The other night AC360 on CNN reported on the suicide of a thirteen year old boy after bullying brought him to his breaking point.
I think we all need to hear this story. It's something that can, in some way, touch all of our lives. Either we have been in the place that this boy was in, we know someone who has been there, or we have been the ones to put someone there.
I can't understand why people don't take the problem of bullying more seriously. This is far from the first suicide that has been the result of relentless bullying. The school that I went to wasn't bad in comparison, but that doesn't mean it was bully-free. I know we had our share of bullies - I experienced bullying and, unfortunately, my reaction was to become a bully for a while. Until I realized exactly what it was that I was doing to the people I targeted.
Having been on both sides of the fence, I know that the event of a teacher witnessing bullying and turning a blind eye is not something that was an isolated case. Even if the bullying got physical. Furthermore, while it is part of the school systems job to ensure the safety of the students in the class or on the playground, the school system and its employees something are
the bullies. I've seen and experienced that as well.
I've heard more than my fair share of stories of teachers catching bullying in action and just silently walking away. Not just verbal harassment but genuinely terrifying physical altercations. At least two of these incidences weren't just your run-of-the-mill shoving into a locker, either. They were sexual attacks occurring on school grounds, witnessed by school employees who did nothing to intervene.
I've been lucky in that the bullying that I experienced never went so far as a physical altercation of any kind. Unfortunately, as a bully, I did use my strength to push people around. I've apologized to many of the people I hurt in this way, but I don't think I could ever apologize enough. I wish I could. But that's a lesson that I live with. It's one of the reasons taking time to consider how your actions and words effect the people around you is something so important to me. It's why I have so little tolerance for people who seem to think that making that consideration is a waste of time.
What happened over the past week is absolutely heartbreaking. It's tragic, but it's also terrifying to know that a school turning a blind eye is not an isolated incident - it seems to be the rule rather than the exception. It's terrifying because there's not an easy answer. The only thing that I can hope for is that somehow this incident and the others like it will somehow trigger a badly needed change. Hopefully that change will safe lives in the future. But it doesn't undo what has already been done. It can't save lives already lost.