“I am a person who is unhappy with things as they stand. We cannot accept the world as it is. Each day we should wake up foaming at the mouth because of the injustice of things.”
It was Belgian author Hugo Claus who wrote those words. They could just as easily been mine.
Over the course of just a few days a boy killed himself, a boy was taken into custody for threatening his bully, and a middle schooler attacked a fellow student and teacher in a classroom. These are just a few of the stories I heard in less than two weeks. These are our kids, our schools, and our story. HERE. Paducah. I also know kids who are cutting themselves, denying themselves food, and depressed.
Where is the outrage? Where is the shock and the horror and the town hall meetings searching for a way to stop this?
To my knowledge, there aren’t any meetings, no facebook posts, no newspaper articles, no letters to the editor, or scores of parents lined up at PTA meetings. Your voices are silent.
We are the home of one of America’s earliest school shootings. A boy brought a gun to Heath High School and killed three teenage girls. To me, that alone would be reason for Paducah to band together. Regardless of what some say, Missy Jenkins says she saw Michael Carneal being bullied, and he told her himself that he was bullied. While I am sure other factors played a role, so did the bullying he endured.
Let’s stop pushing the bullying problem away and please stop making excuses. Let’s also stop making excuses for kids who bully, for young people who do nothing when they see bullying or for those who join in, for schools who aren’t committed to protecting our students, and to communities who don’t believe bulllying is a problem. Shame on you!
Our governor said we should be outraged. I agree with him. And yet, I don’t see the outrage around me. Anywhere.
The only cries I hear are from the parents of the kids who are being bullied. They call. They say they don’t think their schools believe their child, or they feel that their schools blame their child for being a target. These parents feel as if nothing changes. Sometimes they even feel intimidated, and they are often afraid to push too far for fear that their child will be retaliated against. So they then join the silent.
Let’s look at the facts:
Until recently, our state led the nation in teen suicide attempts.
1 out of every 10 high school dropouts in Kentucky cite bullying as the reason for leaving school.
A child is bullied every 4 minutes of every school day in Kentucky.
13 million kids will be bullied this year.
A teen is bullied every 7 seconds.
Kids as young as 7 are self-harming
1 out of 4 bullies will spend time in jail by the time they reach the age of 25.
160,000 kids will miss school today, and every day, because they are afraid.
What has to happen? And how much of it has to happen for us to stand up and stand together against the violence?
Will we stand up? When is enough, enough? And when will it be too late?
What message do we send these struggling and desperate young people when we do nothing? They must feel afraid and angry. They have to feel abandoned and alone. I wonder if they think we don’t know any better, or if they think we intentionally turn our heads? When we turn our heads we are teaching our kids to do the same. We are telling them they are not important enough to fight for. That is a message I cannot send my daughter or any other child.
Bullying happens because we allow it. Violence is all around us because we are either unable or unwilling to stand up to it.
While I have a lot to say, I am also at a loss for words. I don’t have the answers, but I am driven to search for them. I believe God has given me a message – that there is a way out of this . . . for all of us. I pray about it, and I wait for the messages that lead me in a direction that helps someone, hoping that it helps everyone.
Ghandi may have said it best when he said, “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”
Governor Beshear press conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXj6KuwRkK0