A harmless joke or targeted bullying?
Mercury readers are clearly divided over whether or not a survey calling for votes on the year 10 student “most likely to be gay” or the one “most likely to die a virgin” is something to be concerned about.
This type of thing has been going on for years, many say. Nothing more than a bit of fun.
“Let kids be kids,” one reader wrote. “Are you f..king kidding me? It’s a joke! People take things way to seriously now,” wrote another.
Some who who might not think the “joke awards” are so funny are the Warilla High School students who were set to cop the unflattering titles.
The school distanced itself from the awards, saying they “contravene the school’s values”, so why do so many readers defend the behaviour?
Like one reader said: “Any award where the receiver would feel horrible as a result should not be an ‘award’. Think of your biggest insecurity and imagine an award designed to mock this insecurity publicly.”
Yes kids will be kids. But surely we as adults must stand up and say “no, this is not okay”.
Adults wouldn't get away with publicly joking about a colleague’s big arse or the best boobs. That's called sexual discrimination in a grown-up world.
Do that in your workplace and you'd be reprimanded, maybe even fired.
The potential for long-term psychological harm is real. It's no joke. A vulnerable teen could be scarred for life once labelled as the fattest in the year or the most likely to end up in jail.
Remember the TV series 13 Reasons Why? It’s about a teenager who suicides after high school humiliation got too much. If she was up for one of these awards she’d be the girl most likely to grow up a “whore”, or a “slag”, or worse.
The TV show didn't end well. And none of us can be certain of no tragic ending here. Thankfully we will never find out. The awards have been shut down.
Joke or no joke, it's better to be safe than sorry. For the cold, hard truth of the matter is, teenagers have ended their lives over less.