In honour of Carson Crimini, 14 of Walnut Grove BC who was relentlessly bullied, literally to death. His high school "friends" tormented and mocked him while they shared his demise on social media, threw away his cell phone and left him to die.
There have been other "murder by friends" that have hit headlines this year from the Alaska teen who recruited others to murder her best friend, 19 year old Cynthia Hoffman who in exchange sharing snapchat video of the murder was promised $9 million by an anonymous person on social media - in the end, it was a prank.
This year, two 13-year old Dublin boys were charged with murdering and raping 14 year old Ana Kriegel who had a crush on one the boys. The murder was pre-meditated with the boys having prepared a "murder kit".
Murder Begins in the Heart (Mathew 5:21-22)
We like to imagine these incidents are so isolated, so unique, so different from our own reality. But in fact, there is no evidence to distinguish any of these young murderers from the average Canadian, US or UK youth. They were from middle class families, lived ordinary lives, are described well by peers and teachers.
And, in each of these cases none of the kids involved did anything to stop the bullying, the social harassment or the murder.
Everywhere people from the Dalai Lama to school teachers are expressing alarm at the rising animosity, harassment & bullying in society. In a recent talk on the commandant "Thou Shalt Not Kill" Pope Frances stated:
To offend the innocence of a child, an inappropriate phrase is enough.
To hurt a woman, a gesture of coldness is enough.
To break a young man's heart, it is enough to deny him trust.
Offending, hurting, breaking hearts and violating trust is what bullying does relentlessly. It's also what ordinary people do everyday to each other. This includes mocking, slandering, deceiving, gossiping, isolating, humiliating, shaming, and the list goes on.
The truth is, bullying only exists and persists is because there are others who will either stand by or join in. This won't change until we foster a culture of Upstanders -- people who have the courage, self-worth and sense of justice to stand up against dehumanizing behaviour in all its forms.
This video (above) is a worthy 1.5 minute reminder to never stand by. Here is a short extract:
A bully cannot function in the face of general objection to what he’s doing. The reality is that if you take him on, and particularly if one or two other people do, he has to find another identity in the group.
Kids don’t realize kids are the most powerful tool against bullying. The best thing is getting some peers who just won’t tolerate it.
The power of one, the moment someone goes to help, within seconds others join in.
Get up, do something. Or go get somebody, get help! Defend as a group. Protect people!
If everyone turns their back on a bully who won’t change, whose left to bully?
For more on how to stop bullying in your community and foster a culture of compassion, read Save Your City: How Toxic Culture Kills Community & What To Do About It.