Once again the Brownes of “Hagar the Horrible” cartoon fame are bringing bullying into the public eye. The February 19, 2012, Sunday comic by Dik Browne, showed Hagar’s son, Hamlet, watching the dog, Snert, pass by with a bone, only to see a much larger dog steal it away. At that point Hamlet comments, “Boy, bullying is more widespread than I thought.”
Sadly, Hamlet spoke the truth. A survey of youth in South Korea reported that in 2010, 22% reported having been bullied and 30% of those had considered suicide. In 2011, the number of those considering suicide had doubled. Officials blame the competitiveness of society and the educational system, which leads students to view each other as the competition, not as a friends.
The day after the Hagar cartoon appeared, a CCN story told of two 15-year-old South Korean boys who were sentenced to prison for three and three and a half years for bullying a classmate until he committed suicide by jumping off a building. He left behind a note naming his tormentors. The two bullies, neither of whom had a previous criminal record, forced their victim to play online games, then took the game winnings. They beat him frequently, stole food from his home, pushed his head into the sink, and humiliated him by making him eat food off the ground.
Depending upon their behavior, the bullies could be out of prison in two years. They’ll have a criminal record that might follow them for the rest of their lives depending upon how Korea treats minors who offend, but they’ll once again be out in the world and walking around. We can only hope that the sentence they received from the Korean court, which took their cruel bullying and the resulting public outcry seriously enough to send them to prison, will have changed their behavior and their treatment of others. In the meantime, however, the target of their mistreatment will still be dead.
Prevention is preferable to punishment. The victim would still be living, and two young men with their lives ahead of them would not be in prison. The parents of the dead boy, both schoolteachers, are suing the school, its head teacher and principal, and the parents of both convicted middle school students. That should get the attention of a few folks and perhaps raise awareness enough to prevent a few others from following the same path as the two bullies. But how much better it would be to have bullying become extinct throughout the world.
One young South Korean who was bullied is working toward that goal. You can learn about his efforts in the video below. Then you can go to the website of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and sign up to join the battle against bullying. Together, we can make miracles happen.