‘Special forces’ needed to fight impact of bullying

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

It’s almost impossible to come up with a solution for what would have helped 15-year-old Bart Palosz from committing suicide last week. What’s left is a family, lots of kids and school administrators feeling guilty.

Hundreds of Bart’s peers showed up at the service wondering what they could have done to prevent his death. We hope and pray there are no other kids contemplating doing what Bart did to resolve their own pain of not being accepted.

What do we do when a kid is physically, mentally and socially challenged from birth? No matter how hard they try, they’re awkward, clumsy, socially inept and pimply. What do we do when a kid is just the opposite — beautiful, gifted with great social skills, can play any sport with grace and whose grades are excellent and whose skin is smooth as silk?

All of this stuff counts when a kid is growing up.

Kids are complex. They don’t want to admit they’re hurting. They hide a lot of their suffering. You believe them when they say they’re “OK.” Even the beautiful, lucky ones can feel guilty because deep down they know it was all “chance” they are who they are. They, too, struggle to stay in the game and sometimes can’t pull it off.

There have to be “helpers” for the kids in trouble. The helpers have to work with a kid until he gets himself into a better place. The helper has to resist comments from others who may recognize the new affiliation. The helpers can take great strength and courage from being a kind of “special forces” going above and beyond the ordinary.

Some of the helpers may have to form a “union” to make this work. The union can provide additional strength to enable each other to be helpers.

Sometimes it may be the bully who needs their help as well as the bullied. It may take time away from other activities, but it could be a healing and growing experience. It requires great strength of character. The Special Forces Bully Patrol may even be a student’s highest honor.

 

Margaret B. Robben
Old Greenwich

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