Baumhower: Kayla’s Tragic Life Lesson #StandUpForKayla

Written by: Jeremy Baumhower

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Sometimes you can see a person’s soul in a photograph, rarely can you see a person’s demons.

I first heard the name of Kayla Meeker last Friday via some text and Facebook messages. It was shocking to read the details of how her life ended and see screenshot after screenshot of a young person being bullied.

Then I saw her face, and knew the world lost an incredible soul. There was something great behind her smile, you can’t fake that love of life. Sadly we will have no idea on what her life could have been, it ended way too soon.

The worst fear of being a parent is the loss of a child. I can not imagine the pain and anguish of losing a child via their own hand.

The Meeker family has made public statements that bullying was not the reason for Kayla’s choice. When someone makes the conscious decision to end their time with us, their motives are never clear nor easy to accept. Kayla was dealing with things we will never understand.

Although the family, who are in shock and are mourning, doesn’t believe bullying was a factor, I do. The barrage of public abuse Kayla suffered on social media was awful. You can clearly see a girl who is horribly affected by words sent via a Tweet, or text message; Anonymous Twitter accounts set up by cowardly bullies whom are too young to understand the potential power of every word said or typed, helped pushed a troubled soul over the edge. The tweets were throwing gasoline on someone dealing with demons, someone holding a mental match.

Drama = Bullying

There is something about High School where Drama isn’t only an elective class, but a way of life. It is crystal clear that drama fills the halls of Anthony Wayne High School as it does countless others.

“Drama” is an inadvertent tool that children use to take the focus off of learning, they often believe it is a part of “the High School experience”. Some are very good at dealing and creating it, while others are obviously not.

High School Drama always has a victim; whether it’s a person who is having rumors spread about them or someone dealing with issues at home or in life. Drama conversations often start with “OMG did you hear..”, “You won’t believe this.…” or “Someone just told me…”.

The use of the word “Drama” is an evolved prettier version of what it actually means… Bullying. Parents will often ask their children about the current “drama” happening at the school, rarely do they use the word “bullying”.

Why does it happen, why is bullying so frequent and rampant? Why is it becoming an epidemic that is claiming young lives? The Answer is… It’s the underdeveloped id portion of young brains that give children a guilty pleasure while spreading drama, rumors, or lies. Poking fun or making light of others is a great way to cover one’s own insecurities. The simpler answer is… Kid’s brains believe it is a form of fun and entertainment.

The art of bullying has evolved from wedgies and taking of lunch monies; to setting up fake Twitter and Instagram accounts. The old way took a little bit of courage or crazy, the new ways only need internet access. Kayla was a victim of the new way of bullying.

My Letter

Attention Drama Creators, Sharers, Rumor Spreaders or more simply put… Bullies:

Of all the tools you can learn how to master, from swinging a hammer to writing software code, understanding and knowing how to use words will be most important. Fully comprehending the power of a word, can make your life picture perfect or heartbreakingly tragic.

When you bully someone with words you steal a piece of their identity, self-confidence and self-worth. What you may believe is a little bit of “harmless fun” may change the way another person looks at the world, at life. Think about that for a moment… your joke about the fat kid being fat, can change the way they look or feel about people. Your joke about a girl who is “hooking up” with certain guys may forever change the way she feels about intimacy or trust.

What you think is entertaining during a 5-minute bus ride home from school, may travel with your victim for the rest of their life.

I used to be a bus ride bully. I do not have a bad heart, I thought I was being funny. I was getting laughs, some attention. I later came to the conclusion that my behavior or jokes were not funny, but instead very mean. I bullied classmates so badly, they decided to walk the 5 miles home from school and forgo the bus ride abuse.

I get nervous every time I pick up the newspaper and read the obituaries, afraid I might see a certain name or two. My other nightmare is the thought of my “jokes” may have stolen my victim’s self-worth; maybe I robbed them of enough courage that do not ask the potential love of their life out on a date or maybe I stole enough of their inner strength to chase their dream job or calling.

I live with these fears and regrets everyday. This is the beginning of my asshole past, where I am still struggling today to right my karma.

This very moment in Anthony Wayne High School there are 16, 17, and maybe 18 year olds who are looking at a lifetime of regret from a joke, a rumor or fake Twitter page they created.

The next time you begin to bully, make fun of a student, spread a lie… think of Kayla’s face, imagine her smile, the glimmer in her eyes; then visualize the moment when the smile disappeared and glimmer became tears as life became too much for her. Hold on to that awful feeling, you may save a life.

Please #StandUpForKayla. Please end this nonsense before it is too late.  Please Stop Bullying.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” -Luke 23:34.

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Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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Posted in Baumhower, Death, Facebook, Family, Feels, News, RIP, Toledo
15 comments on “Baumhower: Kayla’s Tragic Life Lesson #StandUpForKayla
  1. jessica says:

    Thank you for everything. Your words I will spread in hope that at least one person will come to the light or one person might changs. From a former anthony wayne student

    Like

  2. Bree says:

    So tragic. These bullying issues going on in the schools need to stop!

    Like

  3. Mike says:

    Thank you, very good read. Over 20 yrs later I still deal with how I was bullied. Suicide should never be thought of as it is more than what some think. I had thoughts of suicide in HS and the girl I loved at the time chose not to want to have anything to do with me because of that, I didn’t find that out until a year+ later when we were graduating. That had made my confidence so low since then. I can’t imagine how different I would be today if I wasn’t bullied and had thoughts of suicide at that time in my life. There are somethings I remember clearly that bother me still, a couple I now I wish I would have responded differently too.

    Like

  4. n.rose says:

    What a poignant point of view..Have you ever thought that maybe you DO NOT know the whole story.?Why doubt the words of her parents who knew her a lot better than you ever would.!! I’m not a doubter by nature but when someone says it wasn’t bullying then take their words as the truth .!

    Like

  5. K says:

    If you are aware that her parents publicly stated it was not due to being bullied; why do you think you have the authority to say it was?! Are you not creating ‘drama’ which you say is bullying by continuing to write about Kayla? For this poor family that is trying to mourn the loss of their beautiful daughter I’d say you are causing unnecessary drama and gossip. Bullying. The very topic you seem to be passionate about stopping.

    Like

    • S says:

      Well said, I completely agree!!

      Like

    • C says:

      To K:

      I am personally very close to the family, and for a fact know that they appreciate what Jeremy is saying and writing, as they are sharing it on FB and talking about it in public. Yes the parents came out and said it was not an act of bullying, but none of the siblings or friends agree. Hence them making bullying awareness shirts and donating to an association to raise awareness. Before you say mean and hurtful things of a topic you clearly know nothing about, please reconsider what you are saying and how ridiculous it looks. It’s all over social media, don’t be so blind to ignore it. He is doing something to #standupforkayla, so have some respect for the beautiful young girl and the man trying to help make things right.

      Sincerely,
      Ticked off best friend

      Like

  6. carolyn says:

    As an Anthony Wayne graduate I am shocked to hear of the tragedy in our own small town community. But the truth is that these young people, if not more careful, are setting up a life of lack of accountability and responsibility for their own actions and will go on to harass others – either knowingly or unknowingly in trying to take what is not theirs.
    We all need to gain some self control and stop the sense of entitlement and foster sensitivity and compassion. We are all living with our own demons which drive our behavior. Stop taking it personally and start praying for others.

    Like

  7. Cherie Shepard says:

    The sad truth is…. parents many times never know about the awful bullying/abuse that their child is enduring day after day 😦 Bullying has gotten so out of hand and many times it is done secretively, under the radar, vindictively, and without anyone noticing. A teen, a child, even an adult, who is “on the outside” happy and well-liked, may very well be screaming on the inside and living a hell that no one knows anything about 😦 We as adults also need to model for our kids how to treat people with respect and how to accept people for who they are even when there are differences. Adults bully too!! Anytime you are talking about others, cutting others down, making fun, pointing out others’ differences…. you are bullying… and you are teaching your kids to bully!! EVERYONE needs to stop and take a stand against bullying and disrespect!!

    Like

  8. RaeLynn says:

    We PARENTS have to know what is going on in our children’s social media lives. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to know what is happening on facebook or on twitter or through texting etc. concerning our children. In the wake of Kayla’s tragic death, we adults have some difficult questions to ask ourselves: Where were we while all this was happening? Where were we parents, we teachers, we coaches, we guidance counselors? WE are the ADULTS. Children and teens look to us for protection, for safety, for guidance. WHERE WERE WE??? I can tell you what is tragically obvious: WE WERE NOT PAYING ATTENTION. Kids are on their mobile devices all the time. Do we know what they are doing? What they are saying, reading or looking at? DO WE CARE? Or are we just glad our kids are out of our hair and entertaining themselves? We are the parents of the children who are bullies. How can we not know the cruelty our children are spewing forth via social media outlets? Please. Please let’s not waist time defending the indefensible. How are we not teaching our children to be kind and compassionate? How are we parents letting the social media universe rule our children’s lives???? As a parent, I SAY SHAME ON US.

    Kayla darling, I saw your picture for the first time tonight. You were beautiful. Sleepless nights are ahead for many an Anthony Wayne parent and school personnel. Perhaps, just perhaps, you will help us get our act together enough to prevent some other young and beautiful student from giving up on life. God help us through this darkness…

    Like

  9. michele wells says:

    Amazing article!
    I agree with you on everything. You have a real knack for touching the heart of the problem and expressing it.

    Like

  10. Vern says:

    The power of one’s words is stronger than any other power I know; the pen is truly mightier than the sword.

    Like

  11. Hue Freeman says:

    “The use of the word “Drama” is an evolved prettier version of what it actually means… Bullying. Parents will often ask their children about the current “drama” happening at the school, rarely do they use the word “bullying”.” Where do we draw the line of what is bullying and what isn’t? 2 people on 1. 4 people on 1? 1 on 1? What is the definition of drama and bullying? This is a question I want answered.

    Another part of the text when asking why bullying happens today so frequently: “The Answer is… It’s the underdeveloped id portion of young brains that give children a guilty pleasure while spreading drama, rumors, or lies. Poking fun or making light of others is a great way to cover one’s own insecurities. The simpler answer is… Kid’s brains believe it is a form of fun and entertainment.”

    I disagree with a lot of this. Sure it is a massive portion of what bullying is, but nobody ever focuses on the other party. The victim. The reason I am so pissed at this movement is because nobody ever keeps into consideration the victim, or even measures to help the victim. The victim is the one who decides what is offensive and what isn’t. Bullying is a social behavior which has been pushed into overdrive not just because of social media, but because it has become a dirty word. Eve’s apple so to say. I believe kids bully, because they know its wrong. And you people spreading hashtags and wanting “change” is only making it worse.

    To emphasize “Kid’s brains believe it is a form of fun and entertainment.”
    Kids love to be rebels. And so if society teaches that bullying is wrong. Isn’t it simply going to give kids more pleasure bullying as it is a way of defying the system? Wouldn’t potential victims be seen as not only weak targets but extensions of the school’s policies?

    Wouldn’t in part this idea of talking about bullying, make bullying itself even more enjoyable for the bullies?

    The only way to fully stop these sort of needless deaths is one thing. Teach the victim. Stop with the teaching children to live together and love each other for their differences bullshit. Start teaching kids bullying is a thing social creatures do, but that they must learn the skills to stop it from affecting themselves.

    Stop writing articles about this stuff, and stop making people who do this thing famous.

    Like

  12. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” ~ Ian Maclaren

    The absence of compassion that some people display is mind-boggling.

    Like

  13. […] Do you know why the words were on that piece of paper?  Days before I penned and shared the photo, Kayla Meeker, a teenager and student at Anthony Wayne High School ended her own life after being bullied online.  The words, “#StandUpForKayla”, was a vehicle for me to discuss the potential consequences of online bullying.  I also wrote about the contagiousness of suicides, hoping to stop just one.   (Baumhower: Kayla’s Tragic Life Lesson #StandUpForKayla) […]

    Like

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jeremybaumhower

jeremybaumhower

Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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