During the past couple of years, we witnessed an epidemic of teen bullying suicides. Many of the kids were harassed for being gay, others because kids thought they were; some kids were picked on for their weight, their interests, because they were new, or different, and who knows what else. There were cases in which parents and teens asked for help from their schools and the schools did nothing, some parents didn’t know about the bullying until it was too late; some of the bullies were arrested and others were suspended from school (none expelled, to date, that I know of).
Now there’s Samantha Kelly, whom I would say succumbed to the pressures of two different influences — bullying and the current backward motion in this country when it comes to women’s health rights: the movement that’s resulted in Planned Parenthood cuts, stricter regulations on women’s options for reproductive health, and, increasingly, a return to either blaming the victim of sexual assaults (or making light of many incidences). This, this unfortunate intersection, is where Samantha Kelly landed. After being assaulted by an 18-year-old and then subsequently harassed by him, the 14-year-old Kelly took her own life on November 8. Later, her parents got to witness her assailant go free because the accuser was not able to testify. Additionally, they also got to see the Facebook memorial page for their daughter overrun by hateful, hurtful messages from supporters of her assailant and other cyber-goons. Samantha’s mother commented after the trial that “my daughter did not get any justice.”
A heartbreaking understatement.