The world has changed, and while it’s easy to say, it’s just the fact that the media is running on warped speed, the truth is this is not the world I grew up in back in the 1970’s and 80’s and chances are it’s not the world you grew up in either. Sure, 24/7 news cycles spread information faster and further than journalists of yesterday could have ever dreamed so it does indeed feel like we are constantly being bombarded with bad news, news that previously was never heard about but on a very human level, the connections we used to have at the soul level are gone…long gone.
Bullying is nothing new, when two or more humans are gathered, human nature takes hold and well…some of us are not nice. In 2nd grade, I had Consuela the bully who took my lunch every day until my mother intervened. The Spousal Unit told me he was once shoved in a garbage can by a bully. Yet back in the old days of bullying, there were safe places, we could generally go home and get a reprieve from the bully. Nowadays though, thanks to technology, bullying too can be a 24/7 event…draining the souls of the bullied to the point, the only escape is ceasing to exist at all.
Yesterday there was a news report that a 7 year old boy in Detroit was found hanging in what police are calling a suicide and reports are mentioning that the boy may have been a victim of bullying. Reports states his parents had recently separated and that he was constantly teased at school. An online acquaintance asked how a child can be hopeless to the point of suicide by age 7. Prior to 2008, I would have asked that same question but in 4 years of working with low income youth & families, I have met many kids who are hopeless, kids whose lights are dim because already at a young age they realize the world is a harsh place. Kids who know that fairy tales aren’t real and that life can be oh so hard. When kids are exposed to harsh truths at a young age and then we add in bullying, the world becomes a place where only pain exists and the goal is to escape the pain. People by and large attempt and complete suicide because they are in pain and they want…no, need that pain to stop. Pain is not limited to adults.
This morning I read this piece in my local paper, and once again found myself thinking that adults need to step up to the plate. I think too many times bullying thrives because the older we get and further away from our own childhood, there is a tendency to almost romanticize childhood. We look back and brush aside the painful memories, instead thinking about how simple childhood seemed. Childhood in many cases has never been easy and it surely isn’t easy now. If it were easy, many of us wouldn’t need therapy as adults to undo the harm that was done on a soul level often by loving and clueless parents. Yet in a society that chooses not to hear children, children will makes their voices and pain known…I did it with drug experimentation in my teens.
A child taking their own life is a call to all of us to do better, not just for our own kids but for all kids. This means battling the powers that be that want to cut youth programming, this means making places for kids in our own world but most of all listening to children. Recognizing that they are fully formed and sentient beings that deserve nothing less than our best, until we start honoring kids in their own rights, I fear that youth taking their own lives will continue.