In Memory of Jamie Rodemeyer

Posted Sep 24 2011, 4:44 pm in , , , , , , ,

The following blog post was written by my oldest son, Rob, and pre-empts this weekend’s usual chocolate post because the subject is too important to trivialize. I warn you – this is not easy to read and as Rob’s mother, I promise you, it’s even harder to bear because each time I read it, I am hit in the heart by the thought of just how close I came to losing him.

IN MEMORIUM

Jamie Rodemeyer was right when he said it gets better. Unfortunately he didn’t listen to his own words. For those of you who don’t know this name, Jamie Rodemeyer was a 14-year-old boy from Buffalo, NY. He had been bullied for over a year online because he was gay.

Jamie killed himself last weekend.

A year ago, Jamie posted a video on the “It Gets Better Project” YouTube page, encouraging other gay children who are being bullied to be strong and know that it does get better. But sadly, Jamie didn’t listen to his own advice.

I was even younger than Jamie when I was bullied. It was sixth grade and I was tormented pretty much constantly the entire year, not because I was gay, but because I hit puberty first. The reason doesn’t really matter – kids bully for their own amusement.

I used to be a very outgoing kid. I would say hello to anybody and I was never shy around new people. But I was physically developing much faster than the other kids were, and I guess these five kids didn’t like that about me. Anthony, Mike, Travis, Nick and A.J. were their names.

I had a lot of acne as a preteen, and also was already shaving. When you’re the only kid like that, things can be very awkward. There were days in lunch when the five of them would get bored and play a game. The game was “Count the pimples on Rob’s face.” Each day they would see if they could top the previous day’s number. I remember one day they got up to about 90 before I finally had enough. I don’t know why I sat there and took the abuse for so long, but I did. They made fun of my growing facial hair, my changing voice, and my hairy legs. Nothing was off limits to them. They also told me that nobody would care if I died. And after you hear that for a while, you start to believe that.

Now, I can imagine that none of that is as bad as what Jamie must have gone through. But, like most kids who are bullied, I didn’t handle it well, and hid my feelings from those around me. Some nights, I stood in the kitchen, holding the largest knife in the drawer just staring at it. I wondered what it would be like. What would death be like? Would it be easier than what I was currently going through? Would it hurt? Would anybody even miss me?

There were many nights like that throughout that year, but every time, I put the knife back in the drawer and continued on like nothing was wrong. And I made sure that my family members did not know about those nights.

I finally did talk to my parents and ended up going to counseling, but even with that, I still couldn’t handle it. I got into a fight with one of the kids near the end of the year, hoping that it would finally put an end to it. But it still continued on into the summer time.

Near the end of the year, my counselor finally gave me good advice. She told me that it would get better, that eventually I wouldn’t ever have to see those kids again and I could put all of this behind me.  She was right about two things: it did get better, and I didn’t see them again. But I still haven’t been able to put this behind me and every time I hear about a kid like Jamie, it brings it all back.

It’s tough to move on and put this behind me when kids are still being bullied. It needs to stop. We must end it.

People always say, “Well, why doesn’t the school step in and do something?” Unfortunately, there isn’t much the school can do from what I have seen. They can take the bully aside and give him or her a stern warning. They can suspend the student doing the bullying. Or they can talk to the parents.

But all three of those actions will most likely end the same way. The child will say “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was actually hurting him, and I promise I won’t do it again,” and then they will leave, go find the student they’ve been bullying, and make things even worse for the kid. It will always get worse after that point. It’s just the way kids are.

Instead, every state needs to adopt a zero-tolerant anti-bullying law that will put the bullies in jail. A simple suspension from school does nothing to these kids. It doesn’t teach them a lesson. It gives them a week off from school. Jail time will teach them a lesson. Jail time is needed. Though I’m not a Lady Gaga fan, she is correct about this – Bullying is a hate crime, and it should be treated as such.

Until an anti-bullying law is adopted, we have to try to end bullying ourselves. If you see someone being bullied, step in and put an end to it or tell someone who can step in if you’re afraid. If you’re a parent, talk to your kids even when they don’t want to – or just can’t – talk to you. Tell them they’re worthy and special and how proud they make you even though they failed a test or forgot to mow the lawn.

But most of all, we need to keep telling these kids that it does get better. We need to get them to believe that, because it is the truth. It does get better. If only Jamie listened to his own words.

Rest in peace, Jamie.

8 Comments

Comments

8 responses to “In Memory of Jamie Rodemeyer”

  1. Ali says:

    After reading this, I can’t exactly form words.

    You’re right — it does get better. Kids DO need to hear that. This is a heart-wrenching tribute, and it nearly broke my heart to read it. I was teased as a kid, too. It’s never anything original, but it hurts like hell and back. An anti-bullying law is a very good idea. Until then, standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves is the least we can do.

    Patty — thank you for sharing this. Rob, thank you for writing this so eloquently.

  2. Rebecca Emin says:

    Rob you are so brave. Thank you for sharing this post with us.

  3. Rob says:

    Hey all. Thanks to all three of you for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

    It’s not too tough to talk about anymore, but I knew writing this that it would be very tough to read for one person in particular (mom). I thought that I’d told her everything, but apparently I hadn’t. So just like you all, even she was hearing about some of this for the 1st time.

    My point in sharing this was that hopefully some people can take one story as an example of proof that it does get better.

    Thank you all again for the kind words.

  4. Tuere Morton says:

    Rob,
    Your mom’s great for posting it and you’re awesome for writing it!! Thanks for sharing your experience. LOVED the mention of their names too. lol!

    Ironically, venues like facebook has helped me realize that not only only are most “bullies” unaware of the damage their behavior causes but they’re also VERY sorry as adults and now, parents themselves. I agree that “awareness” is the key @ a young age. 🙂

  5. abby says:

    this is a stellar post, rob.

    thanks for sharing it with us, patty.

  6. Shaina says:

    Hello everyone, I just saw on T.v today that sad story about Jaime Rodemeyer and many other kids who have taken there lives because of being bullied. I know that i am nobody but wanted to say how sorry i am t all those parents and families of those wonderful children..I am going to make a youtube video today about this.It is not Ok when a child feels the need to do that.There is obviously a huge issue in todays society where this is happening so often..I am soo sorry for your lossses and i am passionate about this issue and will bring it to peoples attention as i hope will many more..

  7. Kelly B says:

    I have no words. And for me that is saying something. Thanks for sharing.