It has taken me a few days to sort out my emotions enough to write about this.
On one hand I realize our story is just one of thousands being told daily. On the other hand our story is every bit as important as any other. We all do what we can do. I write.
My 10 year old grandson has Asperger’s. He is such an amazing boy. In some ways he is an ancient soul contained in a red headed, somewhat awkward, pre-pubescent boy’s body and in others he is just a little boy who is scared and unsure.
He makes me laugh. We have Skype time as he is in the States and I am in Australia – and we talk about life and his dreams. We had made a special Skype date, he wanted to take me to his open house at his new school so he could show me where he would be and all of the cool things that were there. He was really excited about doing robotics.
He has an interesting perspective of the world. I listen and help him explore his thoughts. He reads me stories he has written, and he is really good. We talk about the book he wants to write this summer and he sends me bits and pieces for my approval. Sometimes I see he has tried to call me several times in one day and sometimes days go by. He likes it most when everyone else has gone out and we can talk privately in his room.
It is pretty awesome to know a 10 year old boy thinks you are cool and likes to hang out with you.
That is why when I found out that he has been repeatedly bullied until he wanted to take his own life and had to be hospitalized, I was devastated.
You think about all the things like why hadn’t I known or seen some evidence it was that bad? Being on the other side of the world does not help either. I am frustrated that when a child is bullied they can end up dead. Many more are either placed in a psychiatric unit or on heavy medications and have to go for therapy. Some end up on street drugs. Others can end up picking up a gun and taking out half their school. Those that survive their childhood and the bullying bury their experiences until they have children and once again, all those raw nerves are fired up.
My daughter, the mother of Noah, was bullied. We tried to talk to the parents, the church we all belonged to, the school she attended, and the police. Nothing was done. Speaking up resulted in further victimization. Over the years not one of the bullies has ever sought her out to apologize. Think about that for a moment because as I stated earlier, ours is just one story among thousands.
Why is it we only talk about the victims needing help? We take them off to psychiatric units or load them on drugs. The children who bully today know that some kids end up committing suicide. They can see that their victim is being impacted, they can see it is getting worse, and they don’t stop. They usually escalate. Why are we not taking THESE children to psychiatric units and getting them the help they need? Why is a child who breaks the one who goes? I am just asking because common sense would suggest that if you stop the bullying, the other child would have no need of “treatment.” Treating the victim solves the problem for one child. Treating the bullies would solve the problem for everyone.
Why are the victims left with the damage, the stigma, and the cost to deal with the issues caused by someone else?
Noah’s “fight” will not be about retaliation. His war is going to be played on the battlefield of his soul with those bullies forming the warriors he must conquer in order to convince himself he matters. Every person he meets in his life will be impacted by the impression he now has that people hate him and he is worthless. His fight against his bullies is actually a war with himself.
I am concerned about bullying. I have written about it before. I don’t think we fully understand why it is happening. I don’t think our solutions are much more than applying band aids.
For some reason, ” it has always been,” has become this excuse/reason that allows us to relegate a problem to a lesser degree of concern. We get more upset over new problems, but if we went through it, and our parents did too … you know, really, it is just part of growing up. Right? Any attention currently focussed on bullying is primarily because of social media, which is a new twist on the problem. It allows bullies greater access to their victims with a punchier delivery and the ability to pull more supporters and deliver them into the safety of a victims most private moments. So the new attention is centred on how to keep your child safe online.
It still does not address the real problem. It has not identified the source.
There are two points here I would like to make.
1. Our children, the most privileged generation in history, despite having so much and so many opportunities, are not healthy, and happy, and well adjusted. They are so driven to be successful, to compete, to win . . . that they have equated being of value with what they do and accomplish and win. They don’t know they have any value without worldly success. They see mistakes as evidence of their worthlessness instead of opportunities to learn. They measure themselves constantly against others to see if they win or at least are in the top 10 and they think that money and position is everything worth anything in life. And while they strive to be and do all that, inside they are filled with doubt. Push that in one direction and you take advantage of the weakness in others. Push that in another direction and you try to erase yourself from life so no-one will look at you and see what a loser you are. Neither is a good outcome.
2. Our children are never going to master the life skills required to overcome this problem when their own parents model bullying behaviour in their own homes.
Look at any discussion on line and usually within 4-5 posts it moves from talking about the situation or subject to a personal attack on the people commenting. Turn on the television, check the news, or go to You Tube and see how interactions with police, doctors, court, teachers …. move from dealing with the issue to one of intimidation that involves attacking a person emotionally or physically in some way so as to make them comply. We drive our cars in such a way as to force other drivers to let us have our way. We do the same with our grocery carts in a store. We insist our “friends” think about others and act like we do towards them or they face losing our friendship. The world is full of endless groups and clubs and organizations where those that belong do not identify with or act kindly with those who do not.
The whole world thrives on bullying.
Nations hate other nations because we are different.
And it is all our problem.
Neither position nor money buys happiness. Working ourselves to death to have more things and a higher position is killing us. There is a reason when people become ill or break that we step back from all of that and focus on nature, our families, and quiet things down. Because THIS is both health and happiness.
And on our way to creating a world that could actually look like that and not be obsessed with artificial, temporary fixes that are killing us, we can work on being kinder and more accepting of others. We can stop trying to force people to do what we want. We can stop using people. Think about what we model for our children and why they might go to school and pick on a child that is vulnerable.
Noah was taken to a hospital where the staff bullied his parents into doing what they wanted. They lied, they attacked their parenting, their knowledge . . . and he saw and heard it all. And those were the people who bundled him up in an ambulance to send him for “help.” Help is going to have to include convincing him that not everyone in the world hates him or wants him to harm himself. We have to help him believe he is “worthy” of love. Yes, he was bullied, but not just by the kids, he was bullied by the very people who are supposed to be helping him.
THAT is what is wrong with the whole mess. And until we see that, we are not fixing a damn thing despite all the cute and moving videos and posters we put up. You can’t paint over broken.
If you would like to leave a message of encouragement for Noah for him to read when he is released please feel free to join our Facebook Group and post here.
If you would like to help the family with their ongoing medical bills and expenses to care for Noah please go to this page to donate. Any amount is deeply appreciated and makes a difference.