Friday, November 12, 2010

We Must Do Better

When you're a parent, you are constantly afraid. There's a saying, "Having children is like having your heart walk around outside your body." Spot on. There are so many things out there that you wish desperately you could protect your little ones from: illness, accidents, bad grades, romantic rejections, being cut from sports teams, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, you don't think to put other children on that list.

In a town about an hour and a half away from our home, a 14-year old boy walked in front of a tractor trailer and killed himself. He was being bullied by children at school and thought death was the only way he could escape. The news showed a picture of the little guy, and between that and how he was described in news articles, this latest example of the harm bullying can cause has really hit home for me. "Always smiling," "a sweet kid," and his grinning, bespectacled face just made me sob. All things that made me think of my own son.

Unfortunately, this little boy's death is just the latest in a rash of similar suicides caused by bullying.

Your child's classmates are supposed to be their peers, their community, their friends; not their tormentors. Just because someone marches to the beat of their own drummer they do not deserve to be treated as an outcast. School is meant to be a place of enlightenment, not bigotry. I am outraged. I am heartbroken. I am angry; I'm sad. The underlying emotion is disbelief. How can this be happening?? We as parents need to, of course, watch our children for signs of being bullied, but what about the parents of the bullies?? You need to WAKE UP! You know your child. Talk to your kids. It is as important for you to be involved and cognizant of the signs of a bully as it is for the rest of us to look for signs of children being bullied.

We as parents have a responsibility to address and resolve this issue, from both sides. No one should lose their child because of such a horrific, unfathomable - and totally preventable - situation.

Brandon Bitner
January 2, 1996 - November 5, 2010

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