Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beyond Heartbreaking

The news was so stunningly bad. And then it got worse. Two Rutgers freshmen used a webcam to spy on a fellow student, who thought he had privacy in his own dorm room. The two students then shared their ill-gotten images on the internet. What made them think it was okay to spy in that manner? Was it a joke? Did they think they were clever? Were they so cold, unfeeling, that they didn't care how devastating their acts were?

I imagine they were primarily thoughtless and selfish. What was equally appalling is that some comments following the news story from earlier today seem to condone their actions.

I told you it gets worse. Later today it was announced that the third student, victimized and humiliated, killed himself.

So what does this have to do with getting ready to apply to college? It made me wonder how we can prepare our children to deal with others' stupidity and callousness; how do we let our children know we love them no matter what, that nothing is so bad that it should make them consider suicide. How do we teach them not to hurt others in such cruel ways?

And what do we do about the students whose prank led to a fellow student's death? Legally, not much will happen. Maybe we should bring back shunning -- physically and electronically. It might be a several-month period in which they live without benefit of support or sympathy. They just spend time contemplating their deeds -- and thinking about how they and their families would feel if they had been the victims, not the deadly pranksters.

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