Bullying and Suicide

On April 26, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

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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.

 

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  • taliba

    As a psychologist in the public school system and having my own small practice; I will say this. Parents need to be open to hearing good and bad things about their children. It is hard ,if you’re the parent of the “bully,” to hear this information about your child. It may not be as hard as the parent whose child is being bullied but there is still an impact.

    Parents who talk to their children and hear about them being picked on should go to the school and not be deterred if they (school staff) don’t listen initially. They should also know their kids’ friends and sometimes talk to their child and their friends as a group. You never know what you might hear. I have an only child and when she was little, I made sure I invited her friends over so that I would know them and their parents as much as she did. This panned out when an older man in the neighborhood kept trying to inappropriately flirt with my daughter. Her friend came and told me about the issue, because it frightened her. My daughter never said a word because she thought she was able to handle the situation and didn’t want to call down my wrath needlessly. Suffice to say she and I had a long talk about her safety and that whether she thought it was something big or small she still needed to come to me about it. This also taught me to calm down when I was dealing with things so my daughter wouldn’t be upset or fightened to tell me and her father things she thought might embarass her because we got angry.

    Sometimes, I think that teachers get “tone deaf” or numbed to children telling them about bullies because there are those kids who constantly whine, complain or “tattle” just for attention (that’s another problem to discuss on another day), and you have to sometimes talk to the principal for a teacher to pay attention. This is not to say anything bad about teachers; they have a lot to deal with and a lot to discern about the large amount of information constantly coming in from the children in their care. Also, bullies aren’t always just covert with their actions, some know when and where to bully and the teacher may not always see.

    I know this is a long winded response but you asked a serious and many faceted question. It takes teachers, other school staff, your own child and their friends, bus drivers, and sometimes neighbors to help monitor what goes on with children in this day and age. I have done so many bullying workshops to children of all ages and to teachers there never seem to be the same issues. Bullying can be about race, religion, size, gender, gender identity, or about the bully having learned it from being bulied her/him self. Sometimes the adults seem complicit in the bullying or can’t “see” it because their own bias blinds them. All I can say is you just have to be vigilent and able to mediate calmly (when you can).

    • http://www.honeysmoke.com Honeysmoke

      Thank you so much for your response. I certainly found it helpful.

      • taliba

        I’m almost done with testing so I haven’t forgot that I need to write something about multiracial/biracial children and families for you. With all the haters concerning Obama (much of it racist in nature); i’ve been thinking about discussing that. I also witnessed a scene recently where my African American granddaughter and 3 of her cousins were together (the cousins include one who’s half Philipino; one’s half white; and another half Mexican-I know united nations); were teased by some other children telling them they couldn’t be family. Maybe I’ll write about that-I’m sure it happens to others.

  • Blanc2

    It’s an important topic and one that, like you, I both cannot understand and anguish about, sometimes obsessively.