Sunday, October 17, 2010

Suicide, Schools and Bullying, and The Wolf Pack

It has been a while since I posted and much has happened that demands the attention of all citizens of San Antonio and Texas. Many of you may have heard of the wolf pack ... some may have personal experience with them. The wolf pack is a group of kids who consider themselves to be part canine..wolves to be exact. They wear tails, collars, dress in black and some have had their canine teeth filed to mimic those of the wolves. There is a leader of the wolf pack whose wolfen name is Wolfie Black heart. She is a 19 year old  who leads the pack. They band together to protect each other from bullies at school. They meet at night in various places and consider themselves to be a family. The family is at several schools within one district. It is unknown exactly how many kids are involved. The recent suicide of two teens was connected to the pack. The third suicide reported this last week seems to be unrelated to the pack. The rumored threat of a mass shooting at a local high school adds an additional level of severity to the issue.
 So what is behind the pack? Is it simply that these kids, who are outcasts at school, have banded together for protection or is there something more?  All kids rebel against the establishment, and they all have their own way of doing it. The pack may seem harmless on the surface, but it is important to look beyond the surface to the issues these kids are trying to deal with. Bullying, ridicule, a sense of aloneness and the perception they are invisible in their culture at school and perhaps at home too are things that fuel this type of group. Suicide is a very permanent solution to a temporary problem, it has been said. Bullying in schools now goes viral with the click of a mouse or a single key stroke. The Internet is forever. In a single day a kid can be belittled and threatened by thousands of kids. That is difficult to find a solution for.
This is not a school issue or a district issues as much as it is a parent and adult issue. We need to start paying attention to kids, find out why they are suddenly dressing differently, getting their ears clipped to be pointy instead of their natural ears, and having their teeth filled to a point.  The school district involved has released statements that the wolf pack kids are not allowed to wear tails or anything else that is distracting to the learning environment. Wolfie Black heart obviously appeals to a lot of kids who find themselves alone, isolated and in need of some help. Her motives are not clear to those outside of the family. The schools can deal with some of this, but the majority of the responsibility falls back to the family to let kids know they are special and valued.
How do you tell if your kiddo may be in trouble? Watch for changes in their normal presentation, the way they dress, their makeup style, their time spent on line or in their rooms. Check into who their friends are, what are they reading and listen to the words of the music they listen to. Pay attention to your kids. You should know them better than anyone else. You are the parent and it is your responsibility to make sure your kids are safe and feel loved and valued. The school's responsibility is to keep them safe while they are at school, teach them basic skills, help them make decisions about their education and be role models for them to look up to. Parenting and instilling values and morals still falls to the parent.

We are keeping track of how many teen suicides we have in the city. We are holding trainings for local schools on how to identify suicidality in kids from elementary through college age. We are talking to your kids.... be sure you are there for them and if need be, seek help from a therapist that specializes in teens or younger kids. Never give up on your kids. They need you now more than ever.
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