As taken from www.abc.net.au:
"More than 1,000 people have gathered in Mullumbimby to honour the memory of 15-year-old Jai Morcom.
The teenager died last weekend after becoming involved in a schoolyard fight.
The town on the New South Wales north coast was awash in a sea of colour and emotion today.
A local student had suggested that balloons be displayed as part of a campaign for peace at the Mullumbimby High School and scores of local houses and shops complied.
Last Monday students staged a mass walkout from the school.
Today, they retraced their footsteps to the town's Heritage Park, where Jai's sister Kyra and his uncle Paul Drummond, who travelled from New Zealand, spoke of a boy who wanted to be a chef.
Tears flowed freely but laughter also rippled through the crowd as speakers shared their memories of a boy described as beautiful, funny and peaceful.
He also loved Harry Potter, Sarah Lee desserts and sticky date pudding.
Kyra Morcom broke down after a short tribute and embraced her brother's coffin, which was painted bright green.
At the end of the service, which featured Aboriginal and Maori ceremonies, Jai's family released a flock of white pigeons and his friends set free bright multi-coloured balloons."
I am in tears reading this. I am also angry. Very, very angry. How does our society permit children to be beaten to death in the school playground? Quite simply, HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?
Well, happen it did, and it's got me wondering what the parents of this country can do to prevent further tragedies of this nature. I have 2 sons, one of whom will be in two years the same age Jai was when he died. Perhaps it's just my over-protective Mummy instincts here, but I see my 13 year old as a child. I send him to school every day fully expecting to see him again at 3:00pm. So did Jai's parents. School is supposed to be safe. It's supposed to be supervised and safe. We parents are handing our children over, trusting that they will be properly cared for.
Obviously until all the facts of the case are made available we don't know how this happened, and if the 'system' failed this child, or if it truly was, in fact, simply a tragic accident. I don't mind saying that I'm leaning towards the former, because I'm not quite sure how someone can 'accidentally' get beaten to death.
And what of the perpetrators themselves? What makes teenaged schoolboys capable of such violence towards each other? Is it upbringing, mental illness, social problems, bad role models and so forth? Or could a seemingly completely normal child, with no history of violence, simply lose the plot and strike out.
Again, I'm leaning towards the former. In fact, I'm hoping and praying it's the former. You can get your head around that option just a little bit. I don't think I could cope with the latter. I know many of my son's friends, and simply can't picture any one of them capable of such a thing.
So, what can we do? Apart from hiring bodyguards to accompany our children everywhere they go (which isn't such a bad idea, actually, but is probably out of my budget) we have to teach them the best we can, and hope for the best. How overwhelmingly terrifying is that for any parent?
I have always been very strict on the subject of violence with my kids - in our house shouting is ok, hitting is not. That's not to say that they always listen to me - siblings will be siblings and there will be rivalry and bickering! I think they understand how important a non-violent approach is to me, though, and, more importantly, I think they understand why.
It would be nice to be able to assume that everyone they will come across throughout their educational years and beyond understands that as well, but that's probably a bit of a big ask, though.
Maybe there is something to be said for wrapping our kids in cotton wool...
Rest in peace, Jai, and thoughts and prayers to your family and loved ones.