This was originally published on Liberal America on April 28, 2016.
I’ve got some sad news this week. We have lost another teenager to bullying. Fourteen-year-old Destiny Gleason has taken her life after what her parents described as “months of bullying.” Her family had just moved to Warrenton, MO in the fall of 2015.
The bullying escalated to a physical fight last Tuesday. Destiny was escorted out of school in handcuffs and was facing assault charges for fighting back against her tormentors. It is not clear why she was arrested and the bullies were not.
After being arrested, she was supposed to start intensive behavioral therapy to deal with the bullying.
Her mother describes an incident:
“At one point they took some photo of some random person`s private parts and put Destiny’s name across it and spread it around the school. Anything they could possibly do to hurt her and bring her down.”
Superintendent James Chandler said that because of students’ privacy rights, all he is allowed to say is that they are investigating and they provide an anonymous helpline for students being bullied.
The family is having a memorial on Sunday at a nearby park. A group of parents is also planning a candlelight vigil at her school on May 17. There is also a benefit for her family scheduled for June 11 at a local saloon.
The state law in Missouri requires every school to have antibullying policies.
This is by far not the first case of teens taking their lives over bullying.
Two years ago, Florida student, Lamar Hawkins III, took his own life in his school bathroom. His growth was stunted because of health problems, and this, unfortunately, made him an easy target.
The Centers For Disease Control released a chilling report two years ago. The suicide rate increased by twenty-four percent for everyone under the age of 75. For young people, this increase is, at least partially, because of the increased use of social media. It gives kids the platform to bully each other, and the school can’t really do a whole lot about it if it happens off school ground. There is also the possibility that they could make up a fake name and bully someone.
We have got to find a way to stop this horrifying trend.