Monday, April 13, 2009

Fat. Mean. Fag. Slut. Retard. Queer. Stupid.



He had reportedly been tormented by his classmates in middle school and again in high school, but administrators at both schools didn’t see the need to intervene. What was so special about this kid? This "special needs" kid? He was six feet, six inches tall, and weighed three hundred pounds. How could he be bullied?

Retard
Moron
Dumbass
Fat


He didn't fit in with what was "normal." And his classmates went out of their way to make sure he knew that… day, after day, after day… until he finally broke down.

On October 22, 2008, 14-year-old Jeremiah Lasater, who had been taunted and even had food thrown at him during lunch, locked himself in a bathroom at Vasquez High School in Acton, CA, and shot himself in the head.
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She met him on MySpace; she said he was 16, and that he was hot. The girl asked her mother if she could add the boy to her MySpace page, and the mother said okay. After a few weeks, she received an odd message from the boy. He said he didn't know if he could be friends with her; he'd heard that she wasn't nice to her friends.

The next day, at school, the girl handed out invitations to her upcoming birthday party. After class, she raced home to see if that cute boy had responded. She still wanted to talk to him, even though he'd said mean things to her. Her mother, who was monitoring her daughter's MySpace page, signed on to the account. But she was busy; she had errands to run; she couldn't stay by her daughter's side and see what messages the boy had sent.

Mean
Slut
Fat


Twenty minutes later Megan Meier hanged herself in her bedroom closet.
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His friends knew him as "Twiggy" for his lean, 6-foot-1-inch, 112-pound physique; he had a dry, quick wit and musical talent; he played piano, enjoyed video games, anime, Harry Potter books and "cracking puzzles." He was a nice kid, what one might call a normal kid; quiet and shy, but outgoing with his group of friends.

But he was other things to a group of bullies at his school. He was a target; he was picked on, taunted, shoved in lockers. Most of the taunts were related to him being considered gay, though his parents said he "didn't identify himself that way." He was a skinny kid, a nerdy, normal kid, who became the bullseye for the bullies in his class. He tried to ignore the teasing, but did complain to a teacher, who responded by moving the bullies' desks; that only made it worse.

Gay
Fag
Queer
Homo


Seventeen-year-old Eric Mohat was harassed so continuously in school that when one bully said publicly in class, "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself, no one will miss you," he did.
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He was just eleven when he took his own life. He was just another "normal" kid, except for the bullseye attached to him by other students. He played football, basketball, and was a boy scout, but that didn’t stop kids from harassing him, called him gay and making fun of him for the way he dressed.

His mother knew he was being teased at the school; he was being made fun of; he was being bullied.

Fag
Gay
Queer
Homo


His mother had alerted the school about the bullying; about the gang that threatened to kill him; about the girl he bumped in class who said she would kill him. She said a mediator came in to resolve the dispute.

The resolution? Have the boy and his tormentor eat lunch every day.

It was too much. Carl Joseph Walker Hoover was so overwhelmed by bullying that he committed suicide by hanging himself with an extension cord.
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Where does this end? Or does it? When do people step up, and stand up, to this kind of abuse?

I know these kids; I was some of them. I know how it feels to be picked on, then and now. All it takes is a snide comment overheard and suddenly I'm twelve again, being called a fag in class; or fourteen and being called a queer because I'm no good at baseball.

So, when do we stand up and say that this is enough? I think it's past time for us, all of us, to stop this kind of abuse, whether it's hurled at an eleven year old boy, or a girl of sixteen, or a grown woman in the grocery store.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

Yes. They do.

9 comments:

Beth said...

Kids can be incredibly cruel. Although I've moved on and am quite content with who I am and what I've accomplished, I still remember some of the stupid insults I heard when I was a kid. I was never bullied to such an extent as the kids in your entry, but things were said that will probably always stick with me. Words DO hurt, and it will take a culture shift so that such behavior is not acceptable at home or at school, or anywhere. A kid who is a bully usually has a parent who is a bully. How do we break that cycle?

Beth

Dan said...

Where are the teachers in all of this? Where are the parents?
I was bullied a lot and some days I was completely comsumed with hate. Then one day it hit me, revenge.

The best revenge was success. I am happy, healthy and living a life full of love. SOmething that most of them will never acheive.

Bob said...

Beth: I think we break the cycle by not putting up with it anymore. When you hear it, say something, whether as a parent or teacher or innocent bystander.
Dan: I'm with you. I realized it was better to be happy with myself, than to let those things fill me with anger. Words can, and do, still hurt, but it's true: Living well is the best revenge!

frogponder said...

Random thoughts from my time amidst the children.
Bullies are sneaky. As an adult you are outnumbered about 25 to 1 in every middle school. It is hard to oversee and hear the whispered slur in the hallway full of kids and slamming lockers. And kids rarely tell. Why is that? Because they believe they should be shamed. How did we let that happen?

The other question - How did bullies get this way? What do these kids hear at home?
Does anyone ever remember hearing someone say bullies are that way because they don't feel good about themselves. Turns out that is wrong. Bullies bully because it is pleasurable. They enjoy it, they feel good about themselves, they never have doubt.

Schools can try to be a no bully zone and it can go a long way but the root cause is still out there and needs to be addressed.

Laura said...

On February 24, 2009, Elizabeth Paolini, a beautiful, bright, athlete from one of our best private high schools in San Francisco hanged herself. Her 11 yr old brother found her. It was uncovered very quickly that she was being cyber bullied.
Schools do step in and do something, at least here in SF, but the kids have to tell someone. At another private school, a girl was suspended for cyber bullying.

I have to tell you, though, I have heard so many times, " Kids will be kids!" That is not okay. Some parents do not feel that they have to intervene. They feel that bullying is somehow a rite of passage.

My own son was being physically hurt in preschool and the director told me not only "boys will be boys" but "Kids are just rougher in Ireland" We have a large Irish population here in this part of SF...she herself was from Ireland. It was just a way, in my opinion to not address the issue. So that little boy continued to hurt my child and told him not to tell. I gave my son permission to protect himself and to tell every time. By the way, my son could have fought back, but did not want to be seen as a bully.

Anyway, we have many perceptions to change before bullying can be stopped. Not everyone realizes how harmful it is, or for that matter, what it is. I have even heard parents suggest that bullying toughens kids up.(Parents of the bully, no doubt).

Sorry for the long comment.

Bina said...

I was teased all the time when I was little because I was flat chested, skinny, freckled, had curly hair, and my family was poor. It took me a very long time to get over all that.

I think it's part of the reason I got my boobs done. At least no one can call me a carpenters dream anymore.

Wonder Man said...

we need to change that format

Beth said...

I think everyone gtes teased to some extent, and it DOES hurt you...but this is just teasing. those people should be held responsible for those deaths. they had a hand in those deaths.

its all just so sad.....who knows what those kids could have done? cured cancer? AIDS? found a way to solve the world's problems? worked at Taco Bell and made a WICKED taco? their lives meant something....the were importnat.....

Berry Blog said...

Our system has worked very hard on this...very hard. I am proud of the teachers and the student body. More and more kids are coming out in Middle School and enjoying popularity in high school.
Bullying still continues however and we meet jock families at the root of abuses again and again. You hear their taunts from anonymous places in grandstands in public gatherings. More and more students are speaking back to them and calling them down for it.
As you say Bob, baby step by baby step, the light is shining through.