The recent news about the arrest of 9 teenagers for bullying has created a much needed (probably way too late) discussion of bullying. I saw a segment on Anderson Cooper’s show Monday night which highlighted not only this tragic incident which resulted in the suicide of the 15 year old victim, but he also put up the photos of 3 other recent (within the last year) suicides that were the results of incessant bullying.
I know I am probably way too uneducated on the topic, but I’ve always related suicide to some sort of chronic mental illness. Depression that just wont lift, not seeking help, ceasing taking medication etc etc.
It struck me though, reading this post from someone I’ve known on DailyKos for a long time that this woman does not fit that description at all. And yet she admits that had her parents not pulled her out of school, she was ready to take that ultimate step to end her anguish. It seems to me that these kids, had they not been bullied, would be alive. Does that make the bullies indirect murderers? I am sure it is hard for the parents of the victims not to think that way. Yet I think it’s not that simple as Dr Phil pointed out on the CNN program, at that age with their brains still not fully developed not only are kids not thinking those 2-3 steps ahead on how their actions might put *themselves* in danger as teenagers, they also are not in any way anticipating just how much psychic pain they are inflicting on the kids they pick on. On the flip side when you hear about some of the things they do these days in the way of cyber-bullying it is hard to believe they could NOT imagine how painful some of their actions would be. Some of them think of it as harmless joking around – assuming that the result will be laughter or maybe embarrassment.
Sportsboy just had a taste of that with a wrestling buddy who *did* take a picture of him that he didn’t want and posted it on facebook and then tagged SB. SB immediately removed the tag and asked the friend to remove the photo which was done, but not for a couple of days. Thankfully he told me about it and I told him I would gladly get it removed but it was cleared up between them. Still – another whole way of picking on kids that we adults have to police!
However, in the case of the arrested kids, their actions were not mere bullying. This is not ‘kids being kids’. In just about any other scenario this would be assault or stalking or harassment. What if it was a man treating his girlfriend like this? A boss-worker situation? A co-worker situation? Heck, just about any scenario involving adults? These are felony charges right? Yes, I realize that domestic abuse often gets swept under the rug like this too, but I also know that witnesses to domestic abuse are much more likely to report the situation these days than decades ago. Yet bullying is still largely excused and ignored!
I hope that the arrest of these kids continues to spark the discussion. I hope it sets some kind of example to schools/parents/kids on how bullying is NOT ok. That there are too many times when the kids do NOT laugh it off or just work it out between themselves.
I’m rambling and I’m sorry about that but perhaps because my child is at this age this story really has made me quite angry. I’m curious how my friends/readers who are teachers/administrators think this should be handled.