I'm angry. A 15 year old hanged herself in South Hadley MA. She was unable to tolerate the constant hounding and attacks that made her life miserable for months. Faculty and administration in her school were aware of what was going on but didn't act. She was bullied in front of faculty and students in the library on the day she died, and nothing was reported until after her death. Some students and teachers tried to report the abuse, but most ignored it. This is not a situation unique to South Hadley.
My last blog addressed the role adults play in the increased acceptance of rudeness and intolerance. Many adults are abdicating their responsibility to teach children respect and empathy. How on earth could adults have known about these relentless attacks and not taken some kind of action to stop them? I can only imagine that they thought something like, "Kids will be kids," or "She'd better toughen up." These notions that victims of bullying need to learn to "handle" abusive behavior and that bullying is normal and an acceptable rite of passage are absurd.
Do some children need help learning to handle the "give and take" of peers? Yes. But normal "give and take" is different from a pattern of ongoing bullying. Adults, especially those whose job it is to understand children, should know the difference.Did anyone ask her how she felt? Bullying is toxic to the children and the school environment. It is destructive to both the victim (for obvious reasons) and the bully, who is at risk for more serious antisocial behavior. And what about the impact on the other children, who witnessed the torment and did nothing? What did they learn from the non-action of the adults? How do they feel now?