Teen’s bullying death the saddest of stories

Among the most heart-wrenching, deeply troubling stories in the news last week was that of a 12-year-old Florida girl who committed suicide after being bullied for nearly a year.

Investigators are looking into whether charges can be filed against some of the 15 or so girls who ganged up on Rebecca Ann Sedwick, probably goading her into killing herself.

Her diary and computer are full of evidence of mind-numbing cruelty by the other girls. Some urged her to commit suicide. In December, Sedwick was hospitalized for three days after cutting her wrists. At the time, she said she did so because of bullying. So pervasive was the harassment at her middle school that finally, her mother withdrew her and began home-schooling the girl. The enormous amount of bullying Sedwick suffered – and the sometimes public manner in which it was delivered – poses a question: How was it that no one did anything effective to stop the harassment? Most school systems have anti-bullying programs and policies, and no doubt so did the district in which Sedwick attended school.

Sadly, this type of tragedy is not unknown in our own area, as Nov. 5 will mark the third anniversary since Midd-West High School student Brandon Bitner ended his own life. Many of his classmates said he, too, was a victim of bullying.

Our schools play a crucial role in educating our children about the harmful impact of bullying, but we must be careful not to shirk our own responsibility as parents and community members in this regard. Putting a stop to bullying begins with each of us – at home.