Posted: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
I was so saddened to read about 11 year old Carl Walker-Hoover’s death earlier this week.
Carl took his life after enduring constant bullying and daily taunts of being gay at school. He was at least the 4th middle schooler this year to commit suicide as a result of being bullied. As a mom to 4 and 6 year old boys, I can barely breathe when I think about one of my precious children becoming so sad and hopeless that he would hang himself in our home. It literally knocks the wind out of me to consider it and I’m tempted to just shift my thoughts to happier things like how much more chocolate I can get away with eating before my boys catch me in their Easter baskets. But I know ignoring or wishing away the horrific thoughts I’m having right now isn’t the right answer. I’m a mom in today’s world which means I have to face the brutal reality that bullying is real, that my kids will be affected by it, and that it can have absolutely devastating consequences.
So what am I going to do about it? For starters, I’m setting aside some time this morning to re-read the Education.com Special Edition on Bullying at School and Online. We published this special edition back in February in partnership with the American Association of School Administrators (AASA). It contains resources for parents and educators to help them get a better understanding of bullying (based on the latest research, not myths) and suggestions of specific actions each can take to help reduce bullying.
I’m going to print out the tip sheet we wrote for parents and make sure I’m doing all I can in my own house to combat bullying. My kids are young, but I know it’s time for me to start talking to them about bullying and what they should do if they’re bullied, if they witness bullying or (gasp) if they think they might have bullied someone else.
I’m also going to send a note to my son’s principal encouraging him to register for a free webinar on bullying Education.com is hosting school administrators on Wednesday , April 29, 2009 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM PDT. The session will be led by Dr. Shelley Hymel – a world renowned expert on bullying. Any administrator is welcome to register. I know that schools are doing a lot to manage bullying. But it’s not enough.
Our children deserve to have the opportunity to feel safe and happy every day in school. No child should ever feel the complete sadness that Carl Walker-Hoover must have felt when he took his life – before it really even had a chance to begin.
I hope you’ll join me in doing whatever you can today to help prevent another senseless tragedy like Carl Walker-Hoover’s death. Bullying is not going to go away on its own. It’s going to take all of us – every breathless mother, every busy principal, every one of us – to keep our kids safe from this terrible thing.
Rest in Peace Carl.