The Billy Wolfe blog post I put up a few weeks ago has generated quite the conversation. Given that the New York Times published the big story, I am not surprised at the amount of involvement in conversation that this post generated. That said, I am surprised at the wonderful “free speech” dialogue about the Bill Wolfe story.
But, one of the interesting points that keeps coming up in the conversation is the idea that Billy Wolfe has asked to be bullied by his actions and attitude. It has repeatedly been said in the conversations that Billy is antagonistic, egotistic, an instigator, and just someone that “asked for it”.
Of course there are two sides to every story. But it continued to have me think about this concept. Did I ask to be picked on as a young 6 or 7 year old? How did I act? Well, certainly I liked to be the leader. That’s part of my personality. Also, maybe I was a little quirky. Honestly, I always wanted to act older than I was, so in some ways I’m sure I came across wrong. I was also a bit small, a bit shy, and a bit of a kid who wanted my way. Do you know anyone else like this? So, did I ask to be picked on…beaten up…treated in inhumane ways?
Billy Wolfe is now a teenager. Based on “his” story and some of the dialogue from the school folks and kids from his school he has been “acting” like he has for a long time. Matt Lauer on the Today show actually asked Billy if he brought any of this on himself. Watch it yourself.
Now, Billy says in the Today Show interview that he does nothing to bring on these attacks. But I would argue that maybe he doesn’t even realize what is happening. After years of abuse at the hands of bullies, could it be that he has lost his ability to react in any other way but a defensive way or even as an instigator now, because he just expects the abuse. In the Today Show interview, I see a thousand mile stare from his eyes. I know that after years of abuse, I had lost my ability to make good fight or flight decisions. I would react many times based on the assumption of being attacked. I would argue that, if Billy has been in this abuse for this long, then it’s quite possible that he is reacting in a way that few, except those that have had this abuse can understand.
This is why I think it is so essential that we try to find help for Billy Wolfe and those like him. Damage is being done to the psyche of these children and if it not handled in the early years, what will a child like Billy grow up to be? Are you ready to deal with an adult who did not get help from these early years of abuse?
So, if you are one of the students at his school, what can you do? Do you want to judge him or help him? What can we do to help turn a person like this around and fix the situation? Those are the questions to ask. It’s easy to judge someone, but getting into their shoes and getting past the idea that the are “asking for it” to help solve the problem is the hard part.