– Did anyone else think of Lord of the Flies while watching the video of the Greece school bus monitor getting bullied?
Many people are asking what would make children behave so cruelly toward an elderly grandmother. Bob Lonsberry says the inmates were running the asylum. Nestor Ramos says the students haven’t learned the Golden Rule. The Democrat and Chronicle editorial board views the verbal assault as a sign of our “coarsening culture.” Others say the incident points to the need for cyberbullying laws.
There’s no doubt these kids should be punished and taught a lesson about treating people with dignity and respect.
While the video was heartbreaking and disgusting, it’s not a sign of a new cultural phenomenon. This is a classic case of groupthink. That’s when the desire to belong to a group outweighs protesting something wrong and offering alternatives. Intelligent people cede their moral responsibility to the group. Individually, these children were taught by their parents to be kind to others. Collectively, they turned into a mob.
The boy who took the video told 13WHAM News he felt peer-pressured.
Groupthink is often used to describe the Holocaust, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Penn State child abuse scandal. Extreme college hazing and bad business decisions can be attributed to groupthink. You may have seen groupthink play out in a meeting at your own workplace. This week, we saw groupthink play out on a school bus.
When we ask how could these children have been so terribly mean, we have to look at the psychology of groupthink. We have to teach children individuality, courage and the ability to speak up. That’s not as simple as teaching them to be nice.