More than a Black Eye

My town has taken quite a beating recently. And it both angers and saddens me. By now everyone has read A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat up,Repeatedly. Or it seems like everyone. And the blogosphere has exploded with this story.

Many of them condemn Fayetteville. I find that part interesting considering how bullying is a problem everywhere. In California and New York, in Colorado and Texas and yes in Fayetteville. One of the things I really disliked about California when I lived there was the attitude that no where else on earth was as wonderful or as perfect and I’ve seen a number of California bloggers (and New York etc) pointing big fingers at this small Southern Town and sneering.

But the same thing goes on in their schools. So why the superiority? I think it partly has to do with the arrogance of the coasts for the flyover zone. We’re easy targets in Arkansas –you know for other states to bully.

I can’t say I know what happened in the case of Billy Wolfe. I don’t doubt he was bullied. I also can’t imagine that the entire school system was aligned against him. That’s unthinkable.

And why didn’t his parents get him out of that situation? Why keep sending him back, day after day? Keep fighting the principled fight yes, but don’t keep sending your kid into it.

I was bullied. I had a few great teachers at FHS who saved my heart and mind when they listened, when they cared about me. I had my head flushed down the toilet, I was abused in the locker room by some pretty vicious girls, I was even picked on by several teachers. I was also told that I was bringing it on myself by being different. I had smart assed replies. I ignored the kids, I walked away.

And I still ended up with a bruised body and a bruised soul. But there were teachers who listened to me and tried so hard to help–some of them are still at the school and I can’t imagine they aren’t as caring as they were 100 years ago when I was a student. I survived because those teachers helped me become the individual I am–even while there were principals and other kids telling me it was all my fault that I was picked on.

It isn’t right to blame the victim. My heart hurts for this boy. I also wonder at the students who have stepped forward to defend his beatings. Don’t they know that violence isn’t the way to deal with these things? That not only isn’t it moral, but it isn’t legal? When is it ever ok to meet words with blows? And I’m very interested to see what comes out about the school system and its policies–because I don’t think we are getting the entire story. I do feel the article was biased, and that is hard for me to say after what happened to me in school.

I hope this brings about a new focus on the policies of our school system –a focus that improves them. I hope Billy’s parents can get him out of what surely is a frightening situation. I hope the good teachers at FHS don’t lose heart. I really hope that the bullies out there–here in Fayetteville and elsewhere–start paying attention. It’s time these things get treated in kids they same way they are treated in adults. If you saw two men fighting by the side of the road, wouldn’t you call the police? I would. Why not two kids? Actions have consequences and the kids AND their parents need to know this.

We have to teach our children right from wrong. WE DO, the parents. The school system is a government entity and has more strictures placed upon it then we as parents do. Parents can make a difference here. If another parent comes to you and tells you your child has done something –don’t immediately get defensive, listen and work through it. Find a way to help the other child AND your own child. Because you don’t want to raise a bully do you? You don’t want to be responsible for victimizing another child do you? Because the parents of bullies are as much to blame as their kids. See what you can do first before you start searching for others to blame. Everyone is complicit in this tragedy. Now let’s fix it.