The Sioux City Journal on Sunday devoted its front page to the topic of bullying, a response to the recent suicide of Kenneth Weishuhn, a 14-year-old gay Iowa teen who had been bullied at school after coming out to his friends.
“We are all to blame. We have not done enough. Not nearly enough,” the newspaper wrote, in a bold editorial that followed.
“A lot of newspapers shy away from putting editorials on the front page, but we feel we have to be a strong advocate for our community,” Journal editor Mitch Pugh told the Associated Press. “And if we don’t do that, we’re not sure who else is.”
By all accounts, Kenneth Weishuhn was a kind-hearted, fun-loving teenage boy, always looking to make others smile. But when the South O’Brien High School 14-year-old told friends he was gay, the harassment and bullying began. It didn’t let up until he took his own life.
Sadly, Kenneth’s story is far from unique. Boys and girls across Iowa and beyond are targeted every day. In this case sexual orientation appears to have played a role, but we have learned a bully needs no reason to strike. No sense can be made of these actions.
Now our community and region must face this stark reality: We are all to blame. We have not done enough. Not nearly enough.
This is not a failure of one group of kids, one school, one town, one county or one geographic area. Rather, it exposes a fundamental flaw in our society, one that has deep-seated roots. Until now, it has been too difficult, inconvenient — maybe even painful — to address. But we can’t keep looking away.Continue reading: Sioux City Journal →
Kenneth, a freshman at South O’Brien High School in Paullina, Iowa, reportedly came out as gay last month. After that, many of his friends “turned on him,” according to his sister Kayla. Family members said teasing led to bullying, and eventually death threats.
“Mom, you don’t know how it feels to be hated,” Kenneth told his mother, Jeannie Chambers.
Kenneth committed suicide, and was pronounced dead on Sunday, April 15. He was laid to rest last Thursday.