‘Please be kind’
This space is designed to be a break from the daily grind.
However, there’s no escaping reality this week.
A tragedy is distracting, troubling and having a deep impact on me.
I feel an obligation to write about it, not the fare normally tackled here.
You see, a 14-year-old from rural Newfoundland has left us far too soon.
Social media posts suggest she was being bullied before she died, that someone was pushing her to end her life.
“I really just want u to die before u have the time to have a life,” reads a screenshot allegedly written by her bully.
The RCMP and this province’s chief medical examiner are investigating.
I can’t stop thinking about the girl, her family and the others involved, including the selfish person who wrote that text.
It’s been a struggle to make sense of what happened on so many levels.
As a father of two schoolaged kids, what happened to the teenager is devastating. While shedding a tear for the girl and the people who loved her, you look at your own children and try not to think someone could one day be so mean to them. You realize a young life has been stolen and wonder about the best way to protect kids.
As someone who was bullied at around the same age, you wonder how you’d fare in today’s world. In my day, the bully was limited to picking on you in or after school. Today, technology — text messaging and social media — has given bullies access to their victims 24 hours a day. It’s a dangerous and unpredictable situation. How do we, every one of us, combat that?
And as a newspaper editor, it’s incredibly difficult to report what happened. It’s painful and heartbreaking, but you need to reflect what happens in our communities — the good and the bad — in hopes the journalism will lead to change, to private and public dialogue that will reduce the chance of such tragedy happening again. You have to be sensitive to those who are grieving and there are legal considerations, but you believe the public — especially parents and decision-makers — need to know when tragedies happen and something needs to be done.
I don’t have the solution to this, although encouraging and welcoming open communication —Let’s Talk, as the Bell campaign suggests — must play a role.
One of the teen’s friends offered a great piece of advice on Facebook.
It’s something we all need to remember to make this a better place.
“What some people are capable of saying to one is so sickening,” her post said. “How much does it take to be a decent human being? Just please everyone, please, be kind.”