I love Jenny the Bloggess. She is one of the most consistently funny people on the internet, and also, probably, in the three dimensional world as well, if her pictures and anecdotes are any indication. In addition to her regular blog, she has perhaps the most entertaining advice column I’ve ever seen. This week, though, she’s not taking questions, just giving an answer. I hope Jenny will forgive me for excerpting the whole thing:
For the fifth time in the last month I’ve opened my computer to read about another child committing suicide. In all these cases they were young people who were being bullied about their perceived sexual orientation.
If you are anti-gay you can keep reading. I’m not going to yell at you. There’s already been too much of that. What I am going to do though is point out that if your child takes your learnings and uses them to bully another child into suicide it will haunt your child forever. They will never be able to escape the fact that their actions helped cause the death of a classmate. It’s a horrible guilt to hold onto and one that no parent wants their child to go through. Most parents of bullies have no idea that their child is involved in taunting others. Talk to your children about bullying. Explain that no matter what it’s important to not judge others and to stand up for them when you see someone being picked on…even if you don’t always agree with everything that person does.
You may think that your child already knows this but my guess is that the parents of the children who taunted these kids into suicide thought their kids knew too and now they have to watch their children being subjected to a huge backlash of people calling for justice against them. They have only to look at the internet to feel the shame of people hating them even though they don’t even know them. It’s a vicious circle and one we need to stop now. If not for the sake of children victimized by bullying then for the sake of the children who will be haunted by their actions when they get older. Think back. Is there someone that you made fun of when you were a child? I did. I still feel ashamed about it and I wish I could go back and warn myself how I’d feel later when I was grown. But I can’t. All I can do is teach my child to not repeat my mistakes and to be compassionate and loving. Talk to your kids. Don’t just assume they know what bullying means. Ask what they’re seeing in school and how it makes them feel. Get involved and have them dig a little deeper. Please.
Special note for the bullied kids reading this: It does get better. You may feel alone, but you’re not. The world is changing, slowly, but for the better. It’s a hard fight but one that will make you stronger if you don’t let it break you. Right now it’s hard to see clearly but there is a world of amazing people out there who have gone through the same thing and came out stronger and more compassionate and who will love you and respect you and cherish your contributions. I’m one of them and I can’t wait to meet you. Don’t let me down.
If you or anyone else you know is contemplating suicide, or if you’re just scared and need help, please call The Trevor Project at (866) 4-U-TREVOR [866-488-7386].
Now go read Jenny’s blog for laughing purposes.