Incessant teasing about her shy demeanor, choice of clothing and religious beliefs made each day of school unbearable for twelve year-old Wiccan Tempest Smith. Late last month Tempest killed herself, reminding us that too much teasing can result in silent suicides as well as much-publicized mass shootings.
According to the Detroit News, "Many of her classmates had teased her constantly since elementary school. They teased her because she wore dark "Gothic" clothing to school. They teased her because she read books about Wicca, a pagan religion often associated with witchcraft. Her classmates often taunted her with Christian hymns."
Tempest's death has spurred a discussion about how proselytizing and taunting of kids who are different can be as dangerous to some teens as a gun.
Beliefnet member wiccantrinity2787 says:
"I know exactly how Tempest must have felt. I recently told people in my school that I am Wiccan. Most people didn't know what that was so I had to simplify in terms that they would understand. Almost immediately this girl started yelling that I was going to hell and all Christians must try to save me. Others are also harassing me and asking if I'll go to church with them. I'm glad that my best friend, who's Christian, is open-minded because then I can rant about these things to her. Remember Tempest."
Beliefnet member lliana-garg says:
"People don't take teasing seriously enough. I was teased my entire life for not only my beliefs but my appearance. I too was tempted to give up--to end it all, but in the end it lets the teasers win, and I wouldn't let them have the satisfaction of thinking they had the power to beat me down. People must be made to understand that teasing is no laughing matter--it eats at the spirit like a parasite, wasting it away. It shouldn't even be called teasing, it should be named for what it is--serious verbal abuse that causes psychological damage."
- Read Tempest's story
- Christian counselor Jim Burns on Christians and taunting
- How school shootings are giving bullies a new weapon
- Parents discuss school bullying