Six months ago I read about a cheerful, vivacious, ten-year-old girl, Ashlynn Connor, an honor roll student and a cheerleader, who dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. However, one year ago, Ashlynn’s dreams came to an abrupt end. One year ago, Ashlynn’s sister found her dead, hanging from a scarf in her bedroom closet. One year ago, Ashlynn Conner committed suicide. This ten-year-old girl felt so desperate, so alone, so hopeless, that she took her own life. Ashlynn Conner killed herself because she was bullied. Her classmates called her ‘whore’, ‘slut’, and ‘fat ass’ every day. Every day she was rejected, humiliated, and harassed by her classmates. And sadly, no one stopped it. Her friends didn’t stop it, her teacher didn’t stop it, no one stopped it, so Ashlynn stopped it the only way she knew how.
This is just one instance of a pervasive problem. Every year, ten million students in the United States are bullied; 2 million are cyber bullied, 3.5 million are physically bullied, and 4.5 million are verbally bullied. Beyond the immediate effects of sadness and hurt, many victims hurt themselves, drop out of school, act violently, get involved with drugs, commit suicide, and develop depression. And this doesn’t just affect a few of us; it affects all of us. All of us have friends, or cousins, or nephews, or nieces, or brothers, or sisters, or kids who will one day attend, or who currently attend school. With the prevalence of bullying, there is a very high chance that someone you care about will encounter a bully, that someone you care about will be bullied, and that someone you care about will get hurt. Take a moment to imagine what it would be like. Imagine what it would be like for someone you loved to be laughed at, pushed around, to have her head shoved into a locker, to be ignored by her peers, to find a note in her desk with the word ‘loser’ written on it. Imagine how upset you would be. It is our responsibility, as students and as human beings, to help...
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