Felicia Garcia, a 15-year-old Staten Island teenager, committed suicide Wednesday when she jumped in front of a subway train. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. Nearly 30 percent of kids are either bullies or the victims of bullying. Almost every day we read or hear about another teen or kid who decided to end their life due to bullying and harassment, and parents need to radically address this with our kids. I don’t care if you think your child would never bully another kid. I don’t care if your kid is an honor roll student and spends every weekend doing volunteer work. I don’t care if your kid is a victim of bullying themselves. We need to talk to our kids about this, and we need to do it now.

From The NY Post:

A Tottenville High School student jumped in front of a train after she was bullied for having sex with four football players at the same time during a party after a game this weekend, sources said.

Felicia Garcia, 15, jumped to her death at the Huguenot station moments after a group of classmates, described by witnesses as members of the football team, heaped abuse at her.

A senior who knew her, 17-year-old Victoria, who asked her last name not be used, said the bullying happened in hallways and online.

“This poor girl was called a sl–. She was teased on Facebook. People knock books out of kids hands,” she said.

They said some of the players were on the platform with her yesterday afternoon and taunting her with sexually explicit jeers when she suddenly jumped.

I really don’t give a f*ck if this little girl had sex with the entire football team plus every member of her school. If you hear from your kid that another kid at their school is having sex with numerous people or something else that conflicts with your own morals or what you are teaching your own kids about sexuality, you need to phrase the discussion that you may not agree with what you are hearing, but that teens who are sexually active shouldn’t be bullied for their behavior. No kid should feel this despondent that they feel the only way to deal with bullying is to take their own life.

“I cant, im done, I give up,” she tweeted Monday.

School officials heard of the bullying and set up a mediation session Wednesday with a counselor and one of the 17-year-old boys. The teenager denied harassing the girl, the sources said.

Leaving the office, Felicia later ran into the other 17-year-old who had been making her life miserable — and they exchanged words, the sources said.

Police did not say what was said. But it was enough to send Felicia marching off to the Huguenot station of the Staten Island Railroad, where she killed herself in front of horrified classmates.

Lately we’ve been discussing teens and privacy on Mommyish. I appreciate and understand how teens need privacy to an extent, but I also feel as parents we are ignoring a lot of warning signs that our own kids are displaying at the dinner table every night. If you have a son that refers to a woman in a derogatory way, parents need to stop that shit that right now. I don’t care if you give him a stern talking to. I don’t care if you wash his mouth out with soap. I don’t care if you ground him for a week. Your kid refers to a girl as a “slut” or a “whore” in front of you? You need to fully explain in no uncertain terms that language like that is unacceptable. It doesn’t matter if he is talking about a classmate or Rhianna’s latest music video. You overhear your daughter referring to someone as a “fag” or making fun of one of her classmates or gossiping about the sexual exploits of someone at school? Sit her down right then and there and explain to her why this sort of gossip and language hurts. Ground her. Most importantly, talk to your kids. Talk to them constantly. Talk to them until your jaw aches from stressing that they need to be good humans, good people, empathetic people who stand up for kids being bullied, who makes friends with the outcasts, who find the kids sitting alone at the cafeteria lunch table and include them.

As parents of these not-fully-formed-yet humans, we need to teach them by example. We need to curb the gossiping and backbiting we do to our own friends, over coffee, on the telephone, at family gatherings. We need to make the men our kids have in their lives be fiercely strong role models that respect women, that don’t objectify women, that do their part to teach our sons and daughters that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of race, appearance, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and their gender. We need to get in their faces. I know that this is not a popular parenting method in this day and age but I really don’t care. Call CPS on me if you want to, but if I hear one of my kids calling a woman a “whore” they will be getting a bar of soap in the mouth, at least ten hours of lectures on why this is unacceptable, and a week’s worth of raking leaves off all of my neighbor’s lawns. 

We need to pay attention to what they are doing online. We need to monitor their social media, their Facebooks and Twitters and Instagrams and whatever else they are using to keep in contact with their peer groups. We catch them bullying someone online, spreading malicious gossip or participating in demeaning language towards another kid? They lose that privilege. They don’t like it? They slam their door and swear at you and throw a fit? Too damn bad.

If you are one of those parents who think that lecturing and talking to your kids won’t help the problem, then get them books on bullying and leave them next to their beds. Casually mention cases like the horrific ones of Felicia Garcia or Amanda Todd or Teddy Molina at the dinner table and ask your kids what they think about bullying. When you see cases of bullying or violence on the news or on television or movies use these moments as jumping off points for starting a dialogue with your kids about violence towards others.

I don’t have the solution to the growing bullying problem we witness every day. I know that bullies have been around since the dawn of time and that kids killing themselves over feeling ganged up or marginalized isn’t a “new thing.” I do know as a mom when I read a story like Felicia Garcia’s I’m sick to my stomach and my heart hurts and I want to do everything in my power to raise my own kids to never behave in a way that makes any other person feel like less of a person. To me it doesn’t matter if the kid who committed suicide had a history of mental illness or was being treated for depression or would have killed themselves even if everyone they encountered in the hallways at school was kind and decent to them. Every time our kids degrade or humiliate one of their peers it contributes to bullying and marginalizing culture. As parents, we need to teach our kids that this is never acceptable.

(photo: instagram)