Monday, May 3, 2010

Fat Kids Get Bullied More? Really?

I try not to bitch and moan too much about useless tests and surveys that are performed in the name of science or knowledge and then later highlighted as transitional filler during the cable news hour-long cycle. Harping on why scientists would study cricket orgasms or the eating habits of nuns (does that count as a pun?) gets old quick, and more importantly, "useless" studies singled out by politicians usually end up having legitimate scientific implications. It's a waste of time that doesn't seem worth the effort.

But of course, I had to turn on MSNBC today at the exact moment they ran a quick news item about a recent study that has shown that obese children get picked on more than children of average weight.

Holy shit. Really? Are they sure about this? I mean, maybe we should get a couple more years of research under our belts before jumping to any harsh conclusions. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that Dr. Julie C. Lumeng from the University of Michigan led the study thoroughly and without cutting corners. But I'm going to need some pretty well document case study reports to convince me that overweight children are picked on more. The whole idea sounds more than a little suspect to me.

In case you missed it, the previous paragraph was more than a tad sarcastic.

Of course fat kids get picked on more. Nobody likes a fat kid, and everyone knows it. You couldn't come up with a better example of common knowledge if you tried. Unless you managed to grow up without being exposed to any kind of unsupervised social interaction with other children, you aren't even going to attempt to deny it. Fat kids are catnip to bullies, so much so that even non-bullies feel compelled to mess with the fat kids. Its just some perverse extension of human nature that will never be eliminated. Remember Piggy from Lord of the Flies? Yeah, of course you do. Everyone who reads above a third-grade level does. Piggy was the fat kid, and what happened to him? That's right; his classmates crushed him to death with a giant rock. And you know how many English students in middle or high school read that chapter and found it to be outrageous, unrealistic, or even a tad unusual? None of them. Not even the fat ones.

But I'm not annoyed that someone felt the need to devote time and energy into proving empirically that fat kids get bullied and abused more than skinny ones. I'm not even upset that they felt the need to publish the results in some bizarre attempt to further educate the world about this previously unrecognized bias against chubby kids. Not at all.

What pisses me off to no end, however, is that the continual and unrelenting joke that is the American News Media somehow felt that this startling revelation was newsworthy enough to not only publish as if it were an actual news story, but to highlight with other breaking news items during the course of a normal news cycle. Not only do they care so little about delivering real news that they'll waste time with this useless nonsense, but they think so little of the average viewer that they seem convinced they are stupid enough to actually consider this a real news story.

The sad part is, they're probably right. About the stupid American audience, I mean. Then again, they're also right about obese children being bullied more. Just ask a fat kid, they'll tell you.
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