September 2011, a 14-year-old in Buffalo commits suicide.
November 2011, a 10-year-old Illinois fifth grader takes her life.
March 2012, a 17-year-old high school students hangs herself at school stadium near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
What do all of these cases have in common? Their families say excessive bullying drove them to their death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults. Nearly 149,000 young people will attempt suicide this year.
I’ve never been bullied to the point I wanted to take my own life. I have been on the other side of harsh taunts and criticism. My heart goes out to all of these children who were so consumed by pain and grief that they felt there was no other way out. I sympathize with them 110%. Still, another side of me wonders, if parents, if adults, aren’t at fault too.
I think we’ve created this world for our kids where we teach them they HAVE TO be liked. A world where we teach them they HAVE TO be accepted. Instead of telling our kids, “Sweetheart, not everyone is going to be your friend but that doesn’t mean you’re not somebody”, we have parents living vicariously through their children making sure they are hanging out with the popular crowd.
We cripple our kids by not helping them work through their failures. Now-a-days youth sports don’t cut kids from teams and youth activities give everyone a blue ribbon. Everyone is a winner. That’s not realistic.
I remember being devastated when I was probably about 10-years-old because after several years of winning a church oratorical contest, I got second place. It was heartbreaking. Looking back, that experience was one of my best lessons. I learned quickly that I’m not always going to be number one. It’s this experience that equipped me to deal with other disappointments I’d face later in life.
I know that seems like such a menial example. My point is , we’ve gotta make sure our kids know from early on they live in a world where it’s a hard knock life. We have to equip them will skills to succeed, speak up and fight back verbally (and yes even with their fists) when necessary. We have to give our kids the self-esteem they may not get at school or through their peers. I’ve never been a parent, but I can say, my parents, out of all the things they’ve given me, self-worth is one of the greatest gifts.