It's becoming a little too common of late. Youth around the world are being bullied to the point of wanting to end their lives...and they're doing just that. The latest victim, Ashlynn Conner, was only 10 years of age. She hung herself in her own closet using a scarf. While the local sheriff's department won't comment, it is being treated as a suicide.
Where were the adults during all of this? Why didn't someone take bigger and better action, other than saying, "We'll talk about it"? Her mother was going to talk with the school principal on Monday about homeschooling Ashlynn. Apparently, that was too long to wait. She killed herself on Friday, with her older sister finder her unresponsive.
I want someone to blame for this. I want to pay for what was done to this sweet child. She appears so happy in the one picture I've seen repeatedly. Are the kids who bullied her weeping at night for what they've done? Are the adults embarrassed for not taking action? Who goes to jail for driving another human being to their death? Who pays for it?
Can we blame the bullies? We look at all sorts of studies, and they tell us that bullies have their own problems with self-esteem, their spirits crushed at home by parents or siblings. Another study will say that the previous one is absurd, and that the bullies simply think they're beyond the constraints of socially acceptable behavior. "One must be at the top of the heap at all times. To do that, one must keep the rabble in their place." So it becomes acceptable to put down the geek, the kid whose family is poor and must wear the fashions of two or three years ago, and the kid that's overweight.
I was bullied...at home and at school. I don't know how I survived. Yet the feelings of worthlessness embedded in me all those years ago now carry on to my adult life, leaving me to wonder how it is that I deserved to be loved at all. The bullying continued into my adult life, as can be seen by the affects of my father's ongoing criticisms. (My favorites were being told I wasn't handicapped, despite numerous opinions of doctors, and having my pending amputation waved off like it was utter foolishness.) The thought to end my life crosses my mind daily, usually as only a fleeting thought when my meds are working properly. The only one who didn't manage to bully me in the family was Stu...until he adopted the ways of our biological mother.
So how DID I survive? I think, perhaps, it was the acceptance of those few true friends that I had. Those who accepted me for who and what I am, without making ongoing judgments about me. There were even a few who envied things about me...a long time ago.
What's envied now? My ability to endure. From all the garbage I had to deal with in my youth to the perpetual pain I've lived in for the last decade. Many are amazed that I didn't "turn to the dark side," as it were. Somehow, I maintain hope...I still find love...I manage to care, even about those whom I don't know personally.
I was living in Sayville, and it was about a year before I'd won my disability benefits. There was a park not far from the house, and I would often wander over there and sit to read. I was doing just that when I heard what sounded like someone hitting someone else, and a girl cry out in pain. I got up to investigate...
...and found a pair of high school students. They would have made a handsome couple, if not for the look of anger on his face, and the tears in her eyes...and the red mark on her cheek, where she'd been slapped. There are some who would have advised me to mind my own business. Really, what could some disabled guy do against an angry teenager? But there was no one to whisper advice in my ears, and so I confronted him about how tough he must be, smacking his girlfriend when the mood struck him. (No pun intended...seriously.)
Thank G-d I don't look sick. That's probably why so many have had a problem with my being declared disabled. The boy, had he wanted to, could've taken me apart. Instead, the bully immediately became afraid of someone willing to stand up to him, and said something to the effect of, "I'll go get my daddy if you don't go away." (Whatever his exact words, that's what his message boiled down to.)
The girl told me that "everything was fine," at which point I was left with little else to do. I didn't have a cell phone to call the cops, and they were on the move before I could get to a pay phone. Besides, had the cops found them, odds are that they would be powerless to do anything, as I'm sure she wouldn't have pressed charges. And she was so pretty, with a slight point to her ears that made me think of her as a pixie or elf. She could've had any guy she wanted, but chose the handsome, abusive jackass.
Inquiries I made afterward made it clear that everyone knew this young couple, and his abusive nature, yet no one was willing to do anything about it. It was as though I was the only human being amongst the inhabitants of Sayville.
I don't know what to do. Bullying is one of the issues that I wish I could magically make vanish. Alas, there is no magic power to make such a thing go away. All I can do is hope that there are people out there rearing their kids to be accepting and loving, and heroes to put an end to bullying when they witness it.
Be well, and DFTBA.