Last week a young teenage girl committed suicide because she was being bullied by other kids at school. She lived in a small town in the North Carolina mountains. Her story did not make the news. Nobody knows of her tragedy except for those who personally knew her. She was a loving daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, and an excellent student. She was shy, a bit overweight, and socially awkward as many teenagers are. Two weeks ago she was making Thanksgiving plans with her family. Three days before Thanksgiving, her parents found her hanging in her room from a noose she had fashioned with a rope found in the basement.
This young girl decided that life was not worth living. Her self-esteem had been shot down so far by the bullying she had received that she felt nobody would miss her when she was gone. If only she had known the devastation that her family and friends would feel at the profound loss.
This young girl could be my child, your child, or the child of someone that you know. She may walk through the day with a smile on her face, pretending that everything is okay…or she may manifest signs of deep sadness and anxiety. She may not want to go to school, and even fake sickness as a means of avoiding the place where her tormenters wait for her. She may break out in tears while on the computer because she just read horrible words that someone has written about her…words that are untrue. Her grades may slip. She may never want to go places with her friends. She may manifest signs of deep anger. She may withdraw.
We need to wake up to the bullying epidemic in our nation. How many suicides and school shootings does there have to be before something is done? The best place to begin saving our children is at home. Be aware. Be mindful of what is going on in your child’s life. Be nosy and attentive. Get to know your child’s friends, and the parents of your child’s friends. Volunteer at your child’s school. Become a part of your child’s life away from home. The better you know your child, the more likely you will recognize the signs of bullying….whether your child is the bully or the one being bullied.
The time to help a child is before a tragedy occurs. The time to help a child is now.