Wednesday, June 6, 2012
It's troublesome to me when I can look at a picture and instinctively know that "he's the one they're talking about." On May 22nd, I was notified about the suicide of a 13-year-old in the Dayton, Ohio area. Immediately, I started looking for information about the event. Somewhere along the way, I saw this picture and everything stopped. My heart sank. My gut told me, without a doubt, that this was the young man I had heard about.
Thirteen-year-old Paul Hauan ended his young life on May 21st. Of course, the cry "he'd been bullied" immediately came into play. However, as the investigation continues, there's no official words to corroborate those claims. Then again, recent history tells us what to expect as the "official" word: "Our investigation shows no evidence of bullying in this case." However, Paul's mother's account indicates otherwise. While returning home with his mother, Paul received a text message that left him despondent. Despondent enough to end his life. Moments later, he was gone.
According to the mother, there had also been previous incidences of bullying that went unchecked. Paul complained that some of the kids he went to school with were mean. In an effort to protect her son, Lisa Noland went to the school to request that he be transferred to another school. Request denied.
Paul was a straight-A student and a seemingly very happy and caring young man. He also suffered from a condition, Alopecia areata, that was causing him to lose his hair. Exactly what was the catalyst for the bullying is yet to be determined. There's no indication that he was an LGBT teen. Whatever the reason, the result is still the same.
What I'm having a problem with is the apparent, obvious?, lack of action that the schools repeatedly and routinely take in these instances of bullying. To be sure, it's gone on for as long as I can remember. "Boys will be boys". Regularly, I have people on the facebook blog page tell me of cases of bullying that, when reported to school officials, went unattended to. We read about it constantly in most of these cases of teen suicides. The question that begs to be asked is "how are they being allowed to continue to sweep bullying under the carpet?". Why aren't there more, and more!, people voicing their concerns about this and demanding immediate and pertinent policy changes?
The 2011-2012 school year is all but over. That's good news insofar as teen suicides are concerned. Historically, there has been a 3-month summer respite from teen suicides. That gives us a 3-month window of opportunity to compel the school systems around the country to change their policies in dealing with bullying and bullies. Zero tolerance means exactly that. There are schools today with zero tolerance policies in place already, but they are hollow. That has to change. We have three months to push for that change. September will be here before we know it.
You can leave your condolences for the family and friends of Paul Hauan on the facebook memorial page that's been set up. Rest in peace, Paul Hauan.