Written by: Jeremy Baumhower
It has been a week since the world lost Kayla.
It only took 5 days before the anonymous bullying started again. Thank God this time it was directed at me, I can take it… I’m used to it.
Earlier this year while sharing the story of Marlee Eckert and the anxiety she gets from the Waterville Primary father-Daughter dance, I received the following anonymous letter sent to my home address. In all my years of being in the public eye, from my radio career to my writing, this was the first time a letter was sent to my house, of course there was no “return address”
When I was notified about Kayla’s passing, there was an continued theme amongst the information I received, she was bullied and the School’s bullying problem was out of control.
Here were just a few of the immediate posts reacting to the news.
As I continued to learn more about this troubled soul, I found there were many more things she was dealing with besides being bullied at school. Her parents had told WTOL that “Bullying was not the reason” but her own siblings shared their beliefs that bullying was definitely a factor. Their posts are heartbreaking to read and out of respect to them, I will not share them.
Anonymous Twitter Accounts that had been used to bully not just Kayla but other students were deleted within hours of her death. With names like @AWHookupss and @AWConfessions0 you can see what the kids were facing. The good news it has been replaced with a positive twist with @AWCompliments.
As I started sharing the news about Kayla’s passing and the #StandUpForKayla campaign, the bullying focus turned to this website and myself. The bullying came via numerous anonymous comments calling me pathetic, spineless and other names. I want you to notice how some of the comments look very similar, only using initials to ID themselves, sometimes using false names, often writing with like-styles.
Here are some of the highlights.
The irony of their comments completely lost on the anonymous authors. As I am pointing out a bullying epidemic in not just their school, but every, they tried to bully me and my point of view. The bashing and sometimes name-calling all without giving their own names and hidden by IP addresses, proves how much of an issue this community has, that society has.
I have thick skin; I am a grown ass man with 38 years of life experience, many of which spent being criticized publicly for a living. I am conditioned to read anonymous jabs from cowardly commentators. 16 year old girls are not.
Shame on you for teaching your children how not to act or how not to love. Bullying is a learned behavior and it appears you are teaching it beautifully. Hopefully after this loss and reality’s wake-up call, it can be unlearned. The students are already trying to fight the problem with positive solutions, something I applaud.
Please follow @AWCompliments and if you are in a different High School be the one that carries this beautiful concept into your hallway. Love each other, you are all from the same zip-codes and will face life together. Love above all else is the answer.