On the front page of The Dallas Morning News today, April 4, 2015, Saturday, the title on the lead article reads, “You can’t take back the words you say…teen’s family says relentless bullying led to his death.” It appears that a group of older guys from Raymond Howell’s high school came to his home, jumped out and fought him, capturing the event on video cell phone before posting it online. Another similar video was filmed and posted from a fight at school. The boy could take it no longer and ended his life…on Good Friday.
There has been the predictable outpouring of flowers and candlelight vigils. No doubt, there’ll be the predictable school assembly on bullying and predictable show of mourning at his funeral. Counselors will be available at the school, almost certainly.
But I must say that if I were his parents, his sister, his family, I’d wonder, “Where were those earnest ‘good’ kids last week?” Surely, surely some of them saw this. Surely some of them must have known this boy was suffering. I’m sorry to confess that if I were his mom or sister or dad and kids came to hug me, to offer flowers, to send a card of sympathy, I might greet them with rage, furious that they would offer what my son needed so desperately just days before…when he was invisible to them.
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, is known for his three simple rules for life:
- Do no harm
- Do good
- Stay in love with God
Wesley is quite specific under the rule of “do no harm” that we can do harm with our silence, with our inaction as well as with our action.
This week, won’t you take the opportunity to talk about this situation with your teens? Most of us will never have a child who is the fighter who video tapes the fight and posts it online. But all of us will be the parent whose child sees the harm happening and has to decide what he or she can do. Discuss this with your kids; practice possibilities; encourage them to look toward someone else’s well-being, to an entire family who will never live a normal day again in their lives.
May that young man rest in peace and may his loved ones find comfort and peace as they go forward.