Cyberbullying: Tyler Clementi’s Roommate Found Guilty Of Hate Crimes
Today, a New Jersey court found Dharun Ravi guilty of hate crimes for spying on his Rutgers University roommate using a webcam, then encouraging others to watch as Tyler Clementi kissed his boyfriend. Three days after the incident, Tyler Clementi jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge.
Even before Lady Gaga got involved, bullying has been a rising concern among parents. It seems like every month, we hear the horrible, now-familiar tale of a teenager to who didn’t fit in or feel socially accepted taking his or her life. Each and every time I see those stories, my stomach drops. They are literally heart-wrenching.
Tyler Clementi’s suicide happened the same month as 13-year-old Seth Walsh in Tehachapi, California, Asher Brown, 13, of Cypress, Texas, and 15-year-old Billy Lucas in Greensberg, Indiana.
All together, these terrible tragedies sparked a national conversation about bullying and its effects on young people. These deaths encouraged Dan Savage to start the still-inspiring “It Gets Better” campaign, aimed at lifting up LGBTQ kids and giving them hope for the future.
Obviously, I do not think that this young man was attempting to drive his roommate to suicide. I don’t think he understood the effects of his actions. But I do believe that this case has become an eye-opening experience for many young people who don’t want to take responsibility for their role in bullying and intimidation. For kids who see spying on their roommate and broadcasting their relationship to the world as a funny joke, I hope that they see how serious it can be.
I’m not sure that any vindication could have come from this verdict, no matter what it was. The fact that this situation was tragic. Everything about it is sad, because it revolves around a life that left us too soon. This case was never just about a webcam, it was about an intelligent young man who felt that he had no where else to go.
Of course, we pray for the best for all of the family members involved in this sorrowful incident. And we hope that society keeps talking about bullying, the importance of respecting one another and how to support adolescents who need help.
(Photo: ABC News)