Monday, February 17, 2014

How Do We Address the Cyberbullycides?

No suicide or lesser self-harm activities occur in a vacuum. They are the culmination of pain that is either chronic or extreme. And, even most of the families admit that cyberbullying alone doesn't kill.

I was in the Canadian North Western Territories (in the arctic circle). I was working with students at an amazing school in Yellowknife. I asked them how many young people have committed suicide in connection with cyberbullying. They responded: "millions," "484675," or "one everyday for the last five years."

When I explained that we don't have hard numbers, but estimates in North America is about 40. They were shocked. "Is it fair to say 'cyberbullying kills?'" I asked. They looked at each other and nodded. Then I asked, "...but does it always kill?" They looked confused.

"Not always," they responded.

"Then what does it always do, if it doesn't always kill?" I asked.

In unison, they shouted "it always hurts!"

Cyberbullying always hurts. It can sometimes contribute to suicide, but it ALWAYS hurts.

I had heard this first in #PEI, at a small Christian school. The students were concerned about our focusing too much on the suicides. One very wise young man told me that we can't forget the suicides. "They show what happens when you don't get the right kind of help to young people who are being hurt," he said. "But, we can't romanticize or sensationalize them."

I didn't know what to say. He and his classmates had articulated the issue and come up with a solution. We need to teach students that, if all fails, suicide may be the result. That's why we have to pay attention to the pain it causes, ways we can intervene and help to make sure they don't happen again."

The students in Yellowknife took it further. "We can't do anything about those young people who took their own lives, but we can do something about those who are still alive!"

1 comment:

  1. I am a teacher and have followed your work for many years. My sister was lucky enough to hear you speak in Billings, Montana, a few years ago.

    My third graders are always affected whenever there is another suicide reported that is connected to cyberbullying.

    I have been trying to work with them so that they won't be afraid, but are careful.

    I think I will follow your lead and talk about this frankly. They think that others are dying everyday. By looking at the real impact, we can help them focus on helping themselves and others so there will be no more casualties of pain.

    I have always wanted to "meet" you. Just saw that you are allowing comments.

    Thank you for what you do. If you need help, I am here for you.


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