• 2012′s tragic start with another bullycide

    Date: 01.06.12 | by Judge Tom.

    Amanda Diane Cummings was a sophomore at New Dorp High School in Staten Island, New York. She appeared to be a normal 15 year-old girl with many interests: shopping, Katy Perry, animals and poetry. But what she kept from her family was that she was being bullied regularly at school, on Facebook and on her cell phone. A recent break-up with a boyfriend also caused her to despair. On December 1, 2011, she posted : “then ill go kill myself, with these pills, this knife, this life has already done half the job.”

    A witness saw Amanda jump in front of a city bus on December 27, 2011. She had a suicide note in her pocket, the contents of which have not been disclosed. Amanda passed away in the hospital on January 2, 2012.

    Amanda

    Amanda’s mother was aware of some of the bullying, but Amanda didn’t want her to notify the school in fear of even further harassment and losing her friends. One of her cousins stated that Amanda did not conform to society’s demands on her at school. She dyed her natural blond hair black; pierced her lip about a month earlier and was ridiculed by classmates over her makeup and high heels. Her cousin said that kids didn’t like her because she didn’t follow the crowd.

    We thought diversity, tolerance and acceptance was a characteristic of today’s middle and high school generation. Incidents like these, however, tell a different story. Don’t many of you watch Glee or Modern Family? Why isolate or harass another student who wears a nose or lip ring? Must we always find fault in others and degrade them because they’re not like us? Not all suicides can be prevented, but many can especially when there are signs for friends and family to pick up on. We have to work together to stop this epidemic.

    January 8, 2012 marks the first anniversary of the shootings in Tucson, Arizona. Six people were killed and Congresswoman Gabby Giffords sustained a gunshot wound to the head. She is still recovering. The National Institute for Civil Discourse is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson. In honor of one of the victims, nine-year-old Christina Taylor-Green, a discussion was held with 12 selected students from Arizona schools. They met with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who asked them questions about returning respect and civil discourse to politics in America. You can watch the discussion here. The students emphasized the power of words and attitude when communicating with others. Their comments and suggestions apply to all students in their daily contact with others at school and off-campus.

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    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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