ‘fun-filled’ bullying. I won’t present myself as an angel – I was enjoying that too and as I remained a silent bystander, I consider myself a part of it. However, since everyone in that WhatsApp group is at least 30 years of age or older, they should by now be better equipped to deal with bullying, because after a certain age you have to understand that the world is not a fair place at all.

The interesting fact about this grown-up bullying is that it works in exactly the same manner as it did during school. One member of our group was cornered and bullied to the extent that he decided to quit the group. Frankly speaking, no indecent, filthy or dirty comment was thrown at him, and that is the devilish beauty of bullying – you can terrify people without playing dirty.

The purpose of discussing this recent experience is the realisation that it led to in me regarding bullying. There have been many cases, especially internationally, where kids have taken their own lives after being bullied, as they find no other alternative to escape. For example, Ashawnty Davis, a 10-year-old girl, was found hanging in her room on December 2, 2017 and her parents blame their daughter’s suicide to bullying at school. In South Carolina, an 11-year old girl fatally shot herself because she was being bullied at school, according to her family.

On the contrary, you won’t find much news about bullying and its effects amongst adults, but that doesn’t mean that this practice is not rampant among grown-ups. In fact, it is not even realised as something bad that should be stopped, rather, it is almost always mistaken as “fun” or a “joke”.

I am not sure why bullying occurs amongst adults as well. It seems that those who are disrespectful towards others and enjoy the crown of being a bully during their school years, want to continue wearing it after school ends as well. On the other hand, it seems like those who are bullied at school take it as something they need to live with in life – that the only thing that changes are the faces, and the details remain the same.

Keaton, therefore, has a message for all victims of bullying. You don’t need to stay low or shy away – you should actually do the opposite. Spread awareness about this painful practice which generally goes unnoticed, and register your protest against it. Talking about it won’t make you seem weak; rather it will help others who perhaps are going through something similar. It might even make those bullies understand that wearing the crown of a bully should bring them no pride – it should only bring them shame.

Perhaps what we need more of is the bravery shown by little boys like Keaton who speak out against bullies. If this little boy can speak out, perhaps it’s time that more people do the same.

Abdullah Ansari

Abdullah Ansari

An electrical engineer by profession, Abdullah works in the oil and gas industry. His interests include international relations, global politics and debating. He tweets @ChangingTrendz (twitter.com/ChangingTrendz)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Salman Raheel

    Most of the adult bullying takes places out of arrogance & jealousy. People who bully, may have superiority complexes or on the flip side could be not fond of you , for your accomplishments or your entire persona. These are the two basic reasons I see for adult bullying in our society. Interesting thing is, people here are so ignorant that they generally label bullying as poking fun etc.Recommend