The 17-year-old student suspected this week of shooting to death three classmates and wounding two others in the cafeteria of their Cleveland high school was characterized by some as an outcast and a victim of bullying.
Despite all the safety measures schools have put in place since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 that killed 13 and all of the attention placed on bullying prevention, we have clearly not made enough progress. When parents send their children to school each day, their minimum expectation is that they will be safe. The ways to do that are not simple because they involve multiple fronts, including gun control, parenting, school safety and security, mental health awareness, and of course, bullying prevention. As the unfortunate ramifications of bullying come to the forefront once again, here’s a heartwarming story of one young person, Jamie Isaacs, who is trying to make a difference after being a victim of bullying herself.
When adults ponder solutions to the bullying epidemic, they often view young people as a big part of the problem. But LI teen Jamie Isaacs — a victim of bullying herself — is determined to be part of the solution.
Jamie’s journey began when she was a second grade student and was bullied by a classmate at her Lake Grove elementary school. As the years went by, other students joined in, forming an “I Hate Jamie Club.” Members of the club sent Jamie derisive emails and even death threats. Her parents ultimately decided to transfer her to a private school.
Now 15, Jamie has started a foundation, written a book, and is lobbying for stricter laws. She is also in the process of writing and recording a song about her bullying experience and is shooting a music video to accompany the song. Last summer she worked with filmmakers to create a documentary about bullying. Her book, In Jamie’s Words, is her effort to be a voice for other victims of bullying, and to share the strategies she used to persevere.
The Jamie Isaacs Foundation for Anti-Bullying runs a hotline that takes calls from kids who are being bullied. It also presents programs to students, teachers, and administrators to help raise awareness about the signs and effects of bullying. In addition, the foundation assists children and their families to find services and resources to help them overcome the impact of bullying.
According to Newsday, Jamie was recently honored, along with Paige Pless of Albany, by the New York State Senate for their attempts to stop the spread of cyber-bullying.
“I didn’t want what happened to me to ever happen to anyone else,” she told Newsday. She added that it is important for victims not to feel alone.
“That helps them, knowing that there’s someone else out there like them that’s experiencing the same thing.”
Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) introduced resolutions commending the two teens for fighting against harassment and bullying that occur online.
Last month, Klein introduced a cyber-bullying bill that would expand the crimes of stalking and aggravated harassment by adding engaging in “electronic communication” with minors.
“What we’re seeing now in the digital age is hundreds, hordes of invisible bullies that are hiding behind social media and harassing one another,” Klein told Newsday. “The old adage is that sticks and stones may break your bones but words cannot harm you, I think we’re seeing, unfortunately, that words can kill.”