In the past month or so, it seems the headlines and news broadcasts were filled with stories of teens who took their own lives because of severe bullying.
Cody Barker, age 17, of Shiocton, Wisconsin; Asher Brown, age 13, of Houston, Texas; Seth Walsh, age 13, of Tehachapi, California; Tyler Clementi, age 18, of Rutgers University; and Raymond Chase, age 19, a student in Providence, Rhode Island; Justin Aaberg, age 15, of Anoka, Minnesota, and Billy Lucas, age 15, of Greensburg, Indiana were bullied to death.
Ironically, October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
These stories break my heart. Why do we let children hurt each other and hurt themselves?
Children are singled out by bullies for many reasons. There is no one characteristic that sets kids up to be bullied. The children making the news recently were bullied because they were gay or their peers thought they were gay.
I can relate to that. In junior high school, a classmate started calling me “Lez” instead of “Liz.” Being called a lesbian is not an insult, but he meant it to be insulting. And it hurt to be singled out. After a while, the boy backed down and he probably doesn’t even remember saying anything to me. Once he stopped, the other kids stopped.
I was lucky, some kids are relentless. Sometimes things escalate to the point of dangerous.
Abuse by a bully wears down a child. According to PACER Center, More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied. “Kids will be kids” is not a reasonable response to this issue.
After a while the bullied child feels helpless. He or she make seek help and not receive it.
The National Center for Bullying Prevention offers advice on why and how we can all get involved to stop bullying, “Raising awareness will change attitudes! People used to think that bullying was a part of growing up, that it made kids tougher, that words couldn’t hurt—all ideas we now know to not be true. The fact is, bullying is a learned behavior, it erodes self-esteem and self-confidence, and it can have long-lasting, painful effects.
“Motivate others to care about the cause! Creating a culture that no longer accepts bullying will make schools and communities safer for all of us.”