Plots and Thoughts

When Schools Bully Suicide Victims

Posted in Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

Our national paranoia about sex causes suffering.  Suffering can lead to suicide.  TampaBay via Feministing:  A girl sends a nude picture of herself to a boy she likes.  A girl who felt threatened gets the boy’s phone and shares the text.  Soon her classmates are bullying her.  How does her school respond?

School authorities learned of the nude photo around the end of the school year and suspended Hope for the first week of eighth grade, which started in August. About two weeks after she returned to school, a counselor observed cuts on Hope’s legs and had her sign a “no-harm” contract, in which Hope agreed to tell an adult if she felt inclined to hurt herself, her family says. The next day, Hope hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 13.

Part of the pain of bullying comes from the feelings of isolation, guilt, and worthlessness it engenders.  How would you feel if your school, the very people there to nourish and teach you, punish you?  This was a girl who may have been feeling guilt for having sent the text, pain for being punished by her peers, and instead of stepping in and helping the school chose to further punish and isolate her.

The school bears direct responsibility for her death.  We all bear a responsibility to speak up, always and with strength, against turning sexuality into a thing of shame.  The obsession with slut-shaming and punishing girls for their sexuality has dire consequences.