With all that has been going on in the news these past couple days surrounding the Penn State situation, I have been thinking more and more about how not enough in being done to send a message to children that we as adults are here to protect them from the evil that lurks in this world.
There are multiple people at Penn State who knew of horrific abuse upon young boys by a coach–and turned the other cheek or did as little as possible, including one who allegedly witnessed a 10 year old boy being raped and did nothing at that moment to say “STOP! This is wrong! I will rescue you from this monster so you do not have to endure one millisecond more of trauma and pain.“
Read the Grand Jury report here to see how many people were aware and didn’t do enough.
One person who actually witnessed one horrific act, walked away and DID NOTHING.
He allegedly told his boss. Not the police. He walked away and allowed this to continue. Can you imagine what went through this boy’s head–someone knew he was being harmed and didn’t rescue him–didn’t come to his aid, didn’t stand up for him. This attitude of “it’s not my place” to intervene is pathetic.
I am quite sure that it happens more than we know. It also applies to bullying.
I remember one night over the summer when I was sitting out on our deck enjoying an iced coffee. It was getting dark and there was a boy who used to be in my son’s grade riding his bike. I always had a soft spot for this boy, who is no longer in our district, because he was so kind and respectful. He looked out for Nick–stood up for Nick. He lived with extended family and really was on his own most of the time without that strong sense of “normal” in his life. There was regularly change and chaos surrounding his environment.
Anyway, I remember him riding his bike around the school and a group of older kids (15 or 16, I’d guess) followed him and then took his bike away and made him run after it. They called him names. They clearly were raised without respect for other people or property. I could hear him saying, “That’s my bike. Give it back. Leave me alone.” I couldn’t believe that this 8 or 9 year old child was being picked on by a bunch of teenagers. I jumped out of my chair, ran across the street and remember being so ticked that this boy was the hoodlum’s “entertainment”. The older kids ran off in different directions as I held the phone with 911 ready to be called and I told them to never even think to bother this child again or they would have to answer to the police. Of course, they used the horrible language that seems to be commonplace in this society these days and took off.
I remember the look of relief in the boy’s eyes and he came over and hugged me and said, “Mrs. M., thank you for helping me. You didn’t have to do that.” Oh, but I did. When someone is being physically or verbally or emotionally harmed, isn’t is our duty as human beings to stand up and say enough is enough?
If one turns the other cheek and ignores what it happening, that person is enabling bullying and abuse.
When schools see the signs and ignore acts of bullying, they enable bullying. When schools do not give consequences for acts of bullying, they enable bullying. Failure to act–truly act–to protect our children from harm is just as bad as the bullying, in my book. We send our children to school and expect and assume that they will be safe–that they will be protected by the adults–all of the adults–in the building.
But that might take extra time. It might ruffle feathers. It might create an uncomfortable situation….or it is just quite possible that the reality is “We have a reputation to maintain as being a top school district in this area. Confronting the issue of bullying and acknowledging we have a true problem might tarnish that.” So what. School safety….the comfort level of CHILDREN ought to be the #1 concern. Nothing else.
Something we, as parents, can do is teach our children very early on that if they see something happening to another child, they have a responsibility to do the right thing. Sometimes even good kids turn the other cheek….or join in to be in the “cool group”. The community as a whole needs to make sure that we are protecting our children from the evil in this world. Every time that we look the other way, we are sending the message that it is OK to harm another living human being.