Eden Wormer: when bullying should be a crime.
Eden Wormer, 14, committed suicide on Wednesday, after being relentlessly bullied for two years, at Cascade Middle School, in Vancouver, Washington.
From her photos, in the article I saw, in the Daily Mail, in the UK, Eden seems like a bright girl – at least her eyes tell such a tale. Those who knew her referred to her as “talented”. She was also evidently quite good looking. I am led to wonder if it was these attributes that led to her being bullied: the fact that she was most probably brighter than the others, and better looking than some of them. It is said she struggled to “fit in”, trying by changes of personal styling, hair colour and the like, to do so. So, it is clear that she was “different”. She paid a high price for her difference. She was bullied mercilessly by her fellow students – until she could take it no more. Her final words to her father were, “I love you Daddy, goodnight”...followed by a goodnight kiss. She was found dead in the morning.
Now, what gave me pause about all of this, was a statement from the Vancouver police. “We haven’t found any evidence that the bullying rose to the level of a crime.” Really? How much evidence do you need...the girl is DEAD! The stupidity of the police statement really gives credence to their image as donut eating dopes. Eden Wormer felt that the bullying was of such an unbearable intensity that she preferred not to continue living...her own action, in killing herself, is irrefutable proof that the bullying was of a criminal level. I realize that the world’s police forces typically do not attract the brightest people, but even they should understand that the effects of bullying are subjective – they are determined by what is felt by the victim. In this case, the victim was persecuted to death. Her death is proof that a crime took place, in my view.
The Vancouver police have seemingly indicated that they are not going to do anything about this death. Well, they should. Every one of Eden Wormer’s bullies should be arrested and charged with murder – for that is what they have committed. They murdered Eden Wormer and their weapon was psychological abuse. They abused her to death, abused her so much that she could not take it anymore and fled life, to death, to escape it. They murdered her as assuredly as if they had shot her. So, they should face the same penalty as murderers in her nation. I also believe that they should be charged as adults, since anyone, even a teenager, can understand that bullying is hurtful – after all, that is its intent and purpose, so, of course, they understood that they were hurting Eden Wormer.
I did some background research on this story by entering the terms “bullying and suicide” into Google. I was disturbed at the vast number of bullying related suicides that came up as news items...some of them from kids as young as 10 years old. Yet, it is clear that very little is done to stop bullying. Bullying was rampant at my school, King’s College School, Wimbledon – both of the physical and the psychological kind. I personally experienced one or the other (usually the latter) on most days of my entire school career in the senior school there. The culture was truly awful...one of bullying the brightest or those who stood out in some way. It was mindless, cruel and malevolent – and ever persistent...it just went on and on, on a daily basis, grinding away at one’s core. Somehow, I endured it...but it wasn’t fun being the brunt of so much hostility. So, I can fully understand what Eden Wormer went through. I fought back in various ways and adopted an outward persona that was so intimidating, in its own way, that it made many of my bullies back off...it worked. I created a barrier for myself, that kept away much of the bullying...a psychological barrier of my own – one in which it became less likely that anyone would challenge me. Yet, of course, though the physical bullying was snuffed out by this, mostly, the psychological bullying remained – the sneers, the whispered words, the social exclusion, and so on...that was unstoppable...but at least I found my own way to close down the physical aspect of the bullying. Eden Wormer, it is clear, found no way to deal with what she was going through. She found no means to protect herself. So, in the end, she felt she had no choice but to kill herself.
Schools, in general, the world over, seem to do little to address bullying. They seem to see it as an accepted part of the child’s world and don’t intervene too much. Yet, bullying is highly destructive. It can make childhood hell for its victims. King’s College School, Wimbledon, was hell for me, for much of my time there...but I endured it, because I had a very strong sense of myself. I understood that those who disliked me, did so out of jealousy for what I had shown I was able to do. Intelligence was not a characteristic that made one popular at my school. Indeed, it seemed to be a liability, particularly if combined with enough creativity to make one “different”. That always courted a venomous response. I remember one other boy, who was physically and psychologically different – though I shan’t name him to spare him embarrassment. He was laughed at, on many occasions...the other boys (it was a boys’ school), would just jeer at him, when he opened his mouth, when he expressed his view, when he simply talked. Partly this was because his speech was odd, in sound – but in general I think it was because he was different. He seemed to ignore it all – but really, it must have been hell for him, to have such almost universal disdain directed at him, on a daily basis. The one thing that seemed to protect him, was that he believed he was smarter than other people. I thought this a little misplaced, at times, though. He once said to me, when I asked him about a physics question: “Oh, you wouldn’t understand.”. That was funny because in S level physics, I received a grade 1 Distinction – and he ended up with a grade 2 Merit...so perhaps he was the one who wouldn’t have understood! Nevertheless, though he was not quite right in his view of superiority, it was good that he had this belief to protect him – for no-one ever intervened on his behalf.
It is time for bullying to be treated as a crime. If a victim commits suicide owing to the bullying, then the bullies should be arrested and charged with murder – for their psychological and perhaps physical abuse, had killed someone. Ethically, and legally, bullying should be regarded as an attack with a psychological weapon, where no physical attack is involved. It should be recognized that psychological abuse, on a persistent long term basis, can destroy a person’s will to live. In short, bullying can kill. It should, therefore, be treated in the same way as all other intentional behaviours that lead to the death of another. It should be treated as murder. Were bullying punished in this way, by those sentences appropriate to murder, whenever it results in a death, bullying would rapidly decline, in all nations that implemented such punishments. If the bullies understood that they could spend a very long time in prison, or in some severe cases, perhaps, receive the death penalty themselves, they would not be so keen to bully others. The world’s bullies must be led to understand that they place themselves at personal risk of very severe punishments, whenever they bully anyone else. There are simply too many deaths related to bullying, for the world’s societies to stand idly by. Punish bullies for their very real crimes. Stop bullying now – and save the next “Eden Wormer” from suicide.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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