Bullying drives teen to death
Canada's Rehtaeh Parsons was recently taken off life support after a rape by four schoolmates and taunting forced her to make an attempt on her own life. The teen's violators were released. Read for details and tips on dealing with bullies.
We hear the ringing of a father’s anguished cry over the injustice suffered by his violated daughter and a world that refuses to accept an unfair sentence (or lack thereof) for the ruthless perpetrators. While this heart-wrenching scenario may seem cropped right out of a tragic blockbuster, it is in fact a real life case that has been making headlines this week.
Parents who spot the uncanny similarity between Rehtaeh Parsons’ case and the opening scene of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 American crime film, The Godfather, will only shudder at the strikingly spine-chilling cold-bloodedness that pervades humanity. How could such violence and injustice still exist in our world today?
“Her heart was too big, sometimes it scared me.”
The ubiquitous faceless victim never fails to undermine the savage nature of a crime. Not conforming to this, Rehtaeh Parsons’ family strove to let the world know Rehtaeh as she was -- a sweet, caring and loving girl who saw the best in and loved everything about people and animals.
Her heartbroken father, Glen Cannings, just yesterday on his blog gave his first and only comments to the public on his daughter’s rape, bullying and death. The grief-stricken dad grasped on to the memory of his little girl’s sensitive and bubbly nature, recalling how she was always “giving the heart she had”, while calling out for justice and for the authorities to “For the love of God do something.” The blog post immediately went viral with millions around the globe responding to the father’s despair in their own petition for a fairer verdict.
The worldwide cries for justice in Rehtaeh Parsons’ death was mainly amplified by social media tools, with tweets and updates in the virtual world sparking a frenzy that spread awareness on the case. Online memorial pages on Facebook and other sites were not just created by her own family but also by others inspired by Rehtaeh’s story. Netizens banded together to create an online petition and online hacker group Anonymous has threatened to release the names of the four responsible schoolboys should the injustice prevail. Consequently as of today, the Nova Scotia government has assured that continued measures and follow up action will still be taken with regard to the case.
Teen bullying and teen suicide
While Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was “sickened by the incident”, insists that cases like this are not mere instances of innocuous teasing but instead are categorised as youth criminal activity, we understand that the root causes of such brutal actions are the prevalence and pervasiveness of teen bullying around the world. It is tragic that taunting and bullying have become to many a way of life and a necessary stage of growing up in one’s adolescent years. In the social acquiescence of teen bullying as an unavoidable hurdle in maturation, many fail to realise that bullying can and should actually be stopped! Is there enough done to ensure this is the case, then?
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Evidently, teen bullying has not yet been completely eradicated and admittedly, it would not be soon for such a goal to be reached. Cases such as Rehtaeh Parsons' suicide, as well as the high profile case of teen Amanda Todd’s death after being persistently cyber-stalked and taunted, sporadically hit the masses and spur on continued outreach efforts that aim to curb bullying and its detrimental effects.
In acknowledgement of teen bullying as the underlying reason for such vicious crimes and the appalling suicides of teens who crumble under such immense pressure, it is understood that teen depression and the stress that pushes a young person to take their own life are also vital causes for concern. What parents can do in support of emotionally frustrated or mentally restless teenagers include both spotting the early signs of teen depression as well as having a positive attitude towards it and seeking the right treatment fast.
Stop the cruelty
The frighteningly heartless treatment of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons sends a shiver down parents’ spines, with many even fearing to consider the possibility that their own child might have to be put through that torment too. Bullying in Singapore is definitely not an issue to be overlooked and it is essential to place enough emphasis on preventing such mistreatment in schools. In light of this, mums and dads locally need to realise the importance of ensuring that their child is neither the bully nor being bullied, as well as be able to identify the symptoms of child and teen depression that could spiral into suicidal thoughts.
The world continues mourning the loss of Rehtaeh Parsons and as countless remember her story, even more appreciate the need to counter the growing culture of violence in society today. As Rehtaeh’s dad, Glen, puts it in his blog post, “you have the opportunity here of doing good”. We all have the social responsibility of ensuring that bullying and crimes are put to a halt and teen suicide and depression problems are mitigated. Stories like this nourish the human spirit by motivating us to continue improving our social condition and because of this, if there’s one thing that we know, it’s that Rehtaeh Parsons will not die in vain.
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