It’s hard to believe that Amanda no longer goes to New Dorp High School. She didn’t transfer or graduate early. Carrying a suicide note, she stepped in front of a bus and later died from the injuries.
What will it take for all of us to demand that we address the issue of bullying — that over the top mean behavior that makes kids want to end it all? For every young child who takes their life, there must be thousands that feel the pain that comes from being taunted, humiliated, made to feel invisible, ostracized, and harassed.
We’re not doing enough. This is a tangled mess and every single person has a role they can play to help ease the pain. I’m not saying that we can prevent all bullying. I’m saying that we can ease the pain.
One of the biggest pieces of advice that experts tell kids is to “tell a trusted adult.” I have issues with that piece of advice. In many cases, we can’t be trusted. It’s not that we’re not well-meaning, it’s that we often handle the conversation in a way that makes kids not want to tell us.
Let’s be honest. Most of the time, we either overreact or under react. Most of the time, we don’t really understand their world. We don’t understand that we can often make it worse by blowing up — or the opposite, tell them “to just ignore it.”
As Aidan McDaniel, a 15 year-old speaker on online safety says, “It’s not our problem and your solution. It’s all of our problem, and all of our solution.”
My vote is that we stop talking to kids and start talking with kids. Ask them. Don’t tell them. Sometimes a truly sympathetic ear is much more effective than hours of advice.
In Amanda’s words, “‘When i say im ok i want that one person t look me in the eye, hug me & say no ur not’
And if we can start engaging them to help each other, maybe we can ease some of that pain…and that’s a worthy goal.