Teenager Izzy Dix’s tragic story has consumed me today – what makes it worse is that Izzy’s experience is not unique, it’s not even uncommon. It happens, a lot.
Izzy’s poem: ‘I Give Up’:
Happy and fresh,
Ready and excited
To celebrate the goodness.
I am eager and keen to have a good time.
As I smile from the bubbles of anticipation whizzing around my stomach,
I begin to see the crowd,
I see more people,
Many are happy and joyful.
They’re there like me,
I smile at them and say hello to the many faces I see,
They look shocked and surprised to see me,
I question their judgmental glares as I wonder,
‘What have I done wrong?’
I see their drinks swilling in their fingers as their backs begin to face me.
I try to edge my way back into the circle of giggles and talking,
They push me away.
I stand still,
My eyes glazed and absent.
Suddenly they call me over,
I think, ‘yes! They’ve noticed me!’
But then it begins,
They start to ask questions,
As to why I am there.
They begin to tell me that nobody wants me there,
They tell me to leave and that I am not wanted,
Not there, not anywhere,
I feel pricks of stinging begin to pinch my eyes as cheeks begin to burn.
‘Don’t let them see you,
Don’t show them that you’re weakened,
Weakened by their remarks’,
‘Stay strong’ I think,
But it’s too late,
My palms, clammy,
My cheeks, streaming,
My neck, sweating.
I walk quickly away from the chanting and laughing,
My vision, spinning,
My heart, beginning to break.
I look down and walk,
My eyes drowning in a sea of emotion.
Another piece of me chiselled away by their cruel remarks and perceptions,
I give up.”
Izzy, 14 years old, was killed by the bullies on 17 September 2013. I cannot bring myself to say that she committed suicide, that she killed herself because what, in fact, happened is that she was killed, she did not kill herself. The bullies killed her by forcing her into a situation wherein she hanged herself, a situation in which she felt that her only escape from the hell she was having to endure was death. The bullies killed her, just as surely as if they had pushed her over a cliff or off the top of a tall building. I can’t mentally process the tragedy of that wholly avoidable death, it is too hard to digest…a 14 year old girl, loved by her family, gifted, a sparkling future ahead of her….cornered by bullies, cowards operating in a group, heartless cruelty, Izzy treated as a play thing, a ball to kick around, an inanimate object.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me….”
Thing is, words don’t just hurt…they can, and in the tragic case of Izzy Dix, they did, kill.
Bullying is not always obvious – it might be to you and me, it might be to the child being bullied but it is not always obvious to the bullies. Bullying can be subtle, the pain caused unintentional. It might be a giggle, nothing much, but it could be the straw that breaks the camels back, an accumulation of words, giggles, looks which spills over. In the rough and tumble, ‘kids will be kids’, ‘mucking about’, ‘fun and games’, excitable environment of everyday school life, some children can find themselves left behind, lost, on the periphery, maybe they don’t play football, maybe they don’t have the latest trainers, maybe they are a little overweight – different – that can be all it takes to be left ‘out’ and the giggle, to comment, the look, they can all compound a sense of loneliness.
Just as painful can be the online bullying and that can be more vicious because it is done ‘at distance’, the bully doesn’t physically see his/her victim so finds it even easier to attack.
No break – 24/7.
Children are being bullied at school, bullied online at home evenings, sleepless early hours of the morning and weekends.
Actions have consequences.
Education is key.
See Twitter: https://twitter.com/IzzyDixMemorial