Monday, February 27, 2012
Why I'm wearing Red today...
As many of you may have heard, my little neck of the woods is in the news right now. About 30 minutes from my home...in a sleepy little town known locally for the fact that when it snows and all of us get hit, they get buried... a boy who had been bullied took a gun to school. In the cafeteria, he shot five times. As of about 25 minutes before I wrote this post, one of the kids had passed away. Four others were injured and from what I understand on the news, a child lays fighting for their life tonight.
To say that this is tragic is an understatement. I hear a lot of people saying that this kind of thing doesn't happen around here. Our schools are good, quiet schools. Academic. Our kids are good kids.
It happens everywhere. Selena Gomez, super Disney star and singer, has dealt with bullying. I mention her because I have heard a lot of people saying that it would never happen with my child. Our kids are popular. Our kids would never do something like this. Our kids have friends/are in the right activities/are beautiful.
Are your children more successful than Selena? Cuz people regularly tell her to die, that she is a whore and other simply horrible things.
My son recently dealt with bullying in our school. I did a full blog post of it here on January 6th, but it didn't get the response I expected. People were surprised that I would worry about the kid that was bullied when this was going on. (It was pretty serious. "You're retarded and no one likes you. You should kill yourself. And if you are too stupid to figure out how, I can tell you.")
I was kind of surprised they were surprised, to be honest.
Because although I think that this community has to heal... has to get over this shattering blow... I also think that ignoring the roots of the problem is like someone saying, "Man, I can't believe that wearing seat belts saves lives."
How many other time bombs are ticking? How many other kids are being driven AS I TYPE THIS to feel that no one cares... I am alone, me against the world...since no one cares, who cares what I do?
How many times do we have to see innocent kids die in front of their peers before someone stands up and says, "This has to stop and I am going to do something"?
It has happened before. And, based on a sick facebook page I saw supporting the child accused of this crime, it will happen again.
A friend of mine who worked for a few years in the education system and who has children of her own posted on facebook something to the effect of we are spending time and money to help kids with testing. The kids that are gone today will never take another test. Instead we should focus on connecting with these kids in a real way and on safety. I agree. Schools should be safe... for some kids it is the only safe place they have. If it isn't safe either, where do they fit in?
And some of you are thinking, "Well, there isn't anything I can do."
"This has nothing to do with me."
"It's sad but it was the parents fault." or "He was a sick, unstable monster."
And I gotta say, none of you are right. Especially that last person. He is a kid. And more than his parents messed up. Everyone who dealt with him for even a moment had the chance to make a difference in his life. But, how?
Things you can do:
Wear red on 2/28. This is just about awareness what happened and in memory of those who were hit close to home by this devastating event.
Ask your school what their anti-bullying program is. How is it taught? DO they have one? I love the guest speaker featured in this video. She travels around. Hire her, if you can.
Sign the petition to get Bully the movie rated so kids can see it. Yeah, it is a graphic movie. I would bet it is a little less graphic than what those kids in that cafeteria have to live the rest of their lives remembering. Click here. It takes a minute of your time and can make a world of difference.
Talk to your kids. If you don't have kids, talk to your nieces and nephews. Your neighbors kids. Your grandkids. And not just about, "Hey, so it sure has been a warm winter." Actually sit them down and ask them if they have ever seen bullying. Do they know what it is? It can be as little as an eyeroll and as much as pushing a face into a brick wall. Have they seen it? And ask them if they understand that bullying isn't always the mean things you do...sometimes it's the nice things you don't do. You know...have one of THOSE conversations.
Raise hell. Get in your schools and make change happen. My school told me that they were sure my son wasn't getting bullied anymore. Then again, I gotta wonder because they also told me they had no idea this was going on or they would have stopped it. But they have started bullying classes. My son advises me that they are really having some good discussions, too. Why is my school doing this and yours isn't? BECAUSE I WAS A BITCH. No, really, I sent them an email that explained what was going on and that although I could pull my son out of their school that WOULDN'T FIX it as the bully would just find a new target. I asked tough questions and got solid answers after awhile. But if NO ONE is doing that, then NO ONE will change.
You will notice that none of the changes I advised involve you spending a dime. You don't have to be rich to BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.
You just have to be willing to stand up and say, "It needs to stop."
Someone will hear you. Sadly, today I am wearing red. Because in Chardon...no one heard one kid. And the nightmare happened. Let's not let it happen again.
My heart goes out to the families impacted by these events. As a parent, I cannot imagine the pain of losing one of my babies or having to deal with what is going on.
I just wanted to write this blog to give people some ideas on how they could help stop it from happening again.
Will bullying ever be a thing of the past? Will horrible things like this stop happening? I don't know that. But I know that this could have been avoided. There were signs. There are always signs.
Sadly, no one felt the need to stand up and stop it in time. Probably they figured someone else would.