Most of the country has heard the sad case of the Rutgers college student, Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after his roommates covertly video-taped his romantic relations with another person. Though not an exactly similar case, is the one of the bullied 15 year old girl, Phoebe Prince, in Massachusetts who committed suicide after months of bullying. But is there a common link between the needless deaths of these two students who had a whole life in front of them?
One was musically talented and the other was an attractive student at her high school where she attracted the attention of some male students. Perhaps for these reasons other students were jealous and decided to “cut down to size” their fellow classmates. Certainly the “old school” educational systems, prevalent on the east coast where these incidents took place, could possibly over emphasize humiliation and disrespect of students, which could have encouraged the bullies in these cases. Massachusetts wisely enacted legislation to deal with the issue of bullying in their schools, likely Rutgers college will have to make similar changes in its policy.
What parents, and school educators, may not realize is that school bullying can take a variety of forms, such as emotional and verbal abuse, in addition to the more stereotypical physical abuse. The age of the internet and technological innovation has spawned a new medium which can be used to ostracize and humiliate others in new ways.
Worse yet, bullying is institutionalized in a number of educational systems in which teachers feel that they have a right, even a duty, to humiliate students. Perhaps contrary to popular beliefs, bullying done by superiors and fellow students is destructive to the learning process. Sadly, the solution to preventing such callous acts in the future would require perhaps a national bill of student rights, and change usually doesn’t happen until a tragedy occurs.