It Takes A Nation
It’s become common for bullying stories to catch fire and ripple through the national mainstream media – unless it happens in tough neighborhoods. Two days ago I came home from work to news reports about a local school bullying incident that blew up into a riot of 50 to 55 teens demanding that their target come out of the house.
“They were waiting for me since Thursday. They wanted to get me for a he-said, she-said. They kept on calling,” she said, and when the group arrived at her doorstep, they were carrying “guns, blades and knives.” The girl has a heart condition, relatives said, and at one point, one of the teens taunted her by saying, “We’re gonna punch you in the chest. We’re gonna fix your heart condition.”
Watch News Video:
Police trying to control the scene were overwhelmed and pushed and held on the ground. One suffered a concussion. Helicopters circled overhead. And, it took the force of fire hoses to disperse the crowd. Included in the melee was a 31 year-old.
One of the sad realities of American life is that your zip code determines where your kids will go to school. I live in one of Staten Island’s tougher neighborhoods. It’s the type of place that when you give your address people visibly shudder. But, I honestly live on a block with great neighbors who have always been there for each other. They have good kids who deserve the same public concern as kids in affluent zip codes.
Call it what it is:
What type of role models have we become? Yesterday two students at nearby Curtis High School were arrested for beating their Dean who had told them they were suspended [news].
[the student] punched [the Dean] in the side of the head, knocking him down, and the two then started punching and kicking him, causing his ear to swell and bleed, court papers allege. He suffered scratches on his face and hands in the attack, court papers allege…
Our community has engaged school officials, local politicians, community advocates and parents who have long been fighting the escalating and overwhelming violence in the community. But, it takes more than that. It’s time for the public to stop blaming the victim and recognize what was so apparent when Phoebe Prince committed suicide in Boston. Bullying that’s fueled by gangs and mixed with mobs brandishing fists, guns, and knives points to a society that’s lost control. It takes a nation to create the type of systemic change needed to help kids and teens who are vulnerable and trying to navigate an increasingly violent world.