“When life is so burdensome, death has become a sought after refuge.”
My heart hurts. Today I read an article about an 18 year old girl that committed suicide in front of her family today, all because she endured months and months of being bullied at school and online. According to the reports, her bullies even created fake online profiles of her while claiming she was soliciting sex online. How sick is this?! Who gave these little assholes the right to terrorize this child to death?
For as long as I could remember… Suicide has always terrified me. I don’t know if it’s a deep rooted religious bug that I could never shake off (I don’t identify as religious anymore) or perhaps the idealism that unnerved me from the movie What Dreams May Come starring Robin Williams which describes the difference in “after life experiences”, but whatever it is – I get bone chilling shivers anytime I hear about someone taking their own life.
As we all know, this isn’t the first time bullying has led to the death of a child/young adult. Children as young as 10 have killed themselves because of the torment they’ve received from their peers. What do we do to fix this? No one should feel so helpless in life that their only release is to end their own, but for a minor to do it? An individual who hasn’t even lived long enough to experience the beauty life can be yet?? Devastating.
I know that times have changed, even from when I was in school. Bullies back then picked on you, talked shit, tried to catch you on some sneaky stuff via secret three-way phone calls, and could be physically intimidating. Now, the bully may not be the big, roughneck, guy with the peach fuzz mustache with a crew of wanna-be goons. Now, it might be the kid who’s excellent at social media/computers and attacks you with cyber-terrorism. Bullying today isn’t just shoe-jacking, and “swirlies”… it’s fucked-up tweets, Photoshop, and fake profiles.
What do we do? Now, I’m not an “official” parent or anything so please excuse my potential ignorance about raising children in the following sentences.
This part is obvious: We really need to identify the children that are being bullies. I have a hard time believing that a parent can be so blind and can’t possibly know that their child has an abusive streak in them. OBVIOUSLY, we need to teach our children that it’s not cool to bully, but sometimes talking to your kid doesn’t always work. I remember day-time talk shows used to have segments where parents would bring their child on the show and in turn, the show would send their kid to a “get your act together” type boot camp. That scare-tactic was enough for (most of) those children to realize their wrongs. I’m not saying that you should immediately jump to the “Bully the bully” tactic, but it just might help. We need to remember the power that these bullies have on their peers because that world is all those children know. A bully, to a child who may not be emotionally strong and secure (and really, who at 13 actually IS?!) can very well be the “straw that broke the camel’s back”. I would be outraged if I ever found out that my child was outrageously bullying and harassing another child in their school. That’s why it’s so important to really teach your kid that bullying is NOT a “cool” thing to do, it doesn’t make you popular (at least not in ways that count) and it turns you into a really shitty human being. But as parents, you know (secretly, or not) if you had to pick, you’d rather your child not be the one getting beat up.
We also need to really instill in our children that the opinions of others DO NOT define them. Yeah, that 8th grader in your class may be an asshole, but that little shit will not matter in a few years. I’ll probably get some flack for this but I do think society has played a part in making our children weaker. These “participation trophy children” are softened by society’s way of “all things are equal”. Well, if all things are in fact equal, how are these children supposed to differentiate between what is acceptable performance and behavior … and what isn’t? Assisting in building a child’s self-confidence is just as important, honestly more so, than discouraging the bully’s destruction of it. It’s like giving a shield instead of a bigger sword; no matter how someone may try to penetrate it, a proper shield of confidence will not allow the invading negative thoughts of others.
We have grown incredibly “P.C.” as a society and while vulnerability is adorable, we seemingly forget that exuberating strength is admirable too. You have to remember that while you may help your child deflect the bullshit thrown its way by that ONE bully in school, that same child will face many more bullies throughout its life. You can’t be there for them all. You can expel every student that is mean to your kid. You sure as hell can’t do that in everyday life in the REAL world. Some children will be mean, that’s always going to happen. As much as we need to discourage that behavior, we also need to teach our kids that that behavior is part of everyday life and even though it’s not right, they’re going to encounter this from time to time.
I don’t have answers here, just thoughts. Of course it’s a lot easier said than done and hindsight vision is always 20/20 but like I said, if we had the choice we ALL would prefer our children to NOT be the one being bullied. That doesn’t mean make them the bully, it means helping them become bully-resistant. That means helping them understand why bullies (may) do the things they do, the underlying psychological nature of a bully (such as a bully is only a bully because it’s easier to project pain than it is to deflect it). Help them overcome their fear and cowardice of an idiot kid (or group) and reassure them that it DOES get better. Convince them the best you can that the opinions of minions is temporary and irrelevant.
To that I end with this:
“Far better is it to have a stout heart always and suffer one’s share of evils, than to be ever fearing of what may happen.” – Herodotus