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I think this will be my final post on the bully situation. I’ve corresponded back and forth with my son’s teacher and I believe we are in a good place.

Some people brush off bullying as a rite of passage we all endure. We may endure it, but it should never be romanticized as a rite of passage. Putting it on a level with a first kiss or first solo spin in the car is dangerous and delusional.

I was a mean girl during fifth and sixth grades and then I was bullied in junior high. Seventh grade was a year of zero friends, lunch by myself, tearful talks with the girls’ counselor almost weekly. Watching my son struggle brings those feelings back and makes me almost grateful for those hard times—I knew how he felt. I don’t think you can fully grasp what it’s like to be scorned by peers, and I mean scorned, unless you’ve been on the receiving end.

Bullying is in the news, too.

Yesterday, I popped over to The Thinklings and the top post was about bullying, specifically this story:

~Massachusetts 11-year-old boy commits suicide

In the comments, others shared links to recent stories of distraught young kids killing themselves over bullying. Here’s a dismal clearinghouse of the stories (all recent), which serve as evidence that bullying can be fatal:

~Georgia 11-year-old boy commits suicide

~New York 12-year-old girl commits suicide

~Bullying linked to suicides of Illinois children, ages 10 and 11

So young.

Not that suicide is less horrific if the person taking his or her own life is older, but when a kid who still secretly likes wearing footie pajamas to bed and eats Happy Meals commits the act it takes on a whole new level of tragedy.

My heart goes out to the parents and siblings of all despairing kids whose pain is so intense, they believe only death will bring relief.

I never pictured that this week I’d end up delving into the topic of bullying. It’s unfolded on its own, and I pray for my son and your kids, too.

7 comments to Epidemic?

  • edj

    I am so amazed and disturbed by all these stories! This is absolutely heartbreaking.

    edj’s last blog post..Differences between Mauritania and Morocco: Sharks

  • Oh, how awful. Breaks my heart.


    Adventures In Babywearing’s last blog post..Remember That Time I Ran Over My Stroller?

  • Is it possible that the higher purpose to all the shunning was that I’d be able to empathize with my kids? All of a sudden I don’t feel so bad. I’ll certainly put my knowledge and experience to good use.

    feefifoto’s last blog post..Don’t Hate Me Because…

  • amy

    First, and I think this is SO important to realize, the recent cases of suicide all involved a specific type of teasing – gay bashing. Homosexulaity is the single leading cause of suicide among tweens and teens – kids tease, perhaps the kid starts to question – well, could I be gay? The message loud and clear at home, at church, at school is “I’d rather you be dead than gay”, “Gay people go to hell”.

    Bullying is bad – but this particular type of bullying os often deadly because kids feel like there are no advocates they can turn to or talk to.

    I was a kid that was harassed and bullied. I had a girl walk up to me on the bus and spit a huge snot clot in my face after calling me “nothing but a cold booger on a paper plate”. I ran home after getting of the bus to avoid getting beat up. I had rocks thrown at me. Not a single friend. Stopped eating in sixth grade and was in therapy for two year. I was never in the in-crowd and then experienced the fall from grace – I was a weird kid from the first day of kindergaten and I lived in an imaginary world. I got no support at home from my mom, whose answer was always that I was just jealous (mom had been a cheerleader/homecoming queen and her answer was that I just needed to make the effort to fit in)
    I may as well have gone to school with a target on my t-shirt.

    I have a 12 year old that was bullied to the point of being afraid to use the restroom at school last year. Way beyond just the name-calling – this was actual physical bullying. The administration turned a blank eye and we had to remove him from the school.

    I don’t think bullying is a rite of passage or something to be endured with a grin. I do think that the Bible says a lot about being persecuted and how to deal with it. Screwtape Letters was like a revelation when I read it. What I learned over time was that I could either change who I was and avoid being a target by being more “normal” – or I could learn to realize what voices to listen to, remember that God gave me each little quirk and all of my imagination, and that God did not want me to cut my soul into pieces to make it more acceptable with my peers.

    This is what I try to teach my kids – to listen to what 1) God says about them 2) their own heart says 3)their family says 4)the mentors they can trust (youth group leader at church, other men/women of faith that we respect) say – instead of what the world is saying about them.

    And I do realize that this is probably the hardest thing that they will ever have to learn to do, and that it will take years. I know I am still not there 100%

  • Bullying is a heart-breaking, complicated issue. I was seriously bullied as a child AND I was also just HORRID to a few select kids myself.
    I’m glad that things are resolving for your boy. There’s nothing quite like hearing that other kids are mistreating one of mine to make me feel like I’m turning into the Hulk.

    Beck’s last blog post..Today was her big party!

  • Though I’ve not had a lot of personal experience with bullying, I’ve definitely witnessed it secondhand and been part of mild versions of the giving and receiving end of it. Thanks for bring up the topic–it’s helpful even to those of us who might not have to deal with it for a few years.

    Minnesotamom’s last blog post..Sunday Sunshine 04.26.09

  • amy

    A slight addition to my post – in watching local news just now, I realized that the 11-year old suicide attended the very school system that we pulled our son out of last year.

    It’s a very unhealthy school system. You’ve got two extreme socio-economic classes in that area(exteme poverty and very upper-middle class) with not much middle ground. It, unfortunately, divides pretty well along racial lines. It’s practically educational apatheid within each school, and it breeds little monsters.

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