‘Please be kind’

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Front page - Steve Bartlett Steve Bartlett is an edi­tor with the SaltWire Net­work. Reach him at­steve. bartlett@thetele­gram.com.

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.”

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