No Reprieve for Charley Patterson
In case you were hoping that kids were getting a reprieve from bullying during the pandemic that has kept many schools around the world on lockdown, please know that is not the case. The opportunity for cyber-bulling, in fact, has increased with remote learning. And its potential consequences are unimaginably dire.
A 12-year-old girl, Charley Patterson of Cramlington, Northumberland (which is in England), has ended her fight against bullying in the only way she felt was available to her: suicide.
A Bullied Child Runs Out of Time
According to a Metro UK story, Charley had been self-harming since November, months before the pandemic began. She had received medical treatment at a hospital. However, although Charley had “repeatedly sought help from mental health services,” help wasn’t immediately available to her. She was put on a waiting list for Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS), but the wait could be as long as 3 years.
Charley couldn’t wait for that. She waited as long as she could. But, eventually, she ran out of time.
During the pandemic, children relentlessly bullied Charley online. It was a continuation of the abuse they had subjected her to in the classroom. Her mom took away her telephone in an attempt to stop the cyber-bullying, but her tormentors pursued her, anyway. They taunted her via the Chromebook that Charley used for her classes.
The children who abused Charley had all the power, and Charley had all the pain. As much as her family loved and supported her, they couldn’t make the pain end.
Charley had two brothers and two sisters. Chronicle Live reports that Charley Patterson “was a bright, caring, funny girl, who loved animals and wanted nothing more than to become a zookeeper.” Charley was kind to other children. She deserved kindness in return.
No Silver Linings
If you’re tempted to believe there may be a silver lining to the pandemic, because it is sparing some children from having to meet their abusers in person — remember Charley. And, please, remember all the children who are targets of cyber-bullying.
According to the Metro UK, “The family have launched a campaign calling for ‘Charley’s Law’ which would make it a legal requirement for young people to get mental health support more quickly.” Let’s hope the proposed law receives the support it needs. Enough is enough.