This is Daniel Briggs. He loved to be outside. He loved to help his neighbors. He was happy in many ways, looking forward to college. He also killed himself.
He apparently shot himself last Monday after being bullied.
According to his mother, Amy Briggs, Daniel was picked on by a small group of students for years. His parents did the right thing. According to a news report, they went to school officials “50 or 60″ times about the bullying that had occurred over a 9 year period. And whatever actions the school took, it wasn’t enough.
“They might talk to the kid. They might suspend them for a day or so, depending on what had actually taken place. But that just made it worse for Daniel, because then, the taunting, the ‘Oh, run home to mommy, run to the principal,'” said Amy.” Eventually, Daniel stopped talking to adults or people in authority, apparently because it didn’t do anything but make it worse. He must have hid the pain he’d be enduring because it seemed like he was doing ok, according to Richard Fabend , author of the blog HandiHelp. Daniel was his neighbor, and friend. Richard has quadriplegia after an accident, and Daniel would help him out and hang out with him. He has this to say about Daniel.
Daniel lived next door to me. He was 16 years old and a junior at the local high school. He was a teenager filled with ideas, dreams, aspirations and adolescent insecurities. Daniel was also shy, sensitive and caring. He loved the out – of- doors and nature. To his neighbors, he was a very special young man.
Over the last few years we had talked about the taunting, teasing and bullying he was experiencing at school. As a former special education teacher, I shared strategies I had used with my students. This year things seemed to be improving. Daniel was on the honor roll and he seemed more confident and self-assured. What we didn’t realize was after years of attacks, he was being driven into a desperate act to escape. Monday night it all came to a head and he lost HIS struggle.
Who has done this? A few, hiding behind the anonymity of social media, can text and Tweet whatever they wish. Can they not look and see what can happen? Will they not realize the full extent their actions, or are they already looking for another vulnerable target? I have learned that there are enough challenges and pain in life already. Why make it any harder for anyone else?
This boy, this boy who obviously cared a lot for people, was bullied enough that he thought there was no other way out but death. What else was there to do? He’d DONE what he was supposed to do. He’d gone to his parents, his teachers, to those who he thought could help. His parents tried. 50 or 60 complaints, to me, sounds like an awful lot of trying. I don’t know this boy, I don’t know his family. But I know his story. I lived it. I see the face of my own son when I look at the photo of this kid. I hear the story of my daughter’s torment when she was told “well, we have to SEE it happening to do anything about it” when she went to the school for help. This has to STOP.
There are so many mandates for our school- tests to pass, programs to offer, teachers to observe, but we are failing at one of the most important things – keeping our kids healthy and alive. There should be mandates to address and handle bullying. All too often, a complain is taken, and little or no action is taken. Schools should be required to address bullying, and protecting the bullied. There must be follow up, and recorded action and consequences in an appropriate time frame.
We make it a priority to have our kids learn reading, writing and math according to state guidelines. States should also mandate teaching our students that bullying is unacceptable and not tolerated.
Perhaps there should be testing and ranking on the bullying occurring at schools, and funding tied to that.
I’m quite sure that bullying problems would be more handily addressed then.
My heart goes out to the family of Daniel, Amy and Robbie Briggs,and his brother, Michael. I’m sorry that they have to live the rest of their lives without their boy because a few small minded people who thought that tormenting a person was fun, and they never were forced to stop. I hope, as Amy Briggs hopes, that they are held accountable for their actions.