It is horrible: children pushed to the brink and beyond, committing the ultimate act of suicide to escape bullying by anonymous tormenters. A pack mentality at work, orchestrated by one or two strong individuals with an ax to grind, a personal bias to impart, hatred to share. Children in Las Vegas taking their own lives due to desperation. Children in other states and other parts of the world doing the same thing. It’s a global phenomenon, a terrifying glimpse into the power of social media and the cyber-world.
Why are children feeling so hopeless that they end their own lives before having the chance to truly live?
Bullying must be punishable by law. There shouldn’t just be a slap on the hand and an “oh you were so naughty” reaction. Cyber-bullying is as real to children in this age of Social Media and interaction as it was when Ralphie’s little brother was pushed into the snow in A Christmas Story.
Various states have taken some action, but it can be very difficult to find ring-leaders. As in any cult or circle, others in the group will protect them. Their own parents will deny their child’s culpatility, even if they suspect it themselves. Why do children feel empowered to the extend of tormenting another person? How do they have unlimited access and no supervision to allow them to continue their horrific attack without parental or school intervention?
Let’s be blunt. Bullying must be stopped. Children must be allowed to interact without fear of sexual predators, bullying, hatred, prejudice and attack. Whether it’s in person, online, in texting, by note or by any other means, children can be very cruel. But it is not the act of an innocent child to push another child to the brink of suicide. No one should be given the means or power to menace another individual.
Should children’s activity online be monitored and restricted. Yes! Should parents link their account on Facebook or other social media to their children’s accounts? Yes! Does a parent have a right to take away their child’s cellphone, their computer access, if there is any hint of them using these devices as a weapon toward another child or if their own child is bullied? Absolutely, yes! Do parents and bullied children have rights, too? You bet they do! They have the right and responsibility to go to the police, the school district and school administrators to get action.
No child has the right to take another child’s life. Forget bullying – this is murder! Perhaps it’s second degree murder, but it is definitely an act of ultimate cruelty and must not be tolerated. No one should be targeted for any reason, whether personal appearance, IQ, activities or interests, sexual orientation (perceived or real), race or culture or creed (what does the Constitution say?), family situation, size, competition, handicap or any personal bias of the aggressor.
Let’s push for zero tolerance of bullying and stamp this out before another child’s life is lost. Stop empowering bullies! Be strict, be firm. It’s time for adults to take control of the situation and act as adults. Children should protect their fellow classmates and report bullying to an adult in charge, and that adult should be mandated to report it. If one thing is to be learned by any of the suicides that occurred recently as a result of bullying on social media, it should be that children’s lives are precious and children are fragile. When pushed too far, for too long without recourse or help of any kind, they may well take that final step to escape the torment.
Save a life. Stamp out bullies.