Bullying is often in the forefront of the news these days. Last week, a few towns down our mountain, a 12 year old boy who had been bullied, to the point that his parents took him out of school, killed himself.12 years old! A child, with the sweetest little face....so desperate to stop the pain of his rejection that he took the most desperate of actions. It is tragedy personified.
At little one's school they have an annual assembly on bullying. This year she asked me what I thought of her sending the teacher who leads the assembly an email sharing her thoughts on bullying. Little one is a sensitive and intuitive girl and she watches all around her. She see's the middle school girl drama going on, she watches some kids who fit in like they were born to be the middle school hierarchy.....and then the others who don't.
She felt it was important to talk about all of the ways and some are subtle....you are left knocked off balance but can't describe exactly what just took place....that kids bully and mistreat each other. Its not just words. She wanted this teacher to address "the potential repercussions" of bullying...such as suicide, feeling hopeless, depressed, self harm, wanting to isolate...
I don't think she or any of my kids have actually been bullied. But they all have seen it take place and that by itself is disturbing. Watching and wondering if you are next, what should you do? If you step in you could be the new target. If you don't step in you have to live with the guilt that you didn't help a fellow kid. You have to wonder if you were selfish or afraid.
Today I went to a memorial service for an 18 year old boy. I have known him since he was 5. His mom and I were in the same homeschool group. He was kind, sweet, unique, so intelligent, and he was brutally bullied beginning at the age of 14 when he chose to attend public school for the first time. He refused to give in and he hung in there day after day. He went on to high school but by that time something had shifted inside his spirit and he couldn't do it anymore. The family left the area for a job in another state and he returned to homeschooling.
He was a skateboarder, a musician, a dirt bike rider, an older brother by 10 years to a little sister whom he cried at the arrival of, he loved the cosmos and quantum physics. He fed the homeless...someone who he worked with at the homeless shelter shared during the service, "He never hesitated to grab a hold of the dirty and worn hand of his homeless friends who were reaching out." He was troubled by the unkindness he saw in this world. He couldn't understand why people would treat other people so poorly. In the end this world was just too much for him and he ended his own life last month.
How did we get so stuck in our boxed in thinking....this is ok, that is not. You are ok, but you are not. How has it come to be that in this age of great diversity that our children don't *appreciate* one another's differences rather than attack them? We have all of these man made systems set up and if you don't fit within the parameters of an arbitrarily made up set of societal rules....you are persecuted. Sometimes to the point of death.
I of course thought of our kids who are addicted to drugs. Again, I don't think my girl was bullied. I remember the girls all wanting to be her friend and her not being very interested in them. I think she didn't feel comfortable in her own skin, I think she worried about making the wrong move and all of a sudden the tables would turn and the ones seeking her out, would be the ones pushing her away. It was too risky so she would just stay home, thank you very much. I think that in a lot of ways this world is just too much for them too. They choose to escape each day in a foggy haze, sticking their head out of their shell for a minute here and there to see if it feels any better, any safer, out there.....nope, not yet , so they dart back into where it feels safe and they can hide in their drug induced cocoon. Ahhhh, its better now. They have no intention of dying. They just want relief. Just like my 18 year old friend did.....he just wanted some relief.