Thursday, April 19, 2012

BULL— It Doesn’t Always Get Better

bully This week a sweet kid named Kenneth Weishuhn killed himself. He had a Pinterest board on which he’d pinned dreams of a future wedding to a husband he will never meet. He was bullied mercilessly after coming out, and those sweet dreams of a love waiting for him will never see realization.

Since Pheobe Prince’s suicide in 2010 more attention has been focused on teen suicide, but hers was not the first, not the last, and was sadly only one face among many.  According to
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year... For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims.
  • 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide.
  • According to… ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying.*
In recent months there has been a well-meaning “It Gets Better” campaign that troubles me. I was bullied as a young child. Sheer grit and toughness eventually shoved me out of the shadows and off to the side— into my own sort of wan light. Eventually I became part of a crowd marching to its own strange beat, and even found a strange sort of popularity in college. Many bullied kids do excel later in life. I just think it’s cruel and clueless to look at a 12, 13, or 14 year old kid who is in agony and puke up something as lame and useless to him or her as “it gets better.” Not always. And not fast enough. Seriously, you want a tortured kid who feels utterly alone and unsafe to wait around for things to “get better” in some magical way?

Fuck you. Fix it.

FIX IT. And perhaps one of the ways we can fix it is by leading with much better examples. Some of the same adults preaching the pathetic “it gets better” lie are bullies, themselves, or celebrate bullying. If you don’t think that’s you, ask yourself the following:
  • Do you listen to trash-talk radio?
  • Do you condone the crass, tactless, misogynist, racist, or hate-encouraging commentaries put forth by Rush Limbaugh, Kathy Griffin, Anne Coulter, or Bill Maher?
  • Do you laugh when people like Chelsea Handler and Joy Behar make cruel jokes, hiding behind “it was a joke” as an excuse?
  • Do you laugh at fat jokes, anorexia jokes, jibes at personal appearance?
  • Do you watch fashion shows in which the panel ridicules others?
Most of us are not leading by example. I would be willing to bet EVERY person mentioned above would cheerfully sign and promote an anti-bullying campaign petition and never see the irony. They are all bullies. And most of us laugh along with them, which makes us just as bad.

Maybe if we want kids to genuinely believe things “get better” we should stop spitting out empty words and prove it. Maybe we need to MAKE IT BETTER. Lead by example. Intervene and make an actual difference in our schools.

It doesn’t always get better. Sometimes it gets so bad young lives end. We need to stop lying, take responsibility, and DO SOMETHING.


1 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Charlotte McClain said...

There's a boy in my school who is a bully. He's bigger than the other kids and I caught him pounding another boy early in the year. (Yeah, in kindergarten.) After his teacher did nothing but give him a stern scolding I started telling my class not to play with him. Everyday before we went out to play time the whole class would say, "Nobody plays with Mubarak." They've all learned over the course of the year that if somebody is not nice avoid them and play with nice kids. It took Mubarak about two months to straighten up and play nice. The rest learned a tool to keep themselves from being bullied.

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