Sad news it was to hear that a 9th grade girl in a local school had committed suicide.
“Bullying, no doubt,” was the immediate response of people when they heard the news.
I honestly don’t know if that was the motivation, but it’s arguably not an unreasonable conclusion. Yet, at that, it still begs the question “why?” Was the bullying (it if that was the issue) truly so horrific that this poor child saw no other way out other than to end her brief life? How unspeakably awful, if that is the case. Rendered even more often due to the fact that children rarely understand that vital component of mortality, and that is that death is for keeps.
Furthermore, far be it from me to downplay the impact of bullying on anybody’s life, not just the life of a sensitive young person. At the same time, I am left with the question as to why bullying seems to have such an impact and indeed why the issue is so ‘current’ today?
We always had bullying. We certainly had it when I was in school Yet I don’t recall ever seeing it at a pathological level. In those days the parlance led you to notice that certain kids were “picked on.” That was what we called it. “Hey you stupid boys,” would erupt a teacher, “Stop picking on Melvin!” And they would stop until the teacher had gone away and then Melvin would be really picked on, For a while, until the jerks grew weary of the diversion.
Of course I could be completely wrong about the impact of bullying as it was back in the day. For one thing, I have no recall of every having been bullied. Not because I was special. I was just an ordinary kid. I knew that certain guys were sadistic pricks, and I just avoided them, but I was per se never bullied.
I am also ashamed to admit I did take part in some bullying activities. I never perpetrated them because, in truth, I’d feel sorry for the kid being bullied. But, yeah, there were times I went along with the ‘boys’ (and also girls, sometimes) in order to maintain my social cachet.
But back to the issue of modern bullying. This is a very serious problem that schools and parents must address on an ongoing basis. And its impact is multiplied a billion times over because now it all goes viral. Cyber-thuggery is more common than many authorities appreciate and it’s impact can be hideous on a sensitive kid. There is no escape for the poor victims. So, it’s a whole new ballgame and one with seemingly tragic consequences.
This was exemplified last evening in an episode of Harry’s Law, a rather well-done series starring Kathy Bates as a late middle-aged law firm boss. Bates is always good, so that’s reason enough to watch. Anyway, the episode concerned a case of cyber toxicity with tragic consequences in which a forlorn young girl got back at a popular girl rival by ‘outing’ her as gay. She didn’t just out her, she persisted in getting at the girl she called a ‘twat-bandit’ on her blog.
Well, the girl was indeed gay but hadn’t yet chosen to come out. So then little miss blogger loser decided to make her the subject to the cruelest sort of relentless bullying that would drive anybody around the bend. And it did. And she committed suicide.
So, in today’s realities don’t out-of-hand dismiss kids’ bullying distress as being a case of them being softer than earlier generations were. Most of us couldn’t have dreamt of the nightmares that cyber gangsterism throws at certain vulnerable kids of today.
Empathy is certainly needed by parents, schools and other kids.