Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do School Anti-Bullying Programs Lead to Teen Suicides?

In the past we've explored how some school anti-bullying programs seem act a bullying training programs, actually giving bullies ideas on how to terrorize fellow students.  Now comes evidence that the school programs can also encourage the bullied students to commit suicide to end the abuse:

Anti-bullying videos questioned after two students' suicides
Two students from separate schools committed suicide within days of each other this month -- which is National Bullying Prevention Month -- and both boys apparently had been bullied. Now, parents are asking questions not just about bullying but also about anti-bullying videos, which both schools aired shortly before the incidents.

Brad Lewis' son Jordan, 15, a sophomore at Carterville High School in Illinois, killed himself Oct. 17 by shooting himself in the chest. Jordan left behind an affectionate, apologetic note that, according to Lewis, concluded with the line, “Bullying has caused me to do this. Those of you know who you are.”

Lewis criticized investigators for not pursuing the bullies more aggressively, but also turned some of his questions toward his son's school, which showed an anti-bullying video to students the day before Jordan killed himself.

"All I know is they were discussing the bullying, and showing kids bullying, and at the end of the show they showed pictures of kids that took their lives," Lewis said. "When a child or a person is at the end of their rope, and they don’t think there’s anywhere to go, and they don’t think anyone's doing anything about it, and they see something on video, and they relate."

Lewis added, "You’re dealing with kids. Kids don’t look at the long-term situation -- they look at the short term, they look at the pain they feel now, how can they end that pain.”
As my GrandFather used to say: "The Road to Hell is Paved with the skulls of unbaptized babies good intentions."  It's not enough for educational programs to have good intentions.  Teenagers don't have adult brains yet, and sometimes what seems perfectly innocuous educational material to adults just doesn't translate to them. They often get the message that the thing they're are being warned about is common, and normal.   As the old joke goes, I'm glad I took that sexual harassment training at work; otherwise I would not know how to do it.

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