Last fall, right before Thanksgiving, 10-year-old Ashlynn Conner, of Ridge Farm, Ill., took her own life.
That is not a misprint. Ashlynn was only 10 years old when she made the biggest and last decision of her life. What would cause a child to go to such extremes? One word. BULLYING.
I know what some of you are already thinking ... everyone gets bullied in school. Yes, I believe there is some real truth to that. But how and when do we draw the line between harmless schoolyard banter and harmful, torturous and hateful behavior?
For Ashlynn's full story, please read this link:
When I read this article last year, it literally sickened me. This hit close to home as this is near my hometown. This felt like it happened in the backyard of my own heart. I couldn't imagine the pain this little girl went through. Now her mother, sister, grandmother, family and friends have to find a way to move on in a world without Ashlynn.
On the tragic flipside of Ashlynn's death, not all will be lost in vain. Tony Garrison created a foundation and page on Facebook to remind and educate us about the pitfalls of bullying:
What can we do, what should we do, how can we prevent this from happening again?
I feel Oswego Community Unit School District 308 is on the right path. One of my favorite things about this district is its Character Counts! program. This program is centered on The Six Pillars of Character:
Character Counts! is a non-profit, non-religious, non-political organization dedicated to character awareness through the education and training of schools, communities, non-profit organizations, and public agencies.
Throughout the school year, teachers take time to teach the kids about those six pillars. One of the best parts of the program are the tickets kids receive when they have been "caught" red-handed doing something GOOD! My boys love hanging these on our refrigerator!
These pillars then spill over into their home life with more ease. When they are not making good choices, their behavior almost always fits into one of those six categories. So we can ask, "Do you think what you are doing shows respect right now?" It really works! I can see them look back inside their mind to what they learned at school about this particular pillar. How can you not love that?
I can only hope that soon all school districts nationwide will have similar programs in place to help educate our kids about the harm words CAN and DO have on others. I know no program is 100 percent. But, again, I feel this is a good start.
Ashlynn Conner's death is too heavy of a price for any child or family to have to pay. This beautiful, smart, sweet, lovable girl is suffering no more. May Ashlynn Conner rest in peace.
Officer shares tips about bullying:
Ashlynn's Foundation/Facebook page and how it has already saved ONE life: