September 01, 2011

Opening Statement: The Kids Aren't All Right

Many recognize the problem of bullying among youth, but there are better solutions than feeding bullies into the school-to-prison pipeline.

Ron Marmer

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“I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?” Ten days after Jamey Rodemeyer—age 14—wrote that on his blog, he took his own life. Fifteen-year-old Phoebe Prince hung herself in the stairwell where her family lived. Ty Field-Smalley, age 11, used a gun to take his own life. So many children lost: Tyler Long (17); Darren Steele (15); Paige Moravitz (14); Haylee Fentress (14); Roger Hillyard (13); Kelly Yeomans (13); Kelly Farrar (13); Stephen Woodhall (12); Daniel Overfield (12); Alistair Hunter (12); Ashlynn Conner (10); Jevan Richardson (10); Marie Bentham (8).

Kyle is alive, but he is tormented relentlessly. When he went into a bathroom stall, some other kids went into the next stall and began to urinate on his head. It was another horror Kyle faces at school. He hides under the seats of the school bus. And he prays that he doesn’t “have to go back to school.” Alex, age 14, has been punched and choked. He worries about what will happen when he returns to seventh grade. Kelby, age 16, came out as gay and was sexually assaulted. When her classmates used a car to run her down, Kelby’s head punctured the windshield.

Time after time the stories of bullying, abuse, and acts of violence against children—by strangers and family, by adults, and other children—shock us, as they should. But it is not enough to be shocked. We have to stop this from happening.


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