We all know there’s a chance of being bullied when we log on to our computers.
With the pandemic still going and staying home still a reality for many, emotions are running high. Instead of banding together, though, it seems we’re more likely to be bullied or trolled than ever.
There are, of course, steps we can take to avoid these people… But what if your loved one is the person causing the trouble?
A teenage girl wrote into the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit when she discovered her little brother had made racist and sexist comments online.
When he started receiving backlash for his actions, Redditor aitathrowaway7829103 wondered if she was in the wrong for not defending him.
The Original Poster (OP) asked the sub:
“AITA for not defending my little brother against his ‘bullies’?”
The OP’s brother learned what it was like to be on the receiving end of online bullying.
“My brother Darren (15[Male]) is getting ‘bullied’ online in his (and my parent’s) words.”
“I mean in my opinion, which might be kinda bad, but I think he deserves it.”
“Basically, he slid into a girl’s DMs, got rejected, and unleashed a ton of disgusting sexist abuse on her.”
“The girl made a post on Insta about it, that got shared around the kids at our school, and then a bunch of other people commented about how he had done similar things to them.”
The OP has learned a lot of new things about her brother.
“It was honestly disturbing to read, and while I knew my brother was kinda off, I didn’t think he was this bad. I read that he called a black girl ‘an ugly n-word’ once when they got into an argument about politics, and a lot of other people had awful experiences with him as well.”
The OP’s parents are currently trying to protect him and expect the OP to do the same.
“Her post currently has over 1k likes, so a lot of people have seen it. My brother is currently suspended, and the school is deciding on what they should do moving forward.”
“However, my parents are furious with me for not sticking up for him or defending him. They have punished him but they’re currently in the mitigatory period in order to try to protect his future.”
“It’s true that it’s getting pretty bad, he gets hateful dm’s every day and there’s even a Darren Hatepage on Instagram with dozens of followers. A lot of his friends have cut ties with him, and he’s constantly crying or angry. He’s scared for his future and his mental health has taken a toll.”
“I’ve gotten backlash too for being his sister, and I’ve had to explain to numerous people in my DM’s that I don’t condone his behavior, I think it’s absolutely disgusting, etc.”
The OP, however, thinks this should be a learning experience for her brother.
“My parents and Darren expect me to make some sort of statement of solidarity for him or at least tell people to move on. But I don’t want to.”
“For one, that’d get people mad at me, but two, I honestly think he deserves all of this for what he did.”
“I told him that I think his future college/career prospects are probably wrecked, but there was no one to blame but himself. That sent him into another spiral of wailing and rage, and my parents are incredibly angry that I won’t support him because ‘He can change and ultimately he’s my brother and I need to be on his side when the whole world is against him.'”
After receiving comments, the OP later added a few clarifications.
“To answer a common question, he has given a public apology, but it felt really insincere to me, since he only said it after the girl’s post started getting traction. When she first posted it he dm’d her with threats and insults to take it down, so.”
“Also, I didn’t say his future prospects were gone as in he couldn’t grow and not be sexist or racist, just that in a practical sense, he wasn’t going to be getting into a really good college/become a politician like he wanted.”
Fellow Redditors wrote in anonymously, focusing less on the OP’s involvement and instead rating the brother, Darren’s, actions on the following scale:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
There was a significant argument in the sub over whether or not Darren should know better.
“This is a tough one for me. While what he did time and time again is inexcusable, he is still a young kid. At his age, there is still a lot of growing up left to do.”
“Understanding the root of his behavior will provide more insight into why he has done what he chose to do. If he is able to understand why he experienced the consequences of his actions plus proper support and therapy, he may be able to see his errors in a more objective and positive light, which can lead to long-term change.”
“Having an entire social media campaign against this kid is not conducive to anyone’s growth and is not going to foster such a change.”
“It is not up to his sister alone to do this job, but it would help if the family, as a whole, provide both constructive criticism and support as described above.” – Will_You_Just_ShutUp
“You can’t chalk his obscene rudeness to him being young. Majority of people( as kids) have been rejected, dumped, bullied at some point. Yet, they don’t go around harrassing people with racist and sexist insults.”
“Also he was cowardly to do it online behind a screen.” – Order66-Cody
“Yeah screw that. If a 15 year old Black teenager has to ‘take responsibility for his actions’ when a cop decides to assault him and is setback for the rest of his life, a 15 year old racist can go to community college instead of uni for 4 semesters. Cry me a river” – joetheschmoe4000
“Yeah, I’d be worried that he doesnt understand why his actions garner this response, and he’ll become an even worse version of this as an adult. I mean, if an adult does this stuff they should know better, but if he’s just 15 there’s definitely time for him to change. And right now it sounds like he and his parents are exonerating him from any guilt by making himself out as the victim.” – pange93
“I’m with you, I don’t think OP’s brother is completely irredeemable and I hope the online backlash doesn’t do permanent damage to his mental health.”
“But on the other hand, I think losing all his friends and being publicly denounced is a very natural consequence to the awful stuff he did and he needs to learn why his actions directly led to the s**tstorm that is currently going on.”
“This is a chance for him to become a better person and I wish OP’s parents all the luck on getting him help. At fifteen, one should already believe and have internalized that racism, sexism, etc. are immoral, and the fact that he is old enough to know better and chose to say those things anyway probably means that they have their work cut out for them.” – fistulatedcow
But 15 years old or not, Darren needed to understand there are consequences to every action.
“Darren hasn’t demonstrated a willingness to change or regret for his actions. His outbursts at OP signify that.”
“Sure people can change, and I detest that social media amplifies personal issues to the nth degree, but until Darren owns up to his actions, he won’t grow” – CutiePtooie
“15 is too damn old to think that making racist comments/sexually harassing people is appropriate behaviour AND it’s not even a one off incident (which would still be inexcusable). He’s shown a pattern of such behaviour so I don’t think there is a responsibility on anyone other than a therapist and the parents to waste their time trying to figure out why this dude pulled this s**t (spoiler alert he’s an a**hole).”
“Also being harassed and called racial slurs probably isn’t conducive to the growth of his victims and showing them support is much more important.”
“NTA op. Your brother is only experiencing the consequences of his actions and frankly if you come to his defence it’s just going to reinforce the idea that what he did was ok/not that bad since his family still have his back.” – jazzhandsfan1665
Some also pointed out that for every “learning opportunity” a toxic male receives, there is a victim who is silenced.
“In this particular instance, his parents want to shove this under the carpet and essentially do nothing to curb this behaviour. The only punishment he’s receiving here is well deserved ostracism from him peers and public shaming for his awful behaviour that’s targeted marginalised groups. You cant save everyone unfortunately and I’d rather see his victims air out his dirty laundry than suffer in silence” – majordisruption
“Again we are protecting the d**n little boys who grow up to be the disgusting men. Understand them, we are told. Be kind to them. NO MORE. Not my problem – I’ve been harassed by men since I was literally nine years old and 15 is old enough to know better.” – happypengy
“He’s a young kid, but so are the girls he’s tormenting and abusing.”
“Girls, and in particular girls of color, do not exist to be punching bags and learning tools for sexist, racist boys.”
“It’s not like he’s getting backlash from grown ups, he’s getting excluded by his own peers. That’s a natural consequence that could have happened anyway. And there’s a reason over the last year or so, social media campaigns have been cropping up: because absolutely nothing was being done before.”
“And OPs parents (and I’d wager, teachers) are proving that nothing would be done if his victims and their peers didn’t take it into their own hands. For more or less the extent of human history, the lesson has been ‘if a young man harasses women and minorities, he will not receive a consequence from authority figures.'”
“People are sick of that. If authority figures didn’t want this outcome, they should have tried something different. But they didn’t, and this is how it is now.” – TerribleAttitude
This is a sticky situation, since everyone involved is a minor. But that isn’t to say that educating and consequences shouldn’t take place.
The parents and everyone else involved need to understand, however, the repercussions his learning could have on the girls and minorities he previously bullied, especially if he’s let off without a hitch.