Tragedy & Sadness

**If your already having Monday blahs, this is probably not the blog for you today. I hate being a downer, but I just had to get this out of my system. It's terribly sad: contains young death. Read on only if you have to constitution for it.**

My best friend of almost 20 years is a high school teacher in our small town. Friday night a bright beautiful 16 year old student at her school committed suicide.

She had been receiving threatening/bullying texts for over a week from at least two other students. The school had been notified, but took
no action, understandably, since the texts were not sent during school hours. Nothing has been mentioned about her being harrassed in school, but the police are investigating.

This is so sad on so many levels. My heart breaks for her parents; I can't imagine being there. That age will be here for my munchkins before I know it, and it terrifies me. It's so damn hard to be a teenager. They should be the best year's of one's life, but it seems it gets harder with each generation.

I have my ideas and assumptions on what yields this bad behavior. I'll just say it begins at home, and I'll leave it at that. I know in my heart my children have been, and will continue to be, taught to respect themselves, peers, elders and authority.

As angry as I am with the bullies, I also have to feel a little sorry for them. One day they will grow up and realize the full scope of their actions. They will know that they are happily married with two kids, yet one of their former peers will never get the same chance.

I'm angry at the schoolboard (I would guess this is a state issue, not federal?) because one of the kids shouldn't even have been in the school, imo. This person is a 20 year old junior! In FL (or maybe, in my day?) there was a cutoff age, and it was 19. Once you hit that age you were done with school no matter what. And it makes sense. Twenty years olds have no business in a school setting with 13-14-15 year olds.

I'm angry mostly at the government and the fact that they have taken away all ability for the teachers/school administrators to hand down discipline in any form. My BF sits there and watches the kids in her class text away as they ignore her, yet she can do nothing but ask [nicely] that they put away their phones - she's not allowed to take them away. IMO, each class should have a drop box for the phones where the kids place them upon entering.

Even more aggravating to me is the fact that BF says half the time it's the parents texting the kids. You know for important stuff - like asking them to pick up bread on their way home.

Well, now I've gone from sad to pissed off and sad.

The loss of this young life is unfair and unjust.

Hats off to all you teachers out there. I couldn't do it. Unless of course they offer a class on respect. I'd be more than happy to share a ruler  lesson on that.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's a bad situation all the way around. You touched upon so many issues that need to be addressed. But you're right - it all starts in the home.

Tina Lynn said...

This is becoming more and more common. I think that parents need to shift their parenting methods to include these type of talks. I know I haven't talked to my kids about being bullied. I would hope that open lines of communication between kids and parents would help ease that stress. This truly is sad. *sending virtual hugs to those parents*

Christine Danek said...

How terrible. It is ashame that the teachers and admin. don't have more authority.
Kids can be so mean and a 20 year old--what the heck is gong on?
Thanks for the post.

Slamdunk said...

That is an awful situation and I am sorry to hear about it. I think your point about admin taking away a teacher's ability to discipline is well taken. It is too bad that are society expects teachers to be mom and dad for kids as well.

Piedmont Writer said...

I'm so sorry. This is such an outrage, the school board knows they should do something but are handicapped, or rather hiding behind the feds. Schools should be a place of learning and friendship not bullying and 20 yr olds. I'm pissed now too.

Anonymous said...

This is just one of many reasons why I chose to home school. Not that it solves all problems, but we never had issues with bullying (at least, outside of sibling rivalry).

This is such a sad situation. My prayers go out to the family of that young woman, and to all whose lives she touched.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That's awful that the school didn't do anything. So what if it wasn't during school hours. The bullies are still their students regardless of the hour the texts were sent. They could have tried to do something instead of turning their backs on the victim.

sarahjayne smythe said...

It really is a terrible thing. For the child, the parents, the friends left behind.

And it's true. Teachers have been stripped of any meaningful authority, but are usually held completely responsible for things that go wrong.

I don't think people understand what a violent place high school is. Or how many students do self-destructive things there. Drugs, sex, violence.

I've been through multiple suicides. One kid succeeded after three failed attempts. I've had kids taken out on gurneys from my room for ODs. A bad year is a year I can't remember all the names of the kid's that have died.

But the bullying thing is different. That starts at home. And it's not just at school kids get bullied. They get bullied on My Space, online, they have pictures of themselves posted with lies about them by others.

Teachers cannot prevent bullying. Or texting or cell phones in class without some kind of admin or parental support. I'm a teacher. I'm a parent. And I have done and do both jobs.

Most parents today do text their kids in school. Even though they know school rules prohibit cell phones during the day. Sometimes that's the only contact they have with them.

We can't take them away. And any kind of consequence that is inflicted is minimal and meaningless.

Yes, I admit I'm bitter. And that's my rant for the day.

Tara said...

SarahJayne, rant away! I have been thinking all the things you wrote. How sad, how tragic you go through so many deaths. I think kids (even in the teens) just don't get the finality. I feel in most cases it's one final attempt at getting attention. The things BF tells me just make me feel sick to my stomach.

If parents don't start doing their jobs - AND backing the teachers - things will only continue to downslide. It all makes me so angry.

My sons teacher asked me to pick up Happy Meals (she paid) for 6 kids (my son included) last Friday. You know why? Those 6 kids are the only ones that did all their homework for the quarter.The others managed it about half the time. WHAT?? I was floored. What the hell are tese parents teaching their kids - freaking entitlement.

Aack, sorry Sarahjayne, lol.

KarenG said...

What a terrible tragedy. It just makes my heart ache. And yes it begs the question of what is wrong here? What's wrong with our society, with our schools, that such a horrible thing could go this far?

Tara said...

Alex - It does start at home, unfortunately too many parents are slacking these days.

Tina - We have touched on bullying here, but will go more indepth as they get older. I wonder if this girl just felt she couldn't talk to her parents openly? I work very hard to make sure my kids know they can do that.

Chrisitine - I think the 20 yr old being there angers me most.

Slamdunk - That is something I didn't touch on that I meant to: parents expecting teachers to do their job. Urgh.

Anne - Are you Forsyth? I'm surprised you didn't see this on the news, it was all over this weekend. So sad :(

Propinquity - I have a good friend who homeschools. The more I see this stuff, the more I think about it.

Stina - The school's hands are tied. And, it was after hours. IMO, this falls all on the parents of the bullies. Well, the school board for letting a 20 yr old be there, as well. And a 20 yr old ADULT who should know better.

Sorry, everyone, as you can tell this has really pissed me off.

Tara said...

Karen - exactly. *sigh*

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh, no. That is so sad and it seems like we keep hearing it again and again. I totally agree about the cellphone thing. You should have to keep them in your locker or have a drop box like you said.

Susan Fields said...

That is so tragic, and it seems like this story keeps repeating itself over and over. When are we going to wake up to what's going on here? I couldn't agree more - hat's off to the teachers, they have a tough, tough job.

Saumya said...

Gosh, that is devastating on so many levels. I couldn't be a teacher, either. They definitely don't get enough credit for everything they go through. We don't realize how threatening certain behaviors can be. I'm surprised there aren't mandatory respect classes.

Palindrome said...

That is horrible. I'm so sorry. I dealt with bullying as well but fortunately, there were no cell phones and the interwebs were just beginning so going home was my reprieve. I missed a lot of school but luckily I was smart enough to keep up on all my work.

Hopefully, the offenders will learn from their mistakes.

Jai Joshi said...

So sad. That poor child and their family.

I agree that teachers should have more ability to discipline children. And no twenty year olds should be in school with teenagers. They should be taking classes at some night school if they want their high school diploma.


Julie Dao said...

I so agree. What a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided in so many different ways. I was not bullied and did not bully others, but witnessed many examples. I definitely could not be a teacher, but they have my utmost respect and admiration for the work that they do.

Tara said...

Jennifer & Susan - This does seem to be a sad recurring problem these days, doesn't it :(

Saumya - A mandatory respect class sounds like a great plan.

Hannah - I'm so sorry you had to deal with bullying. Just shows how strong you are (and it is hard to be strong as a teen!) that you shone through and came out a better person on the other side. Good for you!

Jai - Night school is where 19 and up had to go back when I was in school.

Julie - The fact that so many things could have been done differently is what makes this all the more tragic.

Teachers rock!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You're right - it IS very tragic and very sad. In my school, we're allowed to take away their phones (in fact, we are SUPPOSED to take them). It doesn't stop them, though. It only makes them sneakier. ANY form of bullying is a tragedy. It is infinitely worse when it has such tragic consequences.

Talli Roland said...

That's terrible. I think it's so much easier these days to really torment people at all times - even in their house - thanks to modern-day technology. There have been loads of cases here in the UK of suicides, etc, and it's so sad.

What a tragic end to a young life.

elizabeth mueller said...

Tara . . . ((Hugs))

I'm so sorry to hear about this. This just makes my heart so heavy with sorrow. We had someone take his life, too. He was still in high school. I wrote a post about David and how it has made me feel.

I would encourage you to read this and hopefully you'll find some peace.

Take care.

I'll pray for you and friends and family...

Shelley Sly said...

Oh gosh, I'm so sorry to hear this. I work in the schools, and it breaks my heart when I see kids being nasty to each other. I always try to step in and settle it, but I know SO much goes on outside school (and I agree 100% that it starts at home.) Such a shame. They'll be in my prayers.

Lola Sharp said...

This is indeed tragic...and all too common. In fact, this week's People Magazine has the Mass. girl that killed herself from being bullied, on the cover. It is rampant.

I wish I had the solution, but I don't think the answer is just one thing, though I agree it begins at home. BUT, sometimes 'home' is not a good place. Then what? A lot does end up falling to the schools, and school counselors do need to be involved. I really wish I had answers, but I think the answers are not simple.
Which is the worst part of the tragedy. This problem has no end in sight. It is heartbreaking.

And worse, when the emotionally damaged go on shooting sprees at schools.
The signs are almost always there, but they get lost in the shuffle. Again, heartbreaking.

I'm so sorry for your BFF, and the parents...and also to SJS.

Kimberly Franklin said...

I've been in such a blah mood over the last week. So... I skipped the sadness. There is just too much sad in the world But, I hope you had a great day! :)

Jen said...

How terrible, and you're right I shouldn't have read this since I myself have been in a blah mood and today was an especially blah day, but I figured you could use the support... and I was right :) Hopefully happy is around the way tomorrow!

Mary Aalgaard said...

And, what we really need to do is build up esteem in young people, so that they don't feel threatened by the lies and daggers of bullying and so that the ones who do the bullying are shown their own self worth. It's a heavy, sad, cruel world with both glimpses of Hell and Heaven. Let more Heaven shine in.

Christi Goddard said...

I'm not your typical mother. I go to more concerts than my kids. I listen to louder music, have more toys (literal ones like stuffed animals and wind up dinosaurs), am always on my computer... but my door is open. My girls need me, I'm there. I don't put up with lax school systems or bullies. I've taken off work twice this year to go raise hell at the school because of a minority child tormenting my non-minority child and the school doing nothing to prevent 'accusations of racism.'

My daughter's a weird but sweet kid. She doesn't deserve to be smashed into a locker or have her hair pulled or have this girl spread viscious rumors about her. Parents need to make a stand as soon as they hear about it. Yes, we many of us have our own stories of bullies in school, but nowadays bullies carry guns, drugs, knifes, and have so many legal loopholes and impotent school administrators fueling the fire. We can't sit around and reminisce about our own childhoods. The world has changed.

Sorry, I ranted. This is the sort of crap that really gets me riled up, though.

Anonymous said...

What a tragedy. I don't feel right posting all my thoughts about this on the interweb so just know that I'll be praying for your friend and for the family of the girl... and for the bullies, too.