She Beat Cancer at 3 But Could Not Survive School Bullying

· December 28, 2016
Bethany's case shows that school bullying can be tougher than cancer and its aftermath. We need to combat bullying by focusing on the root of this problem.

A parent’s worst fear is that their child develops cancer. Treatments, side effects, sequelae. Everything scares the parent, not only the possibility of death.

In spite of everything, every day more children show us that they have the strength to overcome cancer, even though it’s a great obstacle.

However, there are other circumstances that can destroy children. This happened in Bethany’s case.

This 11-year-old decided to commit suicide after being the victim of years of school bullying. The bullies were always on the lookout, looking to attack anyone different from them and Bethany turned out to be the perfect victim.

Although she beat cancer at 3, it left a mark on her: a crooked mouth.

That was enough for some of her schoolmates to start mocking her mercilessly.

She endured it as best she could. For instance, she told her parents and the school about the bullying. However, despite the school’s efforts and those of her parents, nothing changed. And then she decided to commit suicide.

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Bethany and her friend reported the bullying with posters

Recovering from such a serious illness at such an early age leaves a mark on you.

Every day and every second is a struggle against death when you have cancer, so you quickly learn that you have to approach life head on. It’s better if you have people supporting you along this journey.

This is why she turned to an ally after being tired of resisting the taunts of the other children. This was her best friend. They armed themselves with posters that said “friends, not abusers,” so that the board of directors of the school heard them once and for all.

They couldn’t deny the existence of the problem, now that it was so evident. The answer was clear: we can’t do anything.

This action was the last straw for Bethany’s parents. Aware of the problem, they contacted the school, hoping that members of staff could take care of their daughter.

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But that was not enough either. Statements from the school confirm this. According to the school, they were aware of the problem before that last day of Bethany’s and her friend’s protests, but didn’t know how to handle it.

They never imagined the suffering that the school bullies were inflicting on Bethany.

So, after Bethany saw how they ignored her complaint, she had probably already made her mind up when she went back home. She knew that her stepfather kept a gun and used it to end her life.

School bullying was tougher than surgery, chemo or radiotherapy, and that crooked smile full of life, which was the result of beating a brain tumor.

The bewilderment of being attacked by her friends, the solitude to which the school condemned her, and the failure of an entire system that allows bullies to continue bullying, extinguished the light from her eyes.

School bullying: a growing problem

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According to statistics from the NGO Save the Children, located in Spain, 9.3% of children confess to having suffered from this problem, while 6.9%  say they’ve been a victim cyberbullying.

This leads us to wonder what’s going on.

In a world where children and teenagers have access to information unimaginable years ago, it’s striking how school bullying victims remain the same: those who aren’t considered normal.

Teachers indicate that it’s impossible for them to educate with big classes, with an increase in their bureaucratic obligations and with more demanding but absent families.

The conditions and working hours of teachers are almost incompatible with providing a solid base of values. Teachers, on the other hand, do not feel that this is their role or that they have a chance to do so.

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Perhaps it’s time to change this phenomenon, as well as to listen to the bullies themselves.

What must be going on in a ten-year-old’s mind to make them bully another person? Why do they try to build themselves up by crushing others? Don’t bullies also suffer because they have so much rage and aggression inside?

It’s impossible to solve a problem when you ignore its origin.

Perhaps if we pay more attention to this and create a system in which schools and families can play their respective roles, we can design a comprehensive care plan that ends school bullying—a scourge that may be more violent than cancer.