Read through the stories and use the comments in brackets and the discussions to talk about these situations and your child’s relevant situations. The websites that the information comes from are also listed.

 Jared High

http://jaredstory.com

Jared High was a nice kid. He was well liked. His speech developed late, and so he became very physical as a young child. He was a climber. “there wasn’t anything that Jared couldn’t climb. He was the kind of boy who had lots of tricks up his sleeve.” – (Jared’s sister E! Investigates: Bullying) He was great on the trampoline.

Jared attended grade 6 at McLoughlin Middle School in Pasco, Washington. Because of his verbal skills he was put in some specialized classes, but he didn’t let that stop him. In  He joined the ball team as a manager.

(We see that Jared might be assessed as a vulnerable child – but that being said, it is not only vulnerable children who are at risk of being affected by bullying actions. Children using bully actions are often doing it to gain a type of status. This makes all children vulnerable.)

 CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

Why do people in your school use bully actions?

When you have used a bully action, why have you used it?

Around 4:30, baseball practice wasn’t over, but Jared was headed off. He said there was a kid that had been teasing him, and treating him badly. The reason is unknown. It could have been anything.

(We see three steps on the bully spiral here. Jared has been approached and groomed, and the person using bully actions has decided he makes a good target. It is here where a child needs to learn to first stop bullying, through confident reactions and expectations of how they will be treated. The bully actions go on to deliberate teasing and threats.)

CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

Do you have any people around you who seem to be testing your reactions?

Have you ever been in that situation?

The boy followed Jared in the gym, beat him up, threw him on the floor, kicked him. The boy said Jared started it. The fight was viewed by bystanders. No one stood up.

(Repeated hurtful actions include these ones, and those that have come before. The peer influence is seen here. It is very likely that at least one of these peers would have liked to have had an understanding of how to put an end to the situation. When peers do not stand up. Abuse, violence and bully actions continue.)

 CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

Have you ever been in a situation where you did not stand up for someone? What was it? How did you feel?

 

Have you ever been in a situation where you did stand up for someone? What was going on? How did you feel?

 

CLASS OR FAMILY ACTIVITY SUGGESTION: Watch the show “What would you do?” from ABC. Clips and full episodes are found here: http://abcnews.go.com/WhatWouldYouDo/

After the incident Jared was sick, throwing up. He didn’t want to talk.

(It is not uncommon for children to have difficulty discussing traumatic situations with their parents. Parents don’t know what to ask, and children don’t know what to tell. It’s a bad combination. When your child is distressed, it is important that you ask some questions that they will tolerate, to try to get them talking about their experience and their fears)

 

CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

Has there ever been a time when you didn’t want to talk to your parents about something? What was it? What would have been needed for you to feel safe to talk?

The next day Jared and the other boy were put in a room together. Both kids were blamed and suspended for 3 days.

(In this case, the children were not stereotyped as bully and victim, so much as the context of the bullying situation was simply ignored. This results in a re-victimization, and the fear of the next bully action remaining unaddressed)

 CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

What is the difference between blaming someone else and taking responsibility? How does it feel to be blamed for something you don’t feel you did?

After this point, Jared started showing signs of depression. He was less fun-loving, played less. His sister had to talk him into going to the park with her. He stopped playing on the trampoline and the computer. He would stay up all night.

(Experiencing bully actions, and an ongoing fear of bully actions happening can definitely lead to depression. Depression is an unhealthy and primarily negative world view. It may be biological or situational. Experiencing bully actions may cause an increase in the probability of activating biological depression.)

 CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

Is depression a biological issue in our family? Have we been susceptible? What about anxiety? Are there times when people in your family have felt depressed but been ashamed to admit it?

In fall 1998, 12 year old Jared High was still haunted by memories. He transferred to a new school. He was somber, not very talkative. His family was considering counselling. His 13th birthday was celebrated by his family and is remembered as a happy time by his family.

(While changing schools may alleviate current bullying situations, it does not arm children with tools to prevent future situations, or to deal emotionally with the past situations. Children need to have bully actions against them acknowledged, and be provided with an opportunity to address the emotions and inaccurate thinking that have developed through the bullying situation)

CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

When have you been bullied? What did you do? Did people around you listen? Did anything change if they did?

A short time later, Jared called his dad to say goodbye…and shot himself while he was on the phone with his father. “I would never have left if I had any idea he would have done such a thing.” – Brenda High.

(Jared has skipped the “hurt before being hurt” part of the cycle. He is likely uncomfortable with using bully actions, and his anger turns inward. He has moved to self-destruction. No parent wants their child to feel this bereft, and no parent would choose this, however it is extremely common for children to internalize their feelings and be unable to express the feelings to their parents. This means that sometimes there are no warning signs that a child is thinking in such an extreme manner.)

 CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

This is a difficult but important topic. Ask:
Have you ever felt like hurting yourself? Killing yourself?

If the answer is yes, assess current risk and the need for getting some supportive help with your situation. This is a scary question, but the answer is better known than unknown.

Let your child know that the majority of people think about suicide at some point in their lives…either actively, with a plan, or passively – “I wish I just wouldn’t wake up tomorrow.” It isn’t a defect, it’s a coping method that needs to be replaced with problem solving, balanced thinking and treatment for depression.

Jared’s parents launched a lawsuit in September 1999, High Vs. Pasco School District – they believed that the school did not handle the assault situation properly. The school protested, saying Jared had already left the school by the time he committed suicide. The case was settled out of court in March 2003.

It’s been a wake up call. Pasco School District has changed some of its policies. Schools now have to track situations of bullying and harassment and are doing more work to try to get ahead of the problem. Brenda became an activist and now works to change laws around bullying. In Jan 2002 Brenda testified in support of legislation to fix the problem. When Washington states bullying law was passed she was thrilled. She wrote Bullycide in America, a compilation of personal stories from parents who lost children.

Jared’s family wants Jared seen as a normal boy. This could happen to anyone. The family continues to take skittles to Jared’s grave. Most of all, they want people to understand that it is important to be a hero, not a bully.

 

 Phoebe Prince

http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/passionateeyeshowcase/2011/phoebeprince/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Phoebe_Prince

 

Pheobe moved from Ireland to South Hadley Massachusetts in 2009 with her American mother. Her father stayed behind in Irelarnd. Pheobe had experienced bullying in Ireland, but the primary reason for making the move was to give Pheobe and her sister the opportunity to experience the United States.

(The fact that Phoebe had difficulties in Ireland is being used to mitigate some of the consequences for the bullying in South Hadley. This is offensive to some people.)

 CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION: Does the fact that someone has had trouble before mean it is okay to be mean to them now?

It appears that Phoebe did well in the school initially, but became involved in two relationships that became a focal point of bullying that she began to experience. She had been called names, and taunted by two sets of friends. On January 14, 2010, after being harassed and taunted during the day, a student threw a can at her from a passing car as she walked home. She committed suicide by hanging herself in the family’s home, and was discovered by her younger sister. Even after her death, crude comments about her were posted on a facebook memorial page.

(The bullying went on for a long period of time, and there was likely testing and grooming here as well)

CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

What are the steps a child in this situation can do to try to stop the bully actions as soon as possible?

D.A. Scheibel, in her statement, indicates thatPhoebe’s harassment was common knowledge to the student body and to some of the staff and administrators. This contrasted previous claims by school Superintendent that school officials had been unaware of the bullying at the school.

(This situation was not diagnosed properly. Because the issues seemed to stem from teenage relationships, the bully actions were minimized or ignored.)

 CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

What kinds of issues might start off bully actions in your school?

How do the bully actions usually look?

Nine teenagers were charged, with charges ranging from statutory rape for the two male teenagers involved, to stalking,  violation of civil rights, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly. At the time of this writing, trials are pending.

(This is the top of the bullying spiral)

CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

How was Pheobe’s life destroyed? How are the lives of the people who used bully actions affected?

_____

 Evan Ramsey

http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=5040342&page=1

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1999/08/17/60II/main58625.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Ramsey

Evan Ramsey vividly remembers the day in February 1997, the 19th, when he took a twelve-guage shotgun to school, and killed the principal and a basketball star.

“I honestly believed that if you shoot somebody, that they would get back up.’ (ABC News)

Two people died in the shooting. At least two of Ramsey’s friends knew that he was planning it. One friend was asked for a gun and the second for advice on how to use it. The two friends told other students, and Ramsey was given encouragement to carry out his task.  On the morning of the shooting, 10 to 15 kids stood ready to watch something that they knew was going to happen.Ramsey feels that he could have been easily stopped.

(The role of the bystander, halfway up the bullying spiral is huge, in this issue. Evan was bullied, and in retaliation and to gain power, planned to use a bully action in return. Neither series of events was stopped by bystanders.)

CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:
Have you ever been involved in something that you found it hard to back out of?

Evan walked into his school and started shooting. Reyne Athanas, the art teacher heard a popping sound. She thought it was firecrackers and went into the hall to see what was happening. She was met by a stream of kids screaming, “He’s got a gun; he’s got a gun.”

By this time Evan had already shot his first victim, Josh Palacios. Athanas told Evan to put the gown down. He left. Minutes later, he returned and killed the principal, Ron Edwards. Evan then put the gun under his chin, but he never committed suicide. After a short standoff with police, he surrendered. Evan states his main objective of going into the high school was to commit suicide.

(Evan had been bullied by both adults and peers in his life. Despite having a difficult life, no one picked Evan out as a child who needed extra support.)

CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

Have you ever been bullied by a family member?

Is it harder to report bullying when it is a family member, or a friend?

Do you know anyone who seems like Evan, who could use extra support or friendship?

Prior to the shooting, Evan had a difficult life. He lived through the imprisonment and criminal activities of his parents, his mother’s alcoholism and several foster homes. He suffered sexual abuse and humiliation in at least one of the foster homes. It was found that he attempted suicde at age 10, and was depressed by a young age. Evan felt that no one understood the rejection he felt. Evan received a 210 year sentence.

(It has been shown that few peers who see their friend having difficulty, whether in the form of retaliation, suicidal plans, or using bully actions, will tell an adult. They need training on who to tell and what to expect when they do. Bystanders do not feel safe in reporting threats or problems)

CLASS OR FAMILY DISCUSSION:

What is tattling? (Trying to get someone IN trouble)

What is telling? (Trying to get someone OUT of trouble)
Have you ever tattled? What happened?

Have you ever told? What happened?