Yet another tragedy in the “war against bullying” has occurred. This time it’s in Enfield CT where in the space of 2 months, 2 teens committed suicide allegedly because of bullying. This is the 10th child in CT who has committed suicide this year.
If you read the comments in the online news article of The Enfield Patch Another Teen Takes His Own Life you can see clearly the passion, hurt and anger that have been stirred up by this tragedy.
Just perusing the comments below the article is an education in the prevailing thinking about this. Most of the comments are clearly saying: “We’ve got to do something to stop bullying.” Few if any of the comments are saying: “We’ve got to do something to stop teens from thinking suicide is a solution.”
- You have a comment from a former student at Enrico Fermi High school who says, “I was bullied there too.”
- There are several comments from a grieving mother of a child who took her own life in 2007.
- You have parents railing against administrators who don’t do enough to protect their children from the bullies.
- and more
All heartfelt. All sincere. All justified.
That someone would take their life because of being taunted and tormented by bullies is a horrible, horrible thing. It MUST be stopped. My heart wrenches when I think about it. I want to do everything in my power to stop this nightmare. If I feel this way I’m sure people closer to the community are feeling it even more.
How do you stop teens from committing suicide because of being bullied? By stopping the bullies of course. That just makes sense right?
So we start the campaign to get kids to be nice to each other. Be kind! Be respectful! The schools have assemblies where they implore the students to be kind to each other.
Kids still get bullied. Some how they didn’t seem to get the message. We’ve got to stop these horrible bullies.
A friend of mine told me a story just today about a friend of her daughter who got pushed up against a locker and had money shoved in her mouth and called a “dirty jew.” That IS horrible. That IS absolutely and completely UNACCEPTABLE.
But the deciding factor is in how the target reacts. Does it destroy them or make them strong?
It just seems that the obvious solution is to really get those nasty ones who are causing all the pain. Hence the term: “Anti-bully.”
So the well meaning politicians get involved and pass tougher, stricter laws which criminalize kids who aren’t nice. The educational machine starts as early as elementary school grinding away to try to get kids to TELL SOMEONE! Tell a teacher! Tell a parent! Tell a trusted adult. Tell.
And the kids, particularly in middle school and high school continue to keep silent. (I’ll talk about this more in my next article)
Instead of reaching out to us adults for help, more and more of them are turning to
- risky sexual behavior
- and yes, suicide
They are attempting to stop the pain of being them.
Kids don’t commit suicide because they want to die.
They kill themselves because they want the pain to stop… and they don’t know what else to do.
They hear about suicide more and more from the media and the internet. Just go to YouTube and type in “Bullycide” in the search box. this is an epidemic.
What is really going on?
Isn’t it strange that we hear this huge outcry against the bullies but so little about the fact that kids in pain are choosing to kill themselves?
Isn’t it strange that we adults haven’t yet figured out that kids will NOT tell. Have we stopped to ask why?
As a teen in pain I was lucky to find a way to self medicate that was actually positive. I learned the guitar and started writing songs. Weirdly, one of the first songs I wrote was all about the pain I was in. My mom loved that song! It never, ever occurred to her that I was sending out a cry for help!
I hear parents sharing that their kids mention “being under a lot of pressure”. That my dear concerned parent and administrator is often the most you will hear.
It is a cry for help.
Bullying Prevention speaker Mike Donahue told a story in his presentation recently at Shaker Middle School near Albany NY about a teen who went to a party and ended up taking a handful of prescription pills which stopped his heart. His mother said he seemed to be doing okay. He just mentioned a few times being under a lot of “pressure.”
When I started hearing about all the bullycides in the news in the last 2 years, it occurred to me that no one is teaching kids how to manage their own internal feelings and responses to external adversity. No one is teaching kids how to deal with this “pressure.”
Which is really what bullying is. It’s an external experience that is difficult. Dealing with difficult, unpleasant and even mean, nasty and cruel people is part of life.
We encounter mean people and events that challenge our self esteem. That’s a fact.
In addition to addressing why the kids who are acting out as “bullies” are behaving that way, wouldn’t it make sense to reach out to the kids who are being targeted and teach them some empowerment skills that not only would enable them to take charge of feeling better so they don’t feel like harming themselves, but also have the added benefit of extinguishing aggressive behavior from other kids? It’s like you accomplish two objectives at once.
I will also risk suggesting that someone might take some time to explore what’s going on with the kids who are behaving as “bullies”. Is it possible that they too are in pain and this inappropriate and even cruel behavior on their part is an attempt to self medicate (feel better) as well?
Izzy Kalman a school psychologist who has been working with these issues for 30 years was emphatic when I interviewed him. “The kids who opened fire at Columbine didn’t see themselves as bullies. The saw themselves as victims.”
Dear readers, I invite your comments and questions. Please remember to be polite and kind… Let’s set an example for our kids okay?
Here’s the link to the Article again: The Enfield Patch Another Teen Takes His Own Life