Friday, October 1, 2010

Be Kind

Yesterday, I read an article about 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his college roommate filmed him during a private encounter with another person in their dorm room. The roommate and a gal pal streamed the footage on the Internet. Tyler jumped off the George Washington Bridge three days later.

This story saddened me because of the humiliation and pain this young man suffered at the hands of a classmate (the encounter was with that of another young man, so one can conclude that Tyler was closeted). I then felt great anger toward the two people responsible for this act. It was so cruel. Why, why do kids - and in this case, young adults - do this to others?!

Much discussion has been made about this event over the last couple of days. Would the
situation have been so bad if the act caught on camera had been between a male and female? Is this a case of two kids who really aren’t evil, just stupid and insensitive? Are they products of the Twitter/Facebook/reality TV generation and therefore think this is normal? Some believe they should go to jail. Others think expulsion from Rutgers should be the extent of their punishment.

What do I think? Yes, they should be charged with a crime! And not just invasion of privacy, which is the current charge both students are facing. How can you lack so much empathy and awareness that you would even consider doing such a thing? The kids who tormented Phoebe Prince, the young Irish girl who committed suicide after enduring unending bullying, both to her face and online, are facing criminal charges in Massachusetts, as they should.

The other day, I was having a discussion with a friend about bullying and mean kids. We remarked that there’s always that “one girl” or “one boy” in a class who is the target of mean kids. I wish I could get to the root of why there is a “one kid” in the first place. Why must these children be singled out, made fun of and tortured in a such a way? It made me think of two particular kids from grade school. While I didn’t participate in the taunting and harsh words, I didn’t stand up and say anything either. I didn’t tell the bullies to stop, in fear that I would be made fun of; I didn’t come to the defense of the child being tormented. That makes me just as guilty as the bully. To this day, I feel horrible about that. I wonder what those kids are doing now. I pray that they are living wonderful lives. Of course, having experienced teasing and hurtful comments from mean kids myself, I know that the wounds heal, but underneath the surface, they are still quite fresh.

According to the article, the news of Tyler’s death “came on the same day that Rutgers kicked off a two-year, campuswide project to teach the importance of civility, with special attention to the use and abuse of new technology.”

How sad is it that a college has to create an initiative about civility? Why isn't this groundwork being laid when the child is a toddler? Yes, I know that people have free will and a person is going to act how he or she wants. But, I am of the mindset that you ingrain in your children the concept of putting oneself in another’s shoes, and, of course, living the Golden Rule. I know I could have practiced that more in school. Believe me, if I could find those kids now, I would apologize for not sticking up for them. All I can do now is try my hardest to raise compassionate, empathetic children and drive home that message  every chance I get. And, of course, if I need to, take out whoever bullies them. I may be small, but I am mighty. :)

If you have a moment, think of those kids who have suffered at the hands of bullies and other mean-spirited people. Say a prayer for them or just send positive thoughts their way. This world could use more civility; let’s be the ones to lead the way.
Image from Google


Tessa said...

Completely heartbreaking. My heart goes out to the families. I too remember a kid that was always bullied in high school. I always felt sorry for him but I never spoke up enough to make a difference. I too hope he is happy today. I've told my oldest so many times that I care more about his heart and that he is kind than about how well he does in school.

Splurgie said...

My heart aches for the family of that young man. I'm a Rutgers Alum and I'm ashamed of the two involved. I also regret the times I failed to come to the rescue of kids who were teased. I guess we all feared we could be next. If anything good can come from this perhaps it is that young people will know that cyber bullying is not a harmless prank.

Suzanne Vachon said...

it is such a tragedy, I think every parent should be responsible to teach their children how destructive cruelty and lack of compassion can be. I think bullying is taken much too lightly, it seems that most shools do not want to get involved unless it has already gone too too far.

Thanks for yor thoughts on this matter.


Jessi said...

Check out
One of the girls is a Delta Gamma and spoke out our convention this year. She has a really great message. It focuses on females, but is still good.

paula said...

oh wow, this is just plain awful. My heart hurts.

teresa-bug said...

I just don't understand people these days. That story is wrong on so many levels.Absolutely those kids should be charged!

EntertainingMom said...

unfortunately tolerance and intolerance start at home. those children who taunted were most likely never taught to respect others in the first place. It is such a very sad situation. Parents send their children to college and expect their children to be kept safe from harm... how pained must this boy have felt to kill himself in such a terrible way. My heart goes out to his family.

High Heeled Life said...

My prayers go out to all involved in this situation and similiar ones out there.

My heart is breaking for the young, who must have felt so alone that his only solution was to end his life. To his parents, family, and friends - who are left wondering what could they have done different?

I am left wondering what have the two young people who felt that it was their "duty" to intruded on an other's personal life, to video tape and then to publicize the contents ~ gone through in life to think that what they did was acceptable behaviour .. they will have to live the rest of their lives with the fact that their careless actions resulted in the loss of a human life .. !

I pray that our world will become a better place for all and that the energ that is wasted on negative ... be instead used for positive .. Thank you for sharing this story .. hopefully the more we speak out about such behaviour the more awarness about Bullying and the greater chance a postive , creative solution may be discovered.. XO HHL

Tiffany said...

It's such a heartbreaking story. My husband went to Rutgers and said it's a very welcoming, inclusive of all type of atmosphere. SO sad this happened.

Interestingly enough, I was having a conversation with a co-worker who will be attending her 40th h.s. reunion (I'll be attending my 20th). We were saying how Facebook has really blurred the lines between old cliques and it's had a positive effect amongst older people. Quite the opposite case for younger people using social media.

Tiffany said...

p.s. NEXT YEAR I'll be attending my 20th. Sheesh...don't want to age myself by a year (wink).

Main Line Sportsman said...

Heartless and cruel...the roomate and his idiot female accomplice should be caned in front of the whole student they did to that kid in Indonesia a few years ago. Corporal punishment sounds seems justified no?

bevy said...

This is one (not the main) of the reasons my son does not have Facebook. The cyberbullying appears to be rampant. To teach our children and youth to be civil and kind... Shouldn't that be our second nature? I guess not in our society today...