Video explores reactions to bullying on UCLA campus


As she watched a man getting shoved to the ground, Caitlin Estudillo sprang from a bench near Powell Library and tried to stop what she perceived as a bullying incident unfolding in front of her.

For the third-year sociology and world arts and cultures/dance student, the act was instinctual.

“I didn’t give it a thought; it was just something I had to do,” Estudillo said. “I didn’t think of the consequences.”

At the time, Estudillo did not know that the conflict was a staged fight designed to gauge how people would react to seeing someone else be bullied. Various simulated bullying incidents were filmed around the UCLA campus for a video by YouTube personality Yousef Erakat called “THE BULLYING EXPERIMENT!”

The video, posted on Dec. 1, garnered more than two million hits in one week. It captured the reactions of people in various instances where Erakat pretends to bully actor Ali Amjad, shoving him to the ground and threatening him in front of people on campus.

In the video, a few students chose to stand up to Erakat and stop the staged bullying in the video, while several others walked away from the pretend bullying without saying anything.

Erakat told viewers that he chose to make the video because he thinks bullying is a major problem for this generation. He wanted to find out both why bullying continues to be a problem and why people do not try to stop it when they see it occurring.

Ian Mok, a first-year mathematics/economics student, said he appreciated the video because it educates students about the seriousness of bullying.

“It conveyed that message that people should really face bullying (and) not just walk away,” Mok said.

After pretending to bully Amjad, Erakat told some students the incident was staged and asked people who did not intervene why they made that decision.

While some refused to answer him, one student said that it was none of his business and that he did not want to get into any trouble.

Jane Lam, a second-year biology student, said after watching the video she was not surprised some people didn’t try and stop the bullying.

“If that happens in front of you, how many people will actually step in and do something and put their life in danger because of somebody else that you don’t know?” Lam said.

Lam said that if she were confronted with a situation like that, she would have escaped first, but would have later tried to help by calling authorities who would be better equipped to handle the situation.

Near the end of the video, Erakat expressed his frustration with students failing to intervene and shouts to the camera that people need to stop acting like “blind victims” and help people being bullied.

Nicolette Morris, a first-year neuroscience student, said she thinks the students who failed to intervene in the video misrepresent UCLA as a whole.

“It just depends on the people they found that walked by at that moment,” Morris said. “It doesn’t mean that most students at UCLA aren’t going to do anything about bullying.”

After watching the video, Estudillo said she could not believe that some students refused to intervene or even acknowledge the situation.

“There are people who are very passive about things. My personality itself is very outgoing and loud, so maybe that’s why I reacted, but I was definitely in shock and didn’t even give it a thought,” Estudillo said.

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Email Nguyen at jnguyen@media.ucla.edu.


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  • Michaek

    This is an interesting topic, and way you tried to approach it. You are right more things need to be done to help stop the bullying in this country. There is an concern with your video though and posting it online for people to see did you get all the people who are shown in this video to sign a release for their faces to be shown in this video? If not, then you left all the people who did not act up to persecution themselves, and that is something I feel is not correct.

  • Guest

    To the person who created the video: I do not think it is right that you post online a video of people’s reactions to the bullying, especially if you do not have their consent. In addition, people have many reasons to not get involved, especially with two male students being physically aggressive with one another. Very often the correct response is indeed to quietly walk away and seek more qualified help as soon as possible. Acting immediately, physically or verbally, as two students did in PAB is not a reasonable choice for some people, and in cases where real bullying is involved, can even lead to escalation of the violent behavior.

  • Guest

    One would do well to review UCLA’s policy such as “Informed Consent” before performing sociological experiments on members of the community.

    “Informed Consent: individuals should be informed about the research and provide their voluntary consent before becoming research participant”

    and

    “Respect for enrolled subjects: research participants should have their privacy protected, the opportunity to withdraw, and their well-being monitored.”

    For more information see (for example):

    http://bit.ly/1faDxHx

    and

    http://ora.research.ucla.edu/OHRPP/Pages/HRPP.aspx

  • Terrible Acting

    The stunts the actors in the video make are so blatantly false that it would be an insult to the intelligence of any UCLA student to actually believe it was legit.

  • Levi Dietrich

    So what would he have done if someone pulled out a weapon?

    • squintaroony

      That was a real concern of mine. The staged bullying included pummeling a supine victim and choking the victim. If some well meaning samaritan had intervened using real force, there could have been tragic consequences.