We’ve learned that a 17-year-old student from Linden High School committed suicide Tuesday. (11/27) There have been reports that the boy had been the victim of bullying at school. The student’s name and further details are available here.

This tragic news reminded me how important it is to let our kids know how special they are. To let them know that they can come to us with anything and everything. To let them know they are loved, unconditionally.

My twin boys are high school freshmen, and I issued these reminders to one of them on the way to school this morning. (The other one is on academic suspension this week, after defending himself against – you guessed it – a bully. I’ll share more about this in a minute.)

As I reiterated to my son that I love him more than anything, the conversation quickly escalated to a level of ridiculousness that we frequently enjoy.

“I love you more than my smart phone, our awesome universal remote, and even the TiVo! …more than bitching about coworkers! …more than finding spelling errors and bad grammar!”

Laughing, Nick said, “I don’t know, Dad, TiVo is pretty awesome!”

From the moment they were born, I’ve wanted to hold them, protect them, and never let them out of my sight. Of course that’s not practical, and now that they’re teenagers, I send them out into the wild every day.

I was shocked when the call came that there had been a fight at school, involving my son Dave. Another kid had been giving him grief, and I then found out there have been three incidents this year which led to Wednesday’s brouhaha. Long story short, David had had enough, and when touched inappropriately, he started swinging.

I have mixed feelings.

He sent the message that he will not tolerate any sort of physical or verbal abuse. I stand behind him.

On the other hand, he’s paying a rather high price, slapped with a five-day suspension, a broken wrist, and most likely faces surgery.

Moving forward, they know I expect to be kept in the loop whenever this type of issue arises, and before it escalates. Our personal experience, and yesterday’s tragedy in Linden remind me how important it is to maintain an open dialogue with our kids. As I said earlier, I’ll be diligent about reminding them how important they are to us.

I’ll also remind a school administrator or two that looking the other way won’t be tolerated.

This tragedy in Linden is not only a wake-up call for parents, but a reminder that schools still have a long way to go in the fight against bullying.

- George McIntyre
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