The Idiotic Messages We Send Our Kids About Violence

Posted on May 17, 2013

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Ever notice just how wrong our authorities get things?  Specifically, I have been noticing the complete, nonsensical, total disconnect of any kind of reason or consistency between “school violence” and “bullying.”   We have been conditioned lately to think of “school violence” as Columbine or Sandy Hook (never mind that Adam Lanza was not a student).  What seems lost on these clueless administrators is the fact that bullying is a far more common and likely threat than guns or explosives, and can be just as damaging and deadly.  Yet somehow, an obsessive and frankly, idiotic “zero tolerance” even for pretend guns not only has nothing to do with school shootings, but does not translate into any kind of common sense regarding the severe physical and psychological injuries bullies continue to inflict day in, day out, year after year.

As for those administrators who renounce responsibility for actions that occur off of school property, I believe that is the wrong approach.  Kids spend the bulk of their waking hours each week in school.  They have to be there; they don’t get a choice.  It is their life, so much of what happens outside of school follows from the relationships and rivalries that develop inside the school.  If a bully beats your kid to a pulp three seconds after getting off the school bus, after school hours, or one block away from school, I don’t accept the school’s proposition that they have little “jurisdiction” over the matter or that it is somehow not a school issue.

Without further ado, let us note some of the stunning inconsistencies our young students face these days.

In just one of several disturbingly similar incidents, a 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by her football-player classmates in Steubenville, Ohio.  Coaches did not report the incident, parents and school football fans wanted it covered up, and even the girl’s peers blamed her for getting raped and threatened her for ruining the boys’ lives.  Can we say, “Taliban?”

Two 7-year-olds in Virginia were suspended from school for pointing their pencils like guns and pretending to shoot at each other.  “I asked if they were pointing the pencils at anyone else, if they were angry or hostile, disrupting class, or refused to stop when asked — and the teacher said no,” said one father. So, they were suspended for… being 7, basically.

In Washington State, an entire classroom, including the teacher, assaulted and bullied an 8th-grade boy for 15 minutes  while filming the incident.  The teacher was “disciplined” (whatever that means – the school does not say), but is still on the job.  In a written apology to investigators (not the family or the victim?), he said he did not view the incident as “anything more than harmless childhood horse play and a chance for the kids to take a break from the daily grind.”  The victim, to his parents:  “I want to die.  I want to kill myself.”  Yep, obviously that was totally harmless horseplay.

In Colorado, a 7-year-old was suspended for pretending to throw an imaginary grenade at a box to “save the world.”  Can’t have soldiers saving the world, now, can we??  Don’t expect this kid to step up 15 years from now when North Korea finally gets totally out of hand.

In California, three teen boys sexually assaulted their 15-year-old classmate, Audrey Pott, and posted pictures of the assault online.  After months of shame, Ms. Pott committed suicide.  Only after her death were  arrests finally made, for two felonies and a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery.  If you’re alive, you’re just a silly slut like that Steubenville girl.  You apparently have to die and get the media involved to get any justice.

In Pennsylvania, a 5-year-old was suspended for telling another child at the bus stop that she was going to shoot her with her pink plastic soap-bubble gun.  The school deemed this a “terroristic threat.”

After a Florida middle-school serial bully beat a classmate badly enough to fracture her skull and put her in the hospital  (the beating was captured on video by other students), a judge banned the bully from all county schools as too great a danger to other children.   An appeals court has suspended that ruling, and the school superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, wants the skull-bashing bully back in school according to her “constitutional rights” under state law.  Never mind the rights of the other kids to have intact braincases.

In Maryland, a 6-year-old was suspended for making a “gun” out of his finger and thumb and saying “pow” to another student.  Administrators called it a “serious incident.”  The elementary school did not indicate any feelings of endangerment felt by the other student.

In New Jersey, 12-year-old Sawyer Rosenstein had reported being bullied to the school administration, and his attacker had a history of violence against other students.  Too little was done, and the bully permanently paralyzed Rosenstein with a blow to his spine.  Rosenstein has won a $4.2 million settlement against the school, but that won’t buy a new spinal cord.

In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, a 7-year-old was suspended for chewing his pastry into the shape of a gun and saying “bang, bang.”  The school told the boy’s parents that this was a threat to other students.

In Ohio, 11-year-old Hailey Petee was hounded to suicide by incessant bullying on the school bus and around town.  “School officials said that they were unaware of any recent bullying complaints involving Hailey.”  This is one of those cases where the bullying wasn’t actually on school property.  See the problem there?  The Petee family had reported the harassment, by older children and even an adult, to the police; yet despite the paper trail, the police eventually found no “substantiated” instances of harassment.

In Cape Cod, a 5-year-old’s parents  received a written warning after the boy made a gun out of Legos.  This was very serious, especially since the child had made his fingers into a gun shape previously.  Hardened criminal, that one.  Here’s the principal’s take:  “While someone might think that making a Lego gun is just an action of a 5-year-old, to other 5-year-olds, that might be a scary experience.”

Stormy Rich, Florida high school student, barred from school bus after reporting bullying of special needs student.”  Because, you know, we are supposed to sit by and do nothing when someone is being tormented.  Or:  no good deed goes unpunished.

In Nebraska, a 3-year-old deaf boy named Hunter was told – essentially – to change his name, because the sign language for “Hunter” looked like… a finger gun, kind of.  After an outpouring of public common sense and the involvement of the ACLU and some lawyers, the school backed off.  Maybe now they can pay more attention to, you know, bullies or something.

All I have to say to all of this is:  I am so glad that I am not a student, nor a parent, nor a teacher today, in this environment where we are over-zealously guarded against oddly shaped pastries but left to the tender mercies of thugs who belong in juvie rather than the mainstream classroom.   I shudder to think what kind of young adults we will have 15 years from now; a combination of fearful pansies and insouciant thugs.  Won’t that be great?

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