Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sticks, stones, words and yet another teen suicide

Brandon Bitner dead at the age of 14.  Trying to find release from the constant bullying at school, committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a tractor trailer.  He walked 13 miles to end his pain.  I can't imagine his last walk, and the thoughts that were swirling through his head knowing what he was planning to do.

The school had an anti-bullying assembly that week, how nice of them.  The school ass-hats claimed after Brandon's death that the school didn't have any history of bullying issues.  Oh, really?  Gee-whiz school officials, that's not what your current students and your past students say.   Click here for the full story.

The asshats that "run" the school, kids that attend, quality or lack thereof of parenting, I'm sure with little effort, a giant list of reasons why kids bully could be compiled.  But, in the face of it, reasons why kids are bullied isn't really germane to the conversation.  What is germane is why we are so blase about bullying, we say kid's will be kids, etc.  Well until a child commits suicide or is bullied to death, then suddenly we CARE.

Our eldest son, for reasons we never did quite figure out, was bullied, would you like to know who first started in on him?  I'll give you one guess........his teacher.  Yes, he was a scapegoat no matter what he did, and the kids all picked it up, and of course ran like deer with it.  And because the teacher had started it, of course she didn't attempt to stop the students from picking on our son.  It got to the point where he was afraid to ask to use the restroom.  Why?  The teacher would make fun of him, in front of the class for needing to use the restroom.   Yes, we did go to the principle and complained about the teacher.  We went to the school board to complain about the principle.  And the only thing that came of our complaining was that the teacher ramped up the bullying, with the students following tightly in lock step.  At one point we were told it was good for him, would toughen him up.....

I was chatting with Malcolm today about how little children are valued in our society.  Something that hasn't changed since, well forever.  Why children aren't seen as the treasure they are, has pestered me for years.  One reason I think boils down as to how we view children as a whole.  We see them as "owned" by their parents, rather than people in their own right.  They have no rights, at all.  In fact most of our civil rights come to a halt at the school doors for children, lovely huh?  If GLBT are second class citizens, what does that make our children, classless?

The only way I can see to end this morass of administrations turning a blind eye to bullying, is to hit them where it counts.  No, not there, but hey as a parting gift, I'm game!  In the wallet.  If a student loses the will to live, due to bullying, and takes their own life, I say fire the entire administration of the school. All of them.  From the secretary, through the councilors, and only stopping after the principles are gone as well.  As for the teachers?  If they saw it, started it, let it go, then we no longer need them in the halls and rooms of our schools.  As a nation we need to make this a priority when we are electing school board members and hiring school employees.  Often we blow off the local elections and only really pay attention to the state and federal elections.  This is the reason we have people on the school boards for 20 years.  Yes, I'm sure that there are a few long term members out there who do a great job.  But, how many are on these boards to grind an ax, push through an agenda, and care really very little about the students as people and not as mere numbers, or see them as wee little $ signs?

We need to get mad, we need to stay mad, and we need to slap down groups like Focus on the Family.  Who are currently fighting, yes I said fighting against the "Safe Schools Act"  watch  and read.  It's time to take our schools away from the incompetent, the lazy and the bigoted.


  1. Oh goodness - you're so right!

    You have an huge country with far more people and kids in it than the UK. You have one of the strongest media in the world and you are home to the hub of the internet.

    I feel deeply about bullying and abuse of all kinds - you know I do - I've been there and done that like so many of us. We must not keep sweeping this stuff under the carpet - Biki you're so right!

  2. These stories break my heart, and yet they also anger me.
    I am angry at the bullies, and their parents for raising such montsers, of course.
    And I am angry at the schools, and school officials, for acting like it's just another day.
    But I am enormously angry at these so-called friends of Brandon's who knew this was going on and did nothing except talk to the press after Brandon's last walk.
    These friends of kids who are bullied need to stick together, and go speak to adminstrators en masse and demand some help. And if they don't get it, then go to the media and keep talking and talking and talking until it stops.
    Or else it will never stop.

  3. Horrible story. Poor kid, poor parents left behind. What thoughts spinning in his mind, what actions lead him to make his decision, how much horror had he been put through?? Sometimes the world is such an ugly place.

    Of course, there are "never" any bullying issues in schools. Just close your eyes and they're gone, right? As long school officials prefer to look the other way rather than face the problems kids will be thrown into this horror. For what reason? There is no reason. School, it's just a cruel place.

    Rest In Peace kiddo. Hope you're in a better place now.


  4. My condolences to your oldest! My second grade teacher bullied me, as well. It had a fairly immediate effect: according to my parents, I went from a happy, outgoing six-year-old to a sad, quiet seven-year-old.

    The other kids must've picked up on it, as I continued to be class scapegoat all the way up through eighth grade. I was never called a fag or told that I should die (I guess I hid that part of me well), but I started thinking about killing myself when I was eleven or twelve, nonetheless.

    I know from experience that school environment makes a difference. When I moved to a new school in ninth grade, I was just another kid, not a target. Several classmates made the same school move, and ones that had been jerks to me at the old school just ignored me at the new one, or were even nice to me.

  5. How many kids have to die before somebody actually starts to take notice? I am so sick of schools trotting out tired old excuses, promising to do something and then forgetting the whole thing until the next time.

    To this day I don't know how I came out the other side of bullying but I can understand why these poor kids feel they've got nothing left to live for and that's something no child should ever believe.


  6. God, I just don't know what to say. You wish that this outpouring of support for bullied kids in the last couple of months would have trickled down into small town America, but it just hasn't...

    What might have made the difference? Even one friend mentioning it to a teacher who cared? To his parents? (No, that's "ratting out" your friend.)

    And Biki, you are right, the school is doing what schools do best: covering their asses with both hands because they know that since their heads were collectively in the sand, their asses were very, very exposed. Except that there's likely no documentation since apparently no one reported it. THAT'S AS BAD AS NOT DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!! Cmon, kids, get YOUR heads out of the sand, and TELL PEOPLE about this before another one of your friends dies!!!!

    {End of rant, thank you for the soapbox.}
    Peace <3

  7. Sadness. :-(

    Interestingly, children aren't afforded total rights. In medicine, children can assent but can't consent until a certain age (that's not necessarily 18). But does that mean that parents and doctors can and should do whatever they want to kids? No. The good doctor should always involve the kid as much as possible and appropriate in their medical care. Not all things "in their best interest" can and should be done - some things are better left alone or deferred till later.

    As for replacing the whole school administration - that's difficult to do due to teachers' unions. I agree that something drastic needs to be done to change the status quo on bullying. What that is, I'm not sure. Perhaps pediatricians should do a better job of screening for it, Idk.

    Btw, look at this link: http://www.welcomingschools.org/

  8. That's a sad and horrible story. But it seems the schools and teachers don't really care. While at school, these kids are under their duty of care, so they have every reason to ensure that each and every child is safe and free from harrassment and bullying. But if its the teachers who do the bullying, who are the kids supposed to go to?

    Im not sure it exists, but perhaps third parties should exist to audit schools to ensure that no harrassment or bullying is going on.

  9. Biki-

    You are so right. These kids feel as if they have no place to go. But you're wrong. You have me. And you have the other bloggers here. These stupid superintendent seem nonchalant today, but WE WON'T LET THEM.

    I would appreciate it if you read my blog, http://emilysvirtualrocket.blogspot.com. The blog is a virtual compendium of articles from newspapers, newsweeklies, and magazines, both popular and scholarly. The articles have a viewpoint toward transgender / transsexual news. If you like it, please put
    "Emily's virtual rocket "under the title commonly called
    "Blogroll". Thank you so much!