Friday, May 25, 2012

Unanswered Questions

I normally try to keep my posts lighthearted but I hope you'll forgive me if I'm in a darker place today.

I had planned to do a post on the end of the school year and the happy memories it brings.  Two of my grandchildren finished their year yesterday, the other two have a couple weeks left.  A very exciting time for kids, full of plans for the summer.

Expect for Paul, a thirteen year old eighth grader at my grandson's school, who came home on Tuesday, took a gun and ended his life.

 I don't have all the facts surrounding Paul's death.  I don't know if anyone does.  My grandson tells me the stories going around school all say that Paul was being bullied.  Police and school officials say that is not the case.  The media seemed disinclined to get involved until a group of parents - who may or may not have any real facts - staged an anti-bullying protest in front of the school today.  Even then, only one local TV channel reported the event. 

A number of student-generated Facebook pages have sprung up, mourning Paul and denouncing bullies and bullying. There was also a site asking all students to wear a white shirt on the last day of school to protest bullying and in memory of Paul, which my grandson says many did.  Of course, the comments on these sites now include statements from other students saying they have been bullied and at least one parent talking about her child being bullied.

The school is talking about their no-bullying policy.  Teachers receive special training in that area and the students attend anti-bullying programs.  Victims are encouraged to come forward, bullies are punished.  Or are they? How do you measure the effectiveness of an anti-bullying policy?   

As far as I know, Paul's parents have not spoken publicly on the subject. 

My heart breaks for Paul's family and for the loss of this young life, but my mind is looking for answers.  Was Paul bullied into taking his own life?  Did the school system that was supposed to keep him safe fail him?  Or are the accusations of bullying the kneejerk reaction of people who simply need someone to blame?

Why should I be so troubled by this?  Well, because a young man is dead. And because we're talking about my grandson's school. And because next year, he will be in the eighth grade.


A groaner seems inappropriate today so I'm just going to ask you to say a prayer for Paul's family.  And perhaps you could also pray that children of all ages will someday learn to treat each other with acceptance and love. 

Thanks.

34 comments:

Stephen Tremp said...

I am saddened to hear this and my thoughts and prayers go out to the family. This is a tough age for many kids. We need to take bullying serious and bring an awareness that it will not be tolerated.

Jessica R. Patch said...

This breaks my heart. I've seen bullying first hand at my daughter's school, she's in 7th grade. I'll definitely say a prayer for Paul's family.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Far too young to take his own life. Too young to even understand the implications of what he was doing. The bullying accusation could just be a knee-jerk reaction, since it's a hot topic right now, but we'll never know for certain.

LD Masterson said...

Thank you, Stephen

LD Masterson said...

Jessica - I hope you were able to take steps against the bullying you saw.

LD Masterson said...

Diane - It does appear that many of the students and parents who have jumped on the "he was bullied" bandwagon have no real knowledge of what happened. Of course, that doesn't mean it wasn't true but how does anyone know?.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is sad. Kids that age shouldn't even consider suicide.

Tara Tyler said...

whatever the reason, it is sad. some feel the need to blame and want to do something about it. it's how they deal with their grief and fears.

i have a 13 yo 8th grader next year too. most teenagers are so to themselves with their true feelings. all we can do is stay involved, show them we care, and be there for them. they are delicate beings!

teachers & parents can do their best, but some things cannot be predicted or prevented...

praying for your community.

Carol Kilgore said...

Such a sad story. I will keep Paul and his family in my prayers. Thanks for sharing with us.

LD Masterson said...

Alex - At that age, they really have no concept of what they're doing.

LD Masterson said...

Tara - It's a scary time to have a young teen. But then, I guess there's never an easy time. Thank you for your prayers.

LD Masterson said...

Thank you, Carol.

Clarissa Draper said...

I started homeschooling my son when he came home and said he wished he was dead because a child at school wouldn't leave him alone. He was in grade four. I'm so sorry for that boy's parents.

Elana Johnson said...

This is so sad. I wish the hate and hurt of this world could be taken away.

Ciara said...

As a parent of a 14 y/o boy I'm so disturbed by this. It is tragic and my heart breaks for the family. They will be in my prayers.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I have seen this happen all too often. It's so so sad.

LD Masterson said...

Clarissa - I'm not against homeschooling but the choice to homeschool shouldn't have to be made because your public school isn't an acceptable option. That's just wrong.

LD Masterson said...

Elana - Amen.

LD Masterson said...

Ciara - Thank you and may your son never suffer a minute of cruelty at the hands of bullies.

LD Masterson said...

Tasha - How do we make it stop?

Mary Curry said...

Linda, I'm so sorry.

This is such a difficult situation always. Whatever the reason - the fact that a child felt so hopeless that he had to take his life just breaks my heart.

Our school has a strong anti-bullying program, but it hasn't eliminated bullying. All we can do is tell the kids over and over that if they are bullied, tell a responsible adult so something can be done.

Ironically, a problem that develops is an overuse of the word bullying so that any time anyone disagrees or says something mean, someone claims to have been bullied. Unfortunately, when that happens, you get the Peter and the Wolf syndrome and people begin to not take claims as seriously.

I will pray for Paul and his family and yours as well.

Mike Keyton said...

There is blackness in life. Thanks for reminding us of it. Yes, I know we're reminded of it daily in news bulletins, but the personal brings it home more effectively

LD Masterson said...

Mary - You're right about the "calling wolf" problem. A number of those students who starting leaving comments about who they were bullied sited unfavorable comments or rudeness as examples. Although I guess even that would become unbearable if it was constant and unrelieved. So hard to know.

LD Masterson said...

Mike - I don't know if this was the proper forum - I really do prefer to keep my blog upbeat - but it was the thing filling my mind when I started to write.

Darke Conteur said...

How horrible! My heart goes out to his family. Who knows what drove him to take his own life, but it has to be something he thought there was no way out of. I'm sure his parents are devastated knowing something was bothering him so much, but he felt he couldn't talk to them about it. As a parent of a teen, I think about that all the time. I tell him often that he can come and talk to me no matter what, but I remember that age, and it's hard enough to deal with things let alone bring your parents into it.

As for the schools, I really wonder if they are doing all they can. Every time you hear a news report about a child taking their life, or leaving school because they were bullied, the school immediately pops up with 'We followed procedure and blah, blah, blah. Nothing against the schools, but if they followed procedure, would this have happened?

Maria Zannini said...

I worry when people jump to the conclusion it could be bullying. Sometimes people are too sad or too burdened to go on. The suicides I have known have been just that.

And why is bullying such a media jackpot? When I was a kid, we had bullies, but we also had friends. Friends don't let bullies gang up on you. Do kids today have less friends? It makes me curious what has changed in the relationship dynamics of school children.

Are there more bullies or more media?

Jemi Fraser said...

How devastating! Poor Paul and his family - my heart goes out to them all. So very, very sad.

Bullying is an issue in a lot of area. So often the bullies, bystanders and victims don't tell people who could help. Bullies tend to be very good at being secretive.

I wish all kids could grow up with only sunshine in their lives.

LD Masterson said...

Darke - I don't know about the schools. Sometimes procedures can make things harder. Like having to expel a first grader for bringing a G.I. Joe to show-and-tell because it had a toy weapon and the school has a zero-tolerance weapons policy. Maybe knowing what the "prodecure" will entail keeps some kids from coming forward at all. So hard to know.

LD Masterson said...

Maria - I did wonder if all the students who put up "in memory" FB pages for Paul were as quick to defend him at school. It's the kids who don't have a lot of friends that make the best targets. But maybe in our drive to protect little Johnny's self-esteem we've created a generation of kids who can't handle the type of teasing and bullying past generations would have taken in stride.

I was surprised that the local media did not jump all over this. There was no mention at all until that group of parents held their public protest and even then it was only mentioned on one media website. I don't know if it was self-resraint or lack of interest.

LD Masterson said...

Jemi - That's one of the things that makes me wonder what happened here. All these kids at school who were so quick to say Paul was bullied - how do they know? Where were they when it was going on? Why didn't they report it? Or is this a case of "he committed suicide so he must have been bullied into it"?

Beth Camp said...

This morning, my daughter, who's maybe days away from delivering her first child, said, "I guess you never stop worrying about your children." After reading your post, I could add, "Or your grandchildren." Thanks for writing about this difficult topic. Even if no one ever knows what really happened for Paul, we do need to be more concerned about bullying. Our kids are exposed to so much violence today. May the next year go well for your grandson.

LD Masterson said...

Beth - Thank you for you kind wishes. And, you're right, you never stop worrying about your children or their children.

raisingahappyfamily-momof8 said...

Oh my goodness!! what a tragedy! My husband saw a new movie about todays bullies...he was shocked!! he said it is way worse than bullying 30 yrs ago...i will pray for this boys soul and his parents too...
I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

LD Masterson said...

Mom of 8 - Thank you for your prayers. And thanks for Following. I've returned the favor and look forward to reading more of your blog.