By Gregory Moore
While I was scouring the op/ed sections of various papers on Thursday, I came across a very interesting viewpoint from my good friend Cary Clack of the San Antonio Express News.
In Cary’s piece, he was bringing attention to schoolyard bullies and how they’ve gotten a little more sophisticated since he was in school.
Clack referenced the Boston, Mass. story about Phoebe Prince; the 15-year-old high school freshman moved from Ireland to Northampton, Mass. last year with her family.
Prince was almost immediately ostracized because she was the new kid with the red hair and strange accent.
Nine students from South Hadley High School are being charged; six of them as adults. Amongst the charges are not just civil rights violations but also statutory rape charges.
So bullying now has a new ugly face to it; sex crimes.
It’s not a pretty picture when you read about Prince’s ordeal and why she ended her life and yes you better believe that the Law and Order SVU series will have an episode based on this very case within a year; or at least a reprise of the incident.
But what is truly bothersome is that parents may actually be as much the blame for this new wave of bullying; not by encouraging and promoting a warp sense of Darwinism on their children but by not encouraging them to step up and say something before its too late.
I bring that up to mind because I was flabbergasted when I went to the barbershop a few days ago and we were discussing this very topic. What shocked me was that I found out that a father that I know actually condoned his son telling the authorities about an alleged rape he had seen at school.
In the paraphrasing of what I heard, the father said, “my son ain’t no snitch. What happened to that girl ain’t none of his business.”
This is that new form of bullying that no one speaks of.
In the minds of today’s generations, they truly believe that snitching is a crime and makes you weak amongst your peers.
The reality of the situation is that because of such warped ideologies there are a lot of Phoebe Princes’ being bullied and yes, sexually assaulted.
Can you blame the school districts for their lack of understanding of just how sophisticated bullying has gotten?
Sure you can but what can many of them do when they get no cooperation from parents who know their children are causing other students grief and misery? Teachers and other educators are there to teach, not be the surrogate parental figure in a student’s life at school.
Can you blame the laws that are inadequate in fighting these cases?
Yes you can because law enforcement is hampered by archaic laws that do not address such societal tendencies in a new form; only from a traditional standpoint.
You couple this with the fact that so many parents fail to realize that their kids are under some tremendous pressures that have never been seen by adults and it can be alarming.
Yet as many experts will tell you, the art of bullying isn’t new; just how it’s being done these days.
When I read some of the stories that speak of Ms. Prince’s ordeal, one quote sticks out and it came from a well-known bully expert.
Barbara Coloroso told CBS’ “The Early Show” that schools need procedures to protect victims and punish perpetrators, and programs to prevent further problems. She says South Hadley schools “had policies, but the procedures need to be toughened up.”
Coloroso said she consulted with parents and administrators months before 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself in January. Authorities say she endured months of verbal assaults and threats, mostly in school and in person, although some of the bullying occurred on Facebook and in other electronic forms.
“This is a wake-up call, and I think it will happen,” Coloroso said.
I then think about what I had found out at the barbershop and only wished to confront that father about his shucking of responsibility in being a responsible parent.
How many other parents told those nine kids being charged in Boston to not snitch?
How many parents feel ashamed that their own child could have possibly prevented the tragedy by just standing up to the notorious nine and protect Phoebe?
What child will stand up and protect someone being bullied in today’s world?
It’s not about being a hero or wanting to be stand offish from your peers when it comes to bullying.
Bullies are weak-minded individuals who love to prey on the misfortunes of others and those that follow them are in the same boat.
In some cases, everybody grows out of it but in cases like what happened to Phoebe Prince, swift punishment in the form of a long sentence of incarceration is in order.
This new strain of bullying wields some dangerous results and it is something that we all should be aware of.
Whether its social networking taunting, verbal abuse or even rape, the mere fact that today’s generation has escalated the art form should be alarming to everyone.
Including school districts and parents.
Or else stories like Phoebe Prince will continue to flood our news cycles to the point to where we become tolerant of the crime.
Just like we have done with rape, murder and other serious crimes in our society.
We can’t let this new strain ‘bully’ us into a sense of not caring about our young people.
For they are our future.