A few days after writing last week’s post about my own bullying story, this article from the Huffington Post pops up. This article is about another tragic death caused by bullying. Joel Morales is only 12 years old before he tragically took his own life. Another young life ended that made headlines. What makes this bullying story the most egregious is that the bullies tormented this kid about his father dying. Really?! Nothing seems to be off limits to the likes of bullies. UGH!
Reading this story made me very angry. So, instead of just one post about my bullying story we’re going to have a series. So, some of the Backwood humor and book fun may be on hold for a little while or I may post on an odd day until I do this poignant series.
I have thought of some strong feelings and analogies to post later on. I can’t be silent any longer about this issue. Something has got to be said. Somebody’s gotta speak up. It’s time for the isolation and loneliness for for bullying victims to be understood because I was one. How many more kids are gonna die before someone says something or does something about it? No, Mr. President, we don’t need bigger government to intercede in our schools and workplaces. We need a means to take action and people with backbones, but that’s another post.
Dealing with the death of a parent is tough enough on its own. Dealing with bullying is tough enough, but putting them together is too much for any 12 year old. Why is someone’s parent dying something that’s funny and somehow a joking matter? The kid needed support by his peers not mockery. I may not have dealt with a death of a parent, but I have dealt with the deaths of loved ones. I have also dealt with a suicide of an aunt and that can feel surreal. Now, it’s not said how Joel’s father died, but I can relate to Joel’s mother to somewhat of an extent, but not completely.
Patterns from My Life and His
From this article I was able to see parallels from other aspects of bullying that I didn’t share in the last post. My father wasn’t dead, but he was gone at work most of the time. There’s the only difference.
- They’re Everywhere: In this article young Joel seemed to never escape the bullying no matter where he went. The taunt seemed to spread to each and every new place like a disease. It seemed like all the bullies in the world were telepathically linked. Nowadays that’s due to social media, but when I was 12 it seemed like a freak of nature. They seem like gremlins; throw water on them and they multiply.
- The Lying in Wait: This is the biggie similarity in our lives. We seem to try to avoid the bullies in any way we can, but we can’t. They follow us. They stalk us. We try to leave last, and they stay and wait for us. They hunt us down so they can abuse us some more. They head us off at the next corner. It’s just like it will never end–there is no escape.
- Alone: It seems like no one will help me. They’re all against me. Everybody hates me. Nobody understands me. Nobody cares about my pain. Why do they torment me? I’m just a normal kid, so why can’t I fit in? These are thought and questions of an isolated person. When the battle becomes to fierce too fight on your own; you want someone to help you–anyone, but they rarely come or not at all.
- Adults Seem to Fail Us: I will probably have a separate post about this. Aside from some parents, adults don’t really do anything to stop the bullying or don’t handle it effectively. Very few actually get anywhere at all. If there is any relief it’s usually short lived, and once the bullying starts back, it’s worse than ever before. Some adults seem like they don’t want to deal with the problem at all. Joel’s mother tried her very best to remove him, but she couldn’t since the bullies were like a pack of velociraptors on the hunt. When Joel killed himself, she felt like she failed him and in essence she nearly took her own life. An entire family nearly wiped out. Parents can’t be there 24/7 and they seem to blame themselves for the bullying and/or the outcome thereof. When I talk about my bullying trials, my parents feel responsible, but there wasn’t much else they could have possibly done. There is no intercession on our, the victims, and our parents’ behalf. That is one of the main problems of why bullying is such a rampant problem. Of course, there are some adults that participate in the bullying of a child which is totally unacceptable.
There were times if I wondered if my life and death analogy about bullying was a bit to extreme or exaggerated in the past. Now, after reading stories like these, no it isn’t. Some bullies probably actually commit murder. Others kill us with their words to inflict psychological and emotional wounds. Some beat us physically, and others do both. “Sticks and stones…,” is so untrue and a load of malarkey. The person who came up with that rhyme probably wasn’t bullied. If anyone has ever suffered emotional or psychological trauma, they can verify that it takes longer and more therapy to heal than any physical trauma.
A lot of times people just shrug and say “that’s just harmless fun,” or “they’re just being kids”. Harmless fun doesn’t cause kids to contemplate taking their own life or causes social or emotional problems for the victims. Harmless fun doesn’t turn people into hermits. Before these stories ever came about how many kids killed themselves back in my day because of bullying? My parents’? My grandparents’? Is there a way to know since the news traveled slower? There is a line between fun and abuse. I know where that line is. Ragging someone about their dead parent or calling them stupid and ugly when they are not until they isolate themselves or kill themselves is not ‘harmless fun’. The line has been crossed.
Just because someone doesn’t like themselves, or they’re mad at the world doesn’t give them the right to make everyone else or a person their personal punching bag or scapegoat.
In closing, if I had dealt with the exact same thing that poor Joel did, would I have duplicated his fate? I would say no. I have a stronger will to survive, but I would have probably become a complete hermit and a very angry child. I wouldn’t be back to school. I would have refused to go back; I would probably skip; I would have walked home from school to avoid the bullying. I probably would have made my parents homeschool me for the rest of my career.