“My name is Joey and I’m 10 years old. I am a victim of bullying.
It hurts me very much. Please, stop bullying.” That message, posted to Facebook by Joey’s mother, was a last-ditch effort to stop weeks of pain and struggle for the boy. The family had no idea their plea was about to be answered in the best way possible as one man seemed to know exactly what to do — and it’s something we should all learn from.
Sadly, bullying happens every day, and it’s a pretty tough pill to swallow when you learn your own kid is the one tormenting others.
As parents, we want to think we created a happy environment where our little ones can grow into responsible adults, but what happens when you realize your child gets a kick out of inflicting harm on others?
Joey probably wished he could find those magical words that would make his bullies realize he was a human being. But nothing seemed to work.
His bullies seemed to enjoy watching him squirm in pain. Joey couldn’t understand why anyone would want to mock and harm another person. But there had to be a reason, right?
Bullying doesn’t just happen overnight.
More often than not, children who engage in bullying behaviors, (which can be both physical and mental) do it to solve their social problems. But why do they get a kick out of making someone else as miserable as they feel on the inside?
Bullying others might be a sign that the child is under serious distress or they’re being abused at home. The bully might be experiencing anxiety or depression, and they’ve got all this pinned up anger inside.
The bully doesn’t have any healthy coping mechanisms to handle these feelings, so they resort to bullying others. After all, it’s a lot easier to bully a person than to work out their inner turmoil and learn to solve problems.
Joey Mason is a shy fourth grader who loves to play with his dog and cat. Joey lives in Toronto, Canada, in a residential community with a nice park where he is free to play outside.
Unfortunately, after school one day, Joey’s outdoor playtime turned into a nightmare for him. Why. Because of the bullies.
Joey was just minding his own business, but for some reason, (which was completely out of his control) he became the target of a group of bullies.
For some kids, bullying is “the easy way out,” but more often than not, bullies learn how to behave that way at home.
Ask yourselves this question: What could Joey have possibly done to upset a few random strangers. He was just playing outside and keeping to himself.
But there are many reasons why bullies, well…bully. Some families operate through control, verbal aggression, intimidation, making the aggressors feel small and helpless. And now, these bullies were planning on taking out their frustrations on someone else: poor little Joey.
For some reason, a group of teens had recently turned their eyes to him that spring. For weeks, it seemed that every time and everywhere Joey went after school, they were there to bully him.
But Joey was a tough kid and didn’t let the name-calling get to him. That was, until one day, the bullying took a scary turn.
We do our best to bully-proof our kids, and Joey had some great social skills to handle this issue.
So far, his bullies had stuck to verbal-aggression and intimidation only. But when this group of mean boys decided to kick things up a notch, Joey ended up stuck in a tough situation, and he needed help…fast.
Unfortunately, bullying can turn something as fun as playing outside into a real life nightmare. Teasing, name-calling, posting mean rumors about others, and threatening kids over their lunch money is a widespread phenomenon that many kids are going through these day.
But what happens when the situation is starting to get really scary. Joey had never experienced something like this, and he didn’t know how to react. Was he supposed to act brave or walk away?
Joey was wandering around the park by himself, kicking a soccer ball around. All of a sudden, the same three teenage boys came out of nowhere and approached him.
To onlookers, it probably looked like they knew him because they went directly to him. But their demeanor, though friendly on the surface, hid some dark undertones that would soon reveal the teens’ true nature.
They seemed like a group of boys who were looking to kick around the ball and have a nice day out at the park, but if Joey’s mother would’ve been anywhere near, she would’ve probably stepped in immediately.
Had anyone been paying attention to Joey’s body movements and clues, they would’ve quickly realized that this group of boys were up to no good, as Joey had a strong reaction when he noticed they were approaching. He was scared to even move.
All he could do now was stay cool and hope for the best. But Joey’s gut instinct was telling him he wouldn’t come out unscathed.
“Hey kid,” one of the teens said. “Nice ball you got there. Can I see it?” But before Joey could react, the teen kicked the ball away from him.
“It’s mine!” he protested, to no avail. “Come on, just give it to me, man. It’s just a ball,” the teen continued. Little did he know, he was being watched.
Some victims of bullying suffer in silence, while the taunts chip away at their already low self-esteem. But Joey knew it was best to keep a cold demeanor and stay still.
The bullies thought they would have a field day, mocking and taunting him since he was all alone at the park. But they never imagined someone out there was watching their every move.
While the interaction between the teens and Joey was occurring, a man was taking notice. He was sitting on a bench near where the little boy had been playing, reading on his tablet.
But as the teasing escalated, he turned his attention toward the four boys. At one point, the older teen kicked the ball away to the other side of the footpath. That’s when the man decided to act.
The teens thought they were being slick, messing around with a little kid. But Joey knew he wasn’t supposed to escalate things by trying to retrieve the ball.
So he just stood there while the bullies played around with his ball. But the man wasn’t about to let them get off scot-free. This is the kind of behavior that infuriated him.
As the boy and the three teens raced to reach the ball, the man stood up and followed them. “Gentlemen,” he said.
“What are you doing?” The teens seemed startled to be interrupted by a stranger. “Just playing ball, sir,” said the leader. But the man was not buying it.
As an adult, he could tell that the teens were feeding him nothing but lies. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what they were doing with Joey.
Judging by their demeanor, anyone could tell the boys were getting off on mocking someone who was half their size. He couldn’t help but feel sick to his stomach.
But the man couldn’t help but notice there was a huge imbalance of power. Not only that, but Joey was obviously alone, whereas, there were three of them.
It truly enraged him. He couldn’t help but feel like if you’re going to pick on someone, at least have the backbone to pick on someone your own size. The man decided to stand up and ask them a question that left the teens completely astonished.
“You got a problem?” he asked the teens. “Why are you picking on a little kid?” The boys were stumped and didn’t know how to answer his question.
“Playing ball,” the teen repeated in a low voice. His demeanor had changed, and now he was standing with his head down, clearly uncomfortable. The man’s words were having an effect.
The man was taking a stand for Joey. Often times, sticking up for someone else makes the bully question themselves.
Now the teenagers were left embarrassed after a total stranger called them out on what they were doing to a poor defenseless kid. But what would you do if you ever witnessed something like this?
If you see someone getting bullied, Planned Parenthood suggests you take a stand as a group, that way you and your friends can help the victim. There’s true strength in numbers, so don’t be afraid to unite and help out someone who may feel powerless, or even unable to get away from the bullying.
But the man wasn’t done with the boys. He had so much more to say to them!
“Don’t you think your parents would love this.
You guys getting arrested for picking on a little kid?” the man asked them. “You think they’d be proud of you?” The older boy had no answer to offer but a quiet “no, sir.” The man then turned to the other two teens, who had been conspicuously silent.
The other two boys were completely taken aback by the man’s words. They knew that if their parents found out they were harassing a little boy, it’d be all over. Kids can be pretty mean — yes, even your precious little angel.
— but as a parent, it’s your job to stop blaming yourself and spring into action. Perhaps, these teenagers needed someone to dig a little deeper and find out if anything was making them act this way. So why where these teens so angry?
In 2010, research from the Public Health Agency of Canada reported that 53 percent of students in grade 6 to 10 had reportedly harassed or bullied someone at least once.
And the numbers don’t get any better across the pond.
As a matter of fact, bullying occurs in school playgrounds every seven minutes, according to psychology professor Debra Pepler. But were these kids actual bullies or where they screaming for help. Well, as it turns out, the story didn’t end there.
Not by a long shot. Once the man made sure the boy was safe, he tried to taught some sense into the other two teenagers who stood by while a little boy got bullied. Needless to say, the couldn’t cope with the shame of what they’d done.
“Why didn’t you guys stop him?” the man grilled them. “You guys wanna be part of this?” Again, a “no, sir.” Satisfied that his message had come across, he turned to the little boy. “Are you ok?” he asked him.
“Why don’t you take your ball, and we’ll go over there,” he said, offering to play with him. He then asked the teens to leave. But there was still had one more thing to do that would really slam the message home for these teens.
There are two kinds of evil people in this world. People who do evil things and people who see evil stuff being done and don’t do anything about it.
We are all familiar with that saying. The man thought it’d be the perfect moment to teach these heartless kids a lesson, but just as he was about to share a few words of wisdom, someone else interrupted him and gave him the shock of his life.
Unbeknownst to the kind man who helped Jones, the entire incident had actually been orchestrated by mastermind Matthew Bandeira for his YouTube channel, MattTV. The channel focuses on creating thought-provoking social experiments to show the behavior of people when confronted with difficult situations.
His first video, “Would You Help An Abandoned Child?” racked up more than 300,000 views. Then, last year, he had another big hit.
Lately, we can’t help but notice social experiment videos getting plastered all over the Internet.
And while some of these videos highlight some truly important topics, we can’t help but wonder just how much is real and how much of it is staged.
These viral social experiment videos and “aha moments” caught on tape are a great way to start a conversation and draw attention to important issues such as bullying, street harassment, and so much more.
But do these “experiments” truly show an unbiased portrayal of the issue at hand?
Some folks heavily criticize the way these videos are set up. For starters, viewers are way too focused trying to figure out if the people on the video are paid actors or not.
For example, the now infamous video about a woman getting catcalled in New York. The video wasn’t staged, and it quickly went viral.
The woman in that video was a paid actress who was secretly filmed for 10 hours while she went about her day in New York. The creators made it clear that nothing about her experience was staged.
But some people didn’t agree with the way they edited the video, as most of the catcallers were people of color. But were people also enraged with Bandeira’s social experiment about bullying. Well, the video generated a ton of mixed reactions.
In December of 2017, a video went viral in which a young boy named Keaton Jones tearfully talked about being bullied.
The video elicited countless reactions and sparked a national conversation about bullying. These events inspired Bandeira too, who decided to conduct his own social experiment on the issue of bullying.
Plenty of public figures turned out on Twitter to show their support for Keaton. Out of all the attention Keaton got for the video, nothing was as heartwarming as the response from celebrities.
Chris Evans, known for his role as Captain America, put his massive heart on display for Keaton and his family. Chris felt for Keaton, urging that he “stay strong,” and even offering Keaton an invite to the new Avengers movie premiere next year. He wasn’t the only one to support Jones, either.
Bandeira’s heart was in the right place.
One look at Keaton Jones’ video and you’ll be reaching for those Kleenex tissues in no time. But when the 11-year-old boy and his mom released the anti-bullying video, they weren’t expecting it’d turn into a source of controversy that would end up spiraling out of control.
Hollywood was quick to support this little bullied kid.
Mark Ruffalo chimed in and called Keaton his “own personal superhero.” He reassured the boy again and told him, “You got a pal in the Hulk.” Now that’s just too beautiful for words. But was Bandeira, Ruffalo, Evans, and everyone who supported Keaton somehow getting scammed?
Within a matter of hours, the whole situation took a sour turn.
All of a sudden, an outpour of angry messages and screenshots were left on the boy’s family’s social media pages. Apparently, when people started digging deeper into this family’s past, they stumbled into a few questionable images of the family holding and standing up for the confederate flag.
Keaton’s mother even made some awful comments which seemed to suggest she supported whipping kids with a tree branch. The video has been since deleted from his mother’s Facebook page, and the family is adamant that they don’t consider they did anything wrong.
The whole situation was fishy, for sure. But in the middle of this scandal, people lost sight of a truly important message: bullying must stop. And Bandeira couldn’t help but feel inspired by Keaton’s words.
Keaton made an appearance on “Good Morning America” and took an anti-bullying stance once again. He reminded everyone that bullying is a “serious thing that goes on in our society” and just like Bandeira, they wanted to raise awareness.
But Bandeira could’ve never imagined his video would make such an impact online. When comments started pouring in, he realized he must’ve done something right.
Titled “This Boy Was Getting Bullied. How These Strangers Reacted Will Shock You,” the MattTV video’s purpose was to see how people would react when they saw a child being bullied.
The video clearly hit a nerve, reaching over 302,000 views in less than three months. And it wasn’t just the one man who stood up to the bullies.
Clearly, Bandeira’s video made an impact, as people started opening up and discussing the many negative effects bullying can have on a kid. Fortunately, Bandeira’s message didn’t get lost in the process.
There are thousands of children that are experiencing bullying every day, much like Keaton and the boy in the video. Bandeira decided to conduct the same experiment again, only to witness more and more people stepping in.
The experiment was conducted two other times, first with a young mother and her son, and then with a middle-aged woman. The mother scolded the teens — who tried to claim they were friends with the bullied boy, — telling them that’s not how friends should act.
The other woman tried to make the teens see that the boy wanted them to stop. Both women had different reasons for stepping in.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter why these women felt the urge to step in and defend the young boy.
It’s truly heartwarming to see that random strangers are willing to look out for other people’s kids, which truly restores our faith in humanity. But both these women had a great reason to meddle in.
“Well, I wouldn’t want my son to be getting bullied, so if I knew somebody would be around my son I would want them to do something as well,” said the young mother. The other woman acted simply because somebody had to.
“He was just messing with this poor kid and there was nobody else taking care of him,” she said. These women were quick-thinking, but sadly not all adults react this way.
As parents, you can’t help but feel a little helpless when you finally let your kids out into the world, so it’s pretty refreshing to know that other moms and dads are taking care of our little ones.
We can teach children how to act in these situations but it’s always nice to have back up.
Though bullying is a huge problem in schools, not all institutions take the issue as seriously or truly know how to address it.
A lot of parents report teachers and other school staff downplaying concerns about their child being bullied. Hopefully, every adult, from teachers to parents to random strangers, can learn from this social experiment and not hesitate to help a child who is being bullied.
It’s important that we teach our kids to understand others and put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Building empathy in children is crucial if we want them to successfully interact with others.
Not only will they be able to connect with the problem they’re facing, but they might even have the skills to help someone who’s in distress. If we all care collectively, we have a chance of making this a better world. Don’t you agree?