Just looking at this photo of Coby Bleakney, it’s hard for me to believe that he was bullied. I mean, look at him.
Coby Alen Bleakney. Photo: Bleakney Family via Delong Baker Lanning
The 12-year-old from Zanesville, Ohio (not so far from where I live) has clear skin, an adorable dimple, stunning green eyes, and he’s wearing a very trendy Under Armour shirt. He looks like he should have his own DISNEY show.
Instead, he is in the ground. A life lost too soon. His obituary does not say that he took his own life, but it is strongly implied.
Why did they bully him, I wonder? Was it because he was so cute? Were the other kids jealous? Or did he have a speech impediment or learning problem that made him an easy target? Was the bullying of Coby Alen Bleakney just one mean child’s random choice that altered the course of history?
There are a few, I am sure, who know the answer to this question, but I am not one of them. His obituary, which gives us some clues, reads:
Coby Alen Bleakney, 12, of South Zanesville, went home to be with our Lord, March 22, 2018.
He was born September 4, 2005 in Zanesville, son of Chad Bleakney and Tammy Seastrand Bleakney.
In addition to his parents he is survived by his brothers, Eric (Alisha) Swingle, T.J. (Keyli) Swingle, Blake (Emmalee) Swingle; nieces, Madison Schneider, Sophie Swingle, Kadence Swingle, Hayden Swingle, Paisleigh Swingle; nephew on the way, Ezra Swingle; maternal grandmother, Dianna Kay Seastrand, paternal grandparents, Melanie & Butch Bleakney; too many aunts, uncle & cousins to list; special friend, Jayden Graves.
Coby was the smartest, softest sweetest boy with the kindest heart. He was loved more than anything in this world. His parents fought the biggest battles for him with family by their side.
Bullying is real in every child’s life. As parents we should talk with our children about bullying and to teach them to stand up when something is seen or heard. No matter the age no parent should ever have to bury their child.
Private family services will be held.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made in honor of Coby Alen Bleakney and other suicide victims at Muskingum County Community Foundation or online at www.MCCF.org
It’s so short, because his life was just WAY TOO SHORT.
These words haunt me: “His parents fought the biggest battles for him with family by their side.”
Don’t over-analyze the word “For” here – I don’t think it means that the tried to solve his problems for him. I think it means that they fought “for” his life. They saw what was happening to their son and they FOUGHT FOR HIM.
But they all lost.
Because bullying, the constant humiliation, it will tear down your sense of worth faster than a wrecking ball on a house of popsicle sticks.
(Have you ever been repeatedly humiliated? Day after day after day? Taken every step in fear, lived life trying to avoid, avoid, avoid? Feeling the dread and resignation when the humiliation catches you again? Because despite your efforts to bob and weave and hide, the Bully’s desire to humiliate you is bigger, stronger, and faster than your drive for self-preservation? I haven’t felt that. Oh, but Coby did.)
One day a sweet, kind, handsome 12-year-old boy decided death was preferable to a life of being constantly tormented by other children.
Parents: teach your children well. Teach then that they are NO BETTER than anyone else. Teach them that BEING MEAN has lasting consequences. Teach them that their own crap does in fact stink. And above all, don’t believe that “my kid would never do that.”
Because they can. No child is immune from their own tendency to sin. No child is immune from taking it too far. And no child is immune to the pressures of being told every day, that they should just go kill themselves.
“Not My Child Syndrome” is responsible for more than a few deaths, I am sure.
Teach your children to LOVE OTHERS WELL. and Parents? DO NOT ACCEPT ANYTHING LESS THAN KINDNESS. I tell my children, “You don’t HAVE to be everyone’s friend, but you do HAVE to be KIND to everyone.”
Coby Alen Bleakney could have used some kindness from his peers.
Let’s raise kids who change the world simply by putting others first. It’s really that simple. I hope you will read this and talk to your kids TODAY.
Edited to add: Coby Bleakney’s family has set up CobyBleakney.org, website in his memory in the hopes that his death will not be in vain, that parents will be inspired to pursue raising kind kids, and that bullied children will find hope and help.