I attended a presentation last week at St. Joseph Catholic Elementary School in Cobourg. This presentation was thoroughly advertised in our local media and yet there were only a handful of people there. The turnout was really disappointing. What was the presentation? Bullying Stops Here. The speaker – Anthony McLean – was very good. The presentation was informative – with great information for parents on how to speak to their children, and more importantly, how to listen.
During one point in the presentation an older gentleman sitting across the aisle from me raised his hand to ask a question. He wanted to know, to understand really, why his granddaughter’s suicide in 2008 never received the attention that Amanda Todd’s suicide did.
It took everyone by surprise, including Mr. McLean, I believe, who asked for everyone to take a moment of silence for this young girl. While the moment of silence was very respectful, I think it was more for everyone to take a moment to compose themselves.
The gentleman across the aisle from me was there with his wife. They are the grandparents of Abigayle Kempton who took her own life after years of being bullied. Abigayle was bullied at school, via her computer and her cell phone. She got to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore.
According to an article written by Grahame Woods, Northumberland Today, http://bit.ly/RQc9EH , when Abi’s parents started to notice changes in Abigayle’s behaviour they thought it was just a ‘teenage’ phase. They had no idea what Abi was going through. She never told them. “It seems there’s a code of silence among students whereby, even though you’re being tormented, you’ll be tormented even more if you tell someone,” Abi’s grandfather says.
It seems to me that Mr. Kempton had a valid question but no-one was able to answer it for him. Unfortunately I think that Abigayle’s case of “cyber bullying” was before its time – so to speak. It was a new term, had not been heard of very much in 2008. And yet, 5 years later, it tops the news stories. It doesn’t make Abi’s suicide any less meaningful or important than Amanda’s. In fact, it should have been more prominent in the news. There should have been more coverage, more discussion, more attention paid. If there had been, if we had been listening to what Abi tried to tell us, then maybe someone could have helped Amanda.
Of all the things that Mr. McLean said during his presentation last week, the one thing that caught my attention most was – and he said it jokingly – ‘shut up’ and listen. Now jokingly or not – truer words may never have been spoken. How many more Abi’s and Amanda’s do we have to read about before we ‘shut up’ and listen?
To the Kempton’s, the Todd’s, the Hubley’s…we are listening.
For more information on the Abigayle Kempton story and the A.B.I. Program (Anti-Bullying Initiative) please visithttp://www.abinitiative.ca
Author: Written by: Karen Roussey