I looked out my office window in Center City, Philadelphia today, not to see the solar eclipse, but to see the hundreds of office workers and shoppers in ...
*see link above in title*
Phoebe Prince didn't have to kill herself. Any one of the adults in the school she attended who was aware of her situation could have stopped it. I'm sure they discussed it in the teacher's lounge. I know the administrators considered the liability of confronting the "mean girls". I want to know why none of them did anything.
The parent of one of the "mean girls" actually has the audacity to say it was "Phoebe's fault" as if its ok for children to verbally abuse each other. It isn't. Yes, I KNOW it happens; at some point in our childhoods, the vast majority of us did it to someone. Someone cared enough about the abused as well as the abusers to stop us all though. Why doesn't that happen anymore? Why is it always someone else' fault when the worst thing possible happens?
When I'm in my classroom or monitoring the hallways, I'm listening to the conversations, the words coming from the mouths of some children so angry, frustrated and lost that all they can do is find new ways to push the pain away by finding the "weak one" and dumping on them. I stop them. I talk to them. I report them to our counselor and she intervenes, forcing the parties involved to confront each other and work out whatever real or imagined disagreement there is between them.
Bullies have self love issues people, self image, self respect, self acknowledgement issues. They are usually raised by parents with the same sorts of issues. A parent of a child who has bullied another child who says it was the victim's fault it all started is a sad excuse for a parent. That person, along with the adults in the school with knowledge of the situation should ALL be punished (mind you, I said punished, not disciplined) for their lack of mature, adult, authoritarian response to the matter. Simple as that.
Now, the mother in me is speaking...
My son was bullied while in the 5th grade. We transferred him from a private school to public school, partly because the private school closed, partly because it was time for him to observe the world from a different perspective. The boy that bullied him would come to the house to visit and play. The boy was a little rough around the edges, but we monitored them, so we were ok with it.
Until the bike disappeared. I asked where it was and I was told he's "borrowing" it. Ok, no problem: wish you'd asked one of your parents first. After 3 days of no bike and no kid, (ummm, he doesn't come around anymore) my husband tracked him down in front of his house, the bike in the yard. The mother INSISTED it was her son's bike. Ok, no problem. We're loving people; it was decided to let the kid have the bike. We were blessed enough to get another one. There was a bigger lesson to be learned for our son and yes, he learned it.
However, emboldened by this I suppose, the boy decided he could get more. Threatening to take lunch money, stealing his bookbag, hitting him, chasing him home from school became the new norm. I showed up more than once at school to complain to administration. The principal claims he called in the mother (why I wasn't invited to that meeting, I'll never know) and had the teacher monitoring behavior in the classroom. At one point, I was told to "stop babying my son, let him grow up". What the Hell? I persisted, even having my mother begin to pick him up from school, because even after taking a different route home, he found himself harassed. It finally stopped... when the family moved.
I"m not sure those who don't have to force frightened children from bed, who refuse to go to school or are afraid to even play in their own yards because "he might show up", fully understand the emotional toll of bullies on children. This isn't the first time a child has kill himself or herself because of words, actions, behaviors that demenish self worth, cause the child to lash out violently if only to give the pretense of strength and courage and want to simply disappear so that those "mean kids" will leave them alone.
Citizen of the universe speaking now...
Ladies and gentlemen, verbal and physical abuse of anyone that results in death is a criminal offense, plain and simple. Anyone who is witness to verbal assaults or is told by a child that they are being harassed and does nothing about it is an accessory to the crime before the fact. We are NOT so self absorbed that we can't stop to save a soul. We aren't. I refuse to believe we are. The deaths by gunfire at Columbine, and other schools occurred because of bullying; children like Phoebe, who become so deseparate for relief from the pain of abuse that they kill themselves are a result of bullying.
Kids DON'T call names all the time. Its NOT just what they do. Angry, self loathing children want others to feel as worthless as they do. They know how to find the ones with the weak spirits, chip away at those spirits and then stand back and play the innocent when those spirits finally crumble. The adults responsible for the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of these children are liable for crimes against the spiritual lives of those hurt.
Its a damned shame. It needs to stop. We need to quit pretending its "just the way it is". I suppose, for some, it will take THEIR child being abused, or dying before it makes sense.