Stories like this are becoming all too common in our society today and we really need a large national discussion on how what is causing it and how to fix it:
Sladjana Vidovic's body lay in an open casket, dressed in the sparkly pink dress she had planned to wear to the prom. Days earlier, she had tied one end of a rope around her neck and the other around a bed post before jumping out her bedroom window.
The 16-year-old's last words, scribbled in English and her native Croatian, told of her daily torment at Mentor High School, where students mocked her accent, taunted her with insults like "Slutty Jana" and threw food at her.
It was the fourth time in little more than two years that a bullied high school student in this small Cleveland suburb on Lake Erie died by his or her own hand — three suicides, one overdose of antidepressants. One was bullied for being gay, another for having a learning disability, another for being a boy who happened to like wearing pink.
Things have really changed in the 20+ years since I have been out of school. Yeah we had bullying. I personally suffered from it and also delivered it, but no matter how bad it got, I would never think of taking my own life, nor would any of my classmates.
So has bullying got that much worse than my school days in the 80s, or are children less able to handle it? I don’t really think the answer lies there, but lie more in society as a whole.
My generation was the last to really enjoy having a stay at home parent. The 90s is when we became a material nation. People had to have the bigger houses, nicer cars and the newest wave in high tech gadgetry. All this has cost money, which leads to both parents working and maybe even one of the parents holding down two jobs. Parents are too busy for their children, and that removes the most important ear for a child to lay their problems upon.
And with the parents unable to spend the needed time with their children, we are also seeing more children left to the Playstation or X-Box babysitter. Their only other real interaction is in a binary world, through text messaging or in online chats. These are the worst places for someone troubled to have to turn to for compassion or even an open ear.
Speaking of high-tech babysitters, there’s another issue that comes to mind. Americans, and the world, is in love with reality television. Insulting people to the point that they cry is what we call “prime time entertainment”. Some of these shows even run in the afternoon, when a lot of children are home alone. Being a bully has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise and how many children are aspiring to be the next Simon Cowell or Gordon Ramsay?
I believe a third issue needs to be discussed here, our schools, which is probably the most important issue of them all. People talk about overcrowding in our schools and only discuss the impact on education. An equally important issue that must be discussed is the inability for schools to properly bond with the increasing number of students. Teachers have so many students to worry about that education is the only thing on their mind, not the demeanor of their students. Back in the 80s all my teachers knew me and every other student in the classroom. Today students are reduced to mere numbers and not the actual young humans they are.
When politicians talk about education and reforming it this issue must merit the same attention as test scores. We need to bring in school administrators that are not accountants, but rather educators and psychologists. We also need to start thinking more about what we let our children watch on television and if having that house that’s a little bigger is really worth the sacrifice of not being their for the children we raise in it.
If we keep ignoring these issues, then we are failing our future generation and the problems will continue to snowball to a society none of us ever want to imagine, unless you are John Carpenter.