A Punch To The Gut

24 01 2015

Young-girl-4dd0288086086_hiresA 15 year-old girl hung herself this week. And two days later her family had to make the awful decision to remove her from life support. She died.

I convey these details in a very blunt way, because a sad story like this should be delivered forcefully, shockingly. Like a punch to the gut.

I didn’t know her at all. I remember this girl and her sister from a few years back, joyfully running around on the soccer fields where I coach. She had a distinctive last name, so I also remember them both getting many awards at our yearly sports banquets. From reading her obituary this morning, I now know that she did other things well: singing, dancing, writing, softball, basketball, cheerleading, fishing… to name a few. By all accounts, she was an extremely intelligent and engaging young woman, with a very bright future.

Is “why” too simple a question to ask?

I’ve heard from some that she took her own life because she was bullied, but I’ve heard from others that it wasn’t that simple – how could it be? There can’t be just one reason for something like this. But I’ve seen stories on the news and read some online articles about cyber bullying. Like those other issues, we sometimes don’t realize there is a problem until it happens in your own backyard.

In the wake of this death so close to home, there have been calls for retribution against kids who bully other kids. People are asking for prosecution by the police, or a good old-fashioned ass-kicking. This saddens me as well. Criminal charges and jail time is certainly warranted, but little consolation to a grieving community and family. Violence to punish violence is just plain stupid… it’s not likely to save the next victim of bullying.

Google the word “bullying” and you may be shocked at the sheer volume of information that you find. A quick investigation revealed some very alarming statistics (bullyingstatistics.org):

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
  • Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. According the same study, 10 to 14-year-old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide.
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying.
  • Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.
  • Only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyber-bully victim, and fewer than 1 in 5 cyber bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement

To me, these numbers are staggering. Worse still is that even though the amount of resources to battle this problem are increasing, the amount of incidents are climbing.

I found myself feeling very fortunate that both my sons’ teen years are behind them. But after thinking about it, why should I feel that they are safe?

So the big questions… What kind of world have we allowed to evolve? A world where some kids feel free to humiliate and degrade others? A world where a scared and scarred child believes that suicide is the logical way out?

Are we all so detached? I don’t have any answers, except to communicate with your kids.

This tragedy has prompted some of my friends with younger children to have some very honest conversations… with themselves and their kids. They were hard conversations… ending with pledges by the parents to always be there to help, and to pay attention to signs that a child is struggling.

There were also pledges by the kids to be honest and open about their problems, seeking help from parents about anything… no matter how weird or embarrassing.

And they also pledged to do no harm to themselves or others… to not take lightly the precious gift they have been given.

We can always do better. And I have some talking and listening to do.

Read here about Carley… gone too soon, too young. And hug your kids…

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15 responses

12 07 2015
Book Covers – Revisited | JOHN LANGAN'S BLOG

[…] media share, or someone just saying that they like what you are doing. Earlier this year I wrote a post about bullying that, for whatever reason, was viewed close to 50,000 times. It was stunning to me, but it taught […]

30 01 2015
Colleen

JOHN, Beautifully written…it is so sad but true….Friend of mine lost their son back in 2011, he was 26 years old…it does follow them into adulthood….something has to be done. My friend has been on tv talking about suicide today….Maybe look her up on facebook Cathy Siciliano…there are fundraisers like walks and parties they set up and also did a mural in Philly….thanks for getting this out there….
.

30 01 2015
Gr8JohnL

Thanks, Colleen!!

25 01 2015
Pat S.

Beautifully written, I had not know the young lady but my granddaughter did and said she was a wonderful and beautiful girl inside and out. My heartfelt sympathy to her family and friends. This is not an easy thing to deal with I know we lost our nephew the same way. All I can say is pray esp for her parents and siblings, Fly high lil angel fly high, rest in the arms of God. No more pain and hope there will be justice to those who drove u to this, they will have to answer to the Almighty God, themselves, Be a peace in the name of Jesus♥

25 01 2015
urbantidepool

Great topic for discussion! In my work with LGBT youth, one of the troubling points that has surfaced in the last couple of years is that for every one gay kid that gets bullied, 4 other straight kids are bullied because other people perceive them to be gay. That’s an enormous number of kids. Thanks for the post! I’ll be following!

25 01 2015
Gr8JohnL

Thank you!

25 01 2015
Angelina

Beautiful words! Wonderfully written. So simple but powerful. It is so sad though because parent turn there heads at so many things children do or say today and just go about their day like nothing is wrong. My heart breaks for this young lady and her family. As active as she was in school, church, sports, It is so hard to see that something is wrong because we tech our children to smile and be strong. Yes this is a good thing but how do we handle the bullying? Especially when we are the strong confident popular one that everyone looks up to? People,we spend so much time and energy fighting for diseases, cures, abuse, research etc., please open your eyes! This is huge! It is happening way to much! We need to bring more awareness to this problem this needs to be known and taught! Not just at school. But at home, church, posted on billboards, let’s create a campaign against bullying! Let’s get involved!
I was never bullied, oh some tried, but I stood up, I fought back, but I had a mouth. I stuck up for people that could not stick up for themselves but most cannot do that. Adults barely can do it how can , how can we expect our children to? We need to give them the tools! I am not saying create monsters but create MORE Awareness! More positive more trust between the parent and the child.
I don’t have the answers, no one really does. But I bet if we as a whole stand up and work together I mean really rally together we can start moving something. We might only move a rock in the beginning but after a few steps I am sure we could move a mountain! Pray on it. Pray for Carly
And her family to find peace in all of this.

Thank you for sharing your story, as a coach I am sure you broken but this. Maybe you can lead a program to start some kind change. I don’t know you or Carly but I do know my heart has been touched by the posts from Carly’s passing and although I can only write down my thoughts. If I can lean a hand in anyway feel free to contact me

25 01 2015
Cheryl Smink

Hi Angelina, I love your posts. Your words of inspiration are strong and beautiful. We as adults do need to teach our children/teens to be preventive and stop bullying before it starts or if they see it in action. I as a parent teach my children to reach s hand out to others in need or protection against those who find this a game or just fun to hurt an innocent victim. I hear many beautiful comments about Carley, my Neice was a close friend of hers and was with her the day of the incident. She is totally crushed and heartbroken to lose a close, beautiful, loving friend. It is mind blowing to think that these kids believe that this is their only way out. Why? I wished that she had reached out for help from a friend, family member, teacher, guidance counselor, or a coach. If she had then We wouldn’t be here today writing this. My heart breaks for her parents and sister.

25 01 2015
Sue McCue

i appreciate you taking the time out to inform the public of the seriousness of self harm; awareness is education. However, please consider editing the personal tragedy, only because your print is not accurate, in regards to the victim. In time, when its approiate, the truth will surface if her family decides to make that public. In the meantime, I agree talk to your children, their phones, and electronic devices is the diary, and the only means of communicating. As parents, we have to be involved and stay involved. It’s not s matter of privacy, because if our children our posting, it’s out there for the whole world to see.
A parent of a grieving daughter.

25 01 2015
Gr8JohnL

Hi Sue… I’d heard about the bullying aspect from many, many sources and this post has gotten close to twenty thousand views. But a couple of others have commented that while there may have been instances, there were other factors. Of course, I want to be accurate and I do respect the family’s privacy. I do hope it’s not true but it wouldn’t change my point about the problem. And it certainly doesn’t make her loss any less tragic. Thanks for the comment.

24 01 2015
Melissa Tschopp

It’s best not to print or saying anything if you don’t know the whole story or Carley. thank you from a grieving parent

25 01 2015
Gr8JohnL

Thanks for your comment, Melissa. Please read my reply to Sue above. The last thing I’d want is a family member distressed because of something I wrote. That is the main reason that I didn’t mention her name in the post. I did link to the obit at the end, but only because it was so beautifully written and a great tribute.

24 01 2015
Trisha Couture

My heart breaks for her wonderful family. Thank you for this message that I can share with my daughters.

24 01 2015
kris

Beautiful. I am a Parkwood resident with a daughter the same age who had been bullied to the point of self harm. Thankfully, we responded in time but my heart aches for Carley and her family. I still worry constantly and try to keep the line of communication open daily. Never knowing if it’s enough. Rest in peace, beautiful girl. Friends and family stay strong and spread awareness.

24 01 2015
Vicki Sabatini

Powerful stuff, John. Thank you for bringing such an important subject to our attention.

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