Suicide after bullying is becoming too common in teenagers. Tricia Behnke's 14-year-old daughter Paige killed herself after drama between friends became too much.
"I don't have a daughter anymore. You know? I'd do anything to do mother-daughter things I don't get to do. Because kids don't know how to be nice and that's all it boils down to," Behnke said. "It's a reality but it's very difficult to talk about it still. It seems still like yesterday. Two years has gone by and it's as raw and as cold and awful as it was the day I found out."
Behnke is in South Florida for the "Not On My Watch" Bullying Prevention Summit with Jane Clementi, Tyler Clementi's mother.
"Tyler was in a very lonely, isolated, and desperate place and made a bad decision," Jane Clementi said.
Clementi's story made national news when he jumped off a New York City bridge after a roommate shared a video recording of him having a sexual encounter with another man. Now, Clementi is using her son's tragic experience for good.
"After his death, we couldn't go back and change what happened to Tyler, but we could go back and change their mindsets and thoughts," Clementi said.
The summit's goal is to encourage parents and kids to talk not only about bullying, but suicide as well – even discussing what you should do if you are bystander, a witness to bullying. One session will focus specifically on cyberbullying.
Recently, 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick killed herself after she was bullied in person, but mostly online. Two girls, a 12-year-old and 14-year-old, have been arrested for the parts they allegedly played in the cyberattacks.
The two moms visiting South Florida, Behnke and Clementi, hope their personal stories of heartache will raise awareness and prevent other moms from going through the same thing.
"Things get better," Behnke said. "I wish more than anything Paige was still here so I could show her life got better."
The summit is free and open to the public, but you must register to attend.To register, visit http://tinyurl.com/ksays7q or call (954) 561-2626.
The "Not On My Watch" Bullying Prevention Summit will be held Saturday at Florida International University's Modesto A. Maidique Campus, at 11200 Southwest 8th St., from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
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