The horrific case of Rebecca Sedwick, the 12 year old girl who killed herself by throwing herself off a cement pillar leaves me shocked, horrified, and devastated. The loss of such a beautiful life for such senseless reasons leaves me heartbroken.
This could have been my daughter. It nearly WAS my daughter.
My daughter, Ally, wanted to die in 8th grade. She nearly killed herself. I thank God every day that she didn’t.
I knew my daughter was depressed. I knew she was being bullied. I knew that she was having a hard time. I did all the right things, just like Rebecca’s mother did. I talked to the school. I talked to her. I put her in counseling. I got her medications. I monitored her friends (that were still around) What I didn’t do was stalk her social media the way I should have. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know she HAD a tumblr until she showed me what people were saying to her.
“Your fat and worthless. you should go kill yourselffs.”
Actually, I found her sobbing in a ball on her bed and I got out of her what was going on . She told me she got messages like that all the time. I didn’t read all her texts—where she had hundreds of messages telling her that “No one would care- just go kill yourself”. I didn’t know she muted the phone so I wouldn’t hear the ringing when people would call her and say “Your Mom should have aborted you! Just DIE already”. and “Why are you still alive!” This happened to her over and over. I did hear the bottle of pills hit the floor when she was going to open it. That, I heard.
I didn’t know it how truly bad it was LAST WEEK. Last week she recorded a video of her FULL story. She wanted to share it because someone she loved had attempted to die- and Ally wanted to tell others who might be feeling the same way: IT DOES GET BETTER.
In Ally’s case, we deleted the Tumblr. I monitor her texts, her tweets, her Facebook. At this point, I don’t have to read every thing, and I don’t. I trust her to talk to me. Plus, she knows I can (and will) pop in at any time to see what it going on. Computers are only in public rooms. We talk every night at dinner- about what’s going on with whom. Ally doesn’t have an Ask.fm- a format where kids ask and answer questions anonymously. Kids are empowered to be cruel when they hide behind a computer screen where they think they are safe. We all know how social media has impacted our ability to communicate face to face. But we forget how social media makes it very easy to harass and stalk others. Kids are more likely to think of evil things to say to someone online when they most likely wouldn’t say it to their face. Mostly. But what about when they go online and post, for the world to see:
“Yes, I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself but I don’t give a (expletive).”
How can you deny this? Parents need to accept that their kids can be mean. I printed out screen shots of some things that someone said to Ally and showed it to the girls parents. I got the same reaction. “Oh, not my child, she must have been hacked”. Never mind that your child is known to be a “mean girl” at school. You only know what your kid tells you. In order to know how your child you have to spend time parenting your child. You need to know who they are hanging out with, what they are doing, who they are doing it with. I’m not talking about micro-managing your child, I’m talking about being a part of their lives.
A cellphone, a computer, and a TV
are not substitutes for parenting.
I am not sure why bullying is so prevalent now. Maybe its because we spend so much time telling our kids how wonderful and special they are, and giving them awards for simply showing up. That way, they can’t handle when they are NOT the winner, and they feel that they have to push the other kids down. Maybe we spend so much time encouraging them to “be the best” no matter what, that they don’t know how to, or can’t accept just “being ok”. Maybe we let society and the media tell us what is beautiful, what is acceptable, and what is ok, and then our children are learning to be unwilling to accept people who look, act, or love differently. Maybe we spend so much time running our kids around to planned activities, we are not spending time with them to get to know what is going on with their lives. Maybe because we value Soccer or Cheer more than going to church on Sunday, they are not learning how important it is to Love One Another. Maybe we are so busy with work and life and taking care of ourselves we have forgotten how to be families and neighbors and friends and are not taking care of others.
I know today, when my daughter gets home from school, I’m going to hug her, and then tell her about Rebecca. She’ll cry, I know, because I did. I’ll bet she’ll write something. She’ll try to help her peers understand how sad this is, and once again, share her story and offer hope. Her new catch phrase is #BeBrave. She wants to encourage kids to Be Brave to stand up for others, and to to #BeBrave and live. #BeBrave because IT GETS BETTER. IT’S NOT FOREVER. #BeBrave and be a friend to the friendless. #BeBrave and stop bullying. #BeBrave and be kind.
** Ally’s goal is to bring her message national- and she adores Ellen DeGeneres for her working in helping people. She’s love to share her story with Ellen. If you tweet, will your PLEASE tweet out this message?
You can also Facebook the message to Ellen!