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Murder by Proxy?

April 10, 2012 by

Another teen has taken his life due to bullying. You can read the article

I want to explore a couple of paragraphs from the article that I feel are disturbing as they deflect the blame from the bullies:

While there are no hard and fast statistics linking bullying to suicide, Dr. Melissa Reeves, a school psychologist and expert on bullying, says harassment by peers can be a “big factor” in youth suicide but that it’s usually one among many causes.

“When they really get to a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, you know, where they see no other way out of this particular situation, then, unfortunately that is when we do see completed suicides,” said Reeves, chair of a National Association of School Psychologists’ Prepare Working Group on Crisis Prevention and Intervention.

In Amy’s case, she developed severe depression because of the bullying.  The constant insults and taunting made her think that she was worthless.  Because it was inescapable, she thought there was no way out.  It’s surprising that a school psychologist would play with words here rather than making the causal link.  Everything I’ve read says that depression is defined as a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness.

I’m so thankful we saved Amy from that fate.  To brag a bit, she is graduating in June with an honors diploma and 18 college credits.  She was a member of the speech team for four years (no easy feat for a person with depression!).  She has been accepted by her first choice college and starts in the fall.  To think that this poor young man will never be here to achieve his potential is hurtful to our society.  To think that just some small minded people drove him away is even worse.

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A new voice has been added to the bullying issue and it’s an unusual one, Bette Midler.   I’ve always enjoyed her work but her latest post on facebook echoes my thoughts lately.

It is a sad, sad day for America when young people would rather die than endure one more day of hatred and relentless persecution. As a mother, I am ashamed of all the parents who have failed to teach even the most basic human lessons to their children, “Live and let Live” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The normal, everyday kindness that we took for granted just a few years ago is a thing of the past, and I for one, mourn it deeply. Technology, the Internet, with its anonymity, have allowed people to behave like beasts, pouncing on the weak and howling with laughter when they inflict a wound, that only the strongest could survive. What are we doing to ourselves? How are we to survive as a nation, when hate seems to be the only thing that motivates us??

Four children are dead by their own hand because they just couldn’t take any more. How many more are we going to sacrifice to the hyenas? Isn’t it time to stop?

If you want to comment or forward this post on your facebook account (which I highly recommend) you can connect  here.

I’ve been wondering how much of the callousness of our youth is being nurtured by the anonymity of the internet.  Add to that the blatant, unabashed vitriol we see every day from our politicians and reality TV.  I fear that what we have become is a society that is turning it’s back on community and the concept of behaving for the good of the community.

Reality TV rewards individuals who win and highlights the worst of behavior.  The individual is king, there is no community. Tell me how any of them are contributing in a positive way towards their community?  And yet, they’re making a lot of money and becoming celebrities.   This combination of money (which is the only source of power in our society) and media coverage perpetuates the problem.  Meanwhile, those of us who try to live our lives in a mindful manner, play by the rules, and give of ourselves to others, are struggling.

Now, before you start thinking that I’m becoming a media/internet hater, I am not advocating getting rid of TV or the internet.  I do not believe that these are the evil Frankenstein monsters of our society.  We have been able to do so many wonderful things through the collaboration of the internet with so much access to information that we can use to solve our problems.  We can research anything from a do-it-yourself project to medical conditions.

Somewhere we’ve made a wrong turn in acceptable behavior.  The problem is that we are not taking a stand against the bullies online because we are too polite to call them out.  We allow ridiculous things to be said and go unchallenged by others – politicians, facebook postings, celebrities, etc.  Or, even worse, we believe the outrageous comments or sound bites which just furthers the credibility of these idiots.

Is it too late for us to turn this around?  Does it make any sense for us to continue or  have we become a vanishing species about to be swallowed by the vicious predators around us?

I think what it takes is for us to stop remaining silent.  We must respectfully challenge these comments.  My challenge to you is to take a stand.  The next time someone posts a ridiculous comment – challenge their thinking.   The next time you see someone make an outrageous claim, research it and find out if it is really true.   And, when you find it is not, challenge it!  Ignorance and intolerance cannot be allowed to continue.

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Dad Confronts Bullies

September 17, 2010 by

Here’s a man after my own heart.  He went on a school bus and confronted the kids bullying his daughter.  These were kids putting condoms on his daughter’s head!  Although he used profane and threatening language, I must admit that I admire him.

I worked so hard to control my anger towards Amy’s bullies.  I had to keep reminding myself that they were only 12 but I mostly wanted to just take a 2×4 to their heads.  We had just left Amy at the hospital after her suicide attempt.  I cried and cried and cried until I could cry no more.  The next morning I was so worried I couldn’t concentrate on anything but making them pay for what they did to her and the rest of my family.

I prayed to God for forgiveness but it wouldn’t come.  After a few hours, I finally went to the back yard and started weeding.  I’ve never done that with such fervor.  Each weed was expending more energy until I finally had nothing left.  No tears, no strength, and miraculously, no more anger.  God had finally granted me peace and forgiveness.

Although I don’t condone this father’s behavior, I can certainly understand it and, truthfully, I secretly admire him.

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And now it’s time to get the T-Shirt!  You’ve worked hard, endured things other parents never imagined and you’ve persevered through it all.  No one else close to us can imagine the strength we’ve needed to find as we help our kids back to health.  We have gone places that the angels fear to tread all for the love our our kids.  If we don’t deserve this T shirt, no parent does!

Proclaim your greatness with an official Out of the Rabbit Hole T-shirt.  Available for all of us very dedicated  Mighty Moms and Fearless Fathers at the following link* Moms and Dads wear it loud and wear it proud!!

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Not long ago, a team of researchers watched a 1-year-old boy take justice into his own hands. The boy had just seen a puppet show in which one puppet played with a ball while interacting with two other puppets. The center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the right, who would pass it back. And the center puppet would slide the ball to the puppet on the left . . . who would run away with it. Then the two puppets on the ends were brought down from the stage and set before the toddler. Each was placed next to a pile of treats. At this point, the toddler was asked to take a treat away from one puppet. Like most children in this situation, the boy took it from the pile of the “naughty” one. But this punishment wasn’t enough — he then leaned over and smacked the puppet in the head.

This is the beginning of a fascinating article from the NYT

I have a bachelor’s degree in psych.  I’m fascinated by the whole nature/nurture debate in human behavior.  If the findings of these studies are correct, at what point and under what circumstances do people go from being cooperative and co-dependent beings?  What causes children to reject this and start to adopt bullying behaviors?

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I’m sure most have heard about the 15 year old girl from South Hadley, Mass who committed suicide after enduring the bullying of a group of classmates for a prolonged time.  As Amy was a victim of bullying, I can only imagine the heartbreak of her family.  It is this parent’s worst nightmare.  We struggled so long to keep Amy going so she didn’t choose this option to end her torment.

Below is a link to an interesting article by Dr. Keith Ablow which sheds some light about how bullies choose their victims.  I found it very interesting and probably true in Amy’s case.  His theory is that they can somehow intuit sensitive kids who can be more vulnerable than others.  I know this is the case with Amy.,2933,590111,00.html

It’s funny, she has friends now who are trying to help her become stronger in sticking up for herself.  They’re trying to help her learn that she should confront those who disparage her at school.  One has even become her self-appointed body guard!

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March 7, 2010 by

A Yale School of Medicine researcher is studying to see the causal effect of bullying and suicide attempts in children.  As this is what lead to Amy’s depression, I find this fascinating.

I’ve long suspected that this occurs more frequently than not.  The Columbine shooters singled out victims who were considered popular by high school standards.   Many other students who have carried out violent attacks also expressed similar feelings.

Here’s a link to the press release on the studies:

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A new study published  bythe Australian and New Zealand Journal  of Psychiatry has found a link between depression and being victimized by bullies.

As a parent of a bullied victim and subsequent depressed teen, I am not surprised.  Amy’s problems began in 5th grade, when she was targeted by a group of boys and verbally degraded and harassed.  She spent the whole year putting up with it, never letting on at home, but it ate away at her.  She lost her self confidence and succumbed to their torments until she began to believe them.

We didn’t know about any of this.  Her withdrawal from family and social activities was put down to her approaching teen-hood.   We just figured that she was just being a usual teen and spending all of her time in her room.  It wasn’t until a few weeks before she was to start 6th grade that we started to suspect it was something else.  She would cry at the drop of the hat and moped around complaining that school was going to start.   A few weeks after the start of school, she made her suicide attempt.  We then found out about the bullying.

We did report it to the school.  The guidance counselor told us that this couldn’t be true, those were good Christian kids and they were part of his prayer group.  And no, it wasn’t a faith based school, it was a public school.  They were given a slap on the wrist.  We were left with a shattered child.

No, it’s not fair and schools need to keep up with new developments.  Her school guidance counselor was ill equipped for his job and probably shouldn’t be in his position. I didn’t have time to complain about his handling of the situation.  We were fighting for Amy’s life, literally, and we couldn’t fight two battles at once.

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