A message to parents from a teen’s grave
Oftentimes, out of personal tragedy comes a benefit to others. In the case of Jamey Rodemeyer the investigation into his suicide on September 18, 2011, presents a powerful message to parents, guardians and caretakers of children and teenagers.
After 14 year-old Jamey took his life at home following years of bullying, the police took custody of his cell phone and computer. They discovered that Jamey had an account on Tumblr, Formspring and other social networking websites. His parents weren’t aware of these accounts and accepted Jamey’s word that everything was fine at his new school. But it wasn’t.
The police discovered mean-spirited and cruel postings to Jamey during the months before he started ninth grade. Jamey had suffered years of bullying through middle school. His parents thought starting high school would be different. Jamey told them that things were better but kept the truth to himself. Some of the comments included: “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” an anonymous commenter said on Formspring. “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it 🙂 It would make everyone WAY more happier!” said another.
Parents, make sure you keep the conversation going with your kids. In order to properly monitor your son or daughter’s online life, you need to understand the technology and keep up with new web sites. Once you build trust with your teenager, sharing their passwords with you will be expected and come easily.
The messages to Jamey were undoubtedly a shock to his parents. But they are a message to all those responsible for our youth to know their friends including their online acquaintances. It could save a life. Our hearts go out to Jamey’s family and friends. His bullies also need understanding as they may have been victims as well and have to live with Jamey’s passing for the rest of their lives. They won’t be prosecuted as insufficient evidence exists to file formal charges. Their consequence for participating in Jamey’s death is essentially a life sentence.