Still another high school student in still another American community has now committed suicide after becoming the target of still another bunch of bullies. 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr., who attended South O’Brien High School in Paullina, Iowa, committed suicide after friends and family say classmates sent him death threats on his cell phone and made him the subject of a Facebook hate group. While details are scarce, you can read more about Kenneth here and here.
Bullying is a form of abuse and should be a crime everywhere; like other crimes, it will probably only stop when more of those who engage in bullying are arrested, prosecuted, and punished. But far too many American communities continue to look the other way when it comes to bullying. Can anything make a difference and help end this epidemic of suicides?
I’m far from an expert, but one suggestion I’ve heard intrigues me. Suppose courageous students in every school decided to form a student group whose sole mission was to defend every victim of bullying without exception. Often the task of standing up to bullies falls to Gay Straight Alliances in the schools.
But we know the bigots and haters try to marginalize the GSAs wherever they exist as special interest groups trying to push the homosexual agenda, whatever the fuck that is; and we also know some kids are reluctant to join GSAs because they are afraid of being perceived as gay themselves. And most importantly, we know it’s not just LGBT kids who are bullied. Kids are bullied for lots of reasons, usually because they are different somehow.
A group of students committed to standing up and assisting any victim of bullying in their school – gay or straight, black, brown, yellow, red or white, male or female, whatever – could hardly be marginalized as some kind of special interest group. This kind of group wouldn’t have to be an alternative to the GSAs or other groups. But it could make it easier for kids who want to do the right thing to take a stand because of the very universality of its mission.
Whether this is a good idea is hard to say and I’m certainly open to other suggestions. Feel free to share them. In the meantime, here is a musical tribute to Kenneth put together by his family and friends. It’s sad that this is the best I can do for this boy.