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Bullied To Death

Teenage bullying is an epidemic with tragic consequences. And New Canaan is not immune to bullying.

Last week, Tim and Tracey Rodemeyer of Buffalo, New York, buried their 14-year-old son, Jamey. The week before that, 14-year-old Kameron Jacobson was laid to rest in Orange County, New Jersey. Both teenagers committed suicide because the pain and humiliation from being bullied by their classmates had become too much to live with.

Bullying has become . If you don't believe me and think these are just isolated cases, do a Google search and enter "." If you plow through all the statistics and obituaries, you might come across a story that will knock the air out of you. Paige Moravetz and Haylee Fentress, both 14-year old Minnesota middle school students, made a suicide pact and killed themselves during a sleepover last April. Haylee had been bullied incessantly about her weight and red hair and they agreed to leave this world together.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
20 percent of students in middle and high school are involved in
bullying. Bullying is nothing new, it has been around since the beginning of time. Jesus Christ was bullied on the way to his death, wasn't he? African-Americans were on the wrong end of bullying for what seemed liked forever. People of Islamic and Arab decent in this country have been the victims of racial profiling since 9/11, often bullied by police officers filled with hate.

However, has
become like a California wildfire: out of control with the ability to
cause severe damage. But unlike a long, sustained blaze, the
damage can be instant and burned into a child's psyche forever,
or as long as they can bear it. Being mocked and made fun
of in chatrooms, e-mails, and unflattering photos put in cyberspace
for the the world to see, caused so much pain for kids like Jamey
Rodemeyer and Kameron Jacobson, they took their own lives.

Who is responsible for all this bullying and its prevention? In a word, everyone. Parents, teachers, school admistrators, legislators,
law enforcement officials, you and me. It's going to take it and prevent the next

No kid wants to run to a teacher to rat out a classmate for fear
of being ostracized or retribution. Bullied kids don't want to run
to the police because the process can be intimidating. Tormented
kids don't want to run to their parents because they might be too
embarrassed to tell them their child is getting picked on.

As tough at it is, parents have to monitor their kids' use of the
Internet and social media networks. They need to explain the consequences
of cyber-bullying sooner, sooner rather than later. School administrators need to take bullying seriously. It's not just "kids being kids". This is beyond
dangerous and students must know that it won't be tolerated. Tougher laws
need to be enacted and enforced. If it takes a kid to be made an example
of, so be it. There are parents around their country who will never get
their kids back, taken from them by something that
could've been easily prevented and that is unnecessarily tragic.

Hit The Wall October 05, 2011 at 04:19 PM
Paul, you make a number of excellent points. What would make for a truly insightful piece of journalism would be to explore some of the drivers behind the bullying that goes in our own schools here in New Canaan. You wrote passionately about Coach Marinelli a couple of weeks ago, and if, in fact, you are serious about exploring the bullying problem, i would suggest you reach out to Coach Marinelli for help. With all of New Canaan's success on the football field, this football subculture has developed in town, both with kids and parents, that says if you don't play football you're not cool. Alot of the bullying and creation of the "in crowd" that goes on in our schools centers around football, and it starts and is perpetuated at an early age. If you want to actually do something about bullying, rather than just write about it, then talk to Coach Marinelli about the culture that has been building in our town in recent years and see if he is willing to lend his voice to the issue.
Paul Devlin October 05, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Hit the Wall, Thank you for the comments.I will take your suggestion and reach out to Lou Marinelli. As I said in the article, I think it will take everyone to prevent what is becoming an increasing problem with tragic consequences. You, me, teachers, law enforcement, and as you point out, even coaches. Kids are fragile and are just trying to find their way in life. They shouldn't have to deal with bullying. You have my word, I will reach out to Coach Marinelli.
Ken Shallcross October 05, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Correct me if I am wrong, but the right to freedom of speech we have been given by the Constitution was intended by our forefathers to guarantee the right to assemble and petition the government without fear of being silenced or punished. This "freedom of speech" was never intended to include the act of insulting, threatening and harassing others – whether online or in any public forum. Unfortunately, right now, many are cowering behind that right to destroy the lives of others. The Cyberbullying loophole needs to be closed. Cyberbullying is slander/ libel and should be considered as such in a court of law. The problem is that the Internet is a safe haven for bullies because of the anonymity. There is not a more cowardly way to bully someone then from behind a curtain. Parents are the key to solving this. They need to get involved and be part of the solution – not part of the problem. If parents feared their child being the bully or passing along the material as much as they care when their child is a victim, it would be a huge step forward. But how do you know if your child is involved in cyberbullying? You need to monitor their Internet activity. Monitoring software like our PC Pandora records everything that happens on the PC. If your child is a victim, you will know; if they are a bully, you will know. Check us out at http://pcpandora.com to see how you can be an active part of the solution instead of a passive part of the problem.
mary parker October 11, 2011 at 02:59 AM
My daughter has been bullied at school for the past 8 years, starting in kindergarden. My constant complaining to the school did nothing during elementary school and hoping things would change when she reached 5th grade at Saxe, a new start, got worse. Being picked on verbaly and then physically in a matter of 3 months was so detramental to my daughter. Why is she being picked on? She is a great person. After dealing with the 5th grade princaple and her having to go to counceling on how to handle the abuse(mind you, my daughter had to see a specialist not the bullier's) it got to the point where she wouldn't go to school. She was told to avoid the bullies. Why was she being punished and dissrupted from enjoying school and not the bulliers? After 4 months of nothing being done, I wrote a letter to Patch asking for help because I was afraid I would end up at the parents house, yelling at them for what their child is doing to my child. Wrong. I almost got arrested, the school thinking I was going to do something worse. The police said it was up to the school on how to handle the problem. This went on all year, the bullying. Now this year on the 2nd day of school my daughter was threatend by a boy that he was going to break her legs. Here we go again. After calling the police who told me they would help and the school who shrugged it off as oh it's just talk, I threatened to get a Lawyer. Why is my daughter punished for being picked on?

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