A few months ago when the suicides of prepubescent boys in America due to bullying seemed to be catching on as some type of epidemic, I wanted to write about it. But life got the best of me and so the blog entry sat on my hard drive, half way done, saved and quite useless not having met the light of day. When the 11 year old boy from St. Croix committed suicide after being bullied by classmates in the states I felt compelled to write about it. I felt really sad when I heard his story because for me it represented the innocence and security of childhood being lost. At 11 we are care free and enjoying life. Even on the most difficult days at school life is a breeze, right? Think back to when you were 11 and as bad as you thought things were, did you ever feel like life would never be better, or that things would only get worse? Imagine how bad it is when a child sees absolutely no way out. When he thinks that life is not worth living anymore. When he is so unhappy that he believes death is the only escape! When other children have made his world, his life, such a discomfort that he rather not exist in it any longer. If by now you haven’t grasped the severity of what I am saying then I don’t know if you ever will.
Some bajans would probably say, ” I ain know wha bran uh parts dese childrun nowadays got in, but dum bad anuff!” Honestly, I don’t know either, but what I do know is that things have gone too far for too long.
See, I was supposed to write this blog entry months ago, but tonight I had to because I just read an article in the Nation Newspaper online describing how a first form boy, running away from bullies, was hit by a car and died two days later. I had to write this article tonight because in the past I have been guilty of making excuses like “children can be mean sometimes” or “everybody gets bullied at some point” or ” it does only make you stronger”. I decided to write this article because what we have for so long deemed as a culturally adept right of passage, or just part of the growing pains process is exactly the opposite and absolutely NOT OK. The similarity between Ian Gibson and Jaheem Herrera from St. Croix is that neither of them chose death. They were each trying to escape the torture and the torment. Both were trying to escape the only way they knew how at that time.
Maybe it is time that educators in the Caribbean start having a discussion as educators in the US and other countries are having. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and ignore a child’s cries for help (whether the bully or the bullied) or overlook interactions between children as typical. We can’t because as you see the results aren’t quite so typical anymore – suicides, Columbines, Ian Gibson – these are not typical results of childhood interactions. Parents need to be held accountable. Bullies don’t just wake up one day and decide to make Jamar’s life a living hell… they may learn their behavior is effective and right from what they see at home, OR they may be acting out to gain someone’s attention since home is not where they can get any, OR they need a hug, Or they need love, the list goes on and on. Clearly this isn’t the most put together blog entry (since I not too long got in from bday celebrations), but the point that I am trying to make is that no where in the Caribbean, No where on my little rock of bim are we ready to deal with a Columbine. That’s not something that you ever want to reach the stage of having to be prepared for.
SO my question is what are we going to do. What are we going to do now that a father will no longer be able to behold his son except in memory. What are we going to do now that what has been for so long considered to be an understood, unwritten, natural and expected occurrence has turned into the unnatural of child meeting death before parent. I hope that this Ian Gibson’s death will not be in vain. I hope that justice will be served. I hope that the tragedies America has seen will never beget the C’bean. I hope that students speak up for each other. I hope that teachers speak up for students. I hope that parents speak up for and reprimand children accordingly.
P.S. in a more coherent state, I will definitely be writing more about this topic