Friday, April 6, 2012

Kenny Wolf, 16: Bullying Claims Yet Another Life

When it hits this close to home, it's really painful for me to think about.  According to information just received, Kenny Wolf, a 14-year-old freshman at Olde Mill High School in Maryland, successfully attempted suicide yesterday, Thursday April 5th.  According to a memorial page set up on the popular teen site, tumblr, Kenny had been constantly bullied because of being an LGBT teen.

The information hit me like a Mack truck.  I lived in that neighborhood for a while.  When I saw his facebook picture, taken just the day before his suicide, I just wept.  No, I didn't know him.  I lived there when he was just 4 or 5 years old.  I didn't need to know him, though.  I know that he was another teen, just trying to become, but because of other people's hostilities, is now gone forever.

 
I don't think it can be said enough that this whole epidemic of bullying has to be met head-on, and dealt with as seriously as any other epidemic that hits our society.  It was said that "if teens were dying at this rate because of a medical outbreak, everyone would be in a panic."  I agree.  As such, the same intensity has to be applied to the problem of bullying, and the suicides that it's leading to.

The more I learn, though, the more I realize that it could be easier said than done at this point-in-time.  Why?  Well, where do we start?  The easy answer would be to hold these young people accountable for the consequences of their bullying.  And, I believe that to be true.  If they knew, without a doubt, that their bullying would lead to severe consequences especially in cases where it led to suicides, they would think twice before doing it.  After all, if those same kids were to take a weapon to school and physically harmed or killed another student, wouldn't they be charged for a crime?  And, depending on the severity of the outcome, they would potentially be charged as an adult.  What, then, is the difference between that action and bullying someone to a point where he or she ends their life?  On a real core level, especially to the family and friends of the victim, there is no difference.  In either case, their loved one is gone forever.  However, that's the easy answer.  Our society, especially in this country, already has a lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key mentality.  It doesn't "cure" a thing.  And, it doesn't bring anyone back.  

The long-term solution absolutely has to be a re-education of our culture beginning with the adults.  Once again, I will say that these young people aren't born to hate, discriminate, or be intolerance.  They.  Are.  Taught.  They are taught, either directly or indirectly, by adults.  Listen to the rhetoric from the extremist's corner.  Watch, again, what a "pastor" "preaches" to his "congregation" about the LGBT community.  These are the people who tell the young bullies, either directly or indirectly, that it's ok to treat LGBT teens, real or perceived, as mean as they want to.  These extremists send the signal that even physical harm is acceptable when it comes to LGBT teens.  And, that is what has to be addressed quickly, and severely.  Forget their claims of freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech does not include hate speech.  Their idea of "freedom of speech" is costing lives and destroying families.  That is not acceptable.  Not anymore.  

Kenny has been gone for just over 24 hours, so his family and friends are still raw with unimaginable pain.  Send them lots of love and support.  And, prayers.  And, while you're praying to a God that loves, pray that He works on the hearts and souls of the people, young and old, who spread harmful hatred and intolerance.  It's time for a change.  Rest in peace, Kenny.  No one can harm you now.



48 comments:

  1. VERY well written!! Thank you, Ron! <3

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  2. This is so sad. It's shameful that we live in a society that is so damned hateful. Absolutely shameful.

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  3. Damn.... :(

    I've been bullied for 11 years....I'm Kenny's age, and I'm bi, a member of the lgbt community too. Im depressed and suicidally inclined - I am seeing a therapist and am getting help - and I get it. When your peers, even sometimes your parents, screw you over and make your life a living nightmare......it's flipping horrible. Sometimes I hate being alive :/

    Great article - people do need to change, and DEFINITELY the way bullying is dealt with needs to change.

    RIP Kenny - you'll be missed.

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    1. Don't give up hope! There's a supportive community out there for you, and I know you're going to find it.

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    2. Sorry, couldn't figure out how to post with my name. I wrote this one - "damn...etc."

      I am only 16 - 11 years of harassment really messes someone up. I may not have known Kenny, but I know some of what he was dealing with.

      Again, RIP Kenny. <3

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    3. I'm sorry beni that is messed up. I'm 22 and BI. I have gone through allot also.. And still going through allot it never stops for me. I am also going into Therapy for stuff. I've hurt myself allot. I'm more straight tho, but i was getting bullied when i was straight also. I turned bi at 18.. But i've always had a touch of Bi that's gotten me in trouble with the community. Not sure if you wanna talk to a 22 year old, But i'm sure we have similar stories and could help each other out in a way ..maybe.. with everything going at once i've though about drowning myself allot last summer. But now i am focasing on colllege and I'm back to dating girls and just trying to live life but still getting hurrassed and jumped at times. Hope to talk soon. Thanks. RIP KENNY!!!!

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    4. It was well written and you made valid points right up until you started preaching about religion and prayer. It would be nice if people could remove religion from any issue of acceptability, tolerance and thought. But that is obviously your belief and holds no strength with the biggest growing number of followers of free thought, free from religion nor the belief in any invisible imaginary being. Support will be completely inclusive only when inclusion means non-denominational, non-secular and non-religious. Respect for other people must be based on the merit of their character. As sad as this situation is, and it is, alienating others with talk of religion does nothing to get a valid point across to everyone.

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    5. I'm a Deaf woman mother of 3 children - one have passed away. I've been with my husband for almost 10 years. I'm not gay/lesbian. I am almost 30 years old. I am friends with people who is gay/lesbian, though. I was being bullied in school - attempted to kill myself few times - Thought about running away. In the end, I left school when discovered the school was putting me one grade back again even though I had a great year - it was wrong. That means 1 more year of bullyness, plus other stuff. At any time, you need a friend - you can reach me at http://www.facebook.com/forevermommas#!/profile.php?id=100003696736512&sk=wall
      With Much Loves,
      Amanda

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    6. Beni, I know how you feel. I'm 35 now and was bullied my whole life. At 14 I tried suicide and failed, thankfully. I am now out and very proud of being gay. I have 4 wonderful children and a loving supportive boyfriend who cares for us. So with everyone saying it gets better I am living proof of that. It will get better just hang in there.

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    7. I'm taking it one day at a time now. And idk what I'm going to do each morning and it terrifies me. Kenny's passing shows the darkness of what bullying and unacceptance can do. Your words, all of you, show a lighter side with hope - it scares me to believe but I'm trying.
      Funny thing is, being bi is the one thing I don't get a lot of harassment about. :/ it's a lot of other things that bullies do to me.

      Idk how to talk to anyone on here...um....but thank you. I live on so that Kenny and the thousands of other teens struggling just like him, just like me, have someone who remembers.

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    8. Beni, you talk to people here by doing just what you just did. Just keep talking, here and other places that will listen to you and support you. I'd like to encourage you to go to the facebook blog page and "like" it. It's a great community of support: http://www.facebook.com/bloggingforchange

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    9. Don't ever give up! if you ever need someone to talk to, vent to or just someone who will love you for you come and find me, facebook, email, anything anytime If I'm awake I will reply, right now I am helping to spear head a campaign in my school (Old Mill High) to hopefully bring about harsher punishment for bullies and support groups for all victims, which one day I hope to take to every school
      ~~Skott Barlow-Connelly

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    10. Crazy Cat (Skott?). You're awesome for posting this! Keep doing what you're doing. You're going to make a difference somewhere. This is what it's all about. Thank you for your efforts, and thank you for posting here.

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  4. That is heartbreaking, RIP Kenny Wolf, i hope you have found peace.

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  5. R.I.P. and, if there's anyone, that is being bullied, please tell someone.

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  6. You are right, hate is a learned attitude. It makes me sad to hear of another young life that ended to soon. Driven to the act of suicide because of the hate and violence directed at them by others. This country is in a sad state that this is allowed to happen as much as it does.
    Kenny, a well written piece, we need more intelligent youth like you.

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  7. It is so senseless and it just breaks my heart that we lost another teen to bullying.

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  8. It's so heartbreaking to hear these stories of kids who lost hope. Ken, please help us spread the word about an exciting new project aimed at offering a message of hope to LGBT teens. It's called "Dear 15 Year Old Me - Letters of Hope for LGBT Teens."
    These senseless tragedies MUST stop! Please check us out at:
    https://sites.google.com/site/dear15yearoldme/home

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  9. Hate is a Learned trait. You learn it from growing up around people that hate others, and you learn to do it as well. It breaks my heart to learn of someone so young has taken their own life just because people dont take the time to get to know him. Something HAS to change, and soon

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  10. Poor lad... ;_; He's quite cute too.. such a shame! D':

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  11. THIS IS SAD . WE NEED TO STAND UP . WE KNOW WHATS RIGHT && WE KNOW WHATS NOT . LETS HELP THIS BATTLE AGAINST BULLYING . I AM A GAY HIP HOP ARTIST WHO HAS RECENTLY CAME OUT THE CLOSET (LAST MONTH) BECAUSE OF THIS SAME INCIDENT HAPPENING IN MY TOWN . IM WILLING TO PUT UP THE FIGHT AGAINST BULLYING (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxU_IN_6dyg) LISTEN TO THAT . LETS STAND UP AND DO SOMETHING RIGHT FOR ONCE!

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  12. He needed a haircut!

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  13. damn, just look at his eyes, even in a relatively "grainy" pic like that, you can tell there's a lot of pain. Why is there no one there to just be a shoulder to cry on in times like this, thats what saved me 7 years ago....

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  14. I went to the school web page and no mention of this.
    http://www.aacps.org/html/schol/High/Oldmhs.asp
    In most situations, there is an effort made to update ASAP.
    Let us not forget Kenny. Thanks Ron

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    1. The school sent home letters to parents and had counselors on site at the school today. I think they are doing all that they can. Its all so sad

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  15. People, we need to start telling people to fight back. I'm sick and tired of hearing about suicides and bullies. Learn to kick their arses; it's the only thing these fecking bullies understand! Fight for your right to survive!

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  16. This is terriable!!! People need to stop judging and Hurassing others. R.I.P Kenny.

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  17. Great article until the last paragraph. Prayers are a waste of time, there is no god, and there is nothing, not even peace, for one who has died. My heart does, however, go out to the family.

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  18. Insane,, that dude looked nothing like happy, I am sharing this forward. Hate has to stop. Blessed be. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  19. thats just messed up no one should be ending thier lives this earliy or that way or both its just not right

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  20. What evidences do we have that bullying caused him to commit suicide? There are many reasons that people commit suicide. We need to understand the real reasons that people commit suicide and we do not do any teens a good service by slapping a label on every suicide and conclude bullying was the culprit.

    When I was a kid the big boogey man was heavy metal. Every teen suicide was blamed on the music they listened to.

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  21. Ron Lambert - The county schools have been out for Spring Break all week. I imagine that there will be announcements next week.

    Rest in Peace, Kenny.

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  22. I would be dead right now if my family didnt come home early. Bullied for 7 years, I am 16right now and life is only getting worse

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    1. Do you have anyone you can talk to? Have you talked to your family about what's going on?

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    2. I'm also 16 and ive been bullied for 11 years. If you didn't see my earlier comment, I'm depressed and suicidal but getting help. I'd probably be dead without the support from a very select few people in my life including my mom. You're not alone.

      Heartsblood19@gmail.com

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  23. Beni, you talk to people here by doing just what you just did. Just keep talking, here and other places that will listen to you and support you. I'd like to encourage you to go to the facebook blog page and "like" it. It's a great community of support: http://www.facebook.com/bloggingforchange

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    1. Oh! Um, thank you and ok...I think I'll do just that.

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  24. This boy was actually just 14 years old. May he rest in peace. I knew him and am a friend of the family. They are devastated.

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  25. Kenny went to my school, and I just want to say that it's sickening that someone has to kill themselves because ignorent and inconsiderate people won't leave him alone. I hope this shows people that bullying has to stop. RIP Kenny.

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  26. Sending prayers to Kenny's family and friends. This is heartbreaking.

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  27. Yes, he was 14 and yes today was the first day back at school so it was only announced today with counselors visiting each of his classes (my son was a classmate and friend). Very sad.

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  28. I attend Olde Mill high school right now, i am a senior so i didnt know Kenny but from everything i heard he was a great kid even the teachers said so....my teacher currently Mr. Dickinson said that he had kenny in his class first semester and that he was always smiling and laughing and it just goes to show how people truly hide their emotions...his brother is currently a sophomore at olde mill and obviously taking it hard....i wish him and his family the best....

    RIP Kenny didnt know you but you will help change bulling forever

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  29. Dear Ron,
    Thank you, thank you...for caring so much. We love you.
    If you could, kindly, watch our current story of 10 year old bullied,
    Brandon, we almost lost to suicide last week...we'd love you to
    repost it as well.
    You'll note, Brandon's mom called Tracy Rodemeyer very upset. Tracy referred her
    to us. Now Brandon is in counseling, the family has filed a lawsuit and the school and
    city officials will be held accountable.

    Keep up the critical writings.

    Warmly,

    Christi O'Connor
    Monster March Against Bullying
    Founder

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  30. Ron,
    Please share this EVERYWHERE appropriate and that can help!
    http://www.change.org/petitions/keep-lgbt-history-in-ca-schools

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  31. god bless you angel x

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  32. Alright, I do have to say I read this blog many times before I can even bring myself to say anything. First, let me introduce myself. My names Leroy, and I live 2 streets over from the apartment complex in which Kenny and his brother and mother lived. Kenny and my little brother met on a bus in middle school, they argued over something. Who would've known after that they would become best friends. And I know that my brother was his best friend because recently, we had made a trip over to check in on his mom and what not (Kenny's older brother was away at his grandmothers) and his mother (who we will refer to as Ms. D) found a journal. In a letter he had written it had claimed my Brother to be his best friend. So with all that being said , I know most of what other people don't. And I can say this, even though bullying played a part in Kenny's choice, it was maybe %5 of why he did what he did. And that's what I have a problem with. Everybody is so quick to jump on this very touchy subject.. And don't even know the story. I had heard kids talking in my class about different ways they heard he did it and different ways they know why he did it. All of them were wrong not One person who openly spoke about it knew why. But my family did. We heard from Ms D's mouth why. And that's all I have to say. If you don't believe in anything I just said, my brother was a pall (or Paul? Idk which spelling) barrier at his Funeral.

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    1. Thank you for submitting this comment, Leroy. I've heard from many, many families of suicide victims who have told me that, although bullying was PART of the issue, it wasn't the root cause of it. I understand that many elements go into making that decision. What you said is very believable. Again, I appreciate your comment.

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  33. I knew kenny, he was a great kid and can never be replaced. My bio class felt empty without him. Oir school isn't the same. Old mill, fornthe first time durig ky time there, was in mournong. No ome was the sa,e. Here were tears for the first time. His bullies even cried. I'mglad they did. They felt some of what he felt. A bill beig discussed in our state made me think of him. Great artical. And, you're righr. He's safe now.

    Rest now love, we'll see you in a bit.

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