commentary by Patrick H. Moore
Apparently neither the children of Georgia nor their parents have gotten the message that schoolyard bullying has had its day and that it’s time for children (and adults) to learn to treat one another with respect. Wishful thinking on my part? Well, perhaps, but let’s not forget that there was a time when women were disenfranchised (weren’t allowed to vote), not to mention the fact that as recently as the 1950s and 1960s, Jim Crow was the de facto law of the land throughout much — if not all — of the South.
With respect to bullying, however,we still have a long ways to go as the recent events in Carroll County, Georgia, graphically demonstrate.
Michael Walsh of the New York Daily News has the story:
A little girl, third grader Aolani Dunbar, 8, of Rootville, Ga. has been bullied unmercifully by her classmates for the last three years. In other words, she’s been targeted by her so-called “classmates” ever since she started school. The viciousness of the harassment intensified after Aolani had extensions put into her hair on Sept. 28. The other children, egged on by two small, aggressive boys, began pulling her hair — HARD!
“The following Monday, kids started teasing her, telling her she was stupid to have a wig on her hair,” said Sarah Charles, Aolani’s mother. “We called the school on Tuesday saying that her hair was being pulled.”
The school either did nothing or did not do enough. The bullying and hair-pulling continued. Aolani’s mother continued to call Rootville Elementary School for the next two weeks, asking for the school to launch a real investigation. But either the message did not get passed on or the school did not care enough to take steps to solve the problem. In any event, according to Aolani’s family, no effective steps were taken to protect the girl from her tormenters.
Although Sarah Charles appears to have been quite diligent in calling the school administrators, she did not catch on to how severe the hair-pulling was for quite some time. Also, Aolani apparently kept the degree of the damage to herself for over two weeks. Then on Oct. 15, Sarah noticed an “ungodly smell” coming from Aolani’s head.
Sarah and other family members began removing the extensions to see what was causing the odor.
“There was a humongous sore,” Charles said. “The doctor at the emergency room had never seen anything like that.”
You can imagine the shock and sorrow Sarah must have felt when when the surveyed the damage. The continuous tugging and yanking had actually torn off part of Aolani’s scalp.
The massive wound on the crown of the child’s head was so serious that it was treated in the emergency room as if it were a burn.
Although Aolani is recovering physically, she is still a wreck psychologically. She has been out of school for nearly three weeks now suffering from “severe headaches, anxiety and extreme humiliation.” She will be transferred to another school within the same district, according to Sarah.
* * * * *
WSB-TV, the first station to cover the case, reported that Aolani shaved her head to decrease the risk of infection. Several family members and friends shaved their heads as well in a gesture of solidarity.
The family said that two little boys were responsible for encouraging a larger group of students to “have a tug” at her hair. One of the boys got an in-school suspension, but the other has not been disciplined.
The Carroll County School District released a statement saying the “administration immediately investigated and dealt with the students who had engaged in the behavior and appropriate disciplinary action was taken against them.”
* * * * *
Yeah, right. Until the boys choose another victim to pick on. But I am reminded of what our friend Pitchforks points out in his post, “Leading Lambs to Syllabic Slaughter.” Pitchforks argues that it’s really rather senseless “to let the buck stop” with the child perpetrators. When children act out in cruel fashion, says Pitchforks (albeit far more eloquently than I am capable of), they are reflecting what they have been taught by their parents at home. Their cruelty doesn’t come out of nowhere. The parents are largely to blame and should be called out for their lousy parenting.
Suppose the parents of the two little boys who instigated the vendetta against Aolani were required to serve 300 or 400 hours of community service to demonstrate that they “get it” and will do their level best to ensure that their kids stop picking on the weaker children.
Of course, it will be a cold day in hell before this happens. Or will it? Time will tell, my friends. In the meantime, children like Aolani who are somehow perceived as being different or weird or somehow unacceptable to the mindless majority will continue to be scapegoats in this dishearteningly cruel world.
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