The topic: Bullying.
Yes, I'm serious. I got the idea to switch the topic of the blogpost when I saw that #RIPSophie was trending on Twitter on this afternoon. Naturally, I clicked on it to see what was up even though I don't personally know any Sophie's, and so wasn't that alarmed.
Turns out that Sophie is another victim of bullying and it is thought to have committed suicide, tweeting about it moments before.
Stories like this break my heart. And unfortunately, they are much too frequent. When I hear about teens or even younger than teens committing suicide because of bullying, a thousand questions jump into my mind, each one an infection, spreading to even more questions that I don't think can ever be answered.
Why do people bully others? What do they get out of it. Joy? Relief? Are all bullies just sick, twisted people or are they the poor, misunderstand adolescents they've always been labeled as? Maybe a little of both? What right does one person have over another's life? What gives you permission to end a person's life? Why you? And why them?
When I was in elementary school, I was bullied. Quite harshly, in fact, as the girl put her hands on me quite a few times and left marks on my skin. Even just ten years ago, bullying was highly overlooked by teachers and school administrators. The principal of my school called me into the office and actually asked me this question: "Well, what are you doing to provoke her?"
I could only stare. Was he kidding me? I finally had worked up the courage to say something and they didn't even believe me. It was a harsh slap in the face; one who's sting hasn't quite faded.
Coming off that story, my next comment might be a little biased.
But...it's the adults that don't want to listen. I've said it many times before and I'll say it many times again...they see what they want to see and they hear what they want to hear. I'm trying my best not to sound like an resentful teenager. And I'll thank you in advance for not treating me like one.
But they don't listen. They didn't when I was nine and they don't now. Laws and rules are being put into place all over this country to eradicate bullying but it's not going to happen. Not until the people in charge take off the blinders that make them so susceptible to making these deadly errors in judgment. If a girl comes to you, as a teacher, a parent, an administrator, and she's fearful of a kid in the grade, listen to her. If your child comes home with his head hanging down and starts complaining about classmates, listen. For God's sake, if any child has the courage and strength to lift their head and whisper their shameful secret...LISTEN.
To all the bullies out there (and they know exactly who they are, as cliche as that sounds):
This has got to stop.
This victimizing, hazing, destroying of lives must end. Every single one of you has a light inside you, just waiting to be lit. Sometimes, that light is going to be hard to find and maybe you're even a little afraid of the dark. But that doesn't give you the right to go extinguish someone else's. Look around. Instead of tormenting, hold our your hand because chances are, the person next to you needs help striking the match just as much as you do. But I, along with countless others, are asking, begging you to be the beginning of the end. It might be the only chance you get (and I hope it's not) to change someone's life. So smile next time instead of saying something ugly. Hold your hand out instead of your foot. Make a difference.
I know this one blogpost (and it's a long one, I'm sorry) isn't going to change the world. Hell, I don't even know if people read this thing. But if you do, please don't shake your head and call it a rant. We're all at fault here. Take action and open your ears because sometimes those cries for help are muttered in whispers instead. Into pillows, lockers, best friend's shoulders. But you have the chance to help and if you do, I promise you one thing:
You will never, ever regret it.