I met with four families today who might be interested in joining our church. Three of those families have young children. All six parents said they want to raise their children in a church that teaches them that all people have worth in God’s eyes. They want their children to know that God loves every person…and they want them to learn that at church.
At the same table sat two people who told us of church after church after church that did not welcome them. One of those people said that, in her very lonely life as a teenager and young adult, the loneliest hour of every week was the worship hour.
Cut to lunch…my husband in tears because he hurts for the children of the world. So many are wounded. So many are abused. So many are bullied. “It starts with the children,” he said. “It starts with the children.”
We must all love all our children. We must use whatever means we have to advocate for their safety. Kudos to the Sioux City Journal for devoting its front page–it’s FRONT PAGE–today to an editorial on bullying.
(from Associated Press)
In a rare and forceful act of advocacy, an Iowa newspaper devoted the entire front page of its Sunday edition to an anti-bullying editorial after a gay teen committed suicide.
Relatives have said 14-year-old Kenneth Weishuhn Jr. suffered intense harassment, including threatening cellphone calls and nasty comments posted online, after coming out to family and friends about a month ago. He died April 15 from what the local sheriff’s office described only as a “self-inflicted injury.”
The Sioux City Journal’s front-page opinion piece calls on the community to be pro-active in stopping bullying and urges members to learn more about the problem by seeing the acclaimed new film, “Bully,” which documents the harassment of a Sioux City middle school student. It notes that while many students are targeted for being gay, “we have learned a bully needs no reason to strike.”
“In Kenneth’s case, the warnings were everywhere,” the editorial said. “We saw it happen in other communities, now it has hit home. Undoubtedly, it wasn’t the first life lost to bullying here, but we can strive to make it the last.
Editor Mitch Pugh said the newspaper has run front-page editorials before but has never devoted the entire page to one.
“A lot of newspapers shy away from putting editorials on the front page, but we feel we have to be a strong advocate for our community,” he said. “And if we don’t do that, we’re not sure who else is.”
Weishuhn’s mother, Jeannie Chambers, told the Journal last week that she and the rest of the family knew he was being harassed but didn’t realize the extent of the bullying. His sister told a local television station that Weishuhn, a freshman, had many friends and was popular at South O’Brien High School in Paullina until he came out. Then students turned on him.
Weishuhn’s family couldn’t immediately be reached Sunday by The Associated Press.
Pugh said the newspaper didn’t consult the family before printing the editorial.
“This was a bigger issue than one person,” he said.
Andy Marra, a spokesman for the national anti-bullying group GLSEN, said the Journal’s decision makes “complete sense.”
“Public education is absolutely vital to addressing bullying and harassment in schools,” he said, adding that community pressure could push schools to do more.
Sioux City Journal editorial: http://bit.ly/ImgOYm