This week’s media coverage of gay teens who have committed suicide recently appears to highlight the fact that teen suicide among gays is not only climbing at an alarming rate, but also appears to be perpetuated by the epidemic of bullying in our country.
Bullying has probably always been a problem to some degree or another in American schools. However, parents who currently have children enrolled in school know that the problem of bullying is more than just a problem, really. And it is definitely not just a problem experienced by gay teens. Bullying has essentially become standard in the school environment, and the intensity and degree of impact on children has become such that the public now routinely hears about kids, gay and straight, who have committed suicide due to being bullied and teased.
It isn’t difficult to understand why gay teens would be targeted by those disturbed individuals who are the ones responsible for bullying others in schools. Those who bully and tease typically target children who seem different, even in the smallest of ways. So children who are different to a substantial degree, such as those who are gay (along with those who are overweight, developmentally delayed, or physically different from most children), are obviously at an even greater risk for being bullied, teased, and tormented by other children who are capable of such disturbing behavior. When there are stories in the news about children who are willing to set other children on fire, it isn’t tough to see why the stressful environment imposed by children and teens who are capable of tormenting and harming others would lead to increased suicides among kids in these age groups.
With the suicide of Tyler Clementi of Rutgers University, who has been reported by his family to have committed suicide, the tragedy of gay teens committing suicide due to bullying and harassment is once again in the spotlight. Tyler was reportedly secretly filmed by two other students during a sexual encounter. The video was then broadcast on the Internet. The two individuals who did the filming are now in police custody, but that won’t ever change the fact that they ultimately drove him to commit suicide, and destroyed the life of a young, beautiful human being. One who likely had more potential and promise as a human being than these two sick individuals would have ever possessed in their lifetimes, combined.
But Tyler isn’t the only gay teen to have committed suicide this Fall. Two 13 year olds, and a 15 year old, all boys, also committed suicide in recent weeks. Each one had been reportedly bullied, ridiculed, and teased at school. Some had even reportedly been told by their tormentors to “go kill themselves”.
It seems clear that if drastic measures are not taken in the very near future, that we will most likely hear story after story in the future of more teens, gay and otherwise, committing suicide due to being bullied. I don’t know what the answer is when it comes to trying to stop kids and teens from bullying and tormenting others. I don’t believe that there is a solution that our current school and government systems would ever be willing to adopt that would address the issue of bullying and teasing to a degree that was truly sufficient. Personally, I think any child who cannot, even at the earliest of ages, be successfully taught or trusted to treat others with decency and respect, simply should not be in attendance at the same schools with those who can. Collectively, my children have attended about 16 years of public school. I have witnessed firsthand the fact that the problem doesn’t just lie with a few children who happen to be abnormally cruel.
The truth is, that the majority of children in our country are not taught to care about the feelings or well being of others; not taught to respect anyone, and are generally set loose on the rest of society as these monstrous little people who gain some kind of satisfaction from inflicting emotional cruelty onto others. We were lucky to encounter 3 or 4 really “good” kids in a single classroom. Sometimes, there weren’t even that many.
Our experiences came from 7 different schools, across 3 different states. So it’s not just that we happened to be in one particularly “bad” school. In truth, we found the same problems to exist in every school we utilized. We homeschool now, but we still see truly rotten kids wherever we go; whether it’s to the movie theater, the grocery store, Disneyland, or a city park. No matter where you are in our country anymore, it seems simply that kids are kids are kids. And unfortunately, in our country at this time, the majority of parents seem to feel comfortable with the fact that their children are uncaring, unfeeling, mean, selfish little people. Until that changes, if it ever changes, I just don’t see how the problem of children and teens, gay or not, committing suicide as a result of being bullied and teased, will ever improve.