Becoming a parent is one of the greatest gifts that anyone can ever experience. As you're looking down at your baby, counting his fingers, stroking his hair, and holding him close you can't help but wonder how is it that you can love someone so much that till that day you never had officially met. Baby comes home and life has new meaning. You are a mother, this is your child, your little buddy, the greatest love of your life and you can't help but smile with admiration at your seemingly perfect bundle of joy. That feeling never leaves for a parent. There is a sense of pride in everything that your child does. Pride in his first poopy in the potty, pride in his first word, his first step, his first time on his bike, his first report card, or even his first year in high school. For a parent it never occurs to you that someone could find fault in your perfect creation or cause your child to find imperfection within themselves. Parents like to believe that we can protect our children no matter what the circumstance; after all that's our job right?
What parents never factor on is the ridiculous world of adolescence. We remember what it was like in high school but we tend to forget how cruel "kids" can be. All of us were either bullied in high school or were ourselves the ones that did the bullying. As adults we look back and laugh at the memories of slamming kids in the locker or how being called a "dork" gave you ambition to be the richest person coming back for the ten year reunion. Regardless if memories are good or bad, parents happily send their children to high school confident that the experience will be promising. Never does a parent imagine that the very person you believe to be perfect in every way, regardless of sexuality, speech problems, buck teeth, or early development will be singled out and pushed so far to the edge that he is unable to see the purpose and potential of his life. What teenagers can't seem to figure out, even with all their technology smarts, is that every life has value and no life has more value than another.
Words are not just words. They are imprints that you leave with a person for their rest of their life. Their tears stain not only their face but the face of every person they know and love. You're not just playing "a joke" or "being cooler", when you bully someone you are attacking a person in ways that you will never truly understand. At least not until your mature enough to know the difference between right and wrong. Every time a child calls another child a dork, geek, or even worse a fag, they are declaring to all those who are present that they are truly ignorant. However, no one will know the truth until years later. What you do and what you say has a profound impact on every person you come into contact with. Our children are often a reflection of ourselves because the values and beliefs we hold in our life; we instill in our children. The last thing that I want to see in my child is hatred, jealousy, and disrespect because that would mean that I unknowingly taught a useless trait that contributes nothing to the rest of the world.
The saddest part of teenage death from the result of bullying is that even though the bully may hopefully one day mature, they never get the chance to truly apologize to their victim. That guilt never will have closure and while your tiny mind might not understand that right now, I feel sorry for the day when it finally makes sense. In the tragedy that happened over this weekend involving Kenneth James Weishuhn, the incident is far more severe than just bullying. What happened was robbery. Your words robbed this boy of his first car, his first prom, his first day at college and a chance to be happy in his life. You took away a mother's son whom she loved more than herself. A father is now denied the right to bond with his son the way he envisioned for the future. You stole a brother from a sister who needed him. Your words and your superior actions stood right beside him, guiding him to make the worst decision he could of made in his life. One day when you are looking down at your own child, astonished by how perfect he or she is, you will understand what it feels like to have your heart live outside of your body. Regrettably, you the bully get a second chance in life and a chance to teach your child the valuable lessons you hopefully learned. What's tragic is that it took someone losing their life to understand the effects of what a bully can do. What's even more tragic is you will never fully appreciate the value of life, until that day you are counting your own baby's toes and kissing his forehead.
Kenneth James Weishuhn's death will not be in vain. He has opened the door to advocate for others who have no voice. He has called attention to an old issue that has become more intense and even more dangerous than ever before. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are opening up new avenues for potential bullying. To honor the man who has made a lasting impression in our lives, even before this tragic incident, we need to stand up and speak out against those who choose to hurt others. Cherish the memory of the boy we all knew and loved, but most importantly don't ever forget the message his memory brings.