Time to Address Bullycide: Schools, Families Need to Respond Not Ignore

Angel Benjamin, Staff Writer

Tyler Clementi, 18 years old.

Phoebe Prince, 15 years old.

Steven Urry, 13 years old.

Ashwanty Davis, 10 years old.

These are only a few of the estimated 4,400 people who commit suicide each year as a result of being bullied. The events that led to these young people taking their lives are replayed all over the country as young people find themselves struggling to handle the pressures of life. One of the big pressures is bullying, which takes place for those even as young as fifth grade.

Bullying – unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance – can come in a variety of forms. However, bullying is not just punching or flinging insults at someone. The act of abusing someone verbally through social media or social activities in general is also bullying.
This is exemplified by the case of Tyler Clementi, a young man in his first year of college at Rutgers University. His college career ended tragically when he took his own life by jumping off of the George Washington Bridge in New York.

What caused this extreme action by Clementi? According to Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, Clementi’s roommate twice livestreamed intimate moments between Tyler and another man. In both instances, the roommate, Dharun Ravi, broadcast the encounters to his Twitter followers, which Pilkington reports, outed Clementi, causing his despair.

Jen Chung from Gothamist reported that Clementi’s roommate was tried and sentenced to only thirty days in prison along with three-hundred hours of community service and three years of probation as the result of a guilty plea to invasion of privacy. According to Chung, Judge Joseph Paone, who established the final sentence, stated that the defendant had “demonstrated that he has lived a law-abiding life for a substantial amount of time.” This, apparently, led Paone to issue a fairly light sentence on Ravi.
While some see this sentence as far too lenient for Ravi’s involvement in Clementi’s death, others are more satisfied because some degree of justice took place. For these people, the goal now is to see the same justice – or even more – applied to other cases where young people took their lives due to bullying. This is especially true in cases involving underage minors who suffer the harsh reality of bullying.
One of these victims who took her life at only ten years old was Ashwanty Davis, after a video of her fighting her bully was posted on the popular app Musical.ly. According to Lisa Marie Segarra from Time Magazine, Davis was about a quarter of the way through her final year of elementary school in Aurora, Colorado, when she confronted and then fought a girl who had been bullying her. A student recorded the entire incident. According to Segarra, the girl’s father, Anthony Davis, said that this was her first fight. She soon became devastated when the video of the whole altercation appeared on the popular app, which caused Davis to be bullied even more.

According to Segarra Davis’ mother and father say that the school their daughter attended “didn’t do enough to stop the bullying.” However, Segarra notes that the school district claimed that the video was turned over to police, providing the additional detail that the physical conflict did not take place during school hours. Critics argue that this doesn’t dismiss the fact that it happened on school grounds, and that both Davis and the other girl were students at the facility.

Jennette Nolasco, a Paint Branch sophomore, sees the deeper meaning in what happened to these young people. Her profound words ring true in our society today. She says, “These stories just opened me more to the fact that our society is cruel and the way the world is becoming. You hear all these stories about bullying and you never really feel as if it’s truly there till you’re a victim or till someone close or near gets hurt.”

She adds sympathetically, “I feel that it’s a true issue that no one really stands up to.”
According to bullyingstatistics.org, an anti-bullying site that provides facts and guidance on the issue, “bullycide is suicide caused from the results of bullying.” Every year, many feel that the only way to get rid of the verbal and physical abuse of others is to leave – by ending their young lives.
It is time for schools, friends, families, and society as a whole to do more to protect young people from bullying and prevent these tragedies.