A few words about bullying...

So, yeah, this is my second blog.

A lot of you know that I have a podcast called Cosmic Potato. When I created the website, cosmicpotato.com, I carved out a bit of space for blogging. I couldn’t create a website and not give myself a creative outlet to post about what I’m thinking and so forth. So, “Shawn’s Notebook” is there on the website. I’ve put a few posts there but I’ve recently noticed that I’m hesitant to post anything that doesn’t have to do with entertainment since that’s what the show is about. I’ve been afraid that our listeners won’t really be interested in what’s happening in my private life or what my view is on a certain issue. And if my views are radically different it could possibly cost me a listener or two.

So, along comes the idea for this blog. This will be the place that I post about being a dad and a husband and all that more personal stuff. The blog over on the website will be reserved for talking about film, television, books, and things like that.

And to break in the new blog…I’m going to get a little heavy.

I’ve had various blogs over the years that I’ve taken down or moved. Most of those posts are gone now. But if you know me then you know that when I was growing up I dealt with bullying a lot. As an overweight kid I was pretty much a magnet for ridicule and I got my pants pulled down and my ears thumped a little more than the average kid in my school.

Going through that as a kid has really affected me as an adult. I still have an issue with being made fun of. The people closest to me can tell you that I don’t take joking insults very well. In my mind it feels like its real and I get upset. It’s an issue that I’ve had to work on my whole life. Occasionally, I’ll run into a guy that was one of the main instigators when we were kids and he’ll talk to me like we’re old friends. I try to put on a kind face but in my mind I’m infuriated that the things he did to me still plague me but that he hasn’t thought about me in years. A feeling that is only compounded when I learn that he’s got a better job, bigger house, and newer car than me. That’s now how it’s supposed to end up! I watch movies!

So, this past Friday there was an incident at a school not far from where I live her in central Alabama. A kid was pretty badly beaten over an issue of money. The original rumor had him in ICU, but I know now that it wasn’t quite that bad. The story died down over the weekend but came back to life yesterday because someone released a video of the incident taken with a cell phone. I watched about 10 seconds of that video.

On the video you see a bunch of kids in a circle around the bathroom with one smaller kid in the center. A very large kid that looked to be about 17 or 18 was yelling for someone to lock the door. Some kids moved so that their bodies blocked their prey from escaping. Then the bigger kid attacked and they locked up into a wrestle before the smaller kid fell down. Then the bigger one picked him up like a sack of laundry and slammed in onto the floor.

I felt sick at my stomach. I couldn’t watch anymore. The cry that this helpless child let out was heartbreaking. And I know all too well the feeling of being surrounded by a bunch of larger kids that meant you harm and knowing that there were no teachers or staff coming to save you. I’m told that after that point on the video the kids all took turns kicking him. He sustained a lot of injuries but he’s doing okay now. The kids are all in trouble and the one that started the attack will probably be charged as an adult.

I was in a similar situation once. A gang of boys blocked me in the bathroom with the intent of seeing someone beat me up. Tickets had been sold. I didn’t get picked up and body slammed because, as I said, I was fat. And I was able to escape because in the 80s kids actually cared if they got told on. There was still some respect, or fear, of authority. I escaped that time but I took my share of beatings.
And that one helpless cry from that child awakened the sad, lonely, scared little boy that still resides inside of me.

I’m not going to sit here and act like I know what the solution is. I’m not going to say that the teachers were at fault. We blame them for not being in the bathroom and then we accuse them of being perverts if they do. Were there things that they could have done differently? Maybe. Probably.
I’m not going to lay all of the blame on the parents. Parents can try and try but sometimes kids are just going to do what they want. You just have to try and teach them how to make the right choices. God knows that I’ve tried to teach my kids right from wrong but sometimes they do something that just floors me.

The blame for this lies at the feet of those kids. The kid that attacked him in the first place. The kids the blocked the door. The kids that kicked him. They all need to be punished.

But that won’t solve this problem. As long as there are kids out there that feel like they have the right to physically assault someone then we’re going to have issues.

Just remember that you have a lot of wonderful memories of school. You have memories of hanging out with your friends, going to ball games, going to the movies, having tons of sleepovers, and it was the best time of your life.

Then there are those kids that didn’t get to do all of that stuff. They were the ones that the class decided was their kicking boy. They didn’t get invited to the movies. They didn’t go to many ball games. They sat alone at lunch and tried to ignore the hateful comments yelled in their ears on the bus.

Those are the kids that need us to watch out for them. If you witness bullying…stop it. Then call the school, call the board, call the police! Whatever you have to do…do it! These kids feel helpless. They feel like no one cares. And many times no one does care until something happens.

I’m climbing down from my soap box…

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