Robert was like most boys his age. He was adventurous and loved to play video games with his friends. He and his family lived in a small community in Florida, where everyone knew each other.
Unfortunately, bullying was common in his town, and Robert himself would become a victim of it. His trip to the Burger King that day turned into a nightmare because of a few mean boys.
That summer, Robert caught the attention of a group of bullies in his town that would follow him everywhere he went.
Fortunately, Robert learned to ignore them and didn’t let the name-calling get to him. But on that particular day at Burger King, the bullying would get out of control.
Robert ordered a whopper and sat at a table by the window. He was minding his own business when suddenly, the three teens approached him with a smirk on their faces.
They sat down at his table and began to talk to him. To the other customers watching, it probably looked like they were his friends. “Hey, kid!” one of the teens exclaimed.
Before Robert even had the chance to respond, the three bullies cornered him. “Leave me alone,” he protested. The teens began to laugh when they noticed how stressed the boy looked.
“What you got there?” one of the bullies asked while pointing at Robert’s food. But what the bullies didn’t know was that someone in the restaurant was watching them.
One man was watching their every move. He was sitting not too far from them, eating his food. He carefully observed the interaction between Robert and the three teenagers.
A few minutes later, one of the teens suddenly grabbed Robert’s drink and poured it all over his burger and fries. That was when the stranger knew he had to intervene.
The man stood up and made his way towards Robert’s table. He wasn’t going to let those teens hurt the boy.
“Gentlemen,” the man asked them. “What are you doing?” The teens smiled and said: “Just playing, sir.” But the man didn’t believe them.
“You got a problem?” the man asked the bullies. “Why are you picking on him?” The three teens seemed surprised and didn’t know how to respond to his question.
“Just playing,” the leader of the group replied quietly. The teens were trying to play innocent, but the man didn’t buy it. To him, it was obvious that they were picking on the boy.
The man looked around the establishment, wondering if anyone else was concerned for the boy’s safety. But no one else appeared to be ready to confront the bullies.
He then turned his focus to the teens and continued questioning them. “Don’t you think your parents would love this? You guys getting arrested for picking on your classmate?” he asked. “You think they’d be proud of you?”
“No, sir,” said one of the bullies. The man then looked at the other two bullies, who hadn’t said a word during the exchange.
“Why didn’t you guys stop him?” he asked them.“Do you want to be a part of this?” The two boys replied with a “no, sir.”
The man then turned to Robert. “Are you ok?” he asked him. “Why don’t you take your lunch, and we’ll go over there.”
Robert quickly collected his things and moved to the man’s table. But as soon as the man left, the bullies began to mock Robert again. This time, however, another patron would defend Robert.
“Hey! Are you okay?” a woman asked Robert, ignoring the bullies next to him. The boy looked up and nodded. But the woman knew he was lying.
“Do you know these guys?” she asked. Again, Robert nodded before looking down to the floor. That’s when the leader of the group yelled back, “Yeh, we know each other! We go way back!”
The woman grabbed her tray and approached the bullies. They already felt intimidated by her confidence.
“This feels better to me now. I was getting a bit lonely eating over there by myself,” she said, smiling. Then, she turned and smiled at Robert. Eventually, the teens left them alone, and she began to chat with the boy.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” she asked Robert. “Yeh, I’m okay,” he said.“Have you ever been messed with before?”
“I got picked on all the time when I was a kid,” the woman said. “In an ideal world, somebody else would see something weird happening and come over and be like, ‘Hey, this is not okay!’”.
The two continued to talk for a few minutes until the other man returned with a tray of two meals and ice cream. He offered the food to Robert, who gladly accepted his offer!
Robert and the two strangers laughed and talked for some time before parting ways. But little did they know that everyone was watching them from the very beginning.
It turns out that the entire incident had been staged by Burger King and No Bully, an organization dedicated to raising awareness. Robert and the teens were actors.
Burger King wanted to conduct an experiment to show the behavior of customers when confronted with difficult situations, such as bullying. But that wasn’t the only form of “bullying” going on in the restaurant that day.
The employees also began to “bully” the whoppers they were serving. They smashed them with their fists before wrapping them up and serving them.
So, how did the customers react to being served smashed food?
The customers’ responses to the “bullied” food they were served versus the bullying going on right in front of them were very telling.
Only a few people decided to intervene and help Robert, while 95% of customers confronted the staff about smashed burgers.
It seemed as if the customers cared more about their food than a young boy being bullied right in front of them, which is heartbreaking.
Was the lack of reaction to the boy and the teens normal?
The organization certainly didn’t think so. They later uploaded the video online and named it “Bullying Jr.” The purpose of the video was to see how different people would react when they saw a boy being bullied.
The video instantly went viral, receiving over 8 million views on YouTube.
The experiment was conducted three times in total. Once, a woman set down to eat with the boy who was a victim of bullying to show him that she was there for him and that he was safe with her.
Burger King has done an amazing job with this provoking campaign. But how do we address the problem of bullying?
Although bullying is common among middle and high school students, not all institutions are taking the issue as seriously as they should.
Many parents believe the teachers and other school staff don’t know how to address bullying.
We hope that all adults can learn from this social experiment and not hesitate to help a victim of bullying.
Robert and the teens who participated in this social experiment also said that it’s not always easy for a child to stand up for their classmates and friends who are being bullied.
“Sometimes, you’re just thankful it’s not you being bullied so it’s easier not to do anything,” one of the boys said.
“It’s hard to stand up to kids that are bigger than you, especially if you already could be a target,” another said.