From the start I must say that this youngster‘s death is a tragedy and such a waste. My heart goes out to her family, friends and indeed I wish them well, but I think that there is more at play here than just being bullied at school, or on the internet. I think that a few other things that are rarely looked at in this time of tragedy, should be and are not, because no one wants to look insensitive to the victim, or their family and nailing a body to the cross for the death makes people feel that justice has been done and that somehow bullies will stop for fear of being found out and punished. In a perfect world this would work, but we do not live in a perfect world. Children who take their own lives are trying to tell us something and we are just not listening and so they keep on doing it hoping that their deaths will finally get us as parents to hear them. They are telling us that they have no where left to turn, they do not have the tools to survive and that they find life no longer worthwhile living. They are telling us that we as parents, as a society, as governments and as institutions of higher learning have failed them and to please stop pointing fingers at each other and do something before another child finds life too much to bear without the tools he or she needs to survive in this crazy world we keep sending them into day after day andf kills themselves.
I believe that the B.C. girl’s suicide and all of the child suicides brought on by bullying begs an answer to a question and it is this,”At whose feet do we lay the blame for these senseless deaths”? Sending bullies to jail is not the answer and neither is fining their parents money they can ill afford in these hard economic times. Fining parents just makes the government money and does nothing to stop children from killing themselves. Sending bullies to jail will end up giving society back meaner, angrier bullies, but will do little to stop the suicides, because the deaths of these children are about more than just the bullying. I believe that if things are to change and we are to put an end to children committing suicide after being bullied then I say,”We must stop being so quick to blame the other kid and look to what has happened to the children’s support system and why children have been made to feel so desperate, so alone and so afraid that they see their only escape, their only option for peace of mind, body, or soul as taking their lives. This is bigger than being bullied at school, or on the internet and I believe that this type of bullying is just the straw that broke the camels back in all of the cases of child suicides that we are now seeing way too often these days”.
There have been bullies since man came into existence and although we all agree that it is a nasty business and should not be allowed to continue especially where children are involved, we know it is impossible to stop, because humanity has created the perfect environment for bullying to flourish. We teach it to our children in our talks at the table during meals as we gossip about what we think about the neighbors, why we do not want our children associating with certain children, or why we do not like our co-workers and who they should marry, or date. Everytime we belittle someone like homosexuals, a certain religious faction, a race and even the poor we are teaching our children to hate and fueling the fire for bullying.
I have a landlord who casually told me that one summer afternoon, over our patios that he would rather rent to Black and White people and would find it hard to rent to an East Indian person, because he could not stand the smell of the food they eat. As I recall, it was the smell of curry cooking that he was referring to and I thought to myself, I wonder if he passed that thought on to his children who own buildings they rent out and how that effected who they rented to. What is more on point though is what children do with this type of statement and information. I have found that they use this type of statement as a tool to hurt and bully other children and that this is the type of parental behaviour that must stop if bullying is to stop.
Boys and girls have been bullying each other for years and a good fight in the school yard, or a threat from an older family member, or friend for the most part usually put an end to it, or young people endured the bullying, got support and learned to stay out of harms way. We know this by all of the successful people now coming forward with their stories of being bullied, from sports stars to movie stars and our own government officials. I agree that children should not have to endure bullying, but unless something drastically changes in the home life of all children I do not see bullying stopping anytime soon and certainly not because we make a new of a law, or make punishments more severe for children who bully. Parents and older siblings bully children in a home often making them feel small, or less than they are, or not worthy to be a member of the family, resulting in the child not feeling strong enough to deal with the taunting and unable to turn to anyone for help. Life might have been easier for the child at school without the pressure of those school bullies as well, adding to the weight, but some parents and siblings and even teachers have a responsibility for being the cause of what drives children to take their lives to escape being bullied. The truth is adults and authority figures rush to pin the guilt on someone for the tragedies so that no one looks in our direction and adults and authority figures always look to the people easiest to pin it all on and go after the children, those most likely to have no family support, those most likely to need help themselves, the ones with the weakest self-esteem, the child bully.
My youngest daughter is of mixed parenting and was bullied in high school by Black girls for not being dark enough, for having straight black hair, which she could not change and for what the Black girls thought was an attitude of thinking that she was better than them, which of course was not true. The problem was that you could tell where the kids picked up these thoughts when you met the parents who were as aggressive as their children and openly admitted that they taught their children how they had dealt with uppity acting mulatto children and white children who thought that they were superior. My grand-daughter was driven out of West Hill Academy in Montreal West, because the students turned on her because she was poor and considered a nobody. They taunted her in class, in the halls and on the internet and the school said they were powerless to rectify the situation and the parents of the bullying children suggested that maybe my granddaughter should not be in the school being not of the right stuff and found her presence in the school, a distraction to their children. One of my best friends as a child was name Kenny and he was white, his father and brother called him a nigger lover every time they saw him and beat him up occasionally, because he had me for a friend. This is what I mean about bullying at home and the need to change our way of thinking and it goes right into all differences, dress, sexual preference, shyness vs out going and the list just keeps growing with everyone rushing to jail the children, but they are doing what they have been taught at the family dinner table, or by the constant bullying they are getting at home.
Schools are powerless because everyone brings their own set of prejudices to the game of bullying. Bullying has become and accepted way of teaching since organised education was established. It is a recognised and accepted way to get children to participate and want to do better, by most schools and their administrations and boards. As in all things some teachers use the tool correctly and some abuse it, but since schooling began students have passed through the system without killing themselves, so I would suggest that there is something missing in these children that they feel they cannot turn to anyone for help and that their only escape from their torment is to take their own lives.
Bullying will be stopped at home or not at all, but I think that we need to fix it at the source and that is in the home. Our children quite simply put, pick up on our prejudices, hates, insecurities and sense of self-worth. We as parents are responsible for giving our children the tools necessary to survive in this ever competitive world that we have created for them with all of it prejudices and intolerance. If we teach them to be afraid of words then they will be. If we as parents make our children feel that we can not protect them, then they will not come to us for protection. If we do not teach our children about respecting others and themselves, then we are sending them out to hurt others without the proper armor. What I am trying to say is that I think as parents we have dropped the ball when it comes to teaching our children how to be strong, how to protect themselves and how to respect themselves and others. I think that we have decided that the teachers, the courts, the celebrities and just about anyone else but us is responsible for being the role models for our children and this is where the tragedy of hopelessness in a child’s life begins. Every bully has a story as does every bullied child, but they both start in the home and need to be corrected there. If we strip our children’s self-esteem from them as parents as we try to get them to behave how we think that they should, how will they ever be strong enough emotionally, or mentally to withstand peer pressure and the pressure to achieve placed on them by people in authority over them outside of the family circle? The tools of bullying may be more sophisticated today with the computer, Facebook and such, but the root and the core of the problem is the same, both bullies who feed on the insecurities of other children and children insecure enough to take their own lives because of it, start at home.
In closing I would just like to say again that I believe that if things are to change and we are to put an end to children committing suicide after being bullied than we must,”We must stop being so quick to blame the other kid and look to what has happened to the children’s support system and why children have been made to feel so desperate, so alone and so afraid that they see their only escape, their only option for peace of mind, body, or soul is to end their life. This is bigger than being bullied at school, or on the internet and I believe that this type of bullying is just the straw that broke the camels back, in all of the cases of child suicides that we are now seeing way too often these days”.
- Eight Ontario high school girls arrested for bullying (theprovince.com)
- Den Tandt: We have remedies for bullying: What’s missing is will (canada.com)
- B.C. teen’s death revives hard memories for Roblin mom (cbc.ca)
- Teach your children well: on Bullying (workathomemom.typepad.com)