On Sept. 9, 2013, 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick of Lakeland, Fla., jumped to her death after being bullied for over a year by at least 15 girls. Rebecca heard words such as, "go kill yourself, why are you still alive?" Her own last words, sent to a friend were, "I'm jumping, I can't take it anymore."
I don't like the word "bullying" in cases like this. This young girl was tortured, terrorized, and left for dead. Now she's gone forever. "Like an echo through the canyon, a disappearing dream of yesterday." To borrow from Kristofferson.
I was listening with amusement recently while watching another expert explain just how to stop bullying in our schools. Seems we need better education, more meetings, I'm pretty sure I heard the word "comprehensive." And of course, more rules. If the old rules aren't being enforced, make new rules.
Most schools have long had a "Zero Tolerance Policy" on bullying. Exactly what new rule do we need? It's also a problem that many schools have not handled well over the years. With respect to the High School level, ours would be on that list. Persistent parents and some dedicated teachers boarded an uphill flight dealing with previous administrations on this issue.
The road was long, but many schools are finally taking the problem seriously. Too late for some, but others will endure.
The one thing I would caution is not to try and make up for the past by branding kids bullies, who are not bullies. You can't take back what's been done. Inaction is often followed by overreaction. We don't want to get to the point where kids are playing the "bullying card" to settle a playground score.
Some areas are now using science to identify potential bullies in preschoolers. I say it's a problem that can be solved with a little God given common sense.
There is one thing that must be done, however; an apology for those who are still looking for closure. Just say that it happened. Some of these kids' only sin was to stand up for others. We owe them that much. As for our school and any other school who feels they came late to the dance on this issue, the beginning of the new school year would be an excellent time to show some character. We expect it from our kids.
As for little Rebecca, I hope she has found the peace in her next life that eluded her in this one.