To This Day: a video manifesto on childhood bullying, by Shane Koyczan

Don't miss this extraordinary video by Shane Koyczan, part of his "To This Day" project.

"My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways," says Shane. "Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. This piece is a starting point."

More here.


  1. Thank you for posting this. 
    There is so much talk about bullying, but talk never gets close to the way it feels inside. 
    The worst part is no-one believes you, or they say “everyone gets bullied” – they try and play it down because they all know they were/are part of it.. 
    I still feel betrayed by my parents and the school system. 
    But this mutant is happier now.

  2. saw this a few days ago. thanks for posting it here. i loved it, but oof, was it a gut-punch of painful memories.

    1. You know, not having been through it, the art and words in this video struck me very deeply. The sentiment. I would even guess I would have been your best friend in high school  I’m 31 now. And I was lucky to have been raised with home schooling and my mom as a single parent exposed us to renaissance faires. But I was enrolled in various schools in different states;  I always found myself with wonderful people that just didn’t fit the apparent mold. Whether through D&D or magic cards, or late night snacks and PC games. I was close to these people; the most individual people I’ve ever met. I wanted to see their priceless imagination and heart succeed. 

  3. I am aware this makes me seem like an insensitive jerk — but I think that we are now equating childhood bullying with far worse abuses in the tone of these videos. (Especially the image of the tank rolling down the school hallway.)

    People are mean; children are especially selfish constantly test each other for reactions, testing boundaries and establishing “pecking order” as they grow and hopefully mature. I realize many will disagree, but I see here a video equating being called fat to some lifelong trauma or physical abuse; the “woe is me” perpetual-victim, first-world-problem narrator wallowing in a problem years later.

    Genuinely good advice, the best revenge is living well. With this fragile psyche how would anyone live through genuine, life-or-death hardship?

    1. I am aware this makes me seem like an insensitive jerk

      “Aware that this makes me seem like” is superfluous.

      Move on.

      I’m sorry that you don’t understand the issue.

    2. Genuine hardship often creates the insecurities and weaknesses that bullies pray on. Bullying can amplify those hardships, push someone over the edge. 

      And bullying leaves life-long scars. It’s serious, as serious as any kind of abuse. When your peers jeer at you, tease you, and even beat you on a daily basis, it ruins your life. It kills your confidence, inhibits your ability to learn and grow. You fall behind academically and socially. Yes, many “get over it,” but many don’t. They end up depressed, apathetic, angry. Their talents, their energy is wasted.

      School should be a nurturing environment, a place where children can learn about the world and their own talents. Not some Lord of the Flies proving ground where only the strong survive. That kind of environment just breeds assholes. And the world has enough of those.

      What’s that? The world is a cruel place? No place for a fragile psyche? Ask yourself this: Do you want to keep it that way? Or do you want to change things, make the world a less-cruel place? Discourage bullying in schools. Encourage kids to support and help each other, not tease each other. Kids aren’t born mean, they learn it. It’s encouraged. And it needs to stop.

    3. If it didn’t resonate with you, then I would guess you’ve never been in that place and don’t really get it. I had friendly teasing and boundary testing, from times when I had friends, and times when I felt absolutely friendless and desolate and unfriendly teasing left me pretty broken.  If you only had the former, how fortunate for you.  As the narrator said I would have gladly traded more broken bones for less words that hurt.  Yes, I’ve had broken bones.  

      I agree that the best revenge is living well, but when you’re not living well it’s not easy to realize you ever will.  It’s like telling a depressed or suicidal person how wonderful the world is and how it’s lovely to drink in the world.  You might mean well, but it’s not something that you can convince someone of, so it really comes across as an empty platitude rather than helpful advice. 

       Abuse is not a contest.  No, I was not raped.  No I was not a victim of incest.  I’m not conflating the the issues.  I used to teach self defense to a bunch of folks who were.  The common thread is that people who should have been recognized as human beings, were instead identified as targets and attacked.   So hopefully, before kids grow into rapists, maybe some teaching of empathy might stop some of that too.  

      The interest I have in this is not that I wish to be identified as a bullied American, or have a special week.  I’d like there to be a lower likelihood that my kid, and your kid and my friend’s kids go through the same shit that I and others went through.  Bullying takes a toll on humanity.  Funny you should mention how folks with a fragile psyche might not make it, as suicide is more common in the bullied and those who bully. Articles I see usually mention a toll on the mental health of those involved, if you’ve seen data that suggests allowing bullying to occur strengthens folks response to hardship, I’d love to hear about it.  

    4. I live well. I grew up. My fragile psyche seems to have done just fine in the real world.

      But you know what? Nobody’s beaten me on a weekly basis in the “real world”. Nobody has had three friends hold me down, assaulted me, kicked me in the junk to laugh at the face I made, then left me lying on the floor.

      Nobody has physically and mentally abused me until my fragile little psyche snapped, and I (in the only violent act of my life) struck back in a mindless haze of pain and rage and humiliation. 

      And nobody has denied me my right to a fair hearing. Nobody has told me that “No, we won’t go check the tapes from the camera. We’ve heard enough from the other students.” and rendered their judgement against me.

      I see here a video of someone else who equates being called fat in school to eight or more years of daily torment and humiliation. I see someone trying to bring his own suffering to light so that the signs might be seen in others’ lives, and they might be spared.

      I also see a carnival mirror reflection of person looking at a domestic abuse victim and saying “Hey, if you don’t like being in an abusive marriage, why don’t you just stop letting him hit you?”

    5. I’m glad your life in the arctic is so perfect. 
      You don’t have to deal with reporting on stories of horrible things done to children by other children or adults.  That people who spend everyday being shoved down might begin to think that is all they are… it is all just a pecking order that will be solved with maturity.

      You seem to think that the bullying stops when people grow up, what happens when they don’t?
      That those heaped with praise develop a feeling that they are better than others and have a right to shove them down underfoot without a care.  One would think a journalist would have a much better understanding that not everyone has the exact same life experiences and that things affect people differently.

      Like people who tell us how all cops are nice and should be trusted… while some rape, kill, murder instead of protect.

      Maybe you missed the larger message that the bullying doesn’t end if your “different”, that the world loves to keep judging because those lessons to attack those who are different or weaker are never stopped.  Its cute that you think someones struggles can’t be life or death if they weren’t an adult.  Maybe as you grow up you’ll begin to understand these things… and understanding might make you a better reporter.

    6. I get what you mean, but taking it as it’s business as usual is sort of backward. What better time than soon, we realize the affect of what’s going on with our youth. Then, was a time, where a lot of self establishment happens. Habits and thoughts solidify. Why not recognize the tragedy when a perfectly wonderful contributing person knows no better but to think they aren’t worth anything.

    7. I relate to this video as much as anyone possibly could, but things like this always strike me oddly because when I was getting bullied no one would have dreamed of calling it an “issue,” much less a “crisis.” I’ve internalized the attitude that people are mean, children will be children, and you have to be a smug, oblivious douchehose to function acceptably in this world. Not that I’m any good at it to this day, but I’ve come to expect that people view sensitivity as inadequate. I’ve done to others as they’ve done to me, which I think is the real failing. And yet when I get mad about shit like this or I hurt when I think of how it was, I also carry the shame of not “getting over it” or I wonder if I lack a sense of humor. The people I associate with nowadays would find “Pork Chop” sooooo hilarious. They think RAPE is the funniest thing in the world to joke about. And of course, if you speak up then you’re the joke too. In their words of wisdom, “You have to be able to laugh at yourself.” These are not a bunch of tweens or bumpkins or thugs, these are thirtysomething nerdy urban hipsters.

      I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about where it leads to if you dismiss bullying.

      1. If they’re survivors of rape and use humour as a coping mechanism, that’s ok.  If they find the rape of others hysterical, they’re a bunch of thugs.  Possibly nerdy urbane hip thugs, but thugs nonetheless.

        ” I’ve internalized the attitude that people are mean, children will be children, and you have to be a smug, oblivious douchehose to function acceptably in this world.”

        No. It’s really ok to be kind.  

        1. No, thugs are the kind who would actually rape other people. These people don’t have the grit, they’re merely assholes.

    8.  “the best revenge is living well.”

      this is hard to do when you have to fight with yourself each and every day just to stay alive — just to stop yourself from reaching for the knife drawer.

      it is impossible to do when you have a uncontrollable mantra of “ihatemyselfihatemyselfihatemyself” swirling and swirling through your head and all you can do to shut it up is to dream of driving a car off a cliff, finding a friend with a gun, seeing how deep you can swim before you don’t have the air to break surface again.

      this IS “genuine, life or death hardship.”  it is facing down a tank.

      i’m pretty sure that when depression caused me to overdose, to cut a scar on my wrist, to jump from a not-quite-high-enough bridge, that i was pretty damned incapable of just shrugging off my problems and “living well.”

      actually, fuck you.  i know it.

      and don’t you dare call me fragile.  me, or anyone else who suffers emotionally.

      to get up each day…  to face my fears — my fears of myself, of the world around me…  to screw a smile on my face and keep on keeping on so that those around me didn’t see the true naked pain…  that took strength.  and courage.  and, eventually, it took help.

      but i sure as hell wasn’t “living right.”  i couldn’t have.  it was completely out of my control.

      it is completely out of the control of so many kids, youth, young adults, adults… 

      i don’t ever recall thinking “woe is me.”

      i only recall thinking “i want to die.”  and slowly killing myself with booze and drugs.  and more booze.  and even more drugs.

      i only recall thinking “holy shit, i’m out of control” and then doing something even crazier to distract me from THAT thought.

      so, i’m calling horse shit on your advice, mister.  i’m suggesting that it is naive.  that it is presumptuous.  and that it is insulting.

      my genuine advice, as a person who battled and battled and battled for so many years?

      try to stay alive.  ask for help, even if it scares the shit out of you.  and don’t listen to “insensitive jerks” who think you can just magically make your suffering disappear by “living well.”  because you can’t.  or else we all would have done it by now.

      keep on keeping on.  and cry when you have to.

  4. Shane Koyczan is one of the most talented performers I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live. This video is intense, and resonated with many of us on a visceral level. (If you feel like it somehow is blowing an issue out of proportion, I would suggest you’ve never actually experienced bullying in any real way – lucky you). 

  5. When I was in fourth grade I rode a rural school bus for one school year- it had all ages on it from high school down to elementary. I guess I stood out as easy prey, because I was bullied most days on the 30 minute ride to and from school. From being punched to merely spit on or made fun of, that year was hell. I was the bookish artistic ginger-haired kid in a big moving box of of farm boys and jocks.

    I never had the language to even describe what was going on to my parents, I just endured it. A good day was when I could just be ignored on that bus. Recess was nearly as bad. I feel that my lifetime of low self-esteem and depressive tendencies started somewhere there- reinforced over and over, until I just surrendered inside. I can put on a pretty good front these days, but somewhere deep down I still carry that stuff around with me. Thanks for posting this, it helps to air it out.

  6.  that video brings all the feels.

    I think im supposed to feel proud that i ‘made it through’ but it just brings me to wonder if i did, and if i now spend my days chasing success just to prove myself to those people.

  7. Philippe, you aren’t telling those of us who were constantly bullied anything we don’t know. Those words you wrote…those words are words that we tell ourselves every day. When you are a constant target for bullies, you quickly learn to be your own bully. And then tah dahh! You don’t need bullies anymore because you bring your own bully with you where ever you go. And no matter how much you *know* that you are valuable, that you have worth or real beauty or talent, or you somehow manage to “live well” despite the abuse, there is that inner bully always there to remind you that you are wrong, that you do suck, that you are weak and worthless. And if you allow yourself a moment of self-pity or compassion, it is as though you are proving that your pain and weakness is just self-indulgence. You don’t understand why you feel so much enduring pain from this, but the suspicion that you are over-reacting certainly adds to the feelings of self-loathing. “Shake it off” you tell yourself. “Move on! Why the hell can’t you just move on?!!” It’s a good question. Nobody would choose to be like this. That should be an indication that this is not a self-induced problem. We victims of bullying can’t all be masochists, after all. So maybe it’s not just a simple matter of getting over it. Maybe there is some sort of long-lasting psychological trauma that will take more than self-will or drugs to overcome. If so, then your words of judgment in an effort to help us get on with our lives is akin to throwing a bird with broken wings out of a window and screaming “FLY!” at it.

    I would also disagree with your assertion that “people are mean.” People can certainly be insensitive jerks. But insensitivity is not necessarily sadistic – “mean” implies intent to cruelty. I don’t think you had cruel intent in your insensitive post. I think people, including you, can learn and grow.

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