It was reported today that the kids that taunted Jamey Rodemeyer, calling him a f—t and telling him that he should kill himself got off with a slap on the wrist. This is a particularly disturbing case because the taunting and brutality didn’t stop after the suicide. Jamey’s sister was taunted even after her brother took his own life. The same kids that taunted him in life chanted at the Homecoming Dance — when a Lady Gaga song came on — and during the same weekend as Jamey’s wake, “You’re better off dead, we’re glad you’re dead.”
This is not unique to the Buffalo area. Other families grappling with the suicide of a child due to bullying have experienced the same thing. That scares me. A lot. It’s one thing for kids to not understand what their brutality does to another human being but it’s exponentially worse when they still don’t get it after a child hangs himself.
I once heard that young teens are wired for the “pack mentality,” meaning they like to be in groups and what the group thinks and does rules. But to this degree?
Are we’re losing it? Are we losing our outrage? Are we losing our ability to teach kids empathy? Because even if they do run in packs, this horrible outcome should have stopped them in their tracks.
This should be sending up a flare.
Jamey also said in a video shortly before he died that “I was always saying how bullied I am, but no one listens.” If there is only one thing we can do as a result of this poor child suffering so deeply, we can listen.
Each one of us can listen. It should be without interruption. Turning off cell phones, TV, and all the other clutter and just listen. And if what that child is telling us is bad, we can be outraged for them. We can validate what they’re going through…or just sit in interested silence.
And Jamey’s Dad has this piece of advice for parents who are worried that their kids are being bullied, “Badger your kids and make them talk.”
I think most of us have experienced the relief of having someone understand. Sometimes it was from someone you didn’t expect.
Experts tell children to “tell a trusted adult” when they’re having a problem with bullying. Listening is usually a sign that we can be trusted.