Tagged: The Jonathan Wamback Story

Length: 1431 words

Various challenges and obstacles exist for young teens in today’s high schools. Bullying and gang membership are amongst the elements that must be seriously explored and addressed in the school setting, as they impact what occurs on and off school property. In the movie, “Tagged: The Jonathan Wamback Story,” a young grade nine boy, Jonathan, is a victim of a severe bullying attack by the Skulls gang, headed by the leader Kyle Simpson. This incident demonstrates the impact of all members including the by-standers, victims, and instigators. The concept and issues that arise because of bullying need to be taken seriously and acted upon.

In the movie, the Skulls gang, who are in front of the park washroom, accuse Jonathan of writing racist remarks on previously written graffiti. Courtney, a friend from school, lured Jonathan into coming to the park, thinking that they will resolve the problem they were facing previously. Although grounded, he took the risk and decided to leave his house and meet up with Courtney, where she was. To his surprise, the gang, who accused him of vandalizing their graffiti marks, met him. All the gang boys, confronted him, stating Jonathan was a racist and they demanded he apologize

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for these actions, threatening him with verbal and physical harm. Without speaking a word, Jonathan decided to back away and leave the situation. The gang made rude comments, like, “Are you going to your mommy? You too scared?” He turned around, saying nothing and simply showed them his middle finger. This sparked their anger and rage. They chased him throughout the park and side streets. Eventually Jonathan hit a dead end, trying to climb a fence while Kyle and the others pull him down, and begin to beat and kick him in the head and other body parts numerous times. Unable to defend himself, he was left there semi-unconscious, and somehow returned home. His parents found him on the couch in serious condition and immediately called the ambulance. Taken away, no one knew what had happened. At the hospital, they performed numerous brain surgeries and operations, and he fell into a coma. Eventually, after much care, attention, and physical rehabilitation, he returned home and later to school.

Bullying, as demonstrated by the Skulls gang, was extremely harsh and took a psychological and physical effect on Jonathan. Jonathan, who was wrongly accused, as he was not the boy who wrote the remarks on the Skulls graffiti, it was his friend Gord, had to pay for the wrongful accusation. Jonathan, who never denied these accusations, did not tell that his friend Gord was the individual who wrote the words. His muscles were damaged and he had to learn the basics skills over. Because of the hits to his head, he had to learn how to feed himself, walk, and talk. Also, because the attack had such a powerful effect on his psychological state, Jonathan’s memories will continue to haunt him, as he faces the daily physical reminder of this event. Plus, as a speaker to different schools and programs, he re-lives his story about the power of bullying that can occur in different forms, states, and situations, even to someone as innocent as him.

Other individuals, who were part of the bullying process, acting as a bystander, was Kyle’s mom. First, when Jonathan’s mom was jogging, she noticed Kyle and his friends were throwing cheery bombs at little children. Fearing the danger that he was imposing on these children, Jonathan’s mom went up to Kyle and told him to stop. Ignoring her, he continued his actions and even threw a cherry bomb at her. Immediately Jonathan’s mom went to Kyle’s mom to discuss this matter, however she denied these concerns and continued with her work. She took no action. When the gang members came to her house, they met in the basement where they took drugs, and played loud rap gangster music. She communicated to Kyle through an intercom, not through a physical one on one relationship. Thus, it did not come as a surprise that her son had done something as horrific as physically harming Jonathan, however she was in extreme denial and did not re-act to any of the warnings that she received. This demonstrates the need for awareness about bullying, as everyone involved, whether a bystander, victim, or bully, need to understand the consequences. Municipal governments need to set aside funding and establish programs that target bullying at the elementary, secondary, post-secondary, and work places. These programs should be delivered through convenient means like in-school workshops or online. Plus, the filming and screening of movies such as this are a critical element in visually demonstrating the impact and severity of the issue. The message is powerful and can thus reach a greater audience, as this is a global issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

In addition to, gang membership is a contrary and arising issue that distinguishes students physically and socially from their peers. Gang members leach onto personal weaknesses and strive to develop a sense of community that may not be present in an individual’s life. The Skulls elicit these characteristics. For instance, Kyle’s mom does not communicate with him personally, but through the use of technology, thus there is no physical and interpersonal connection between the mother and the son. Kyle goes on to identify himself through the gang as a strong individual. He is not by himself ever. He is interconnected with the gang, continually appearing with them throughout the movie. Thus, the sense of personal value and community is what strengthens the gangs and many peers look for these connections that may not be present in their homes. Gangs do not offer family support that is safe. It is critical to build communities and group activities where students have opportunities to make connections, build relationships and talk to counselors that will be able to aid in anything that they might not be doing or receiving at home with regards to their relationships.

Another critical message that is portrayed throughout the movie is the need for altering the “Young Offenders Act.” Jonathan’s father was on a mission to try to change the “Young Offenders Act,” as he knew his son would never return to his normal self and abilities, and the gang members were set free and only had a curfew. He continued to fight towards this alteration, as they were not put in jail, and were not reprimanded in any way. He suggested special programs or areas that would target these youth, which would include counseling, in order to ensure a change on their lives path, not continuing these negative actions. The “Young Offenders Act” was changed and now has consequences that are relevant to the crime committed. This will help ensure that those who bully and are caught, pay for their choices.

The title of the movie, “Tagged” is significant as it demonstrates the power of good over evil. Each time the Skulls graffiti was written over, it was considered to be tagged, meaning that those who wrote on it, were instilling war on the opposing gang, suggesting that these actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Also, when the Skulls gang was running towards Jonathan, who was being targeted, he was later ‘tagged,’ beaten physically. At first it seemed like Jonathan had lost the battle against the gang, however, later returning to a somewhat ‘normal’ life, as a high school teen, being victorious and showing all others that he will not be a victim, sending a message that he can do anything as long as he is determined. The titled signifies a battle between the bully and victim, and ultimately in each situation, someone will win, and thus be tagged.

Teen issues vary from region to region, however bullying and gang membership continue to be controversial issues that challenge our views and how we approach these problems. Jonathan, in “Tagged: The Jonathan Wamback Story,” demonstrates the struggles that a victim may face, and how determination, effort and perseverance can impact the bully, the families, and the victim in different ways. His inspirational story, sends a powerful message to all, whether young or old, about the severity of both verbal and physical commentary and actions. It suggests that your negative actions can and may affect not only you, but also other people around you or the situation. Thus, think before you speak, act or join any groups because you are the one who is in charge of your individual life today.

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