It's always sad when we hear of a young child taking his or her life at the hands of bullies -- other kids who have tortured and tormented the individual to the point where the child believes death is his best option. A recent story out of Central Florida received national attention when a 12-year-old girl allegedly jumped from an abandoned cement factory tower after enduring months of horrific cyberbullying.
Two girls were arrested in the case, ages 12 and 14, and both charged with felony aggravated stalking. Polk County Sherriff Grady Judd said the victim, Rebecca Sedwick, was "terrorized," and put a lot of the blame on the suspect's parents. Judd said, "The parents were not doing what parents are supposed to do."
With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, here's my critical thinking question: why weren't the parents arrested? Yes, I agree, the 12-year-old and 14-year-olds didn't seem the least disturbed by Sedwick's death, but the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and the parents should be held accountable as well.
It's time to pressure educators, parents and politicians to work together to end bullying in American schools. They need to stop denying the problem and closing their doors, and start acting like leaders. Parents need to be more involved with their children, and stop bullying in its tracks. If not, parents need to be held accountable, too. There's no excuse for roughly 160,000 kids a day cowering in terror. The blame rests on the shoulders of the leaders we trust to keep our kids safe, and on all parents to be more involved and teach their kids to treat others like they would like to be treated. Anti-bullying laws need to carry severe punishments and be enforced. Bullies should be banished from schools and sent back to their parents.
Suicide is bullying's quiet little secret. It's picking off our kids one at a time. Kids like Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year old high school freshman from Buffalo, NY, are taking to the Internet in a cry for help. You can pull them up on Youtube. These kids plea for help. They cry, beg and even hold up signs screaming out for someone to listen. For Jamey Rodemeyer, much like Rebecca Sedwick, it was too late. He had been bullied since 5th grade and couldn't take it anymore. In late 2011, he committed suicide.
Unfortunately, this is becoming all too common. The delusional thinking as it relates to bullying is how many teachers, school officials and religious leaders view this as a natural part of growing up. We have kids killing themselves, hiding out at home and even taking revenge in school shootings, yet it's being reduced by some authorities as a normal part of growing up? Today's bullies are more vicious than they were back in the 70s and 80s, and their victims are living a tortured existence with some even committing suicide. This is clearly not a rite of passage scenario. Bullying in the 21st century is a matter of life and death.
With 15-25 percent of U.S. students being bullied on a regular basis, how can we deny this is a serious problem? We've made progress in the fight against bullying, but we have a lot of work left to do. Bullying is no laughing matter, and the only way to put an end to the bullying epidemic is to take any and all bullying seriously. That means everyone from the teacher to the cafeteria worker to parents and police need to get involved and be proactive when bullying is suspected.
Bullying has been a problem since the beginning of time, and probably pre-dates humans beginning in the animal kingdom. Anytime there's a perceived imbalance of power viewed through the eyes of a creature who derives pleasure from others' misery, you will have bullying. While we may always have bullies, we don't always have to have bullying. We owe it to our children to protect them and provide a school and community environment where they can successfully and fearlessly learn and grow.