October is well known for being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s increasingly becoming known for being Bully Prevention Month as well. The seeming endless stories of children killing themselves as a result of being bullied are just heart breaking and something has to be done.
It’s only been two weeks since 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide after his parents say he was relentlessly bullied by students. Unbelievably, Jamey was even bullied in death as teens continued to write hateful message about his suicide. His adorable young face and hopeful heart in the video haunt me. I can’t even imagine how his parents feel, but I hope they know that they are in no way to blame, and I sincerely hope they disregard all the twisted comments coming at them. I also hope that the parents of the kids who taunted Jamey take responsibility for allowing their kids to produce such hatred, but I doubt they will.
How can we together as a nation, as parents, as humans, make bullying stop?
There are no clear cut answers but I’m glad that more awareness is being circled around schools. At my son’s grammar school, the kids get a no uniform day and can come dressed in blue today if they wanted to take a stand against bullying. Lectures and discussions are planned to highlight the seriousness of bullying. My daughter’s high school school has a zero tolerance policy. If students are caught bullying (either in person or cyberbullying), they are immediately expelled. These are all good starts, but I realize that public schools just can’t expel students, yet students who bully should have swift and severe consequences and penalties.
What is heartbreaking are the many stories where the victim told his parents and the parents told the school, but the schools didn’t do anything and the kid killed himself. Adults who say, well, we all got through being bullied or we handled it ourselves, have no idea what cyberbullying and Facebook harassment can do to a teen. By definition, most teens are insecure and trying to figure out where they fit in and find their place in the world. While a bully you encounter in school can say some pretty damaging things in a few minutes in front of a few classmates, a bully who hides behind the computer screen not only has time to think about the most effective, hence mean and spiteful things to write, but they can share it with the entire class and/or school so everyone can read it.
I don’t know what the answer is. Perhaps anyone caught bullying would have to be subjected to counseling. Maybe family counseling should also be instituted because the kid who bullies obviously has low self esteem to have to rip down a classmate to make him/her feel better about themselves. Schools have to be stricter and enforce a no tolerance zone on their premises.
It’s a complete and utter shame that gay teens live in fear of being who they are, that teens who have disabilities or learning issues are harassed, and that countless preteen and teen girls are slutshamed on the internet everyday. It’s horrible and it has to stop.
Our kids are killing themselves.
What do you think would help our bullying epidemic? Is your child’s school participating in Bully Prevention Month?