For as many people who go out of their way to say something nice, there are a few bad apples who think it quite acceptable to spout words of hate believing their actions have little or no consequence to their victims; this is never the case. Last week it was reported that a fourteen year old boy named Jamey Rodemeyer had taken his own life after suffering a sustained campaign of homophobic abuse at school and online. Some of the messages read “’JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!’ while another said: ‘I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it 🙂 It would make everyone WAY more happier!’
New York police have said they are considering charging three students for sending messages of hate, after being told that a group of students had been identified as those who had targeted Jamie both during school hours and online. Although it is commendable that the police are taking action, it is shocking that this young man took his life saying on his blog: “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”
Having been the victim of bullying, I know how a few people can make your life a living hell. Thankfully I had people around me who took notice to what I was saying and I was able to make the bullies face up to what they were doing. Although Jamey had the support from his family and spoke out about LGBT bullying in his personal video on the “It Gets Better” website, the system let him down. Instead of those in authority asking him how these words made him feel, more should have been done in tackling the perpetrators who were sending these messages of hate.
What is horrifying is to hear that here in the UK it is estimated that sixteen children take their own life each year because of bullying. Thankfully there are many parents, school teachers and children who have seen the signs of bullying and stepped in to help, as have groups like Diversity Role Models. Diversity Role Models are a group who are going into schools and talking about differences in sexuality. It has been shown that schools that tackle the issue of homophobic bullying, 60% LGBT student are less likely to be bullied. It goes without saying that students feel safer and diversity becomes less of an issue for all.
Although groups like Bully Online and Diversity Role Models are able to reach out through their website and school visits, it is up to all of us to speak out against bullying in all its forms, to look out for each other and to take other peoples cries for help seriously, regardless of their age, sexuality or gender.