Two 11 year-olds victims of bullycide: suicide caused by bullying

26 May

The following is from Intern Toni:

For many students, school is like a second home because they are there so often. Most of our lives are spent in school, from kindergarten to high school but the rise of bullying, harassments, and assaults are inclining at an alarming rate in Public School Systems.

Sure, everyone has had their fair share of being teased and has run into an encounter with a bully, but now with youth’s generation, there are more creative ways to harass students and make it public.

Being bullied builds character, to an extent. I learned to tolerate, I learned to ignore, I learned about self confidence. When I was in first grade, I received my first pair of glasses and was the only child in my class to have needed them. I got picked on by the boys and ‘four eyes’ was an ever popular joke but my parents told me to shrug it off. I can vividly recall lying in between my parents, on their bed explaining why I did not want to go to school and how things would be better off if I weren’t here. Now that I look back, I think, ‘Wow, I was only six years old and just confessed to my parents that being alive was not worth the criticism I was receiving for being nearsighted’.

Obviously, my parents handled the situation and I returned to school. The teasing never ceased; in fact, as I got older teasing became more like a routine. They would find new ways to ‘poke fun’ at me. Since I am female, I spell my name with an ‘I’ and for some reason people could not comprehend, even some teachers, that a young girl was named after her father despite it typically being a name for a male. This was particularly hard for me to overcome. My name is Toni, there is nothing wrong with being named after my dad, but it took a lot of self confidence to finally over come that.

I was lucky, I have a sister who is two years older than I and she was always and still is on my side, ready to back me up. She got in fights because of me, she protected me, and she shielded me because she saw what my parents couldn’t. Some students, unfortunately, aren’t so lucky.

I was heartbroken to hear that two young boys, both 11 years of age, committed suicide within ten days of one another. Neither of the two separate deaths is connected but what is similar, are their stories.

Last month these two young students decided that death was a better option as opposed to returning to school and facing constant disapproval. They hung themselves in their closet. In the stir of their death, Congress introduced a bill which is set out to protect all students – including gay or transgender – from harassment. These two young children were accused of being ‘gay’.

The ever growing popularity of texting and social network sites are adding to the torment of students along with old fashion name-calling and physical bullying.

With so many school shootings in the past, I feel the lives of these two boys could have been saved. The mother of one victim repeatedly complained to school officials that her son was being taunted by names such as ‘gay and ‘snitch’. This young student was even put in a sleeper hold in the school bathroom. Apparently, not enough was done to prevent these ‘bullies’ from tormenting this young boy again. The school recently released an internal report stating that the boy was not subjected to more teasing than his peers but the school system only acknowledged five out of the eight complaints the mother gave.

I view it as allowing the bullies to win because if the schools took time to investigate the situation in further detail, both these deaths could have been preventable. Even with the new bill being passed, it is still not enough because it does not help students to cope with the low self-esteem and depression they encounter. When a student takes his or her life due to bullying, psychologists have dubbed this bullycide. It is very real and does not have any signs of slowing down. I know it is difficult to monitor bullying but school systems need to find a better way to protect their students and to deal with situations like these before another life is lost. This 11 year old could have been saved, he should have been protected, and not enough was done.

I could only hope that their deaths spark an endemic of change to protect the students, to provide them with the comfort and safety they deserve. I wish for the much success of the federal anti-bullying bill, which would require schools receiving funding from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to execute inclusive anti-bullying policies.

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