The death of a child is always a tragedy. The families left behind suffer a profound sense of loss. Kids die every year from illness and injury, which are sources enough of heartache. There’s been a horrible increase in child death caused by a completely inexcusable cause – bullying. Children are hounded, psychologically tortured, until they feel death is the only escape.
There was the sad story of Jamey Rodemeyer, age 14, who killed himself after being harassed for over a year about his mannerisms and the possibility that he was gay. The young man died in New York State, which had no anti-bullying laws. Amherst Police Captain Michael Camilleri was stymied and forced to admit, “We are not sure if there is anything criminal [in this case] or not.” The New York legal environment failed to provide a statute for Captain Camilleri to charge the alleged bullies with.
Megan Meier, age 13, killed herself after being cyber bullied. An American Journal For Public Health study suggests cyber bullying can be extremely damaging. The twist here is that her bully, who appeared on social media as a teen boy, was actually a neighboring parent who had a grudge against Meier. That’s right – an adult cyber bullied a 13-year-old girl till she killed herself. The perpetrator was tried and convicted – but only of three misdemeanor counts of computer fraud.
This week we have the awful news that Ashlynn Conner, just 10 years old, killed herself after being bullied by her peers. They called her names and made the girl’s life a daily terror. She begged her mother to take her out of school, but her mother refused. Within a day she was dead, surely a horror her mother will never live down. When Ashlynn asked her teachers for help she was rebuked, telling her to stop being a tattletale.
Another 10-year-old girl died this week after being bullied at school. Jasmine McClain killed herself by hanging. During the investigation her social media accounts revealed she had been horribly bullied at school. Under current law in her state the bullying that led to her death is only considered a misdemeanor.
Children are dying with horrible regularity by bullying-induced suicide. There is no excuse for the permissive attitude shown toward this behavior or toward its perpetrators. Parents must learn to detect signs of bullying, both by their children and against them, and act to put a stop to it. Teachers must actively monitor such events and halt them without delay. Perpetrators should be tried as adults for contributing to the death of children and given sentences commensurate with the taking of the life of a child. Children are vulnerable and anyone who would do them harm deserves no sympathy and no mercy from the legal system.
Michael Inbar, Mom: Bullying drove my 10-year-old girl to suicide, MSNBC.com
Martine Powers and David Filipov, Study: cyberbullying associated with greater psychological stress than bullying at high school, Boston.com
Staff writers, Bullied 10-year-old girl commits suicide, WRAL.com
Susan Donaldson James, Jamey Rodemeyer Suicide: Police Consider Criminal Bullying Charges, ABC News
Jennifer Steinhauer, Verdict in MySpace Suicide Case, NYTimes.com