Death From Bullying | Community Spirit

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Death From Bullying
Death From  Bullying

Deaths from Bullying
by William Jackson, M.Edu
Consulted with Cheryl Williams, LPN

Tragic Events
There are tragic stories of young people like 15 year old
Phoebe Prince who have taken their lives because of bullying.
Even Iain Steele a 15 year old that lived in Chicago and had
a promising future in high school and Carl Walker-Hoover 11
years old, even though he was a Boy Scout and football player.
The Springfield, Mass., young man was ruthlessly teased and
harassed. He was even active in his church, but was affected
by bullying to the point where he committed suicide.

Bullying crosses race, gender and cultural lines. Carl is African
American. The list tragically grows for teens and young people
that are attempting suicide and even tragic the ones that are
successful. Enduring the torment, embarrassment of being
harassed in an atmosphere where Phoebe should have been
protected, nurtured and safe. She was a high school student
in South Hadley, Mass. Instead of expectations of a great
year in high school she was tormented verbally and online

She is not the only story; there are growing stories of
students from elementary, middle and high school who
experience various levels of bullying, harassment and
torment at the amusement of others. The most notable
is that of Jeffrey Johnston, who took his life in 2004 after
being bullied. Jeffery a 15-year-old boy committed suicide
after being bullied, including Internet bullying (cyberbullying).

His tragic story has resulted in the "Jeffrey Johnston Stand
Up for All Students Act" (Fla. Stat. section 1006.147).
Statistics from Health Resources and Services Administration
estimates that up to 25 percent of American students are
bullied and the numbers are rising. School is supposed to be
a safe haven, but according to Jonathan Cohen, President of
the Center for Social and Emotional Education
(, more than 160,000 American
students stay home from school on any given day because
they're afraid of being bullied. Jonathan Cohen, "Bullying
undermines the ability for children in grades K-12 to learn
and develop in healthy ways." Bullying has been noticed
by the American Academy of Pediatrics and will for the first
time include a section on bullying in its official policy
statement on the pediatrician's role in preventing youth

What is bullying?
Many parents do not understand the complexity of
bullying. State statutes defines bullying as systematically
and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological
distress through teasing, social exclusion, threats,
intimidation; stalking, physical violence, theft, sexual,
religious or racial harassment, public humiliation, or
destruction of property. This includes harassment of
LGBT students who face taunting, discrimination and
even death threats. These just like any other group
of young people have dreams and aspirations of
contributing to their communities, having families,
careers and enjoying life. These expectations of life
are sometimes questioned when they are bullied
and tormented by those who are ignorant to the
lives of others. "From Teasing to Torment:
School Climate in America" (2010) students across
the country said their peers were most often bullied
because of their appearance, but the next top reason
was because of actual or perceived sexual orientation
and gender expression.

Even some churches which claim to accept all of God's
children bully LGBT students by creating atmospheres
where young people feel unwelcomed by verbal nuances
and subliminal messages which demean, embarrass
and ostracize. The issue of bullying has grown to where
"Sesame Street" has even created a bullying prevention
program. Children as young as three years old have
displayed bullying characteristics in school and in
their communities.

Laws and Acts
Because of the increases in bullying behaviors schools
districts, law enforcement and legislatures of various
states have enacted Acts and Laws as protection
against these actions. Mentioned above; the "Jeffrey
Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act"
(Fla. Stat. section 1006.147). Debbie Johnston the
mother of Jeffrey stated, "Everybody is recognizing
that bullying isn't a rite of passage, it's not a part
of childhood, and it doesn't build character."As a
result of Jefferies death the Act "Jeffrey Johnston
Stand Up for All Students Act" was created. The Act
requires districts to adopt new anti-bullying policies
and spells out that those policies must address
"cyberbullying"; taunts and harassing messages
delivered by computer, cell phone or other technologies.
Schools on a local level are taking serious bullying
after several unfortunate instances that were reported
in local and national media outlets of violence.

Schools are required to investigate any reports of
bullying, including cyberbullying and notify all
parents to be more involved. There are even forms
that are created to report bullying, by name or
anonymously. Parents should check with school
guidance counselors for more information about
intervention, prevention and proactive strategies.
The unfortunate truth is that only a small number
of incidents are reported to school officials, teachers,
administrators and even parents. Many schools have
their own police force, but still there is a great
hesitancy to report cases of bullying or harassment.

Students are scared because of retribution from
increased bullying and the torment of other family
members that may be drawn into these actions.
It is now a matter of life and death that students
get past "snitching" and alert parents, teachers,
and even law enforcement officials.

Empowering Families
The quote; "It takes a village to raise children"
has been stated several times by Mrs. Hillary Clinton
during her bid for the Democratic nomination in 2008.
Truer words have not been spoken about raising
children in the twenty and twenty-first century.
The White House in 2010 and 2011 has held a
Bullying Prevention Conference for parents and
children. The Yale School of Medicine conducted
analysis of the link between childhood bullying
and suicide in 37 studies from 13 countries, finding
both bullies and their victims were at high risk of
contemplating suicide. All this information is
interconnected to empower families with education.
Children are exposed to many challenges, but
schools should be a safe haven, a refuge from
bullying, harassment, discrimination, physical and
emotional harm.  The results of bullying last a life
time of emotional turmoil that parents must address.

Below are resources to aid parents in helping them
to deal with bullying if their children are exposed,
experiencing or involved in bullying. 

Parents need to be more informed, involved and
proactive. Checking their children's online activities,
cell phone records and talk to teachers, guidance
counselors, and administrators. The unfortunate
reality is children and teens will not tell their parents
about being bullied especially boys because they do
not want to be labeled as "soft". There is a "code"
among young people that they abide by because
they feel no one is listening to them or taking them
seriously. Stated by Cheryl Williams an LPN of over
20 years in Jacksonville, Florida and mother of three
adult men. She states that, "the underlying stress
and anxiety from bullying lasts a life time. It can
lead to personality disorders, emotional instability,
drug/substance abuse, unhealthy dietary changes
and to the extreme suicidal thoughts and actions."

Parents start listening and watching for unspoken
signs of behavioral change and emotional instability.
Be proactive to the issue of bullying and harassment,
talk to your children every day about their day, their
friends, and their emotional and mental stability.
Importantly follow your instincts as a parent.

Bullying Resources:
Sesame Street
Stop Bullying Now
Interactive Cartoons for Kids
See, read, and hear the impact that bullying has had on people's lives.
PBS Parents Information
Bullying Education
This is an interactive quiz on bullying
Youth Violence Statistics
Bully Police
Sexting - A Brief Guide for Educators and Parents
Sexting Policies in Schools

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