Update: In an article and video report posted on an ABC affiliate site, a spokesperson with the Diocese states that an effort was made to help Danny Fitzpatrick. A link to that story appears at the end of this post.
What happened to thirteen year-old Danny Fitzpatrick was preventable. Adults should not have allowed other children to harass him in the first place.
Personally, I wasn’t aware of recent news reports on bullying victims’ suicides until I saw this article on Gothamist’s site. That doesn’t mean bullied children stopped committing suicide until this month, though.
News coverage of an ongoing crisis can fluctuate, and an argument can be made that desperate children and adults become more inclined to kill themselves if they hear about the deaths of people with similar problems. Making these tragedies public poses a moral dilemma, and people who oversee news content for media outlets have a responsibility to address the topic in the least harmful way possible. Informing the public poses a risk, while sweeping these horrors under the rug does nothing to protect kids who will become suicidal later.
Sadly, some people who work in education underestimate the danger of cruelty (that’s a ludicrous-sounding statement which happens to be true). Others just want to avoid getting involved in anything complicated, and they look forward to the day when these tragedies no longer have news value and they can be kept quiet. They figure the numerical odds are against any of their own students becoming that desperate, and they’d rather not be pressured to get tough with violent (or otherwise overbearing) kids or their parents.
I don’t know the situation with the faculty and administration at Holy Angels Catholic Academy. Danny’s parents said adults at the school were aware of the abuse he was getting from his peers. A spokeswoman with the Brooklyn/Queens Diocese has issued a predictable statement implying they’re considering reforms. Will Gothamist follow up on this later to investigate whether anything is really happening?
Reforms will be great if they aren’t limited to damage reduction statements, but they still won’t help Danny. Policy can change, but history can’t.
Here’s a link to the Gothamist article: