Yesterday I was reading articles on the 9News website and came across something you said when being asked what you knew about Austin Sigg, the 17-year-old boy who brutally murdered and dismembered 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway a few weeks ago.
Sarah Moravec, a Standley Lake High School senior, says she picked on Sigg nearly every day for having a high-pitched voice.
“I picked on him a lot,” Moravec said. “Austin was just different. So, why not pick on the different people? But then again, I was bullied whenever I was younger.”
First, I want to be clear that I understand that when you’re 17 or 18 your brain doesn’t operate the same way someone who is 10 or 20 years older does. I understand that you’re not at your peak with judgment, and likely you’ve never been interviewed by the media before. Sometimes things just “come out”.
But there’s a real bullying problem in this country, and judging by the words you chose to use, you’re at the center of it. I am certain that Austin Sigg’s issues went far deeper than being teased for his voice, or for being “different”, but being teased mercilessly certainly couldn’t have helped the situation.
I’m fortunate that my life wasn’t impacted much by bullies. There were a few incidents in grade school and a couple in middle school, but none that scarred me or made me so weak or angry that I considered hurting myself or others.
Choosing to pick on someone because they’re “different” is weak and mean. And cowardly. Do you know how many “different” people have made this world a better place? Temple Grandin, from right here in Colorado, is autistic. And she is an animal behavior expert and has her doctoral degree. J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter was a single mother on welfare. She probably wore cheap clothing and didn’t drive the nicest car (if she even had one!) and now is a world renowned author. Albert Einstein was home-schooled because he didn’t fit in in public school. Steven Spielberg was bullied because he enjoyed the arts – like orchestra and choir. Kristen Stewart left school to pursue acting because she was bullied so much.
But the problem is that not everyone has the support to rise above the words and actions that have hurt them. Far too many young people turn to self-harm, withdrawal and even suicide. Because of words and actions. Words like ones you have admitted – bragged about – using on Austin Sigg. Let’s be clear: I’m not saying that we should pity Sigg. He murdered a beautiful young girl. But we don’t know that YOUR actions and words didn’t have an impact on how he made his decisions.
The nonchalance that you displayed in telling the media that you bullied him because he was “different” is horrifying, especially as a parent. I have a four-year-old daughter who is being exposed far too young to how you can empower or tear down with word choices. I don’t want my daughter to grow up to be like you. I don’t want anyone’s daughter to grow up to be like you. I am embarrassed not only for you, but for your parents, that they allowed you to be such an insensitive young woman: a bully. I hope that as you grow older you realize the error of your ways, and you do your best to make sure that the cycle stops with you.
Sarah Moravec, I hope that this is a learning situation for you. I hope that your parents and peers have sat you down and explained that you are wrong. You are wrong to treat others poorly because they are “different”. Because you were bullied in the past doesn’t give you the license to bully others. It should give you the strength to rise above and do good and treat well.
What Austin Sigg did is unforgivable and something I think anyone with a conscience struggles to understand. But truly, so are your words and actions.
I’ll leave you with this: grow up. Learn from your mistakes. Do well. Educate others. Stop being the problem and start being the solution. I hope that deep down you are better than this.