The heartbreaking death of a 14-year-old Toledo boy is a harsh and cold wake-up call– in this community and beyond. Bullying is real, and its impact is quite literally deadly.
Luken Boyle, an incoming freshman at Central Catholic High School, died by suicide July 31.
His family’s loss is immeasurable and, for most of us, unimaginable. Their pain will never end.
“Words cannot express the pain and heartache brought on by one impulsive decision as a result of cyberbullying,” his obituary read.
As Lucas County Suicide Prevention Coalition Coordinator Jan Burgard-Moore said, there is no escape in the Internet age.
While a bully’s target used to be able to take refuge at home, cyberbullying now can reach a victim anywhere, all the time. It makes the bullying unrelenting. “It follows you everywhere.”
This is new, and insidious.
It is admirable that so many of Luken’s peers want to channel their grief into something positive.
Since his death, many have volunteered for the student ambassador program coordinated by the suicideprevention coalition.
This is a worthy and constructive way for teenagers to address this plague.
But cases like this one demand outrage as well as compassion.
If the police investigation into Luken’s death reveals it was prompted by cyberbullying, the responsible bully, or bullies, must face criminal charges and be brought to justice.
And, beyond this case, our social norm must change drastically. Acceptance and enabling of bullies must end.
Too often, bullying does not receive the harsh punishment it deserves.
Too often, excuses are made: “These are just kids. Their own problems brought this on.”
We have heard enough of that tripe.
Sweet, young, innocent kids like Luken are dying because parents, schools, and society have tolerated bullies.
Torturing someone to death is not a youthful prank, but murder.
There must be real, serious, stiff, legal consequences for school and cyberbullies.
There must be zero tolerance and maximum punishment– until the message penetrates and resonates: No more. Your bullying will not be accepted. We will not treat you as fellow victims but as the criminals you are.–Toledo Blade