Last week, we reported on the suicide of Iowa teen Kenneth Weishuhn Jr., who died from self-inflicted wounds after being relentlessly bullied by schoolmates. Weishun had recently come out to his family and friends as gay, and that is when the reported bullying began. Some classmates had even made an anti-gay Facebook hate page. According to The Associated Press,
“Weishuhn’s mother, Jeannie Chambers, told the Journal last week that she and the rest of the family knew he was being harassed but didn’t realize the extent of the bullying. His sister told a local television station that Weishuhn, a freshman, had many friends and was popular at South O’Brien High School in Paullina until he came out. Then students turned on him.”
But yesterday, The Sioux City Journal, in an effort to combat future bullying, devoted the entire front page of their Sunday edition to the issue of bullying:
The Sioux City Journal’s front-page opinion piece calls on the community to be pro-active in stopping bullying and urges members to learn more about the problem by seeing the acclaimed new film, “Bully,” which documents the harassment of a Sioux City middle school student. It notes that while many students are targeted for being gay, “we have learned a bully needs no reason to strike.”
This is an unprecedented unified effort by a newspaper in the effort to end bullying. Editor Mitch Pugh said that they have never devoted an entire front page to an editorial before, but believes that the issue of bullying is bigger than just one person.
What do you think? Is this a good effort toward ending bullying?
What would this situation have looked like had it happened twenty years ago?