Some of you may have already heard about the tragedy in Lake Charles, where 15 year-old Hannah Pauley died by suicide on October 25th. She reportedly took her own life because of intense bullying she was experiencing at school. We currently do not know the nature of the bullying that she experienced, and will pass on information to you as it becomes available.
Her father, Len Pauley, stated: “Honestly I don’t believe I would want any child to be charged with anything…If those kids can just step up to the plate and admit that they were wrong, make a positive out of this–then absolutely not–because they have to live with this for the rest of their lives now.” Our sincerest and heartfelt condolences are with the Pauley family and their friends as they mourn the death of such a fine young person. Please keep Hannah in your heart and send your thoughts, prayers and sympathies to her family and friends.
You can help to lessen the frequency and effects of bullying. If you know a young person, a daughter or son, niece or nephew, godchild or sibling, that you can talk with about bullying, please do so. Take the time out of your day to speak with them about school, their friends, teachers, sports, Facebook, music, or something else that will engage them in a conversation. Ask them if they are okay, hurting or scared about anything. We can make a difference in individual lives by communicating and validating their concerns and problems.
Stopping bullying from happening and appropriately responding to it when it happens is critical to the academic success and overall safety of our students. It is up to all of us — the students, the teachers, the administrators, concerned citizens, the school board and our state legislators — to do all we can to promote the health, safety and overall well-being of our young people. We must create school climates that welcomes, accepts and supports all people for who they.
If you or someone you know needs help, help is available. There are national suicide prevention lines like the Trevor Project at (866)-488-7386. Families can get support in becoming more accepting through local PFLAG chapters. Currently, there are Louisiana chapters in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Lafayette. There are also locally made videos on It Gets Better where young people can see that they are not alone and that supportive adults are out there.
Forum For Equality along with a diverse group of organizations and associations, state legislators, school board members, community leaders and educators support comprehensive safe school policies to help prevent tragedies such as young Hannah Pauley. If you or your family is having a problem with bullying at your school and needs help, please do not hesitate to contact me at 504.569.9156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing Director, Forum For Equality