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Cathy's Speech:"Teasing, Bullying & Teen Suicide"

Cathy's Speech:"Teasing, Bullying & Teen Suicide"

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Cathy Gettle. Since our son’s death by suicide on April 16, 2002, I have become an advocate against bullying and teasing and what it can do. I have spoken to several school boards, schools, churches, and scout groups, etc. who are willing to listen.

I have different versions of my speech for your review. The different versions were written in order to speak to different age levels, but the message is still there: “STOP THE BULLYING!”

You have my permission to use any part of my speech that you feel important enough to get across this vital message. Your help in spreading this message is greatly appreciated. My personal presentation makes this much more powerful. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to schedule me for a speaking engagement.

 

Sincerely,

Cathy Gettle

“TEASING, BULLYING, & TEEN SUICIDE”

 

On April 16, 2002, our 14-year-old son completed suicide by hanging himself at his school. He had a statement to make. That statement was very clear because of where he hung himself. His statement: “I am unhappy at school. STOP THE BULLYING!! Respect people for who they are.”

Even though you do not personally know our son, you know someone like him. Maybe it is someone who wears glasses and called “four-eyes”; maybe it is someone small for their age or someone who is overweight; or someone who has a physical or mental disability. Maybe it’s the new kid on the block. Maybe it’s someone with a sensitive heart or “perfect personality” that causes him or her to cry easily, especially if things aren’t “perfect” in his or her eyes. Sometimes it is a kid who is always picked last for a team, because they are not athletically inclined. Sometimes it is a kid who is extremely intelligent or has a talent in music or art. These kids are picked on or bullied unmercifully, which does not help the child’s self-esteem.

If you say bullying does not go on in your school, I can tell you right now that you need to open your eyes, especially if you are teaching elementary and middle school age kids. Bullying goes on in every school, church, scout organization, sports, etc. in the United State as well in other countries in the world. Kids can be sneaky and will do things when teachers are not looking. I know this because I have substituted in a classroom environment. But there are also teachers who can be at fault by either allowing the teasing to go on or by actually contributing to the teasing. If you ignore or encourage the teasing/bullying, you can be killing a child inch by inch. If you are an adult in charge and you have a child that starts to cry, do you tell the child to stop crying or stop being a baby, or do you ask ‘What is wrong?’ ‘Can I help you?’ ‘Do you need to talk to someone?’ If the child has a tendency to cry, maybe to get attention or because of frustration, your reaction can still determine whether that child has a good or bad self-esteem. If you react with ‘It’s okay. Take a deep breath. Let’s talk about what’s frustrating you.’ You have taken the first step toward helping that child. But if you react with ‘Stop being a baby’ or ‘You are not going to cry in my classroom,’ or you laugh at them, you have taken the first step to destroying that child.

The bible says, “train up a child in the way he would go.” Even though this is referring to a religious upbringing, it can also be a reflection in every day living. Today’s children learn to act or react to situations because of the way their parents handle things. Personalities in children are formed at a very young age. Sometimes you will know how they will interact with their peers by age three (if they are in preschool or day care)

Do you as a parent encourage your child to call another child a name or do you discourage your child from teasing? Are you guilty yourself of calling a kid a name?

“Zero Tolerance” policies are only as effective as those who enforce them. Zero Tolerance is supposed to not allow bullying or a negative action (physical, verbal or otherwise) toward someone. If a student reacts negatively to a situation (i.e. hits a student for something said to or about him or her), then both students should be punished. It shouldn’t matter if the instigator is the principal’s or the teacher’s child or not or whether they are the sports star or popular kid.

Teachers today can be limited in how they help kids because of the child molestation lawsuits that abound. They are not allowed to touch a student, but that doesn’t mean they can’t touch their heart.

How can we prevent another teenage suicide or even a homicide like Columbine? Open our eyes. Watch for signs of frustration, depression, ridiculing, and bullying. What are these signs? Some say moodiness, change in clothes style or friends or grades. But other signs could be one-word answers when a question is asked or there may not be any signs (which was partly the case with us). But, communication is the key to knowing what’s going on. Ask for more details! Communication is not just between parent and child, but also teacher/school authorities and parent or teacher/school authorities and child. Sometimes that communication needs to be between student and student.

The dictionary defines the following words:

·        Belittle – to speak of in a slighting way (disparage)

·        Bully – a rough brow beating person; especially one habitually cruel to others who are weaker; an overbearing, quarrelsome fellow to insult and overbear; to domineer; a person who hurts, frightens or tyrannizes over those who are smaller or weaker.

·        Disparage – (1) To lower in rank or reputation: degrade (2) To speak slightingly of

·        Harass – to tire out by persistent efforts: worry or annoy with repeated attacks

·        Hassle – (1) a heated argument; wrangle (2) a violent skirmish: fight

·        Tease – to pull apart the fibers of; to annoy; to torment.

·        Torment – (1) great pain or anguish, physical or mental; suffering agony. (2) A source of pain, anxiety or annoyance. (3) To annoy, harass or tease.

·        Annoy – to irritate, bother, or make somewhat angry as by repeated action, noise, etc.; to harm by repeated attacks, molest

What would make a 14-year-old commit suicide? Each situation is different in its own right. For our son, he decided he could not tolerate another day of bullying or teasing. After his death the rumors in the community were numerous with “he had rocks or food thrown at him,” “he had teachers laughing at him for crying,” and “they were really mean to him in P.E.” He was small for his age until just before his death, but his sensitive/”perfect” heart made him shed tears easily when things did not go his way or was not perfect in his eyes, which unfortunately did not help the situation. We tried to talk to him but he was never one to say a whole lot. When he was in 3rd grade the teacher decided 6 weeks before school was to end that he had a problem (emotional) and that he needed to seek outside counseling. Take into consideration that I had approached the teacher before school with the knowledge of him being over-sensitive, but she wanted to form her own opinion. We had him see the school psychologist, who determined that he was just a very sensitive child and a very good-hearted kid who came from a loving family. Jon didn’t fall into the category that most kids that the psychologist saw, which included abusive or split homes or the child themselves were abusive. He tried to work with Jon on handling and reacting to situations. Since we were in a “zero-tolerance” school system, when Jon was in 6th grade and he reacted to something someone said, he had to serve a detention along with the other student. We decided to take him to a child psychologist not affiliated with the school. He also determined that Jon had a sensitive heart and didn’t fit into the “norm” of the other kids that he saw. He did give him a test that determined a slight attention deficit problem (even though the test was given after a full day at school). But, other than that he could not find anything wrong.

Some statistics on teenage suicide are as follows:

·        Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for teens ages 15-19

·        For ages 10-14, suicide rates have increased 128% since 1980

·        Every hour and forty-five minutes another young person commits suicide

·        Suicide claims the lives of 5-7,000 young people each year.

To close, I would like to quote from a letter that I received from Clark Flatt, President of the Jason Foundation, Inc.: ‘To hear that a 14 year old hurt so bad that he saw death as an answer points a finger at our schools, educators, and society/friends for the lack of empathy… reading about your son’s involvement with so many activities, he seems like a really good kid. That’s what most people don’t understand; it is the good kids that we are losing. Nationally, we have approximately 200+ parents ‘join the ranks’ of losing a child to the ‘Silent Epidemic’ (suicide) EACH WEEK!”

In Jon Gettle’s Memory, let’s STOP THE BULLYING & TEASING!!!


HIGH SCHOOL VERSION OF “TEASING, BULLYING, & TEEN SUICIDE”

 

On April 16, 2002, our 14-year-old son completed suicide by hanging himself at his school. He had a statement to make. That statement was very clear because of where he hung himself. His statement: “I am unhappy at school. STOP THE BULLYING!! Respect people for who they are.”

Even though you do not personally know our son, you know someone like him. Maybe it is someone who wears glasses and called “four-eyes”; maybe it is someone small for their age or someone who is overweight; or someone who has a physical or mental disability. Maybe it’s the new kid on the block. Maybe it’s someone with a sensitive heart or “perfect personality” that causes him or her to cry easily, especially if things aren’t “perfect” in his or her eyes. Sometimes it is a kid who is always picked last for a team, because they are not athletically inclined. Sometimes it is a kid who is extremely intelligent or has a talent in music or art. These kids are picked on or bullied unmercifully, which does not help the child’s self-esteem.

Have you ever called someone a name, just because they are different from you? (i.e. “ugly”, “four-eyes”, “fatso”, “stupid”, “cry-baby”, etc.). Have you ever been called one of these? Have you ever “poked” at someone, even in a joking manner? If you are “just playing/kidding” with someone and they ask you to stop, do you? Or, do you continue until they possibly start to cry? Do you continually do something to make someone cry? How do you react to someone when they are “just kidding” with verbal or physical teasing and/or bullying toward you? If you notice someone being a bully, what do you do? Do you say something to the bully? Do you befriend the person being bullied? Or do you tell an adult (teacher, parent, pastor/priest, etc.)? If you were the bully, would actually like to be treated this way? How do you treat a new kid on the block?

If you say bullying does not go on in your school, I can tell you right now that you need to open your eyes, especially if you are teaching elementary and middle school age kids. Bullying goes on in every school, church, scout organization, sports group, etc. in the United State as well in other countries in the world. Kids can be sneaky and will do things when teachers are not looking. I know this because I have substituted in a classroom environment. But there are also teachers who can be at fault by either allowing the teasing to go on or by actually contributing to the teasing. If you ignore or encourage the teasing/bullying, you can be killing a child inch by inch. If you are an adult in charge and you have a child that starts to cry, do you tell the child to stop crying or stop being a baby, or do you ask ‘What is wrong?’ ‘Can I help you?’ ‘Do you need to talk to someone?’ If the child has a tendency to cry, maybe to get attention or because of frustration, your reaction can still determine whether that child has a good or bad self-esteem. If you react with ‘It’s okay. Take a deep breath. Let’s talk about what’s frustrating you.’ You have taken the first step toward helping that child. But if you react with ‘Stop being a baby’ or ‘You are not going to cry in my classroom,’ or you laugh at them, you have taken the first step to destroying that child.

 “Zero Tolerance” policies are only as effective as those who enforce them. Zero Tolerance is supposed to not allow bullying or a negative action (physical, verbal or otherwise) toward someone. If a student reacts negatively to a situation (i.e. hits a student for something said to or about him or her), then both students should be punished. It shouldn’t matter if the instigator is the principal’s or the teacher’s child or not or whether they are the sports star or popular kid.

How can we prevent another teenage suicide or even a homicide like Columbine? Open our eyes. Watch for signs of frustration, depression, ridiculing, and bullying. What are these signs? Some say moodiness, change in clothes style or friends or grades. But other signs could be one-word answers when a question is asked or there may not be any signs(which was partly the case with us). But, communication is the key to knowing what’s going on. Ask for more details! Communication is not just between parent and child, but also teacher/school authorities or adult in charge and parent or the teacher/school authorities/adult in charge and child. Sometimes that communication needs to be between student and student.

The dictionary defines the following words:

·        Belittle – to speak of in a slighting way (disparage)

·        Bully – a rough brow beating person; especially one habitually cruel to others who are weaker; an overbearing, quarrelsome fellow; to insult and overbear; to domineer; a person who hurts, frightens or tyrannizes over those who are smaller or weaker.

·        Disparage – (1) To lower in rank or reputation: degrade (2) To speak slightingly of

·        Harass – to tire out by persistent efforts: worry or annoy with repeated attacks

·        Hassle – (1) a heated argument; wrangle (2) a violent skirmish: fight

·        Tease – to pull apart the fibers of; to annoy; to torment.

·        Torment – (1) great pain or anguish, physical or mental; suffering agony. (2) A source of pain, anxiety or annoyance. (3) To annoy, harass or tease.

·        Annoy – to irritate, bother, or make somewhat angry as by repeated action, noise, etc.; to harm by repeated attacks, molest

What would make a 14-year-old commit suicide? Each situation is different in its own right. For our son, he decided he could not tolerate another day of bullying or teasing. After his death the rumors in the community were numerous with “he had rocks or food thrown at him,” “he had teachers laughing at him for crying,” and “they were really mean to him in P.E.” He was small for his age until just before his death, but his sensitive/”perfect” heart made him shed tears easily when things did not go his way or was not perfect in his eyes, which unfortunately did not help the situation. We tried to talk to him but he was never one to say a whole lot. When he was in 3rd grade the teacher decided 6 weeks before school was to end that he had a problem (emotional) and that he needed to seek outside counseling. Take into consideration that I had approached the teacher before school with the knowledge of him being over-sensitive, but she wanted to form her own opinion. We had him see the school psychologist, who determined that he was just a very sensitive child and a very good-hearted kid who came from a loving family. Jon didn’t fall into the category that most kids that the psychologist saw, which included abusive or split homes or the child themselves were abusive. He tried to work with Jon on handling and reacting to situations. Since we were in a “zero-tolerance” school system, when Jon was in 6th grade and he reacted to something someone said, he had to serve a detention along with the other student. We decided to take him to a child psychologist not affiliated with the school. He also determined that Jon had a sensitive heart and didn’t fit into the “norm” of the other kids that he saw. He did give him a test that determined a slight attention deficit problem (even though the test was given after a full day at school). But, other than that he could not find anything wrong.

To close, I would like to quote from a letter that I received from Clark Flatt, President of the Jason Foundation, Inc.: ‘To hear that a 14 year old hurt so bad that he saw death as an answer points a finger at our schools, educators, and society/friends for the lack of empathy… reading about your son’s involvement with so many activities, he seems like a really good kid. That’s what most people don’t understand; it is the good kids that we are losing. Nationally, we have approximately 200+ parents ‘join the ranks’ of losing a child to the ‘Silent Epidemic’ (suicide) EACH WEEK!”

In Jon Gettle’s Memory, let’s STOP THE BULLYING & TEASING!!!


MIDDLE SCHOOL VERSION OF “TEASING, BULLYING, & TEEN SUICIDE”

 

On April 16, 2002, our 14-year-old son completed suicide by hanging himself at his school. He had a statement to make. That statement was very clear because of where he hung himself. His statement: “I am unhappy at school. STOP THE BULLYING!! Respect people for who they are.”

Even though you do not personally know our son, you know someone like him. Maybe it is someone who wears glasses and called “four-eyes”; maybe it is someone small for their age or someone who is overweight; or someone who has a physical or mental disability. Maybe it’s the new kid on the block. Maybe it’s someone with a sensitive heart or “perfect personality” that causes him or her to cry easily, especially if things aren’t “perfect” in his or her eyes. Sometimes it is a kid who is always picked last for a team, because they are not athletically inclined. Sometimes it is a kid who is extremely intelligent or has a talent in music or art. These kids are picked on or bullied unmercifully, which does not help the child’s self-esteem.

Have you ever called someone a name, just because they are different from you? (i.e. “ugly”, “four-eyes”, “fatso”, “stupid”, “cry-baby”, etc.). Have you ever been called one of these? Have you ever “poked” at someone, even in a joking manner? If you are “just playing/kidding” with someone and they ask you to stop, do you? Or, do you continue until they possibly start to cry? Do you continually do something to make someone cry? How do you react to someone when they are “just kidding” with verbal or physical teasing and/or bullying toward you? If you notice someone being a bully, what do you do? Do you say something to the bully? Do you befriend the person being bullied? Or do you tell an adult (teacher, parent, pastor/priest, etc.)? If you were the bully, would actually like to be treated this way? How do you treat a new kid on the block?

What would make a 14-year-old commit suicide? Each situation is different in its own right. For our son, he decided he could not tolerate another day of bullying or teasing. After his death the rumors in the community were numerous with “he had rocks or food thrown at him,” “he had teachers laughing at him for crying,” and “they were really mean to him in P.E.” He was small for his age until just before his death, but his sensitive/”perfect” heart made him shed tears easily when things did not go his way or was not perfect in his eyes, which unfortunately did not help the situation. We tried to talk to him but he was never one to say a whole lot. When he was in 3rd grade the teacher decided 6 weeks before school was to end that he had a problem (emotional) and that he needed to seek outside counseling. Take into consideration that I had approached the teacher before school with the knowledge of him being over-sensitive, but she wanted to form her own opinion. We had him see the school psychologist, who determined that he was just a very sensitive child and a very good-hearted kid who came from a loving family. Jon didn’t fall into the category that most kids that the psychologist saw, which included abusive or split homes or the child themselves were abusive. He tried to work with Jon on handling and reacting to situations. Since we were in a “zero-tolerance” school system, when Jon was in 6th grade and he reacted to something someone said, he had to serve a detention along with the other student. We decided to take him to a child psychologist not affiliated with the school. He also determined that Jon had a sensitive heart and didn’t fit into the “norm” of the other kids that he saw. He did give him a test that determined a slight attention deficit problem (even though the test was given after a full day at school). But, other than that he could not find anything wrong.

If you say bullying does not go on in your school, I can tell you right now that you need to open your eyes, especially if you are teaching elementary and middle school age kids. Bullying goes on in every school, athletic organization, scout group, church group, etc. in the United State as well in other countries in the world. Kids can be sneaky and will do things when teachers are not looking. I know this because I have substituted in a classroom environment.

 “Zero Tolerance” policies are only as effective as those who enforce them. Zero Tolerance is supposed to not allow bullying or a negative action (physical, verbal or otherwise) toward someone. If a student reacts negatively to a situation (i.e. hits a student for something said to or about him or her), then both students should be punished. It shouldn’t matter if the instigator is the principal’s or the teacher’s child or not or whether they are the sports star or popular kid.

How can we prevent another teenage suicide or even a homicide like Columbine? Open our eyes. Watch for signs of frustration, depression, ridiculing, and bullying. What are these signs? Some say moodiness, change in clothes style or friends or grades. But other signs could be one-word answers when a question is asked or there may not be any signs (which was partly the case with us). But, communication is the key to knowing what’s going on. Ask for more details! Communication is not just between parent and child, but also teacher/school authorities and parent or teacher/school authorities and child. Sometimes that communication needs to be between student and student. Let someone know something or someone is bothering you! Keep telling someone.

The dictionary defines the following words:

·        Bully – a rough brow beating person; especially one habitually cruel to others who are weaker; an overbearing, quarrelsome fellow to insult and overbear; to domineer; a person who hurts, frightens or tyrannizes over those who are smaller or weaker.

·        Harass – to tire out by persistent efforts: worry or annoy with repeated attacks

·        Hassle – (1) a heated argument; wrangle (2) a violent skirmish: fight

·        Tease – to pull apart the fibers of; to annoy; to torment.

·        Torment – (1) great pain or anguish, physical or mental; suffering agony. (2) A source of pain, anxiety or annoyance. (3) To annoy, harass or tease.

·        Annoy – to irritate, bother, or make somewhat angry as by repeated action, noise, etc.; to harm by repeated attacks, molest

To close, I would like to quote from a letter that I received from Clark Flatt, President of the Jason Foundation, Inc.: ‘To hear that a 14 year old hurt so bad that he saw death as an answer points a finger at our schools, educators, and society/friends for the lack of empathy… reading about your son’s involvement with so many activities, he seems like a really good kid. That’s what most people don’t understand; it is the good kids that we are losing. Nationally, we have approximately 200+ parents ‘join the ranks’ of losing a child to the ‘Silent Epidemic’ (suicide) EACH WEEK!”

In Jon Gettle’s Memory, let’s STOP THE BULLYING & TEASING!!!


ELEMENTARY VERSION OF “TEASING, BULLYING, & TEEN SUICIDE”

 

On April 16, 2002, our 14-year-old son completed suicide by hanging himself at his school. He had a statement to make. That statement was very clear because of where he hung himself. His statement: “I am unhappy at school. STOP THE BULLYING!! Respect people for who they are.”

Even though you do not personally know our son, you know someone like him. Maybe it is someone who wears glasses and called “four-eyes”; maybe it is someone small for their age or someone who is overweight; or someone who has a physical or mental disability. Maybe it’s the new kid on the block. Maybe it’s someone with a sensitive heart or “perfect personality” that causes him or her to cry easily, especially if things aren’t “perfect” in his or her eyes. Sometimes it is a kid who is always picked last for a team, because they are not athletically inclined. Sometimes it is a kid who is extremely intelligent or has a talent in music or art. These kids are picked on or bullied unmercifully, which does not help the child’s self-esteem.

Have you ever called someone a name, just because they are different from you? (i.e. “ugly”, “four-eyes”, “fatso”, “stupid”, “cry-baby”, etc.). Have you ever been called one of these? Have you ever “poked” at someone, even in a joking manner? If you are “just playing/kidding” with someone and they ask you to stop, do you? Or, do you continue until they possibly start to cry? Do you continually do something to make someone cry? How do you react to someone when they are “just kidding” with verbal or physical teasing and/or bullying toward you? If you notice someone being a bully, what do you do? Do you say something to the bully? Do you befriend the person being bullied? Or do you tell an adult (teacher, parent, pastor/priest, etc.)? If you were the bully, would actually like to be treated this way? How do you treat a new kid on the block?

What would make a 14-year-old commit suicide? Each situation is different in its own right. For our son, he decided he could not tolerate another day of bullying or teasing. After his death the rumors in the community were numerous with “he had rocks or food thrown at him,” “he had teachers laughing at him for crying,” and “they were really mean to him in P.E.” He was small for his age until just before his death, but his sensitive/”perfect” heart made him shed tears easily when things did not go his way or was not perfect in his eyes, which unfortunately did not help the situation. We tried to talk to him but he was never one to say a whole lot.

 If you say bullying does not go on in your school, I can tell you right now that you need to open your eyes, especially if you are teaching elementary and middle school age kids. Bullying goes on in every school in the United State as well in other countries in the world. Kids can be sneaky and will do things when teachers are not looking. I know this because I have substituted in a classroom environment

“Zero Tolerance” policies are only as effective as those who enforce them. Zero Tolerance is supposed to not allow bullying or a negative action (physical, verbal or otherwise) toward someone. If a student reacts negatively to a situation (i.e. hits a student for something said to or about him or her), then both students should be punished. It shouldn’t matter if the instigator is the principal’s or the teacher’s child or not or whether they are the sports star or popular kid.

How can we prevent another teenage suicide or even a homicide like Columbine? Open our eyes. Watch for signs of frustration, depression, ridiculing, and bullying. What are these signs? Some say moodiness, change in clothes style or friends or grades. But other signs could be one-word answers when a question is asked or there may not be any signs. But, communication is the key to knowing what’s going on. Ask for more details! Communication is not just between parent and child, but also teacher/school authorities and parent or teacher/school authorities and child. Sometimes that communication needs to be between student and student. Let someone know something or someone is bothering you! Keep telling someone!

The dictionary defines the following words:

·        Bully – a rough brow beating person; especially one habitually cruel to others who are weaker; an overbearing, quarrelsome fellow to insult and overbear; to domineer; a person who hurts, frightens or tyrannizes over those who are smaller or weaker.

·        Harass – to tire out by persistent efforts: worry or annoy with repeated attacks

·        Hassle – (1) a heated argument;(2) a violent skirmish: fight

·        Tease – to pull apart the fibers of; to annoy; to torment.

·        Torment – (1) great pain, physical or mental; suffering agony. (2) A source of pain, anxiety or annoyance. (3) To annoy, harass or tease.

·        Annoy – to irritate, bother, or make somewhat angry as by repeated action, noise, etc.; to harm by repeated attacks, molest

To close, I would like to quote from a letter that I received from Clark Flatt, President of the Jason Foundation, Inc.: ‘To hear that a 14 year old hurt so bad that he saw death as an answer points a finger at our schools, educators, and society/friends for the lack of empathy… reading about your son’s involvement with so many activities, he seems like a really good kid. That’s what most people don’t understand; it is the good kids that we are losing. Nationally, we have approximately 200+ parents ‘join the ranks’ of losing a child to the ‘Silent Epidemic’ (suicide) EACH WEEK!”

In Jon Gettle’s Memory, let’s STOP THE BULLYING & TEASING!!!
In Memory of Jon Gettle

In Memory of Jon Gettle

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