Sticks and Stones…

It was with great sadness that I recall my niece as she described the situation she faces at Roberts School where her child attends. It’s bullying. Her child has to cope with being degraded on a regular basis to the point where a young happy kid is becoming withdrawn and depressed. This is especially difficult to discuss because I was a victim of bullying as a child and when I hear about the incidents it brings back memories of the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. I don’t care what anyone says that statement is a lie.

At school where we’re establishing our identity outside the confines of family perception of oneself can mean everything in the world to a child because it is their world.

There’s general bullying that takes place in our population and was most recently used by a local politician feigning victimhood, there’s overall bullying that takes place regardless of race.

And then there’s bullying at the ethnic level that flies under radar undetected unless you can observe the behavior first hand.

In the African-American community if you catch the attention of people for some reason you’ll be “called out” for it. So, if you’re too thin, too fat, too dark or even too light or speak “like a white person” oh, don’t move out of the “hood” because then you, “live up there” therefore you have no business speaking about, “the South side” or “the West side”. Don’t be a book worm or nerd it’s not cool and please don’t be an achiever. And we wonder why the dropout rate for African-American children is so high here in Syracuse.

In the case at Roberts School, this child has to endure being called hurtful names that I can’t print online. Surrounded by other children he’s being pelted by wads of paper while the teacher claims being unaware of the issue that exists in the class room.

Recently when he tried to separate himself from the bullying by sitting away from others he was only followed and beaten about the head. Being larger than the other kids he holds back, determined not to cause a problem. But after a while he’s being punched, kicked called names repeatedly in front of others what do you do? You lash out, you fight back and then you’re a problem while the perpetrators giggle and walk away.

He’s been used as a dare target for other kids, “I dare you to hit ‘Name withheld to protect the identity of the student’ while he’s standing there”. And of course kids want some “cred” at school so they join in the activity.

As I stated at the beginning of this column I was bullied. I remember being called names and being withdrawn detached waiting for the school day to be over so I can escape to the safety of my university neighborhood. Luckily after the 8th grade I escaped from the Syracuse City School District and went to Bishop Ludden where I was protected, loved and taught to hold my head up and that’s why I write what I write and how I write. I’ll never be bullied again…even by an angry local politician.

February 24, 2012