I am writing this post in hope that someone, anyone can provide a little clarity on something that is happening far too often in our country. For various reasons, children are taking their own lives. At the root of these acts is bullying of some kind, whether face-to-face or digital. It happens to gay children, and children who sent nude pictures of themselves to their boyfriends, who then forwarded those images to every child in school. It also happens to children for no apparent reason at all. The other kids just didn’t like the way another kid walked or combed her hair or the friends she made or didn’t make.
The children suffer in silence, and we hear them loud and clear when they aren’t here anymore, when their mothers are on national television telling parents like you and me to love, hug, and kiss our children. They urge us to do this every day. They urge us to do this when our children don’t want to hear it, especially when they don’t want to hear it.
I get that children keep secrets. I get that they are trying to figure out who they are. I get that as they become pre-teens and teens some children may find it too difficult to discuss what’s happening to them with their parents. I get all of that. Here’s the part I don’t get. At what point, does what someone else have to say about a child outweigh all of the love parents have poured into the child?
While my daughters may not want to talk to me, I have to somehow convey that they can talk to me about anything before something happens. Not only that, but after they talk to me about something, they need to know I will do everything I can to make it better. I’m not saying parents whose children committed suicide didn’t do these things.
Kids giving you problems and the school won’t do anything about it? Let’s get another school or keep you at home or find a tutor or an alternative school. You sent a text you shouldn’t have and now everyone has seen you in your birthday suit? Let’s get some counseling. You’re gay and others are threatened by your self-awareness? Let’s get some professional help.
These stories make me want to walk up to Simone and Nadia and yell my love at them. I love you no matter what, I can hear myself saying. There’s nothing we can’t get through. It may not be easy, but we will get through it. Do you hear me?
Public schools can and will grant a transfer to a student who is having a hard time. Counseling can be found by those who do and those who do not have money to pay for such services. Here’s the thing. Open lines of communication don’t cost a cent.
Am I missing something here? If so, straighten me out. My kids are young. I couldn’t possibly know what it’s like to have teen-agers. Well, I was once a teen-ager. I kept secrets. I went places and did things that in hindsight weren’t exactly smart or safe. Kids said plenty of unkind things about me.
I really don’t want to turn on the television and see another parent grieving about what could have been. I want to learn from these stories. I want to know what I and other parents can do differently. I want to know how we can stop this from happening again.
If you’ve got any answers, speak up.