Back in January all the major networks reported the tragic story of a fifteen-year-girl from Massachusetts, named Phoebe Prince, who committed suicide after months of abusive bullying in the school halls, as well as online, by several students. This tragic story took on an added dimension when Phoebe's death led to criminal charges being brought against nine of her alleged tormentors. Following this tragic headline news, journalists like Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, Oprah, Larry King, Kyra Phillips, along with their professional guests, aired segments on the effects that bullying has on children. Bloggers were also doing their part in hopes of bringing bully awareness to all of us. And then------the story of Phoebe and bullying began to fade into the background as other “breaking news” of the day took its place.
So, six months later, here I am with yet another blog on bullying. What more can I add to the professionals who have done their job in reporting bullying and its effects? Nothing probably. After all, all you have to do is Google in the words bully, bullies, bullied, bullying, and unfortunately the headliner, “Bullied to Death, and tons of information is at your disposal. I certainly can’t compete with the top brass and professionals for any added information.
So, why another blog? Mainly, because this subject hit home to me in a more personal way recently as I listened to stories from two close friends of mine whose child had experienced bullying this year in school.
- With tears streaming down her face, Brenda told me how her seven-year-old grandson, Caleb, was beaten as he was riding the school bus home from school. The story unfolded when Alex shouted : “Let’s get Caleb.” And with that, a group of boys pounced on Caleb slapping him in the face, beating him on the head, and throwing punches into his rib cage. Being small in size, Caleb tried to protect himself by holding his backpack in front of him, but Alex tossed the backpack into the air, and the unmerciful pounding on Caleb continued.
- Exasperated by the treatment her twelve-year-old-daughter had received all year at school, Cindy exclaimed: “I will be so glad when school is out for the summer; Amber can’t take any more harassment.” Amber was the new, short, skinny girl at school this year. About mid year, a girl much taller than Amber decided it was time to give the new kid in school trouble. It started out with “small things,” but escalated to the point that the girl was actually stalking Amber. Out of hearing range of teachers, the taunting and threatening remarks moved into higher levels, causing Amber so much anxiety that she did not want to go to school, knowing she had to face yet another day with her own personal bully.
Thankfully, Caleb’s and Amber’s stories did not end up tragically; however, chances are they will carry with them the emotional scars associated with having been bullied a long time.
And now, my thoughts turn to a another reason why bullying is starting to become a personal issue with me. Hannah, my six-year-old granddaughter, is entering first grade in the fall. Makes me wonder what I can do to be a part of helping Hannah not to have to face the things, Phoebe, Caleb, and Amber faced.
I’m reminded of the familiar story of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Jesus told the story of a man who had been attacked by robbers who beat him, took his money, stripped him of his clothes, and left him beside the road to die. The first two people who came along saw the man lying there, but continued on their way. Finally a third man came along, and was kind enough to help him. Jesus ended the story by saying: “Now, you go and do the same for someone.”
Will you join me in being a Good Samaritan to our children who are lying by the wayside crying out for help?