I know. That’s a mouthful. It’s a bold statement. It’s supposed to be. I’m trying to get your attention. Did it work?
Let’s make sure. Read it again:
WAKE UP BOCA!
IF YOU CONTINUE TO TURN A BLIND EYE TO THE BRUTALITY OF BULLYING YOU RUN THE RISK OF HAVING TO BURY YOUR BABIES.
You would think being kind to others as opposed to not being kind to others is as matter of fact as brushing your teeth each morning or putting on a pair of pants one leg at a time. Sadly, the common sense of treating others with human decency isn’t the case among today’s youth. And that’s appalling.
Maybe we need a crash course on exactly what bullying is. According to stopbullying.gov, bullying is ‘unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others run the risk of having serious, lasting problems.’
Bullies use force, coercion and threats to dominate and intimidate their prey; and by prey, I mean [our] children.
Whether the bullying is done verbally, socially or physically, bullying is bullying and it’s killing our kids.
No, I’m not being dramatic. I’m not embellishing. I’m being serious. Like fatal heart attack serious. Yes, the brutal truth about bullying is it’s killing our kids, DEAD.
Just this past September, a thirteen-year- old California boy died as a result of bullying.The child incurred brain damage from getting sucker punched.
In May 2019, a Malaysian teenage girl killed herself after asking her followers on an Instagram poll if she should choose life or death. An alarming 69% of her so-called friends voted for her death. And guess what happened next? Yup, the girl killed herself. She’s now a sixteen year old six feet under.
And we’ve all heard about the tragic suicide of Mallory Grossman, a twelve-year-old middle school girl from New Jersey who took her own life after being the victim of online and in-person bullying.
WAKE UP BOCA BEFORE IT HAPPENS IN THIS BUBBLE!
FACT: Today’s bullies aren’t [only] the kids who come from rough neighborhoods or low income producing households. They aren’t [only] the kids who’s parents have checked out leaving them to their own devices growing up in foster homes or wards of the state. Today’s bullies are [also] the very kids who’ve been in your homes; sat at your kitchen table; eaten your made from scratch meals and whom you’ve treated as your own. Today’s bullies are living right here in Boca and it’s time we wake up and put a stop to the brutality of bullying.
FACT: Today’s bullies aren’t just mean girls. Today’s bullies aren’t just thug boys. Today’s victims aren’t just the seemingly shy, socially awkward kid who’s an easy target to manipulate. Today’s bullies and their victims come in all shapes, sizes, colors, races, sexual orientations and socio-economic classes. Anyone is subject to [un]fair play.
WORD ON THE STREET: A middle school student living in a prominent gated community in the heart of our Boca bubble was approached by another adolescent who was an absolute stranger. He had never laid eyes on this person before and yet was provoked out of nowhere on the basketball court. “You wanna fight?” The teenaged stranger asked the boy multiple times. The middle schooler simply answered, “No” over and over and began to walk away but was then blindsided when pushed to the ground from behind. He’s now confined to a wheel-chair for the next seven weeks with a broken shin; casted from the groin to the bottom of his foot. When the Mother of the boy reached out to the parents of the bully for explanation, accountability or God forbid any semblance of an apology, the pathetic response she got was, “I”m so surprised. He has a heart of gold.”
WORD ON THE STREET: A seventh grade boy who recently moved here from another country speaking very little English had been taunted and teased repeatedly by several students. These students allegedly coerced the newly enrolled student to behave in ways that are socially unacceptable preying on his vulnerabilities. It’s alleged these kids stole some of his belongings and further told him to kill himself. What type of a welcoming committee is that? After weeks of destructive provoking, the child snapped, handled a sharp object on school grounds and was witnessed running around aiming it at others. This student and the antagonistic kids were all suspended for a week. But now they’re back; so what happens next? Is it bullying business as usual? Will those bullies continue to target this boy because of his cultural disadvantages? What kind of psychological damage do you think this foreign student has incurred? Is there now revenge to worry about?
WORD ON THE STREET: An eighth grader at a Boca Raton middle school was recently bullied on six separate accounts, all while on school property. The first attack was highly premeditated since the cowardly bullies had paid another student to assault the victim by punching him in the face while walking down the hallway. Can you imagine? Two thirteen-year-old kids from a supposedly upperclass family hired a third party to harm another human being. Tell me, who in their right mind behaves like this? And worse, who are the parents who bore these bullies? The questions need to be asked.
The bullies went on to torment the eighth grader through text messages, SnapChat forums and other social media channels after this initial attack but it didn’t end there. A month later, five more assaults happened within a week’s time.
-There was a random punch to the face while in the school bathroom only to be followed up later the same day with a physical attack in the bus loop.
-A few days after walking to fifth period, the eighth grader was verbally abused and then punched in the jaw by two bullies at once.
-A day later he was heading to the Media Center and was again struck in the face.
-The final straw was when the two bullies jumped him in bus loop while other fellow classmates sat on a bench and watched him getting punched in the face without stepping up to try to stop the brutality.
The incidents were caught on surveillance cameras yet it wasn’t until the parents of the victim raised hell with the school Principal to have the video(s) reviewed since the last blow to the head resulted in a trip to the emergency room and a CT scan which revealed he had suffered a concussion.
According to the 2019-2020 School District of Palm Beach County’s Code of Conduct, these behaviors, including but not limited to concussion are classified as Level Four and are the most serious acts of student misconduct as they threaten life. Level Four discipline consequences for these actions include mandatory expulsion. Police reports have been filed and these bullies have been formally charged with aggravated assault and battery.
The unpolished twist making this story more of a disgrace is the victim’s attackers were in fact once his friends; spending insurmountable time together since they began the sixth grade and having had countless playdates and sleepovers, the victim’s family welcomed these
boys bullies with open arms. One of the bullies even said to the victim’s Mom, “I wish I had a Mother and a sibling like you guys. I’m not close with my older sister.” The sadder truth is the bully’s parents are nowhere to be found. There was no call asking for forgiveness or expressing remorse. Not one word. Not one call. Not one text. Nothing. Where are these parents? Shouldn’t they be enforcing a zero tolerance policy by demanding consequences and suitable punishment? How is this acceptable parenting? How is this parenting at all? It’s no wonder their children behave like wild animals. We need to get to the root cause.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHERE DOES IT START? HOW DOES IT END? WHAT DO WE DO?
FACT: Kids are afraid to speak up. Growing up in world where there’s no anonymity due to social media outlets that document their every move into the indelible digital world, kids don’t believe they will be protected if they come forward and report an incident. They fear they will be deemed a “snitch” and in turn will be targeted next for further bullying. While there are free apps such as FortifyFL to formally and conspicuously report bullying or any suspicious behavior without having to worry about an identity breach, adolescents still don’t feel safe enough to step up. That needs to change. “See It, Say It” must be enforced. A Boca Raton Mother advocating on behalf of her victimized child wrote in a letter to the South Region School District Instructional Superintendent of Palm Beach County, “the stigma of snitching has become a cancer amongst our children and until that is eradicated, the epidemic of bullying will continue to prevail.”
FACT: We as parents have a responsibility to protect our kids at any cost. It starts with being present at all times. Ask your child(ren) questions. Look at their phones and review who and what they’re engaging with. Take their mental temperature. Be aware of any changes in their mood, appetite and social routines. Don’t risk missing the signs that potentially are right in front of your eyes.
FACT: We as parents have a responsibility to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong. It starts with honest conversations. Making mistakes is all part of growing up but being mean and vicious and abusing other people mentally and/or physically are not minor mistakes, they are actions derived from major misguidance. Burying your head in the sand, turning a blind eye and blowing off misfit behaviors is only serving your child(ren) an injustice. One could argue kids who bully others are screaming for attention because they aren’t getting what they need at home. So guide. Don’t hide.
FACT: We as parents have a responsibility to be a role model for our children. Their actions can be correlated to the actions modeled under your roof. Kids can’t be held accountable for their actions if their parents aren’t willing to be held accountable as well. It starts with you, their parent. If you’re an ignorant asshole the likelihood of your kid being an ignorant asshole is greater.
Parenting isn’t a part time job. TGIF doesn’t apply when you’re a parent. You can’t just punch in and out at your leisure because it’s Happy Hour. In order to succeed in raising kind and empathetic children the requirements are stringent. Just because your child can feed themselves, bathe themselves and speak for themselves doesn’t mean your role as a parent is over. In fact, your role now shifts even more significantly. This is the time when adolescents need their parents the most. We have an obligation to keep our kids moving forward on the right path. One diversion down the wrong lane can quickly spiral leading to dire straits. The evidence to substantiate this is maddening.
FACT: We need better support from schools. Posting a DO NOT BULLY sign in the corridors and cafeteria isn’t enough. Sure, it’s a start but it’s not nearly enough.
WORD ON THE STREET: PTA members at a local middle school here in Boca Raton advocated for Mallory’s Army to come speak to students after a parent’s child was so severely bullied he wouldn’t get out of the car to attend school. The parent wrote in a letter to the board,“I ask that we directly engage in conversation with regard to the climate that is prevailing before, during and in the aftermath of a reported incident.” She went on to write, “Reporting is unfortunately not dealing with the root of the problem and has sadly proven to be not only futile but also extremely damaging to the victimized students. Your wellness promotion policy is failing. Time is of the essence. The students and faculty [at school] are in dire need of a shift in mindset.”
Though the Principal was initially in support, the request was rejected from the district because they thought the topic was “not developmentally appropriate” for middle school aged children. This makes NO SENSE. The topic couldn’t be more relevant. Does someone else have to die first? I am saddened the district has failed our children.
I applaud this Mother for stopping at nothing to protect her child and clean up the negative atmosphere in which we live. She continues to write, “I have vouched my time and energy to help support the school and the PTA in this mission which we know is a continuum and will require to be implemented daily for it to succeed.”
She is not the only one who should vouch time and energy. We must all vouch our time and energy before it’s too late.
All of us. Every Mother. Every Father. Every single one of us.
Unless of course you’re okay with the idea of having to bury your babies.
Exactly. That’s what I thought.
So WAKE UP and help make a change to stop the brutality of bullying that’s killing our babies.
JUST TO LET YOU KNOW… While the school district of Palm Beach County did not approve Mallory’s Mom, Dianne Grossman, founder of Mallory’s Army to speak at the middle school level they have allowed a forum to be held at Spanish River Community High School. Dianne Grossman will be here in Boca Raton on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at 6pm. This is a free event where she will address the on-going epidemic of bullying in schools. I strongly encourage parents and their families to attend. How could you not? We owe it to our children. It very well may save their lives.