Fitting: Leap Day has always been a day for outcasts and iconoclasts, rarities and rituals.
These initiatives and others like them (e.g., Ally Week; the It Gets Better project; NOH8) share similar, important aims: making our communities safer, kinder, more accepting for all our children and teens — regardless of their sex, gender, identity, image. And in every case, that starts when the bullying stops.
I can think of no greater scourge on playgrounds, in locker rooms, on buses, in cafeterias than bullying. Tragically, it isn’t going away. It isn’t even getting better. Bullying has never been worse, the consequences never more fatal than they are right now.
It breaks my heart — and fills my gut with a white-hot rage.
Sticks and stones do break bones, yes. And words? Words cut far deeper, wounding the soul, leaving terrible, horrible, lifelong scars. Anyone who says otherwise has clearly never been the victim of bullying, mercifully so.
I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like for boys and girls growing up in today’s world, what with the Internet and its myriad social media, smart phones and high-speed cellular networks, webcams and waning privacy; to be different, atypical, above or below “average,” anything other than the vaunted “normal.”
Worst of all, for a seemingly endless number of young people, boys in particular, the only way out, the only way to end the pain and the torment, is to end it all.
Think about that for a moment: Being so brutally, viciously, unendingly bullied by your peers, and feeling so alone, so isolated, so helpless to stop it you choose to end your own life.
In the aftermath of his death, I posted the following:
Jamie Hubley’s teachers, his school’s administrators, and the parents of his tormentors should be charged with depraved indifference.
Six months on, I remain convinced of this opinion, more so now than ever before.
Is there such a law on the books in Canada? I know not; but, I do know time has long passed for our society to view bullying as a “boys will be boys” rite of passage, a bit of harmless character building between kids that we, as adults, have no part of, nor are responsible for.
Prejudice isn’t innate, it’s learnt; taught by bigoted parents, encouraged by political and religious zealots, rewarded by those gutless teachers and principals who sit idly by while it occurs on their watch by those in their care.
Make these people answer for their crimes; hold them to account for the decision Jamie Hubley felt he had to make. They are no less guilty than the bullies they nurtured with their hatred, or ignored because of their cowardice.
How many more children must take their own lives before we take seriously this epidemic infecting our schools and playgrounds, community centres and public squares?