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Save the Last Dance

Have you ever been the victim of bullying? If you have, you know how difficult it can be for a growing individual -- especially during the critical transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Elliot Mosher bullied Jakob Wagner in middle school. Along with others, Mosher teased Wagner about everything from his hygiene to his economic status. Wagner came from humble beginnings.

Today, Mosher admits to bullying Wagner during their early years. However, when Mosher became the victim of bullying during his first year of high school, he ceased verbal abuse of Wagner, as he finally understood what it was like to be emotionally bludgeoned.

Ultimately, Mosher apologized to Jakob Wagner, his victim of many years. In fact, the two were able to become good friends during their last year of high school.

Prom night at Antigo High

Now, fast-forward to this year's Antigo High School prom night, which was just last Saturday -- only one year after both Mosher and Wagner graduated from this same school.

According to authorities, Wagner rode his bicycle onto school property and began shooting students as they exited the school dance around 11 p.m. Within moments, an officer on the scene gunned down Jakob Wagner.

Wagner passed away early Sunday morning at a nearby hospital after lifesaving measures were implemented. Fortunately, victims of the shooting survived with non-life-threatening injuries.

A lifetime of bullying

In the days that followed, Wagner's friends mentioned that Jakob endured a childhood of bullying -- ever since middle school.

Elliot Mosher was fortunate enough to overcome his bullies with the help teachers and other school professionals. However, in light of recent events, he wonders if the district's current efforts to combat bullying are sufficient. Did Wagner receive adequate help for his social struggles? Probably not.

To Mosher, Wagner was actually a kind and gentle individual. Wagner wanted to be friends with other students during his Antigo High School experience; however, his overtures were frequently ignored.

No one should overlook the tragedy of what has happened to students at Antigo High School. The shooting has devastated a community, and it will undoubtedly take years before students and families begin to process what happened. That said: It might be safe to say that Wagner was certainly victim in all of this, as well.

While we do not traditionally look at wrongdoers as victims, many criminals are. In the context of this case, it should be known that studies repeatedly illustrate the correlation between school bullying and violence. Being a victim of school bullying is undeniably linked to later criminal activity in life.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, don't think that you are alone. Sometimes our actions are a product of former persecution and victimization. The good news is that there are professionals out there who understand you and are willing to help. At a minimum, they can provide helpful resources. To find out more, speak with a local attorney.

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