When Kimberly Jones picked up her 11-year-old son, Keaton, from his school in Knoxville, Tennessee one day last week, he had an unusual request. He asked her to record a video of him in the car.
You see, Keaton was leaving school early, and not for the first time. He was afraid to have lunch at school because classmates had poured milk on him and stuffed food in his clothes.
“They make fun of my nose,” he tearfully says in the video. “They call me ugly. They say I have no friends. Why do they bully? Why do you find joy in taking innocent people and finding a way to be mean to them?” at this point he’s sobbing. He adds: “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it. It’s not their fault.”
Keaton’s mom posted the video on Facebook last Friday, pleading with parents to talk to their children about bullying. By Sunday night, the video had been viewed 20 million times, and that was just on Facebook. Thousands of people including celebrities also responded on social media, saying that they too had been victims of bullying and urged Keaton to stay strong.
The public outcry against bullying seems to wax and wane. There have been many well-publicized cases in recent years where bullying has been so vicious that the victims killed themselves.
Just last month 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis, from Colorado, hung herself two weeks after a video of a fight with an alleged bully was posted online. It was the first altercation this previously happy little girl had gotten into and it happened after she confronted her tormentor.
Also last month, Toni Rivers, an 11-year-old girl from South Carolina, fatally shot herself after being bullied for months. The day she shot herself she told five of her friends “that she just couldn’t do this anymore, and she was going home and she was killing herself,” her aunt, Maria Peterson told reporters. Young Toni was found still alive by her sister, but passed away three days later.
These are just two examples of what is now referred to as “Bullycide”. How tragic is it that we now have an official term for this?
The CDC recently reported that the suicide rate for children between the ages of 10 – 14, more than doubled from 2007 – 2014. Suicide in this age group now leads motor vehicle accidents as the cause of death. And the higher rates of suicide among school children are found during the fall and spring, but not the summer.
So, what can we, as adults do to stop this epidemic? Here’s just a few suggestions from https://www.stopbullying.gov
1. Talk to your children about bullying. Make sure they understand what bullying is and how to safely stand up to it.
2. Check in with children. Listen to any concerns or complaints they have about school. Make sure you know who their friends are.
3. Encouraging children to do what they love in regards to special activities and hobbies can not only help them make friends, but also boost their self-confidence.
4. Be a role model and treat others in person and online with respect and kindness.
Since I began writing this post a few hours ago (Sorry. I had to take breaks because of a migraine), several online sites including TMZ, Vibe, and the UK Daily Mail, are reporting that Kimberly Jones has written racist posts on her now shutdown Facebook page and is soliciting donations via PayPal. I hope this isn’t true, but regardless, her actions shouldn’t take away from her son’s very real pain. Nor should it take away from the public discussion about what we can do to better protect our children. We as a society need to do better.