Cute kid, right? Looks like a boy you'd love to have in your class. Looks happy, wouldn't you say? Yes well, looks are deceiving. He killed himself August 11th. Hung himself from a belt in the attic. His sister found him. Because he was being bullied.
I have huge issues with the bullying push going on today. I think all of the attention is doing more harm than good. Reporting on stories of kids killing themselves, gives other kids ideas. Well he or she couldn't take it anymore and neither can I. Also I think they bullying message is being misrepresented. What bullying is and what it isn't. You did something embarrassing in class, you farted, your pants ripped, you busted your butt while giving a presentation, and everyone made fun of you for a few days or a week isn't bullying. But a lot of kids seem to think it is. I can't tell you how many kids come up to me and say, "So and so is bullying me." And when I look into it, so and so is being mean today. Just today. Of course, I address it but I have to explain that's not bullying.
Bullying is when you have no respite from the torment. Day in, day out you are the relentless target of someone whose sole purpose is to make your life a living hell. This could be going on for a few days, weeks, months, whatever. This is way harder to address. My kids know I have no tolerance for any kind of mean behavior. That is laid out on the line for them on Day 1. They are told that the behavior will not be tolerated, and if it really is bullying, I will personally call the cops (bullying incidents are mandated police reporting in NY) and make sure the matter is dealt with.
Does this help at all? I like to think so, but does it?
I've read the suicide letter. His parents posted in on Facebook. He names the teachers who did nothing, and the one teacher who tried to help. I don't ever want to see my name in this context. So am I doing enough? What can I do differently? How can I make this never happen to any of my students? I don't know the answers. Be available? I like to think I am. Be tough? I know I am. But does it help at all?
Why did this case make me write this post? There are cases like this everyday. Why this one? I know his parents. I grew up with them. I hung out with them. No, we never got along. There was one memorable bar fight started because of an incident concerning the three of us. But I know them, and even if we never got along, this is something so horrific that I wish I could say something to make them feel better, less horrified, less devastated. What can I say? What can I do? I wish I knew. I wish I could spare all other parents this pain. All I can do know is trust that what I'm doing is helping, look out for the signs of bullying, and intervene when I think there's an issue. Bullying will never end. Kids will never stop, that's what some kids do. No, I'm not being pessimistic, I'm being realistic. Being realistic is the best way I know how to deal with this problem. I hope it helps.
|Daniel Fitzpatrick GoFundMe|
His older sister set up a GoFundMe page. They met their original goal of getting enough money to bury him. With the extra money, they want to set up a foundation to help other kids. If you're interested, please click on the link above. Thank You.