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The Suburbanite
  • Charita Goshay: Was Nicholas Kelo Jr. a victim of ‘bullycide’?

  • In an age when social media allow for perpetual abuse, choosing the saxophone over football was gasoline on a fire. The school bus turned into a torture chamber. Nicholas, 13, was harassed and even spat upon by an older student.

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  • Nicholas Kelo Jr. is dead, and while no one can say so with full certainty, his mother said she thinks it was a case of “bullycide.”Last week, Jacqueline Kelo told Akron Beacon Journal reporter Kim Hone-McMahan that the trouble began in middle school when Nicholas decided to stop playing football to concentrate on marching band.
    In an age when social media allow for perpetual abuse, choosing the saxophone over football was gasoline on a fire. The school bus turned into a torture chamber. Nicholas, 13, was harassed and even spat upon by an older student.
    Jacqueline Kelo did everything right. She kept her gun in a locked safe, but Nicholas pried it open, she believes, to take it to school for protection.
    Ms. Kelo said she knew something was wrong on the night of Feb. 23 when Nicholas didn’t answer the phone. He was her only child, and they always chatted while she was on her way home from work.
    She found him in their living room.
    THOUGHTFUL
    Ms. Kelo and her ex-husband said they don’t think their son deliberately shot himself, but the idea that he thought he needed a gun for protection makes him a victim of bullycide just the same.
    The Kelos donated nine of Nicholas’ organs. He previously had told them that if something ever happened to him, it was what he wanted. How many 13-year-old boys think of such things?
    If anyone could have been a bully, it was Nicholas, who held a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do and another belt in kumdo. But this boy, who understood that the purpose of martial arts is not to terrorize others but to discipline yourself, refused to use it to fight back.
    It’s clear he was trying to handle the problem himself so that his mother, who called him the “man of the house,” wouldn’t worry. But Nicholas was a freshman at Rittman High School, which meant that four years of dread likely loomed ahead. It was too much.
    YOUR BULLY?
    Bullying is one of those problems that everyone thinks others are responsible for. But bullies belong to someone. Just as no one wants to believe his or her child is capable of being a criminal even when it’s proved otherwise, no one wants to think he or she has raised a bully.
    But clearly, some of you have.
    According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of kids surveyed reported being bullied and 5 percent admitted they’ve skipped school to avoid confrontation.
    Because our culture embraces violence as a means of problem-solving — let’s face it — kids who lack the capacity to express themselves go with what they know. They take out their own frustrations on others who are unwilling or unable fight back.
    Page 2 of 2 - Nicholas had an I.Q. of 152, but at the end of the day he was just a little boy trying to figure out a way to be left alone.
    What can we do? If you’re a kid, there’s no shame in getting help if you or a friend is being bullied.
    You might save a life.
    For us adults, permitting a child to have unrestricted access to social media is like handing him or her a stick of dynamite. And is there a law somewhere that requires that a child have a phone with text and camera capabilities, even though you’re paying for it?
    We’re losing kids to bullycide because we adults are giving ground to what’s popular instead of what’s right.