Yesterday the news shared the death of 16 year old Amy Joyner who was pronounced dead after being assaulted in the bathroom of Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware by other students.
I immediately thought of my own 12 year old daughter who was just suspended for fighting another girl at school last week and I thought of my own struggles dealing with other girls through my teenage years, and my heart instantly ached for her because I already knew her story without reading it, so I didn’t click the link to further read. I didn’t want to read it, but today I got up and did, because I feel like it is my responsibility as a writer and publisher to make sure Joyner is remembered and her death be in vain.
According to the news the fight may have been over a boy and it initially started with one girl and then others jumped in. Joyner apparently injured her head throughout it, which may have led to her death, but it is uncertain at this time.
No reports have stated whether Joyner had reported the bullying prior to this event but that is a big part of where my concern lies. Moving forward these are all my thoughts and opinions from personal experience, so you are more than welcome to disagree, but no one can tell me how to speak my truth.
We as females ( yes I said females), whether young girls or women, have so much jealousy within us. We can talk about women empowerment all we like, but the end of the day, there’s more hate amongst us than there is love. I often see women say we should not speak to our children about jealousy, but that is exactly what it is. People (not just women) can be jealous of the littlest things and we do not know it. Then it leads to other problems.
In my daughter’s situation, the other girl had been bothering her for quite some time, stalking her page and MINE, imitating her style of dress, sending her nasty messages through social networks and other girls threatening her, following her around at out of school events, spreading rumors and bad mouthing her (my daughter) trying out for cheerleading.
Initially, the whole thing seemed to have kicked off with another girl (cousin to my daughter’s bully) being involved. As soon as my daughter told me about the situation, I knew no matter how she tried to downplay it, it was a big deal. For one, in this day and age, most times children are not going to tell you about something like that unless they are afraid and want help. And again, in this day and age, I understood why. How many children are dying everyday at the hands of other children?
Our children are no longer safe from each other. Being a child used to make one appear to be the least likely killer, but times have changed. Only a few weeks ago, I read about a group of first graders trying to poison another classmate. It is no longer like back in the day when bullying consisted of “yo mama” mama jokes and maybe a few shoves. Current situations are more like domestic violence in relationships.
I first explained to my daughter that she was right to tell me and I was glad she did so. I then explained, I could not stay silent about the situation because I did not want it to get out of hand. From my own experiences, usually not saying anything resulted in a fight or some type of altercation after a period of time. However, in my family it would not stop there, because my own mother would be mad enough to go, find, and fight whomever the other parent is. In the past, that led to family feuds, my own family against the other child’s family. Being a peaceful person, even then, it was crazy and often embarrassing. Yet, that was back in the day when people fought with their hands. Today we fight with weapons, big difference, and sometimes the guns start in the hands of children. Sometimes it is not guns. Remember the girl who threw bleach in the face of her “friend” out jealousy.
I didn’t want any of that foolery with my daughter, so I immediately contacted the daughter of the cousin’s mother, because we grew up together, though she was younger. I believed that if the girls could understand how alike they were, they might could get along better, because our families were closely connected though they did not know.
I knew that it would be best to approach the situation with extreme caution, choosing my words wisely, because the last thing I wanted to do was come off as being accusational and not getting anywhere, only causing more confusion between the girls. I informed the mother of what was going on and then explained why I thought it was a big enough problem for us to not ignore, mentioning recent events in the news and how they could easily be our children. She understood and agreed with my concern and spoke with her daughter. Both of our girls were able to move on pass the situation, but the other girl whose mom I did not speak with, eventually went on to push my daughter in the lunch line, which led to the fight and them being suspended, fortunately that is all it was, but who wants their child fighting and so on at school? No one!
Am I mad or disappointed at my daughter for fighting? Hell no, because no matter how peaceful I am, I don’t believe in other people disrespecting others’ personal space and especially not that of my children. I told my daughter I would handle the situation, but I also told her if anyone touched her,” knock their ass out. You better fight them the same way you go crazy when fighting Ty (my 16 year old son).”
Before moving my children back to MS, we lived in a predominantly White rural area. They did not have to worry with fighting, so they were not natural fighters, and I know all too well how life can come at you in various ways when you are unprepared. I wanted her to know, not to back down, because we all know had she done so, she would be another fight soon, because everyone would think they could take her.
Throughout the whole situation, no girl could ever say why they began bullying my daughter or what she had done for them to dislike her, only that they did not, which was crazy since she had only been that school district a year, and they did not really know her, but it would not have made a difference. It was not about anything she did, simply who she is.
We as females often look at each other with envy, thinking someone has more than us, is better than us, prettier than us and instead of going to them and asking how we might can improve ourselves, we grow to dislike or resent them, shun them whenever around. Why be mad? You cannot do much to change what God blessed you with at birth.
We should be real with our children, sharing these unspoken truths, preparing them for the real world. My heart goes out Amy and her family. Unfortunately, her fighting back was not enough, but she should not have had to fight anyway, because we should be having these conversations with our children. We should be teaching them to love themselves as they are. We need to be realistic about how that boy you are so in love with now, may not even be in the picture in the next month or next week, so he definitely is not worth fighting over or possibly risking your life for. We need to let them know other females are not your enemy, but your sister, but don’t be a fool. Don’t let anyone mistreat you, but most importantly we need to be sure our children know it is ok to come to us when things like this are going on.
We as parents need to wake up and be more active in our children’s lives, know what is going on, who they are friends with, and what type of little people are these friends. Ask questions. When your child always seems to have an attitude, are you asking yourself and them why?
Amy was well known for breaking up fights and being at the aid of her friends. She could have easily been my daughter or yours. #RIPAmy