The cable news channels are full of the sad story of Tyler Clementi.  Tyler was a freshman at Rutgers University and committed suicide last week by jumping off a bridge to his death in the Hudson River.  What caused this young man to go to such drastic measures to end his life?

Tyler had a sexual encounter in his dorm room.  Apparently he asked for the room until midnight.  Unbeknownst to him, the roommate left his computer open and the web cam streamed the entire episode onto the Internet.  The roommate and a friend tweeted the information.  Tyler’s encounter was with another man. 

One has to ask what kind of monsters would do something like this?  Recording this young man’s personal sexual encounter was just another form of bullying.  Bullying goes on all the time.  In fact, there is an epidemic going on in this country and it isn’t just against gays.  Phoebe Prince  of Massachusetts wasn’t gay.  She was basically tortured to death by her peers, who have been charged in her death.  Tyler’s bullies, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, have been charged with invasion of privacy.  They can receive punishment of up to five years in prison. 

People don’t send their children to public school or to college to have them bullied by others to the point they take their own lives. Suicide with gay youth is 4 times that of straight kids. Yet, is bullying just a phenomena with young people or can it happen with any group? Does it happen at the office, in the neighborhood, in our political dealings, on the blogs? Bullying can and does happen everywhere.

We all need to look to see if our behavior involves bullying. We also need to watch for bullying behavior with our kids. Some of the most serious bullying starts with older siblings. However, experts say that today’s technology allows bullying to be carried to new levels. No longer are kids just beaten up on the playground or jumped on the way home and their lunch money stolen like in the good old days. Now people can sit behind a computer, such as happened with Tyler Clementi, and create situations that make someone’s life no longer worth living. Some folks survive and laugh at their tormentors. Others, like Tyler, decide to end it all.

14 Thoughts to “Another Bullying Story with a Bad Ending”


    What that roommate did was despicable. It doesn’t matter if the sex was with a man or a woman…just the idea to spy on a roommate doing ANYTHING, regardless of what it was, sex, picking his nose or whatever people do when they think no one is looking, and then tweeting it and broadcasting is just beyond belief. I hope that guy gets locked up for a LONG time. Asshat.

  2. Unfortunalty there is a growing contingent of people seeking to gain their 15 minutes of fame through provocative viral videos. I felt physically sick yesterday after navigating through a mixed string of staged and real violence that was uploaded to youtube. So many kids first reaction when they run into a dispute is to whip out the camera as opposed to intervening, speaking their sophmoric views out loud in the background; “OHHHHhhhhh! dat Bi@^h just got punked out….this is so crazy dude! it’s like Dragon Ball Z”

    …Viral videos are like the Internet in general, they can be used for good or evil. I hope these 2 fairly apathetic kids learn a lesson.

    We have also got to do a better job of showing that suicide is not a solution, humiliation is a state of mind, you can’t let the bully’s and fools in life get you down. If someone is taunting you without provocation, it’s because they feel very insecure about their own strength and can only find surface reafirmation in acts of dominance.

    The less we feed a person acting as a bully, the shorter their life as a bully will be.

  3. marinm

    Rod, I think a larger issue here is that kids are just following what we’ve been reinforcing in school and to the public at large.

    Don’t get involved; contact authorities and don’t use force to defend yourself.

    The unintended consequence is that bullying (I’m not yet convinced this was a case of bullying or had a hate element to it) fosters in that type of environment.

  4. Rick Bentley

    Bullying is a real problem but – I suspect as with the Pheobe Prince story that there is more to this than the simple storyline we take from the headlines.

    The kid who did it … it was terrible … but the kind of “Animal House” hikink that we all watch and laugh at in movies and TV shows. (This very thing was a staple of “MASH”).

    I feel bad abouit it but I’d like a fuller picture.

    In the Pheobe Prince story, the media took something fairly normal – girls upset over another girl flirting with their boyfriends, and a suicidal teen committing suicide – and ptesented a false picture.

  5. @rod2155
    You certainly have had your fair share of bullies over in your neck of the woods…starting with the polls.

  6. @marinm

    Marin, I completely disagree that the concept of keep moving and don’t get involved is reinforced in schools. There is a code of silence among kids that counsellors, teachers, administrators and cop resource people work with daily to break. Students are encouraged to report incidents that don’t feel right or are harming others. Still, the code of silence prevails because of peer pressure, fear, or not wanting to appear uncool. It is a dangerous mindset but it is not encouraged at school. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  7. marinm

    MH, I’ve been out of school awhile but I think the rule still is if you throw a punch to defend yourself that you get suspended along with the instigator.

    We punish victims at school for the sake of maintaining ‘order’.

  8. And if you didn’t have that ….you would have mayheim. I think most people just accept that its worth it if they defend themselves. And that isn’t always the case.

    Suggest a better alternative. I don’t know of one.

    But back to bullying…does technology increase the likelihood of it happening? @marin, you are in the business. Do you have to investigate incidences of bullying in the work place?

  9. Rick, you have uncovered the other side of the story…but it still shows bullying.

    I believe I read somewhere that Phoebe had been too friendly with the football player. I certainly am not going to say HOW friendly. I wasn’t there. However, the girlfriend got mad (perfectly human emotion) and I guess the errant boyfriend switched sides and became one of the torturers. I am not quite willing to say that messing with someone else’s man should get you killed. But I do agree, they didn’t just single her out for no reason.

    As for Tyler, who knows. Some people are just mean mofos. There are people who just enjoy pulling the wings off flies to watch them buzz around and not be able to fly. It makes me sick.

  10. marinm

    I think that if a person is truly defending themselves (with whatever force is needed to answer the threat) that we shouldn’t punish the victim. If your jumped in high school you punch back. If a guy tries to rape you you kick him in the apples or put a bullet in his brain pan. Either way, Judge Marin would say you were innocent and appologize for wasting your time.

    So, my alternative would be; don’t punish victims.

    I’m not saying that we can’t still tell people to report crimes, report harrassment, etc. Thats fine. But if a threat presents itself why as a society are we so quick to punish victims along with the perps? I do see where your coming from and feel for your position (your point) but I think it’s a larger issue of scope.

    At least in my experience I haven’t really seen it in the context of bullying. More often than not in a workplace it’s more about sexual harassment. The explosion of social media and smartphones have also blurred the line between work and personal lives making things complicated from an employees standpoint as well as an employer. How much intrusion is acceptable from a company to it’s employees (for example, is it OK for a corporation to track its employees on Facebook or LinkedIn). The one word I can describe it all as; messy.

  11. I think sexual harassment is a form of bullying also. And thats a good question about facebook and Linkedin. I think I am going to say yes. It isn’t ok to obtain access that the individual hasn’t granted though. That’s an initial answer with the right to change my mind if someone convinces me I was full of it to start with.

    Do you get asked to pull computers looking for porno sites etc?

    Actually I agree that victims are punished way too often. The problem with schools is they want you to really only do it to defend yourself. Too much banty rooster complex otherwise. I know my kid wasn’t suspended when jumped. Schools also don’t have the investigative tools to do all the due process in a fight.

    So I will say you are right in principle and not right in application.

  12. The more I read this story the more heart breaking it becomes.

  13. A vigil will be held at Rutgers today in honor of Tyler Clementi.

    The Univeristy will be taking a look at what they can do to protect students. Apparently Tyler had requested to have his dorm room changed and was denied.

  14. Elena

    How sad, the one sexuality should be cause for such depression that they committ suicide. WHY is this nation so concerned about what people do in their bedrooms as consenting adults. Sex is NOT a reason to die for G-d’s sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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